Some mothers and daughters have occasionally dabbled in matching outfits, be it matching tops or shoes, but have you ever heard of them sporting similar leg casts while admitted to the same hospital ward for the same injury? Emma Jane Girling, 48, from Pool, Cornwall, shares her story…


It had been quite a year, but finally things were on the up. In July last year, I’d been diagnosed with breast cancer. I’d needed to have a mastectomy, as well as chemo, and radiotherapy.

A year on, though, I was cancer-free and ready to get on with the rest of my life. Before I’d been diagnosed, I’d just been accepted to become a foster carer. That had been put on hold but now I was busy redecorating my house ready to get my fostering plans back on track.

My friends and family had been brilliant. They’d all pitched in to help me.

But one afternoon I found myself alone, up a ladder, scraping plaster off the walls in the hall. I’d been careful to wear a protective mask and goggles. Only then, I felt the metal ladder slip… I crashed to the floor, hitting my head on the way down. The ladder landed between my legs.

TimeInc Emma Girling recent pic taken 30 Aug 201

Shock winded me and, for a moment, I stayed in a crumpled heap on the floor. Then, slowly, I started to move, checking for injuries. My arms, back and head all seemed OK. But my left ankle was swelling up like a balloon – and, when the adrenaline passed, the pain set in.

Removing the mask I’d been wearing, I found it was full of blood, which was pouring from my mouth. I had no idea where my phone was , so I crawled into the kitchen, pulled myself up on a chair and started shouting for help.

Luckily a neighbour heard me and came running in.

‘I need you to call an ambulance,’ I said, although it hurt to speak.

It arrived within minutes and I was rushed to the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Treliske. They took some x-rays, which revealed that I’d broken my left ankle in four places and would need surgery to repair it using pins and plates. I’d also damaged the ligaments in my right ankle in the fall.

My face was a bit of a mess, too. I’d broken one of my front teeth and needed more than 30 stitches to cuts on my lip, chin and inside my mouth.

I was admitted to a Trauma ward to wait for my operation.

‘You have been in the wars, haven’t you?’ my mum, Mia, 75, said when she came to visit me.

‘It was a pretty spectacular fall,’ I told her.

TimeInc Emma (left) and mum Mia (right) in Italy June 201

She’d been so worried about my cancer diagnosis, and now I was back in hospital again. Over the following days, Mum visited as often as she could, which kept my spirits up.

But, one evening after I’d been in more than a week, a paramedic appeared at my bedside.

‘Your mum asked me to come up and see you,’ he said, ‘we’ve just brought her in. She’s broken her ankle, too!’

‘Are you kidding?’ I asked in disbelief.

‘I’m afraid not,’ he replied. He couldn’t tell me any more , but reassured me Mum was in good spirits.

Later, I saw for myself – when she was admitted onto the same ward as me and was in the next-but-one bed along!

‘What happened?’ I asked her.

‘I was driving to the hospital to see you when I got caught short,’ she explained, looking a bit embarrassed.

‘I pulled up and hopped into a field, but I stepped on a rock when I got up. My right ankle went and I fell over.’


She’d had to crawl back to the roadside, where two Good Samaritans stopped and called an ambulance.

‘You were only 10 minutes from the hospital, couldn’t you have waited?’ I asked.

‘I was desperate!’ Mum insisted.

We both started to laugh.

‘What are the odds of us both ending up on the same ward, both with broken ankles?’ I chuckled.

Over the coming days we both had to have more surgery on our ankles, which were set in casts while they healed. Then we were both transferred to the same Rehabilitation ward in a different hospital.

We’re recovering at home now. Our casts have come off, but I’m going to have to wear a special boot for a few weeks. I won’t be climbing any ladders any time soon and I bet Mum won’t be venturing into any fields! Matching mother-and-daughter plaster casts are a look that we’re not keen to model again!