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How I Broke my Foot
I had a choice to make on the morning I broke my foot. Go snorkeling or go slackline. I hadn’t been slacklining in a while and wanted to spend the day with Ryan so I decided on that activity. Little did I know that my future consisted of recovering from a broken foot during a global pandemic.
I wouldn’t claim to be a great or even good slackliner. I’ve made it across a slackline only a few times and never across the slackline we bought for practice. I felt I had a good grasp on recovering and landing correctly when my balance was thrown off but found out that I was sorely mistaken. I pushed myself to take one more step despite already being a bit wobbly. Next thing I knew my body was nearly horizontal to the ground as the line launched me off. My right leg instinctively shot out to help break the fall. In a split second the top of my right foot came into contact with the ground folding my toes towards the arch of my foot. I heard a loud pop, similar to a joint popping, followed by intense pain. The rest of my body collapsed to the ground. I immediately had the urge to simultaneously pass out and throw up.
After laying for a second or two. I shot to a seated position and announced that I was done with slacklining for the day. Initially, I thought I jammed my toes really bad. I didn’t equate the popping noise with my bones breaking immediately. The initial burst of intense pain was subsiding to a weird throbbing and full feeling in my foot. I tried to move my toes, but could barely wiggle them. I asked Ryan if he saw what happened and he said: “I looked really bad from my view, I looked like your foot folded in on itself.”
At that point, the pain in my foot started getting worse and I started to shake and cry uncontrollably. The sequence of events also started settling in and my brain had time to process what was going on. At this point, I was pretty sure I broke my foot, and to avoid going into shock or passing out I laid down and started doing breathing exercises as Ryan took down our slackline to bring up to the car.
The pain was intensifying and nausea started to get worse so I leaned more into my breathing exercises and focusing my attention on things around me, describing in detail what I was seeing in my head. Ryan came back from the car to help me get up the hill. Yes, the park we were at is basically one big hill and our car was at the top. He helped me to stand on my left leg and asked if I could put weight on my right foot. That way he could support me as I hobbled up the hill. The second my foot hit the grass I felt a shooting pain up my foot and at that point, I knew I couldn’t put any weight on it at all. So onto Ryan’s back, I went. Imagine carrying a 140-pound backpack up a steep hill that made crying and moaning noises into your ear the entire time. That’s what he experienced.
Going to the Emergency Room to find out I Broke my foot
At the top of the hill, I noticed a fire truck and asked Ryan if maybe we should get their attention. We decided against it so we could head to our apartment to get some ibuprofen for my pain and get some things to keep us comfy and occupied in the Emergency Room or Urgent Care waiting area. I ended up calling some friends that are medical professionals to see if either location would be better and their recommendation was the ER since they would be better equipped to manage my pain and get x-rays. The urgent care facility would likely send me to the ER anyhow due to those reasons.
We ended up going to the wrong ER. How? you might wonder. Well the ER we intended to go to is literally right next to the one we went to. It ended up working out really well, but having to provide information like your social security number while you are in the worst pain in your life and sobbing uncontrollably is not exactly easy.
To my surprise there wasn’t a significant amount of people in the waiting area. I’m not sure if the hospital had already started some lightweight protocols for COVID-19 or if it was a slow late morning. Check-in was quick and they brought us back to a quiet private observation room. According to the nurse we were in the overflow area with only one other patient. The ER doctor came in and did a quick once over then ordered pain meds (a shot of Dilaudid) and xrays. Once the order went through I was given an anti-nausea pill (Zofran) and the shot of pain meds. Within minutes the pain became a faint throbbing and I felt like I was floating. At this point I stopped crying and moaning, which marked about an hour and a half of doing that uncontrollably. My body was able to finally relax.
I was fully expecting to be taken somewhere to have my x-rays completed, but to my surprise a radiologic technologist came in to take the x-rays with a portable machine. It took about 30 min for the x-rays to develop and be analyzed. The doctor came back in, showed me the x-rays and that’s when I heard the dreaded confirmation “You broke your foot”. In fact, I broke three metatarsals in my foot and there was a possibility that I injured my lisfranc ligament, which is the first time I have ever heard of that ligament. The doctor recommended an orthopedist at my regular hospital to see as soon as possible and was on his way before I got my splint put on and given a pair of crutches. Everything considered, I was in the ER for only 2.5 hours from check-in to discharge.
On our way home we stopped to get something to eat since we hadn’t eaten since breakfast and then stopped at the pharmacy to pick up my prescription of Hydrocodone. Once at home I collapsed on the couch and immediately ordered crutch pads for my armpits and hands since they were already feeling bruised. I also ordered a shower stool, leg pillow, ice packs, and holder.
Finding out I needed surgery
Two major things happened the week after I broke my foot; Ryan’s work switched to work from home due to COVID-19 precautions and I found out I needed surgery as it appeared that in addition to breaking my metatarsals I also damaged my Lisfranc ligament.
Three days after breaking my foot I was in to see my Orthopedist. A resident removed my splint from the ER and did a full examination. My foot was much more swollen and bruised than it was just a few days prior. And I had the dreaded bruise on the bottom of my foot that is typically a clear indicator that I injured my lisfranc ligament in some way.
Without a CT scan there was no way to really tell if something was wrong with my lisfranc ligament. I would have to return the next day to get a scan of my foot, which I was firmly reminded not to move during the short procedure multiple times by an adorable rad tech who gave me a warm blanket despite me saying I didn’t need one.
The walk to the CT machine sealed the deal on me buying my knee scooter along with the basket, drink holder, and cushion. I don’t know how people manage on crutches when they are non-weight bearing, but I wasn’t going to be one of them. I did extensive research (hours) on what device was right for me, the knee scooter or this new-ish leg crutch that allows you to walk around hands-free. I ultimately decided on the knee scooter due to not wanting to have to strap myself in and take the crutch off everytime I wanted to go to the bathroom or sit down.
The day after I had my CT scan I found out the bad news, I needed to have foot surgery to secure the Lisfranc region of my foot. The space between my big and second toe was too wide, which indicated instability in that region. I was not surprised. The bottom of my foot felt off since I broke my foot and now I knew why. But I was overwhelmed, so I called Ryan and cried while we discussed when having surgery worked for us. I could have it as soon as the next day, however, I needed to get the paperwork started at work for short-term disability so we opted for the following week for my surgery which I will detail in another post.
Things I’m glad I had or wish I bought right after I Broke my Foot
When you break your foot there are a few things that are certain. You’ll be uncomfortable for the foreseeable future and you will buy anything to help you be less uncomfortable. The first month after breaking my foot I had a package come to the house almost every day. The number of boxes we had was overwhelming at times. I want to share this list with you to help prevent some of that and also reduce the amount of time you will research these products and divert that time to healing. I did hours upon hours of research on these products and I’m happy with them all.
- Crutch cushions
- Knee scooter
- Scooter basket
- Scooter cushion
- Evenup shoe attachment for walking in a boot
- Drink holder
- Lots of ice packs
- Ice pack holder
- Leg pillow
- Laptop stand for the couch/bed
- Baskets to keep my stuff in the living room organized
- Plenty of books
- Jumpsuits since they are comfy and make you look put together
- Shower stool
- Lotion, my foot has been so dry
- Exercise bands
- Eye mask
- Lumbar pillow
- Weight blanket
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Daina - Founder of headedanywhere.com
Daina is the sunset and ocean obsessed photographer and writer behind underwater and adventure photography blog, Headed Anywhere, featuring photography tips and hacks to simplify your busy life.