Working Through the Pain

I broke the fifth metatarsal, in a nice, spiral fashion.
This photo is six weeks after the initial break.

Today, just sitting on the couch hurts. My foot is giving me serious pains, and it’s something I have to live with now.

In November, just a week after hiking miles and miles through the Appalachian Mountains, I broke my foot in my own home.

I started a load of laundry that morning. It included sheets, so it was a bit unbalanced, causing more shaking than usual. I heard the golf ball retriever, broken and awaiting mending, fall over, but forgot about it while I was getting ready for work. I let the dogs back in the house and was about to head out, when I thought I should check to make sure the back door was locked. I walked down the two steps, stepped right on top of the fallen pole, and fell over sideways.

I sat there on the floor, stunned for a few moments, assessing any damage. I knew my ankle twisted under me, but that didn’t hurt. Nothing else seemed damaged.

Then I stood up. I tried to put my weight flat on my left foot, but the pain shot up through my leg. I could walk on my heel, so I tried that out. Some pain, but it was manageable. I tried again to put my foot flat. Nope. There was no way I could walk on it.

Chris was still in the mountains, just starting his drive home after his extended vacation. I was alone, with his truck my only transportation. There was no way I could support myself on that foot to climb into the truck.

I called my friend Autumn, who was already at work. No answer. I texted her: “I think I broke my foot. Literally.” I found sandals and gingerly put them on my feet, before the swelling could prevent it. I was prepared to drive myself.

Autumn responded within a couple minutes. She called back and asked what I needed, then she picked me up and drove me to the ER. She said she told our co-workers, “Lisa said literally. You know she means it.”

She stayed with me while I filled out the paperwork, but she also had work to do. She would return when I was ready to go home.

I sat down in the nearest chair and waited, watching a janitor mop the floor. He got to my area and asked me to move. Seriously. The floor was definitely more important than my foot. I hobbled to my feet and headed toward the other set of chairs, across wet floors. A man also waiting ran to my rescue and offered his arm to lean on. I made it to the other chairs, then was called into the exam room – right behind where I was originally sitting.

The nurse asked if I wanted the gentleman to wait with me, but I explained that he was a stranger. She was surprised. To be honest, so was I; it’s rare to see a good Samaritan step up.

The nurses asked a lot of questions, felt my foot, told me I had probably damaged the band across my foot. I knew it wasn’t just a band. I was taken to X-ray and continued to wait. Meanwhile, the pain was coming in waves. I clenched my teeth and squeezed my eyes shut until it subsided. Then it was like there was nothing wrong. It continued like this for an hour.

Finally, a nurse arrived and began putting a boot on my foot. I heard a voice in the hallway tell the nurse that crutches were necessary and no weight-bearing was allowed.

I’d never been on crutches. Had no idea how to use them efficiently. They sent me out the door with a prescription for anti-inflammatories and painkillers (which did not work), and orders to see an orthopedist in the next few days.

By that point, I had already spoken to Chris and posted the photo on the right on Facebook. Chris’ aunt and uncle called and asked if I needed anything. Autumn was picking me up, but I had no way to get my prescriptions. They offered to help.

I got back home and somehow managed to get up the two steps in front of the house, and down the two steps in the back. It was an interest sight, that’s for sure. I am not much of a hopper. But I kept laughing through it, knowing how funny it looked.

I settled in on the couch in the back room. Uncle Louie and Aunt Sarah arrived with flowers. They gathered my license and prescription forms and then picked up my prescriptions.

Then I was alone for six hours. Just me and the dogs. And a bladder that wondered how we were going to navigate the trip to the bathroom, up the stairs and around the hall.

Navigating Sam’s Club

Chris took great care of me when he got back, even though I was a horrible patient. I worked from home the rest of the week, then co-workers helped me get food and anything else I needed at work. It was very  much appreciated and very difficult at the same time. I rather like taking care of myself.

I spent two weeks on crutches before my body couldn’t take any more abuse. My skin was chafing and raw under my arms. I opted to rent a knee walker/scooter for a month. I spent two weeks on that, scooting around with efficiency, outrunning friends and getting lots of looks everywhere I went.

Then I spent two weeks limping in the boot. I needed to get back to being normal, and that was the quickest way. In the meantime, because I was slow on my feet, Chris pushed me around on flatbed carts at Sam’s Club and Home Depot. We got lots of comments: “Now that’s a good husband!” and “Must be nice!”

It wasn’t nice; it was frustrating. I didn’t like the looks, and I don’t like being the center of attention. I wanted people to stop looking at me and treating me like an invalid.

When the boot came off, I was still dealing with pain. I worked hard to walk normally, no matter how much it hurt. My hips had become sore from relying so much on my right side. I took ibuprofen like candy.

It’s June now. Seven months after my injury, and that bone is killing me today. I now have a built-in rain indicator, which is kind of cool, but I also have days where I don’t want to stand up.

But I have to stand up. I have to work out. I have to fight through every second of pain. This is something I have to live with, and I’m not going to let it keep me down.

I have weight to lose, health to regain and a life to live. A little broken bone is not going to stop me.

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