Monday, September 14, 2009

A Minor Setback

One week ago, I was out for my usual 4-mile walk with my husband, on the nature trail near my home. We were only a few blocks from home, and had just exited the trail, walking at the side of the road on some grass, when I suddenly stepped into a hole several inches deep, slammed into the ground on my forearms and hands, and injured my ankle. The hole was completely covered over by the grass surrounding it, so I didn't see it as I looked ahead.

As I struggled to stand up, I was acutely aware that I had done something terrible to my right ankle. Placing weight on my foot was difficult, coupled with a sharp, scream-inducing pain, which traveled up the outside of my ankle and calf if I moved my leg in the wrong direction. I insisted on "toughing it out" and carefully walking home, with my husband helping me. It was obvious that I needed to be taken to the hospital, as my ankle was swelling up considerably.

At the ER, I was placed in a wheelchair, and wheeled in to be evaluated. I noticed that the NP was wearing a breast cancer pink ribbon pin. When I commented on this, she said that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer at age 36, and had undergone a double mastectomy, and chemo, which "kicked her ass". I told her that I was also a breast cancer patient, and that I was glad that her ass had been kicked, because that meant that she was still here! As I have written before, you really do bond with other cancer patients, which is one "gift" of having had this experience.

I was placed on a gurney, and after a while, was wheeled into the radiology area for several foot/ankle x-rays. At this moment, it occurred to me that this was the first time since being diagnosed that I was NOT here at my "usual" hospital for anything related to my cancer treatment; and it was a positive realization. Today, I was just "the woman with an ankle injury"; how different for someone who had spent many days there seeing doctors, undergoing surgeries, scans and tests, having my radiation treatments, etc.

I was sent home wearing an Aircast, but told to see an orthopedist ASAP, preferably the following day. I managed to get an appointment with a MD at my husband's ortho MD group, and they confirmed that I had a hairline fracture (described as a "good" fracture) where the sprained ligament attaches to the ankle bone. I left the orthopedist's office wearing a knee-length, black "boot" that looks as if it was designed for Darth Vader.

Mine is black, not navy blue (the above photo was the best one I could find on the web), and the ortho nurse told me "Black goes with everything" - hmmm - what would anyone wear with the likes of this futuristic, velcro-laden footwear? The boot makes the ankle feel a lot more protected and better isolates the joint; although, it also evokes images of Frankenstein lumbering around as well...!

I have been home now for a week (one more week to go!), forbidden to walk anywhere except for short trips to the bathroom or other areas on the same level. The pain has gone from a "9" to about a "2", but if I move in the "wrong" direction, or something presses on the outside of my ankle - yeoucchh! My foot is bruised on both sides of my ankle; I have purple bruises at the bottom of my toes (!), and the top surface of my foot is now turning a lovely yellow color, which complements the purple.

I'm seeing the orthopedist one week from today, and hopefully, then I can go back to the Aircast, which means that I can drive a car, and thus, return to work.

My wonderful husband has been taking very good care of me: driving me to the ER and to the orthopedist, preparing and bringing me my meals, getting my pillows, refilling my drinking bottle, helping me get around, and making me laugh, which really is very good medicine. He has been amazing, just as he was when I was recovering from my surgeries.

I'm determined not to gain more weight just because I can't exercise right now, and, as soon as it's medically possible, I'll be back "out there" on the trail, walking my post-cancer pounds away. This is just a setback, and I have already laughed about it! Why, it's as easy as "stepping in a hole"! So now, I know exactly how that expression came to be.


  1. oooops!, 3 years ago I got a boot too, my ankle still hurts. I think a cast is better than a boot but please take rest seriously. :)

  2. Thanks for the advice, my friend. I wore the "boot", which really protected the ankle, for almost 2 weeks; over the weekend, I switched to the Aircast, and I'm able to get around OK. I'm sorry to hear that you also had an injury to your ankle.