By now, you’ve probably heard that I’ve fallen into the category of “injured runner.” Literally. I took a tumble on Saturday that led to two broken bones and a complete upheaval of my life.
We are on Day 5 of this condition, with many more days to come. Being an injured runner, especially a severely injured one, was 100% NOT the plan, but these are the cards I’ve been dealt. Now, I have to find a way to deal with it.
So… What happened?
On Saturday morning, I woke up with my alarm at 5:25AM and dressed for my morning run. I brushed my teeth, tightened my ponytail and headed for the stairs, as I normally do. The next thing I knew, my heel slipped on the carpeted step and I went down on my right foot in an explosion of splintering pain.
I remember screaming for Mr PugRunner. In those first minutes, I hung on the railing of the steps, looking at my rapidly swelling ankle and the surreal bulges out of each side. I couldn’t catch my breath, couldn’t stop crying and couldn’t stop thinking “maybe it’s ok”.
It was not ok.
Obviously, we had to go to the hospital. I scooted on my rear down to the bottom of the first flight of stairs, and at this point, S showed up. Mr PugRunner was rushing around trying to get everything for the drive, but we quickly realized that I was hyperventilating too badly to get out to our car. My blood pressure crashed and I thought I was going to vomit from the pain. S kept talking to me and we decided that we needed to call 911.
It was so embarrassing to have the emergency vehicles pull up to the house. Thankfully, they didn’t use their sirens, so we didn’t end up as a curiosity on our neighborhood Facebook page. The paramedics assessed my situation and transferred me to the stretcher, stabilized my leg, and loaded me into the ambulance. S said she would follow the ambulance while Mr PugRunner took care of the dogs so I wouldn’t be alone, and I was grateful for that.Mustapha Muhammed
Off to the ER.
The ambulance ride was mostly uneventful. The EMTs hooked me up to a heart rate monitor, kept the ice pack on my leg and led me through my medical history. When we arrived at the ER, it was blessedly quiet and I was wheeled right into a room. My first nurse checked me in, ordered an X-ray and and IV, and turned me over to the next shift.
The X-ray showed that I had broken two bones, which set my heart rate off again. I was still in so much shock with all the adrenaline rushing through me, and the hospital staff was way more concerned with getting me calmed down than anything else.
I will spare you the photos of my leg, but by this point my foot and ankle were swollen beyond belief. The ER doctor introduced himself and explained to me what was going on. He said that I would need surgery but was too swollen for them to proceed, so they were going to do a twilight sedation, manipulate my bones while I was under and then get me set up in a splint until I could meet with an orthopedic surgeon.
I remember a second doctor coming in whose focus would be on my pain management and heart rate, followed by a team of about 10 people (nurses, med students and assorted staff). My anxiety kicked in and I remember crying because it made me so nervous to see everyone coming just for me. They were absolute pros, though, and got me under, set properly, and back out of sedation in just one shot. I don’t remember a thing.
Hurry up and wait.
Saturday and Sunday passed in a bit of a haze. I spent a lot of time in bed and some on the couch because I just couldn’t get comfortable. My neighbor set up a meal train for us so we wouldn’t have to worry about food in the weeks ahead. Another friend found a wheelchair we could borrow to help make getting around easier (I hate the crutches).
The orthopedic surgeon weighs in.
After some miscommunication and runaround, Mr PugRunner brought me to the orthopedic surgeon’s office on Tuesday morning. Yes, I’m wearing pajama pants. That’s all I can fit over the splint.
We met with Dr. S, and found him very informative and straightforward. I appreciate kindness and compassion from medical staff, but most of all, I want someone who is knowledgeable and honest, even if that means hard truths this injured runner doesn’t want to hear.
Dr. S checked out my X-rays, and opened the splint. He confirmed the breaks in my tibia and fibula, and was very pleased with the look of what the ER staff did with setting and stabilizing those bones.
The next steps.
The plan is that I will be scheduled for surgery late next week, schedule-permitting. Dr. S will open incisions in both sides of my ankle. He will place two screws in one side, and a plate with screws in the other. This hardware is intended to last for my lifetime and he assured me that he places it in such a way I will never know it’s there.
Instead of a hard cast, I will be put back in a splint, similar to what I’m wearing now. When he removes the stitches, about a week after the surgery, if he likes what he sees, he will put me in a walking cast and I can start PT. While he can’t guarantee my leg will be the same as it was, Dr S. said I should be back to running in four to six months. It’s not the news I wanted, but I’ll be back.
Adjusting to the new normal.
I honestly thought the doctors would splint me up, hand me the crutches, and send me on my way. How hard could it possibly be to go ahead and resume my life?
