Here is the epilogue to my broken ankle experience. In December 2011, I broke my ankle while walking the dog in the woods in the dark. It was a ‘clean” break, requiring no surgery, but it still required months of a cast and crutches. That was followed by no weight-bearing, then by therapy and recuperation. As a normally very active, independent and self-sufficient woman, being incapacitated resulted in my being at times depressed, anxious and bored to tears. As I was moving through the healing process, I thought perhaps it would be helpful if I shared some of my experiences with others who might be in the same situation. I had no idea whether anyone would even read my saga, but I hoped some of the things I dealt with would be helpful to someone.
Wow, was I surprised!
As of yesterday, my five ankle-break related blogs have had nearly 26,000 views and a few hundred comments. I am thrilled to know that my trouble has helped others. But your comments have helped me as well. I reread all the comments, and wanted to share a few things I’ve learned from you:
You can break your ankle by just breathing!
OK, that’s not really true, but it has become evident we can break our bones in unexpected ways and there’s really no way to prevent an accident. Some of you broke your ankle by rock climbing, horseback riding, practicing for a roller derby, falling off a ladder, doing plyometric exercises, falling off a Segway, falling over a dog, running, getting hit by truck, bicycle riding, motorbiking, walking down a hill and falling off a bicycle. Some of you broke your ankle on vacation and some while at home. Obviously, if you’re active, there’s always a chance you could hurt yourself. There’s no common or expected or “normal” way to do it. It doesn’t really take much to crack those bones, so don’t feel bad if it happened to you.
People like to help people.
When I wrote about my broken ankle experience, I wanted to make sure you knew what to do if you had to travel, and what to expect when you went to the doctor or physical therapy. I wanted to share my thoughts on when you can drive and go back to work and to provide guidance on simple things like how to make it from one end of your house to the other without falling over furniture. But not only did I want to share my story with you, many of you shared your ideas with others as well. You suggested different methods to help heal; things I hadn’t heard of before you wrote about them. I hadn’t looked into a knee-scooter when I was healing but several commenters indicated this helped them tremendously to get around. Also, one of you thought that using hydrobaric oxygen therapy was helpful in healing, and another recommended using an aircast. It warmed my heart to see people helping people. So thank you to those of you who have provided your insight to help others. It’s truly appreciated.
The world is a small place
“It’s a small world” is a saying that is a bit overused, but it’s really true. I broke my ankle in a small patch of woods in a suburban area of New York. The experience I shared was read by people all over the world. That included not only the United States but the UK, Canada, Australia, Ireland, Malaysia, Philippines, New Zealand, Singapore, and many more locations. The bottom line is that if you have something you think may help others, share it. Even the one person who read from Cameroon, Herzegovina, and Paraguay must have been looking for some ankle-breakage insights. Because of the Internet and the immediate access to world-wide information, they were able to find something that may have helped. That is just too cool.
Feeling depressed is normal
I heard from several of you privately, and also read in your public comments, that it’s evident that having a broken ankle and being unable to do your usual activities can be depressing. When it happened to me, I thought I was just being silly feeling blue. But I have found that depression when dealing with any health issue is a totally normal feeling. When you’re used to doing what you want, when and how you want, and all of a sudden you have to rely on others, it’s aggravating and stunting. It’s stunting to your normal way of life. You can’t hop in the car and go to the store if you forgot to buy milk. You can’t wait till the last second to use the bathroom if you are at work because it takes time to get there. For crying out loud, you can’t even easily shower or shave or put your clothes on or cook or do laundry or walk from one end of the house to the other. You have to do everything in a different way. And not only that, the not knowing when you’ll be able to walk again without the crutches is nerve-wracking. So don’t get depressed about being depressed! Just understand it is definitely a normal reaction, and know that eventually you WILL be back to normal.
A virtual hug really does seem to help
As one who has been there, I know how frustrating having a broken ankle can be. I know how confining it is to be stuck at home. It’s frustrating to not be able to easily do any of your normal things without help. If I could be there to give you a real in-person hug, or to hold your hand and let you know that eventually you’ll be rocking & rolling in your usual style, I would do so! Unfortunately, I can’t fly around the world doing that. I can, however, provide a real look at everything I could think of, and wrapped around that entire description were my hugs to you! Anyone else in the same situation should know that they will eventually heal, they will eventually walk. In fact, they will eventually run and do whatever else they were doing pre-break. I wanted to send that virtual its-gonna-be-fine-don’t-worry message across the Internet wires. And from some of your notes, I do think that hug was reassembled on your end and was received. 🙂
So keep the comments coming – they are helpful to all who stop by!
All previous ankle blogs can be found at:
1) Part 1 of 5 – Dealing with splint, cast, crutches
2) Part 2 of 5 – Coping with work and home issues
3) Part 3 of 5 – Healing timeframes, cast removal, travel tips
4) Part 4 of 5 – The healing process and physical therapy
5) Part 5 of 5 – Getting around in public and working real estate
6) Emergency Room Visit
7) Lessons from an Invalid