Ankle Reflections

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I twisted my ankle on the evening of June 25, 2018. On June 26th, my birthday, I was informed it was broken, put in a temporary cast, and handed a pair of crutches. (Add moving around on crutches to my description of Hell.)

Ankle Cast & Crutches

On June 27th, I visited my foot doctor and got the temporary cast removed in exchange for a boot, much more tolerable. Next stop was to pick up a knee scooter, the best thing ever invented for staying off your foot, ankle, and leg to comply with your doctor’s “no weight-bearing for four to six weeks” instructions. I settled in for a long summer’s rest.

Ankle Scooter

My scooter…with my companions, the stuffed toy flamingo, Scarlet, and our dog, Samson the 2nd. The flamingo, a.k.a. Gladys, as Glen called her, was my inspiration animal. Flamingos are brilliant at life on one leg. The shoe for my working leg rests on my fluffy knee pad, ready to go when I get up.

In early August, we determined that the ankle did not heal well after six-weeks, so surgery followed on August 15, the day after our wedding anniversary.

Ankle Surgery Drawing

The surgeon trimmed the fragment at the base of the fibula and reattached ligaments.

My housebound scooting life was extended for another five weeks non-weight bearing to heal. I elevated my foot above my head, as directed, for weeks.

Ankle Post-Surgery Boot Elevation

Propped up in the bedroom, looking out to the living room.

And heal I did! [Insert applause and cheers.] I advanced to walking with a walker on September 19, 2018. I was able to retire the walker twelve days later.

On October 1, 2018, I took my first steps on my own. As I write, I’m still in a boot and walking is challenging, but progress is mine! This has been a long journey with many ups and downs.

I have a short list of lessons learned to share with you. I think the list applies to most struggles, so perhaps you will relate to it. Perhaps it will help us find courage together when hard days come. For those of you who express your spirituality differently than I do, thank you for accepting my references to God and my connection to him in this post.

Ankle Reflections

  1. Work toward a healthier weight through healthy eating. When you depend on your upper body to support you in times like this, extra pounds make that harder.
  2. Work toward physical strength, flexibility, and endurance. Take good care of your body so you are better equipped in physical struggles.
  3. Focus on the present and what’s true. When times are hard, it is easy to be negative and fill with fear. Counteract that by staying in the moment and thinking through what is true, shutting down discouraging “what if…” thoughts.
  4. Enjoy the fact that God is with you and goes before you. He loves you.
  5. Priorities can include slow living, developing your gifts, investing in your passions while you are sidelined. Be creative in doing that. Enjoy good people, good moments, good movies, and good meals.
  6. Time with people you love is life-giving. Be grateful for the time you have to visit while you wait to rejoin the hectic life you knew before.
  7. Togetherness with friends and family in your home is meaningful and rich. They do not care what you look like, nor how the house is not as clean as you’d like. Get over it and enjoy the company.
  8. Busy is often a choice that short circuits peace.
  9. Guard against personal idols – things you counted on for happiness that do not keep that promise in hard circumstances.
  10. Be grateful that God meets our needs, even when so much of normal life or how you had it pictured gets stripped away. You still have what you need in the moment, though you may not recognize it until later.
  11. Clutter around the house is a burden when you are limited physically. Clear it out to make moving around the house, reaching what you need, and enjoying your space easier. Having less to take care of when you can’t get around, or even in good health, is a benefit, too.
  12. Combat fear and the desire to control or it will eat you alive.
  13. Watch fear in medical situations dissipate with trusting God in new ways, and having friends or family accompany you to appointments and procedures.
  14. Waiting is an easy difficult practice of high value. Learn to do it well.
  15. Results are often beyond our control, as is timing. Watch for God’s intimate involvement in both, and just do the very next thing you have to do. Don’t think ahead.
  16. Friendship is wealth to the soul. Connection with a local church brings support in ways that melt the scared heart. A hard-working husband and best friend is an amazing gift, and such a loving, caring support in times of physical limits. Let people help and give you time to rest and recover. It’s good for everyone. Lose your desire to pay them back, and commit to helping others when you are able instead.
  17. Develop a living space that is one-level without steps to manage for times when your legs are not doing what they were designed to do.
  18. Slow mornings are a luxury. If you can rest comfortably, don’t wish that away.
  19. If you are comfortable, you will find time to do things you want to do, but never had the time to sit still long enough to do them. Embrace that, but understand that healing sometimes demands all your creative energy, so be patient with yourself when you feel too depleted to be creative with projects and interests.
  20. A lovely view from your resting room is a gift to your soul. Bird feeders, flowers, plants, trees, the sky, if included in your view, are calming to the soul. The activity of birds and butterflies, moving clouds and the breeze, and noises in the neighborhood all help you realize you are not alone.
Ankle London Pastry

A sweet friend sent favorite cinnamon buns from London Pastry, Redmond, Washington to encourage me during this time. Fun friends make hard times better.

Ankle Get Well Flowers

Another friend saw Glen at the grocery store and handed him a big note and a bunch of flowers. This was another of many moments that made this difficult time easier.

