WHAT IT’S LIKE TO… LOSE A LEg THROugH RugbY
Grace Matthews ex plains the “f reak accident ” that changed her lif e
OU MAY have heard about it at the time. The date was 21 February 2016, Olney v Bletchley in a table-topping women’s match. At 2.26pm, Bletchley prop Grace Matthews carried the ball up and was tackled after passing to her fly-half. Instant agony.
It took an hour and a half for the ambulance to arrive – “I was getting quite agitated,” says Matthews – and then came the hospital surgery. A lot of it.
First, an arterial graft, taking artery from high up the leg to repair the damage further down. Then a fasciotomy, slicing the back of the leg from knee to ankle
Yto reduce the swelling. Next, a second arterial graft because they didn’t use a big enough blood vessel the first time. Finally, a conversation. “We’re going to reconstruct your knee. By the way, if there’s too much dead muscle we’ll have to amputate.”
And, as you know, they did.
“It was weird because I woke up after the op and the nurse was there, but I didn’t ask her,” says Matthews, 26. “The consultant came over half an hour later and it was only then that I said, ‘Is it gone?’ Because you have this phantom sensation, I didn’t know that it wasn’t there. I could have asked the nurse, or looked myself, but for some reason, maybe because I was so drowsy, I didn’t.
“And when the doctor told me it had gone, I said ‘thank you’ because I was in so much pain. I was on IV morphine every five minutes, so it was a relief.”
Matthews bears no grudges to either the game or the tackler, who came to see her at her home. “The tackle might have been a fraction late but you get to that point where if you’re committed, you can’t stop yourself. My right leg was planted and it’s where she hit me.
“So it was a freak accident. People who play rugby know these things might happen. The risk is always there.”
Amazing GraceIn her former guise for Bletchley Ladies