Thanksgiving and My First Broken Bone

Twenty-eight years and nine months without a broken bone. But, I can no longer say that “I’ve never broken a bone.”

What happened? Well, if you’re following my Instagram, you have a vague idea of what’s been going on. But, I’ll tell the whole story here.

The week before Thanksgiving week, Thanksgiving week, and the first weekend of December were extremely busy. (USA’s Thanksgiving was November 22, 2018.) And that’s when the entire story starts.

Cornucopia spilling winter squashes and apples onto a table with fall leaves on it, and three unlit pillar candles around the centerpiece.
Wide-angle photo of a table set for ten in a very narrow space.
Setup for 10 in my small house; this is the entire space.

The week before Thanksgiving, we had to clean the house and rearrange some furniture to fit ten people into our small house for Thanksgiving. I also had to run a bunch of errands to get the food (and random other odds and ends that were needed). That week, I think I went to at least ten different stores, all on my own (so I was walking), which is ridiculous for even a “normal” person. I have semi-permanent plantar fasciitis (it was so severe that it relapses frequently), so my feet were already pretty painful by the end of this week, along with the rest of my body.

Four smiling people wearing hairnets.
Celestial Seasoning Factory Tour; left to right: me, Christine, Mom, Dan

My family arrived the Monday before Thanksgiving. They drove from Southern California to Colorado, so we met them at their favorite pizza place in the mountains (about 40 minute drive for us) for dinner Monday night. We went and did the Celestial Seasonings tour on Tuesday, which is about an hour and half of driving (one way) and then 45 minutes of walking for the tour, then we had dinner in Golden before heading back to our house. All day Wednesday was Thanksgiving prep, which meant I was in the kitchen pretty much all day cooking anything that could be cooked ahead of time because I needed the space (my kitchen is tiny). Thursday was Thanksgiving, so I spent another nine hours in the kitchen cooking dinner, then helped Dan clean up after everyone went home. Friday we went out with Dan’s siblings and mom. We walked around in Downtown Denver, had drinks and dinner. Needless to say, my feet, hips, and back were cranky.

Six smiling people: man with thick beard holding a pool cue, woman, woman holding pool cue, clean-shaven man, man with closely trimmed beard, woman
Out with my in-laws; left to right: Jimmy (SIL’s bf), Shelby (sis-in-law), me, Dan, Dave (bro-in-law), Becky (mom-in-law)

Friday night, I noticed my foot hurt, but I thought I stabbed myself with my fingers taking my sock off because alcohol makes me extremely uncoordinated. Saturday, I spent the entire day on the couch, resting and trying to recover. Sunday evening, I noticed my foot was sore, but so was everything else, so I brushed it off.

Close up of right foot showing large bruise.
Bruise on Tuesday the 27th, after sleeping and not walking on it for 10 hours.

Monday morning, I had physical therapy. My therapist poked a spot on my foot and it was really tender, but sometimes the treatment she was doing is uncomfortable, so I said nothing as she moved on quickly. The exercises were difficult that day, but we both figured I was overly fatigued from Thanksgiving. Monday night, however, I noticed a giant bruise on my foot when I was taking a shower (yes, that was the first time I’d looked at my foot – I hadn’t paid it much attention when I showered on Saturday). I don’t usually bruise when I get an injury of any kind, so that was disconcerting to both Dan and myself. I decided wrapping it during the day would probably help it heal since it was tender, but otherwise paid it no attention.

Of course, I was busy that entire week. I started realizing something wasn’t right on Tuesday because we were at our fertility consult (read about it here) and I kept having my attention pulled to my foot. Normally, I can easily ignore pain when necessary, but this kept demanding my attention. Thursday, we did a happy hour for Dan at a restaurant with his coworkers (to celebrate his 30th birthday) and it was a lot of fun, but sitting at bar height chairs all night had my foot yelling at me by the end of the night.

Sock-less foot in a brown brace and a blue brace on the ankle
The only way I could walk by Friday without crying.

Friday morning, I decided to call my doctor’s office. Both Dan and I were starting to think I had broken my foot somehow, a stress fracture maybe, or something else not so great. I went in and saw the nurse practitioner, described everything, and she sent me for an x-ray. The results didn’t come back Friday, but Dan and I were almost positive that my foot was broken – the bruise would not start healing, and I was in pain. Every few hours, I would say “my foot really hurts,” which is not normal behavior for me.