Spoiler alert: that is NOT how it’s going. Guys, this is hard. Everything is hard. It’s an effort to sit down, to get up, to go up and down the stairs. The smallest things are exhausting. I can manage the crutches (although I am terrified of slipping). I need help getting dressed because I can’t bend manipulate my leg the right way. I’ve figured out how to bathe and how to wash my hair, although I need supervision for both. Driving is a big fat no, but we did get a temporary disabled parking placard, to make things more accessible for me.
I’m humbled. Family, friends and acquaintances have rushed to our rescue. From S coming over at 5:40 in the morning to help keep me calm while Mr PugRunner called 911 and keeping little man occupied, to my parents coming to the ER to take over childcare while we got settled, to offers to wash my hair and decorate our Christmas tree, it has been a constant wave of kindness and generosity. I don’t know how we’re going to thank and repay everyone for how they have helped us.
I’m also angry and sad. It’s normal, I guess. I haven’t quite come to terms with the fact that my running is over for the year (short of my goal, no less) and that I will be missing all of my favorite holiday races. It could have been worse, is what I keep reminding myself, but the disappointment is pretty consuming. My two biggest stress relievers (running and kickboxing) are gone, along with my independence. It’s a bit of an emotional roller coaster, and not one I’m ready to face head on.
Onward and upward.
I will tell you I’m not going down like this. I’m hopeful the PT will help me feel better about not being able to run (or walk or do anything productive) and I’m determined to work hard to get back to what I love.
In the meantime, it’s rest and recovery. I’m going to need to find a new hobby, or finally write that novel I always said I would. The possibilities are endless.
Are you following my Instagram? I’ve got a video up in my Stories, with all the gruesome details if you want to check it out.
Have you ever broken anything? How was your recovery?
Any suggestions on what fun activities I can do while I’m recuperating?
Today, we join KookyRunner and Zenaida for Tuesday Topics! Join the linkup and play along!
Zenaida Arroyo says
Oh wow! I am so sorry about your leg. I will admit that I cringed reading your story. I simply cannot imagine the pain as I have never broken anything. As for fun activities, how about Netflix and Prime marathons? That’s what I would do if it were me. Sending you lots of hugs and hopes for a speedy recovery!
I have never broken anything and I never want to again. The weird thing is that even now, I don’t feel the actual breaks. I’m grateful for it, and I’m sure I’ll be in heaps of pain after the surgery.
I don’t watch a lot of tv. We are watching Season 2 of Jack Ryan right now, and it’s just not working for me, even though I loved Season 1. I’m hoping maybe to get a vinyl cutter for Christmas, or art supplies, so I can keep busy. My mom brought over a bunch of jigsaw puzzles, but it’s hard to sit at a table to do them right now. I
Aww, Jen, I’m just so sorry. Outside of stress fractures, nothing traumatic like yours. I hope you heal quickly. Did you contact my friend? There is also Jessie from The Right Fits who suffered a terrible break like yours and has run several marathons since!
Wendy recently posted…10 Unique Holiday Gifts for the Runner in Your Life and Links to Other Gift Lists
Not yet, but I will. Today was a hard day and I confess to wallowing just a bit. I’ll head over to Jessie’s blog, too. I’m afraid to get my hopes too high, but I definitely need something upbeat.
Kimberly Hatting says
As I said, I can totally emphasize with you on the shock and disbelief. Having never broken a bone (let alone two), there’s no way I can know what you’re going through, though. It’s great that you have a strong support network; that was a huge factor in my recovery (at least the emotional aspect). As busy and active as you are, though, I bet it won’t take you long to assimilate to your new “normal” and find a way to resume most of your daily stuff. For now, the best thing you can do is rest. And be grateful you got such quick & excellent care…and that it wasn’t worse. ((Hugs))
This is my first broken bone ever. Well. First two. Resting is absolutely not in my wheelhouse and I hate the lack of privacy and independence. By the end of this, my pistol squats are going to be fire. Not driving is the worst, especially at this time of year. And I’m so sad not being able to run my Turkey Trot and all the other holiday races.
We are so lucky for our network. They have literally washed in to help us and I just can’t be more thankful.
Michelle @ Running with Attitude says
Oh my gosh Jen I am so sorry! I’ve never broken a bone and cannot imagine how painful that must have been. I’m so glad you have so much support around you. Hoping for a speedy recovery for you!
I have had gallstones, birthed a child with minimal pain meds and had a tonsillectomy as an adult. Of those three, the tonsillectomy recovery was the worst. That moment where my leg broke? Blew that straight out of the water. I saw stars, and I pride myself on my pain tolerance.
Kim G says
Everything that you’re feeling now is totally understandable. It makes sense to have so many different emotions. Wishing you a speedy recovery!
Thanks, Kim. I’m trying not to be a brat, but it’s hard.
