Thinking of the future and walking back to normal: an exploratory study of patients’ experiences during recovery from lower limb fracture¶ Admission to hospital following a traumatic lower limb fracture is undoubtedly a stressful life event; however, few studies have detailed this from the patient’s perspective. By exploring patients’ experiences of hospitalization with lower limb trauma, this study aimed to explicate some of the factors impinging on the recovery trajectory. Patients’ perceptions of the events influencing their strategies for coping with stress, hospitalization and temporary incapacity were investigated using a qualitative methodology. A convenience sample of nine patients was recruited from an orthopaedic ward in a district general hospital in Wales. The respondents used health diaries to document their recovery for up to 6 weeks after emergency surgery. These diaries were validated and supplemented by semi-structured interviews. Following their traumatic injuries, our respondents were subjected to a variety of stressors and uncertainties. They coped with this period of uncertainty by positive attempts to gain control over their situations, guided by an over-riding desire to ‘return to normal’ and assisted by the caring attributes of their nurses. From the experiences and events documented, this study was able to identify several stressors which could have been mitigated by optimization of the technical aspects of care, including the management of pain.