That weekend was a giant two-day surprise party for Dan’s birthday that I had been planning since summer, so we proceeded with the plans! Saturday, we went bowling and then had everyone back at the house for a party (pizza, games, etc). Sunday, a smaller group of us went to do an escape room. Since some of his friends that he rarely sees were coming from out of state, I wanted to make sure he got plenty of time to visit with them, so we did the escape room and then went to get lunch. The weekend was amazing, and I participated fully, but Sunday night my foot and ankle were absolutely killing me.

Monday (December 3rd), the nurse practitioner called to tell me that the x-ray was normal, so I’d “just sprained it,” so to keep it wrapped and use crutches if I felt I needed to. Thankfully, she called before physical therapy, so I had my physical therapist do a full evaluation of my foot and show me how to wrap it best. She determined I had severely sprained my right ankle, and definitely had a stress fracture in my foot. She wrote me a “prescription” for a boot, but said it may work better to see about getting a prescription from my doctor (insurance logistics).

Image: OrthoInfo

I called the doctor’s office again, and the nurse practitioner called me back as I was driving Mikki to a radio-iodine treatment for her hyperthyroid. I was emotionally preoccupied, so when the nurse practitioner pretty much brushed me off (“well, if you can’t use crutches, then don’t – it was just a suggestion”), I didn’t try advocating for myself at all. By the time I got home on Monday, however, I was in excruciating pain. Dan was working late, but I had to call him home before he was done because I couldn’t even walk across the room to use the restroom without screaming and crying. Thankfully, the pain medication kicked in relatively quickly after he got home and I avoided the ER.

Tuesday (December 4th), I called my doctor’s office yet again and said I needed an appointment with my doctor as soon as possible because I was in far too much pain to be ignored. Thankfully, he had appointments available the same day, so I got my injured rump in the car and headed over to the office. I needed to use the crutches because I was in too much pain.

Two lower legs: one in a black boot for a broken foot, the other in sweat pants and a sock
My “too big” boot

I explained my ordeal to the doctor. I also mentioned that when I was out with my in-laws, I remembered stumbling on a cobblestone crosswalk and rolling my ankle (but I wasn’t sober, so I didn’t know if it hurt at the time or not). He started the exam, and we kept talking, and when he barely pushed on my 3rd and 4th metatarsal (right near the bruise) I yelled out in pain mid-sentence, and he comically scooted away before I could kick him in the face. We were both surprised, because I tend not to react like that to pain (even if it’s severe) but it felt like he’d jammed his finger through my foot instead of barely touching it. He agreed that it was broken, possibly on both of the bones, and that I needed a boot ASAP. He had a medium-sized boot, which is technically too big, but it’s better than nothing. Also, the “too big” boot was free, so we all agreed it was better than walking around on a broken foot without the boot and better for my body than trying to use crutches.

Thankfully, my sister-in-law has a boot from when she broke her foot a while ago, and it should fit me much better. Dan and I are driving up to her house Friday morning (about 2 hours away) to retrieve it before the weekend. My physical therapist also was in a boot earlier this year, and had purchased something called an “even up” that she’ll let me borrow – it fits on your other shoe so that your feet are both at the same height when you’re walking so you don’t mess up your pelvis and back. Dan picked it up at the studio on his way home from work yesterday (Wednesday).

My doctor also gave me the form for the DMV to get a temporary handicap placard. I do need to have a talk with him at some point about getting a permanent one – I need it at times due to my disabilities – but I’m glad the temporary one is going to be easy to get. I’m going to be in this boot for 4 to 6 weeks (until after 2019 starts), so I don’t want to be hobbling from the back of busy holiday parking lots on ice and snow – that sounds like a good way to get casts on every limb. Hopefully, I can get the permit today, or on Friday after we meet up with my sister-in-law.

I’ve now broken a bone, possibly two at the same time, and my ankle is severely sprained. I wish I had a cool story to go with it, or even a story I could embellish and make cool, but my story is literally “I made my foot too tired trying to be normal and then I tripped.” Oh well, that’s the life of the chronically ill sometimes! You’ve just got to laugh sometimes, though it can get some pretty odd looks out of people.

Next time I host a big dinner, I think I’ll do a better job of using accessibility devices and services, and delegating!

"Thanksgiving and First Broken Bone" on Finding Life's Silver Sun

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