Meditations on a sprained ankle.

Jun 13 2012 Published by under Passing thoughts, Personal

Two Fridays ago, I was poised to jump into what I hoped would be a very productive summer. I had submitted spring semester grades with time to spare (and then submitted the change-of-grade form for the one I had computed incorrectly). I had gotten my online course ready to be switched on for the summer session. I had gotten through some necessary committee work and made a plan to keep the rest from encroaching too severely on my research and writing schedule.

And then, walking my younger offspring to the car after swim practice, I turned my ankle, fell hard, watched it swell up for awhile, then looked away when the pain and nausea got to be too much.

I found out the next afternoon at Urgent Care that it wasn't fractured, just badly sprained, and that probably, if I was good, it would be better within four weeks.

I found out that if you injure yourself after 7:30 on a Friday evening Urgent Care will close before you can get there. I also found out that it doesn't matter much if Urgent Care opens Saturday morning when the only other licensed driver in the house now has to be two places at once (owing to my inability to get the kid to the swim meet and work our shift timing the heats, since being upright still provoked nausea).

I found out that it's worth hanging on to that old pair of crutches, but that propelling myself on them is a lot harder than I remember it being 20 years ago.

I found out that most of the tasks that were part of my daily routine are a lot harder on one leg than on two, especially when my hands are busy clutching the crutches for dear life. Making breakfast for the kids, or packing their lunches, suddenly requires serious planning just to get food items from the fridge to the work surface without mishap.

I learned that a bath feels less like a luxurious indulgence when a shower is not an option.

I learned that I have a hard time asking for help, or remembering that an egalitarian household arrangement probably shouldn't require that one do 50% of the labor when one is incapacitated.

I learned that my offspring are capable of operating the washer and dryer (and changing the settings as appropriate for different loads of laundry). I also learned that instructing them to avoid overloading the washing machine by leaving an empty space big enough for a particular stuffed animal will lead my younger offspring to use that stuffed animal to do quality control before starting each load.

I found out that using FaceTime to participate in a committee meeting from home is a mixed blessing.

I found out that my relatively high pain threshold makes it harder to remember to take regular doses of ibuprofen for inflammation.

I found out that making a serious effort to stay off my ankle has made the muscles and joints in the rest of my body angry with me. This week, as I eased back into Pilates to avoid total bodily collapse, I discover that it only took a week and a half to develop serious asymmetries that weren't there before.

I found out that I have some gnarly bruises that may persist even after my mobility returns.

I found out that my sprained ankle doesn't interfere terribly with doing tasks that don't require too much thought, like grading, or editing pieces of writing that are close to done. However, it seems to have made it harder for me to write anything new, or to do any coherent project planning. I found out that I feel bad about this because there doesn't seem to be an obvious physical reason why my messed up ankle should mess with my head.

6 responses so far

  • D. C. Sessions says:

    After two lower-leg incapacitations the same year, I found out that three-wheeled scooters are so superior to crutches and walkers that there's no comparison.

  • Jim Thomerson says:

    Years ago, I sprained an ankle in Mexico, jumping off a culvert to look in and see if there were any bats. It wasn't as painful as yours, but I think it took me much longer than a month to walk without a noticeable limp, and several years before I could run.

  • Zuska says:

    Pain DOES interfere with the ability to think creatively. The brain is preoccupied with pain and has nothing left for creation. Speaking as one who knows a little on the subject from experience.

  • DJMH says:

    Sorry to hear it, Dr F-R! Your kids seems pretty engaged in the family life--nothing wrong with having them step up for the meal preparation too....also nothing wrong with lowering your standards for what constitutes a "meal" ;) No one's going to get scurvy from a month of frozen pizza or take-out or what have you.

    Also my theory is that even when you're not in active pain, the brain is devoting resources to directing the healing process, and that's why it's harder to think. Hope you feel better..

  • Super Sally says:

    Oooohhhhhhhh, Janet. Not again! Not even on ice, but at least not a broken hip. I don't think Lloyd's of London [http://www.lloyds.com/] is going to write insurance on the joints in your lower body based on your past history.

    Sorry for your pain and the disruption to your plans. Glad to hear the Sprogs and Better-half are pitching in. Hope they have learned to sort laundry better than Duke did in college--he still had some pink underwear when we married.

    When the Sprogs get a break in their enhanced household duties, maybe they could write a Sprog-blog on what they have learned through this experience... (some editing might be desirable, though).

    Get that ankle healed and feeling fine again, so you can be productive.
    Sally and Duke

  • jb says:

    Sorry to hear about this. I found that once you've sprained one ankle, it will always be the weaker one. I've sprained my left ankle 3 times (each time ballooning as if I had H2O-retention).

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