Injuries, for me, are emotionally triggering. I’m not entirely sure I realized it until this last round of immobilization with my ankle.
As you may have read, here and here, I really did a # on my ankle over the summer. I honestly thought I just twisted it the first time, which is common for me to do since this ankle, as you’ll read, is known to give out from years of trauma. The second time I hurt it, I knew I did something worse when even after a few weeks, it just didn’t feel right.
A trip to the orthopedic surgeon and then an MRI told me some pretty shitty news.
- 2 torn ligaments
- 1 partially torn ligament
- 1 compression fracture
(And I had been walking around on it for a month. Yeaaaah, if I’m ever accused of being a baby with pain, you’ll know that they must be talking about someone else.)
Turns out, injuring my ankle and feeling alone afterwards aren’t mutually exclusive things.
I originally broke my ankle in high school while playing soccer. I can still hear it pop. YOWZERS. (God, what an underused word.) I was rolled into a nurses office on an office chair, because I couldn’t walk, by an older junior or senior guy and of course, it had to be between classes so everyone and their mother was in the hallway. Ugh. The things you remember, right?
The nurse called my mom to tell her I needed to go to the hospital and all I can really remember was what an inconvenience it was. In fact, over the next couple weeks, it was cemented what a pain in the ass I was for being injured. Having to be taken to the hospital. Having to be on bed rest for the first week all alone during the day. Then having to be driven to school early because it took me longer to get to class.
Let’s just say I was happy to get that friggin’ cast off.
I re-injured my ankle a couple more times by either rolling it or playing soccer in college. I never got PT after my first injury so I’m not sure I ever strengthened it properly.
It was perfectly aligned for another injury.
Being immobile means my selfie game is strong.
Like the one I got on winter break in college while tubing (In the snow, y’all. The SNOW.) Basically, a friend came down the hill on his tube, barreled into me and my ankle rolled and that same bone I injured in high school…snapped.
I was in the middle of nowhere Michigan and I called my dad to ask about my insurance to go to the ER. He lived in Chicago and was annoyed with my mom, who lived in Michigan, for not driving up to help me. Man, what a pain in the ass this ankle is, I tell ya’. So back to, you know, getting help. I found my way to an ER thanks to friends and the doc told me I needed to get that bone fixed, with surgery. He threw me in an Aircast and recommended a hospital near where I lived at Michigan State University.
Basically, it was a bone spur that kept snapping each time I rolled my ankle and if we took out the part that kept breaking off…viola. Simple enough, right?
I must have scheduled this surgery for a shitty time because no parental unit could join me. To my Dad’s defense, he did live in another state. I remember my best friend volunteering to drive me to the hospital and feeling like such an inconvenience.
We both looked at each other when the doctor asked us both to sign papers “in case anything went wrong” in surgery. We were 22! 22-year-olds that sort of shrugged and laughed about it. But it hurt for me.
She was a trooper though. When I refused to take the Vicodin the nurse wanted me to take before leaving, she told me she’d stick by my side if anything weird happened. (I had never taken pain meds like that.) She eventually ended up helping me sign my name at the pharmacy when I picked up my prescription because I had no idea what universe I was in.
Then I went home and laid on my bed. Alone. That familiar place. I ended up getting really sick that week too. To add insult to literal injury–a double ear infection and sinus infection. I had to have a roommate drive my hobbling ass to the student medical center to get my meds. I remember calling my mom crying about how crappy I felt. I was told I could drive home if I wanted help…
Injuries aren’t for the faint of heart, you guys.
Since then I’ve rolled my ankle a couple times, but the surgery, all in all, did its job. No more broken bones. I have a weird bone spur that sticks out, that my new orthopedic surgeon desperately wants to shave down, but it hasn’t given me too much grief.
Need some entertainment if I’m on bedrest, am I right?
So when my doctor told me 3 weeks ago, “You’re not going to be happy.” when she read the MRI results. I was pretty surprised.
Then she unwittingly hit me in the jugular.
“So I’m putting you in a hard cast. You’re going to be immobile for the next 6-8 weeks. Non-weight bearing, no driving, no flying and ideally on bedrest for as much as you can. Who do you have to help you?”
“What do you mean?”
“My husband is 1500 miles away doing his ER residency. My family, collectively lives in 3 separate states. I live alone. I’m alone.”
“Well do you have neighbors or coworkers or friends who can help you? Drive you everywhere?”
“I mean, I do, but that’s a lot to ask and it’s not like it’s a once-in-a-while thing. It’s for up to 8 weeks…”
She could sense my sadness perhaps. She told me if I wanted to, I could fly to Michigan, get a cast there and recover there for 8 weeks, if that’s where my husband was. With all the changes going on in my office and it being busy season as a marketing firm, I knew that wasn’t possible. I also needed to talk to my boss about it.
Thoughts, options, and plans were flowing through my head, but the overwhelming feeling was that I was just utterly alone. That same feeling came rushing back.
She asked me to call my husband so she could talk to him doctor-to-doctor and he could fully understand the predicament. Then she left me alone to talk to him and I successfully held back tears. He agreed with me that staying Florida was the much more efficient and better option, just not for having help.
So I took the weekend after that appointment to prepare for impending immobilization. Stocked up on food essentials, assembled my sweet, new knee scooter, moved floor rugs around so I could scoots freely, made essential items more accessible, got Uber coupons ready, put things in my fridge closer to the front so I didn’t have to do a unique one-legged yoga move to grab it…
Then, the best thing happened.
- My coworker overheard me talking to my boss, who was more than accommodating about the situation (such a good guy) and she told me she could drive me in the mornings to work. Then another coworker said, “CP. I can take you home.”
- A friend from elementary school set up a meal train for me online and dear friends, some I haven’t seen in yearrrrrs, donated so I could have items delivered to my house.
- My dad keeps calling and texting me to see how I am doing. He even sent me a picture today of the soccer game he was at and told me how much it reminded him of me. *tear*
- My brother and sister-in-law sent me sweet upgrades for my scooter, as well as a Spice Girls DVD and pizza gift card. Hello, Friday nights in!
- The hubster flew in last weekend to help me out and run errands with me, even sit on the beach while I yearn for the day in a few weeks that I can go in the ocean again.
- Coworkers and friends sent me Uber/Lyft coupons, Blue Apron coupons and Hello Fresh coupons.
- A friend drove me to pick up my pain meds and handicap parking pass.
It made me a bit uncomfortable. In fact, this entire process makes me uncomfortable, the whole asking for help thing. I’m vulnerable and don’t like it.
There are still moments that I cry and I get frustrated that I can’t do something as quickly as I once could and there is no one around to help me at my house.
But guess what? When I got over it and actually admitted the whole thing was shitty, some pretty awesome people came through. So even if I’m sitting in my bed typing this, and I haven’t seen another human being in 48 hours besides the delivery guys, I’m feeling pretty okay.
I’ve come from a place of feeling like a nuisance, to being fiercely independent because of it and then eventually waving the white flag and admitting I was in a shit situation and needed help. I’m thankful for the change and relieved to not be let down.
Being vulnerable isn’t easy. You risk being hurt again. I’m so grateful that’s not the case this time.
Only 4 more weeks in a cast. 2 more weeks in a walking boot. And however many weeks of PT left.
Bring it on.