Deborah Brooks says
Jen I had a similar experience about 14 years ago with a ski accident. I needed surgery as well. Yes it’s life changing for sure. Thankfully your son is a lot older so he can do stuff for himself. It’s all about managing for the first few weeks and then it starts to get easier. I could not drive for a few months either so that is hard to get used to.You will be surprised at how you figure out ways to do stuff. You will be back and stronger for it! On the positive side my accident actually led me to become a runner so you never know what positive thing might come out of it. Hang in there!
A has been incredible. He is worried sick because mommy is NEVER down like this but he is scrambling around and hates leaving me. The driving thing is tough. I’m super independent and the idea that I can’t zip to the store or Target is awful. Like I said, I’m not going down like this. However, sometimes, it hits me in just a wave of sadness and upset and it’s hard to pull out fit.
Anna @ Pipersrun says
So sorry this happened to you. I was on crutches last April for 10 days and couldn’t drive for 3-4 weeks. It wasn’t fun, especially with my girls in sports etc.
I want to say hang in their but I know that’s hard to do. Focus on little things and little accomplishments rather than long term stuff. I ended up reading way more than I ever did which was kinda nice!
The not driving thing is awful! I want to drive!
good tips. I need to get some more books.
This is exactly the same injury I had except that I had surgery immediately since I had no swelling. Running with compression socks. Yay
He is correct I had the screws and plate and I can’t feel them at all. I run faster and longer than before. You will be fine.
It will be painful. It will take many many months that will feel like forever. There will be a lot of PT.
If you have any questions just ask.
Thank you so much. I will definitely reach out. I just want to get a firm surgery date – I’m terrible at this waiting game.I’m already so frustrated with everything and I need to stop.
I’m glad thought that the screws and plates aren’t obvious. I’m also a little upset about the scarring from the incisions, but I guess it’s a cool story.
I can take the pain if it’s for a positive outcome. It’s the pain right now when I can’t do anything about anything that is really getting me down.
the scars are barely visible. My leg is just a little bigger than the other but only I notice.
It is very scary. It will look GROSS after surgery. I have pics on my ipad that I never posted.
And then after months of not walking,,, you lose all muscle.. that is scary looking too.
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.
It’s not permanent or fatal…that’s the good news.
Darlene recently posted…Runfessions for November
I know how hard this is. I really do. But try to keep one thing in mind: this is temporary. You will run again. I know, ain’t NOBODY got time for this!! But as hard as it may be, try to focus on what’s ahead, not what’s happened – easier said than done for sure. Always here for you if you need to vent. And also? It’s totally ok to be angry and sad and frustrated. Don’t bottle that stuff up. Remember I’m 6 hours ahead of you so if you’re up in the middle of the night, can’t sleep and have thoughts going every which way? I’m just a mail or a PM away. xxxx
Oh my gosh, i am so sorry to hear this! That fall sounds scary. I’m glad you were well cared for. I know the road to recovery seems long from here but you will get there.
Heather Hart says
Ugh, girl, I hate all of this for you! And yes, crutches are horrible and NOT as easy as they look! I’ve had my fair share of injuries that knocked me out for a few months. It’s super hard while you are in the midst of it, but the time eventually does pass. Like you said, it’s a great opportunity to work on something different!
Heather Hart recently posted…8 Pros & Cons of Waterproof Running Shoes
I’m super hopeful to be back on the road to PT soon. All this waiting is doing nothing for my nerves and anxiety.
The Accidental Marathoner says
Oh, man, this is so not bueno! I’m so sorry you have to deal with it. PT is amazing and you are focused and determined, so you will get back to it in tip-top shape. Of course things like puzzles, family games, catching up on series’ or movies you’ve never seen…but of course you want to get some physical activity in, too! I’m sure your PT will give you plenty of ideas for home exercises, and of course as the pain subsides you can find things to work on your core and upper body. Here’s to a quick and full recovery!
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Thanks. I have a bunch of puzzles downstairs but I’m still not able to sit at a table for very long because I have to keep my leg elevated. Reading, adult coloring books, tv and online shopping it is!
I can’t wait to just get this surgery done so we can move forward.
Stacie Seidman says
I’m so sorry this happened to you! I have a feeling if they can get you put back together and into a walking cast you’re going to feel a lot better about everything and have a lot more freedom. I hope you get to feeling better very soon!
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I can’t wait for the walking cast. I know it’s going to hurt, but I think I’m ready for it.
Wow. What an ordeal, but sounds lile you had an amazing healthcare team. So glad to read that.
I feel you re: PJs – that was me in a knee splint when I had surgery back in high school. High fashion.
Like you, I hate being the center of attention, so glad you were spared sirens.
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I think a good team makes everything a little easier. I’m glad for that.