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How Not to Catch a Bus

Catching a bus really isn’t that hard. Turn up at the right time and there’s a reasonable chance that you’ll get on the bus and be on your way to your destination in no time. I managed to catch quite a few buses in my short time in Sweden, but there’s one in particular that really sticks out in my mind…

I arrived at Jokkmokk bus station around 5pm, courtesy of Karin from Arctic Husky Adventures. Collecting my myriad pieces of camera gear and warm clothing from the car, I said a sad goodbye to her and the adorable Milou. Tugging myself away from the Jack Russell, I turned and walked across the snowy pavement towards my waiting bus.

In Porjus

Me feeling stable on my feet in Porjus.

I had only been in Lapland for a few days by this point, but I felt like I was reasonably steady on my feet. My knee, which I had injured some cartilage in a few months prior, was feeling quite good and James’ snow boots gave me a lot more grip on the snow than I thought would be possible.

Then the bus closed its doors. Now, having ridden on various buses for over 6 hours by this point (sitting in the very front, no less, so I didn’t get motion sick), I should have known that bus drivers close the doors to keep the bus warm. Instead, my mind switched into semi-panic mode, thinking the bus was leaving and not knowing whether there were any further buses that night. I was sensible enough not to run, but I did pick up my pace.

Wrong move.

One minute I was on my feet and the next I was curled up in the middle of a slick patch of ice, smack in the middle of the road through the bus station. I’ve had my fair share of accidents, and in many of them I can recall the act of falling, but here, I was on the ground before I knew it.

My subconscious priorities were also clear: my right hand was up high in the air, holding my dSLR, while my left knee had taken my entire body weight.

I could not get myself up. I desperately tried to move my body so I could get my knee out from under me, all the while trying not to scream. Two passersby and Karin quickly came to my aid, asking me if I had broken anything and if I could walk.

‘No, nothing’s broken. I can walk. Thank you so much for your help,” I babbled as they propped me between them and virtually carried me to the bus (thankfully, most Swedes speak great English). I had spoken too soon, but somehow, I still managed to catch the bus. The bus driver hadn’t even seen my massive stack and happily chatted away to me about my travel plans as I massaged my knee, willing the pain to go away.

Porjus Nightscape

One of my hastily-composed nightscapes.

When I got back to Porjus, I managed to walk around the town, taking the long exposure pictures I hadn’t gotten to take on the previous two nights. After fifteen minutes, it became too much…and this became a theme for the rest of my trip through Sweden and Singapore. I still got to take in many of the sights that I wanted to (I couldn’t miss cool sights like the church village in Skellefteå, especially since I had no idea when I’d be back again), but my limp gradually grew worse. Thinking that I’d worsened my pre-existing injury, I went to lots of physio (and had lots of needles stuck in me) for a month after the trip, but I was concerned by things like waking up one morning and finding my knee had swollen and bruised overnight. What was going on?!


Acupuncture treatment in both knees (my right knee was hurting from hobbling).

That leads me to this week, when I finally decided to get an MRI to once-and-for-all find out exactly what was going on. For an hour and a half after the scan, I impatiently waited for the results.

Then my name was called. This was it. I hobbled out to the car and opened the envelope as fast as I could.

Lateral and medial meniscus are intact.

All collateral and cruciate ligaments are intact.

“Ok, this is sounding good,” I thought. “I shouldn’t have to have surgery…wait, what’s this?”

Microtrabecular fracture in the medial tibial plateau.

My Knee MRI

I can't tell if this shows the fracture itself, but it definitely shows the bone bruising.

I’ve broken my tibia? What?! What do they even do for that?!

I got a basic explanation from the GP the next day, who told me that I had to wear a full leg splint for 4 weeks and go to a specialist ASAP. Because I had a fracture, the specialist managed to fit me in on Thursday (a minor miracle for a specialist)! His news was a lot better.

On Crutches

Me with my big knee brace and crutches. Not as happy as I look.

Essentially, I have an incomplete fracture in the top of my tibia where it meets the knee. In addition, I have a lot of surrounding bone bruising (he actually seemed kind of impressed at the amount of bruising that was there). But, since the fracture is incomplete, the injury is stable and won’t worsen with movement (which is very good since I walked on it for a month after fracturing it). However, I still have to use crutches to bear most of my weight, and it’s going to take 3-6 months to heal.

I’m slowly coming to terms with my decreased mobility, but it’s been difficult. So, in the meantime, here is my advice to you:

Go to Lapland — it’s fantastic.

Ride the buses — they were very reliable and the bus drivers probably have more experience driving on ice & snow than you.

Just make sure that you carefully walk to the bus rather than taking home a real Lapland souvenir like me!

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