Monday, August 19, 2013

Swift, Like an Arrow

photo taken last Friday, in Cape Cod
I broke my ankle.

I went to church in Cambridge to hear my beautiful friend Chelsea sing a beautiful hymn, and as we walked out, I tripped on a shallow, wide, stone step and my ankle rolled beneath me.  I didn't hear it snap but the pain swallowed me immediately, and I knew I had done something terrible.

James went for the car and I held Edie in my lap until he came back.  He took her from me and the next thing I remember was James's face floating above me, commanding me to wake up.  I had passed out on the stone steps in front of the church building, in my lobster dress.

James carried me to the car and we drove back to Winchester.  I couldn't put my foot down on the floor of the car because every bump James went over ricocheted pain up my leg bones, so I held it up, breathing in and out as fully as I could, like I did when I had Edie.  It was just as ineffective at controlling the pain this time as it had been the last.  There was construction and James had to take a detour, and I just kept telling myself that we would get to the hospital eventually, that the drive would not last forever.  This thinking will be important later.

I've been to the E.R. in Winchester before, when Edie burned her hands, and they have valet parking, which I think is genius.  They were, like last time, very kind, and got me quickly.  They took x-rays, which required me to twist my ankle around.  I wanted to be a good patient more than it hurt, so I did as I was told.  I also was praying that it was only a bad sprain, and being able to move it felt promising.

But, it was broken after all.  I like to think I took the news stoically.  I think I did.  Until the pain medication started to wear off or kick in or until we got back into the car and I just cried and cried.

We had a small party that night (it was already planned), and I mostly sat in the house while James ran the show, and then everyone left and James brought me dinner and I cried some more.

Then I woke up this morning and cried again.

I saw an orthopedist who told me I have to be on crutches for six weeks.  I won't run for three months.  I took that stoically, too.

Right now a lot of my energy is dedicated to not feeling constantly furious with myself for not doing the zillions of things that would have prevented this from happening.  This list includes but is not limited to 1. changing Edie's diaper, 2. not wearing high heels, 3. looking down, 4. walking nearer a railing, 5. never walking into target 6. leaving the house earlier, 7. leaving church earlier, 8. not dancing with the Contemporary Repertory company in college, and so on.  All meaningless, all useless.

There is also some thought devoted to feeling really grateful.  Not for this experience necissarily, but really grateful for a healthy body to mourn.  For the feeling of absolute capability that stands out so sharply right now.  And the knowledge that, though this is achingly frustrating, it is also temporary.

I also feel so grateful for my sweet James, who is basically just doing everything for me.

I feel angry and frustrated and sad and grateful and so, so guilty and loved and worried, and that is all a lot of feel.  But I think of the car ride and remember that though six weeks or three months feels interminable, it will end.  It has to.


  1. Aw, poor Valerie! Do you need a care package? I can send a care package!
    You can make it through this! When I sprained my ankle (doing something stupid) and had to go to the hospital, it was really scary.

    At least think of all the work you can get done!
    And the books! The books you can read! And you now have crutches to hit annoying people with.

  2. Ugh. That sounds awful. Especially for a super active mom and runner who certainly doesn't spend a lot of time propped up with pillows on a couch.

    I'm one week in to six weeks of little-to-no-activity myself, and it's making me crazy to think that I have to connive somebody to drive me to and from school next week rather than take my typical biking/walking route. I've cried about that, too, and I don't even have to use crutches!

    What you should do, though, is get really savvy on crutches and then continue to use them for a little bit past the six week mark, just to make people sweat a little bit and worry that your condition might be permanent. Then, in a very public place, you should pull a Gene Wilder Willy Wonka moment and fall off your crutches into a scrumdidlyumptious somersault and enter full activity with a rousing chorus of cheers and applause from all your neighbors and friends.

    (P.S. I have mostly cried every day this week because I can't pick up Hollie or horseplay with her or anything like that. I know you must be facing something similar. Just remember: even if you can't JOIN her footrace, cheering her on from the sofa can be just as much fun for the both of you, especially if you always manage to have a pile of her books next to you that you can tempt her into your corner with, which I'm sure you already have going on anyway.)

  3. Twinners!!! I broke my ankle missing one step outside of a church. But then mine dislocated and I had to have emergency surgery. That was not a 1-up but a "I know exactly what you are going through." Hang in there. Milk it for all you can. Take the free meals. I'm sending positive vibes your way.

  4. Val, I am so sorry about your ankle! Sending hugs and wishes that it heals quickly and completely.

    I'll be in Boston for work 10/20-10/23 I could bring you some pie or other baked goodies (!) to help you recover if you're in town.

  5. hang in there, girl. i'm on my way... in a few weeks. my plan is to make you lots of sandwiches and to become edie's favorite person. does she like sandwiches?

  6. Oh Valerie! So sad! Sniff. Write it out. Write. It. Out. <3

  7. To think that you needed to have crutches for weeks to let it heal. It only means that you were badly hit. How are you doing now? I hope you are doing well and running those tracks again by now!

    Mark Wallace @ Chiropractic Memphis

  8. I’m sorry for that experience, Valerie. I’m pretty sure your ankle has been healed by now. I suggest you consult with a chiropractor in order to maintain your strength. I do hope you’re back to running and partying by this time. Well, be careful while walking or running ‘cause you don't want to experience such pain again. Have a great day! :)

    Erick Barnes @ DenverChiropractorForYou

  9. It’s really hard to avoid getting emotional when you were hurt that bad. You will surely miss the fun you had before. Anyway, how are you doing now? I hope you followed your orthopedics’ advice and refrained yourself from doing such activities for the time being. Doing so while you’re not yet fully recovered will only make it worse. Take care!

    Joan Stevens @ Stringer Chiropractic