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?