My husband, a car chief for a race team, has been known to utter an oft used expression from his industry when he sees something bad about to happen: “This is all gonna end in a lot of fiberglass and tears“. The resulting damage is usually explained by another phrase: “He ran out of track and talent at the same time“.
I never thought those words would apply to me and certainly not in such a mundane happenstance.
It was a gorgeous spring day on our acreage. For weeks my daughter and I had been taking advantage of the mild late winter weather to cut back overgrowth that was weighing down fences, raking out dead branches and clearing larger areas for actual leisure use. The pile in the center of the far back yard near the edge of the back 40 was getting rather big. We finally had a day with little to no wind perfect for burning. The ashes were going to be spread into our garden area to help nurture the soil. That was the plan. And for a while, it was a good one.
Cue Murphy. You know, Murphy, the guy who says anything that can go wrong, will. He made a spectacular appearance.
Here I am on this lovely warm Saturday, half a dozen projects around the house and yard in motion and chatting on the phone with my Bestie on the Westie (Constance lives in California). I’m raking burning bits of branches, leaves and other debris back towards the central burn area which has become considerably smaller since it started. Fire works like that, who knew? That’s when I feel a sharp, burning pain in my left foot. Yep, the left. Damn that hurts! I jerk my foot up, mutter an expletive or two and and desperately trying to figure out what in the world just went through my shoe into my foot (a nail was my first guess) when I roll the right foot under me in what must have looked to any observer- thankfully there were none- like some warped version of Swan Lake. I heard the SNAP before I felt myself collapse. Right into the smoldering edges of the burn pile. I’d screamed when it happened, and dropped my phone. I pulled myself, and luckily the phone, backwards out of the ashes into the grass, tears streaming down my face. This really, REALLY hurt. And I have a high threshold.
Connie was alarmed asking what happened. Between gasps of breath through the pain I told her I thought I’d just broken my ankle. I called out to the house for help but they couldn’t hear me. Thank goodness I had pulled out the phone. Connie made the calls and texts to my husband to locate me out back. By the time he made it out to me I’d discovered it was a piece of locust tree branch, with two inch thorns, that had pierced my left foot. I removed it and attempted to put my right ankle into a position it could tolerate.
Not. A. Good. Idea. But still it had to be done. As did the removal of the shoe. From the rate of the swelling it was either that or have it cut off later.
Richard, bless this man, quickly realized I couldn’t bear any weight in any way and that it was too far to carry me home. He retrieved the smaller yard tractor and an attached cart, lined carefully with a moving blanket to try to give me some comfort. After several agonizing tries he was able to get me seated in the cart, and as he drove to the house I took a good critical look at the sum of all circumstances involved and gave him new directions. Emergency room. Now.
I hate seeing a doctor for anything. The fact I was willing to go without any argument or coercion of any kind on his part elicited an immediate response. Once there, and whisked back quickly to a large exam room, he came to the realization it was bad with a capital B when I didn’t refuse painkillers. That high tolerance I have for pain is mirrored by a low tolerance for drugs, especially anything narcotic. I get very….interesting…on even low doses. I may be conscious but I have no recollection of events. I avoid it whenever possible and have a great relationship with things like Tylenol and Aleve. They work and there’s no pesky what day is it? after-effects.
Unfortunately for me while the pharmacy was debating what I could tolerate without going for a three day trip to La La Land, Dr. Brisk Bedsidemanner, MD, was confirming his initial diagnosis (and the immediate affirmation of every nurse I’d seen so far) of a broken ankle. It needed splinting, he said, and he got right down to business with the help of a nearby nurse who he instructed to cup my heel and pull my toes to straighten the break while he applied an OrthoGlass splint and wrappings. The problem? This was BEFORE the nice young lady with the syringes came back. “Oh you started without me!” she exclaimed watching me grip the sheets with clenched fists while buckets of tears poured down my face. To her credit, Nurse Lenda Hand got about as pale as me just assisting and kept muttering soft placating tones in my ear meant to get me through it. I’ll take that drink now please, and make it a double.
Yet here still, never once taking a hand away from a comforting touch, was my Marine. Richard stayed for the entire process. He didn’t leave my side at all except for being shoo’ed away for the mobile xray. Then BOOM, the moment they finished, rear end planted firmly in the seat alongside me, making sure I didn’t go through any of it alone. This man is my rock in more ways than I can enumerate.
Most of the rest of the er visit is kind of fuzzy around the edges. The small dose of dilaudid and phenergan I’d received had me feeling pretty pleasant by then. What wasn’t ok was when it wore off, and being a weekend evening by the time I was discharged, no pharmacies were open. Amazingly, Walmart’s was the next day, which just happened to be on Easter Sunday. Say what you will about the big box megastore evil corporation, I would have gladly kissed their entire board of directors for that precious half pill I took as soon as my husband returned.
It takes a really special kind of graceful to trip over your own two feet in your own backyard and wind up in this hot mess. I ended up with a slightly different diagnosis on the specifics of the break during my follow up appointment with an orthopedic surgeon, who seemed almost disappointed he couldn’t slice ‘n’ dice with his expensive tinkertoys and put things back together again. He advised about 8 weeks in cast, with a check up in two to be sure it was healing properly and didn’t need “intervention” (that’s a fancy specialist’s word for “break it all over again and start fresh”), and if all went to plan, a ‘boot’ after that for a few weeks. Seems his take on it was that it was worse than originally thought, but not bad enough for surgery. So the good news was, no new scars, the bad news was a longer healing time than I had originally been counseled. Sheesh for all this I could have at least had a good backstory! Nope, just pathetic, clutzy me.
Ever broken an ankle? No? DON’T. I can’t begin to tell you just how much it tops my list of Things That Suck. I can’t do much of anything. And I’m always doing something. My friends tell me just reading about my day to day life wears them out. Now scooting up my stairs for bed every night on my buttski is enough to tire me. My daughter has been a huge help and of course, my husband has taken on a lot more. I foresee a few weeks of laundry constantly being a load or two behind, tons of spaghetti dinners made by my teenager and my woodwork not having that warm gleam that only weekly lemon oil and elbow grease can bring out. I’ll get over it. If I keep telling myself that, sooner or later I’ll believe it.
It did end up in tears and fiberglass, just like Richard says. And an important lesson from the universe to SLOW DOWN and stop trying to do everything. I’m not superwoman and I got a very painful reminder of that fact. Still, I have to do something so I’ve begun a genealogy project. It’s going well and I’m learning a great deal about where I really come from (hint, its not Krypton). But me being, well, ME, I’m also plotting ways to get my garden planted without tasking it out to the rest of the family or friends. I’ll think of a way. Hopefully the universe doesn’t break the other one on me for trying!