Stay charming, friends! In good days, and also, with special blessings, in rough seasons.

20 Tips for Thriving in a Foot Boot

The doctor just informed you that someone would be right in to show you how to wear the boot you’ll be married to for weeks, depending on your situation. For me it was a three-week relationship, and then two more weeks. For a broken pinky toe. Seemed like a lot, when all I heard from others was “they don’t do anything for sprained or broken toes.” Oh, but they do. And these words hung in the air at the podiatrist’s office that day, “Let’s see if we can avoid surgery. We might need to put a pin in your small toe.” I suddenly found motivation to manage the inconvenience. Clunk around in a boot in the heat of the summer to avoid surgery? I can do this!

Anyway, during our newly formed relationship, my boot and I have realized there are some ways to make this whole commitment more pleasant. Here are our twenty tips to make the most of an undesired situation.

1. Ask for a boot that matches your dog. But really, don’t bother. They only come in black from what I can tell. Our dog, Samson, is a yellow lab. You’d be able to tell the color of his fur just by looking at my boot. So I have some choices, since my dog does not match my boot. I can try to keep the fur off of it or at least to a minimum. I gave up on that. So, my next best choice has two parts: 1) think of the fur as tiny little love letters from the pup; and 2) act as if I am unaware of the light dog fur all over my black boot. Another possibility is to do a brief dog exchange with a friend who owns a chocolate or black dog.

2. Cherish the convenience of getting dropped off closer to the door of the day’s destinations, when you are riding with someone else.

3. Make up a glamorous story of what happened. Jamming my pinky toe on a bedroom chair leg just does not get the attention I deserve. Someone suggested I say, “Shark bite.”

4. Pretend you are a stellar athlete, a legend in your own mind, with a long successful career, and lament that you could have made the Olympic team of your choice, even still at your vintage age.

5. Accept that the boot is actually awkwardly comfortable, though not your first choice, and choose to adjust to it without whining. Too much.

6. Remember anytime we are forced to slow down it is actually a good thing.

7. Celebrate each and every week you complete on your journey! Treat yourself to something sweet, dinner out, flowers, or whatever brings you a sense of reward and joy in the moment. Notice the progress in the small steps.

8. Do not cheat the boot. Do not leave the boot at home and don your sassy little sandals for that special social event. Be true to the boot, and truly wear it every day all day according to the doctor’s instructions. My shoe choice was quite limited. Respect the boot.

9. Enjoy the icebreaker, the conversation starter role it plays.

10. Be grateful. It could be worse. See the positive. Time will pass. This will be a memory some day. Healing is happening. It is usually not related to 3D’s of true despair: death, disease, or divorce. It is inconvenient, but not tragic in most cases. However, if you are in a lot of pain, we recognize this is more of a challenge.

11. Your pride may take a hit. Don’t hit back. Smile daily and realize the boot is a healing tool, and on your team. Clunk along through your day. Do your part with pride on the healing journey.

12. Ask a good friend with a steady hand to paint greetings on your toenails. Remember the word needs to be readable from the observer’s angle, not yours. Paint something with five letters, or four and a space. People who stare down at your boot might get a chuckle. And you, too. The letters will be upside down and backwards from your view. Examples:

• I’ M (space toe) O K
• H E L L O

13. Avoid deep puddles. With minor puddles, you will be high and dry in the boot. With one foot, anyway.

14. Make your boot your BBFF, your Boot Best Friend Fornow. Go everywhere together. Find ways to be comfortable. Elevate it at home. Stretch your leg out at the table.

15. Try essential oils. I read online, the ultimate source for truth and accurate information, that a blend of oils would help bones heal. I don’t know if it really helped or not, but it was worth a try. I contacted my local essential oil friend, and she made me a certain blend in a roll-on bottle. The fragrance is calming to me at least, and rubbing it gently in the toe area stimulated circulation and relaxed stressed tissue. Remember, I am not giving promises or medical advice, so check with your physician, alternative medicine person, or essential oils friends.

16. Recognize this opportunity to craft your character: build patience, trust in the process, find contentment, persevere, find joy in more than your circumstances, and build empathy for others with physical challenges. Stronger character and being secure in your joys that exist outside your circumstances is lovely.

17. Ask for and accept help as needed. You may or may not be able to do everything you did before the boot. Don’t be a martyr. You’ve helped many. It’s your turn to accept generosity of spirit from helpful others.

18. Be kind to yourself. A warm soak in Epsom salts and fresh lavender is a simple homemade pampering moment for me. We do work harder to live a normal life when we are in a splint or boot. Take care of yourself. Stop for a cup of coffee you’d enjoy, or whatever little thing perks you up.

19. Cheer at bed time. You’ve made it through another day!

20. Keep chocolate handy. That can sweeten any rough day. For me, it’s dark chocolate. A few squares, if you can maintain self-control, takes your mind off the challenges of the day, if only for a moment or two of bliss.

I need to acknowledge a few things that made my boot time more tolerable: I’ve experienced minimal to no pain. I don’t have to sleep in the boot. I live on the first floor. I injured my left foot, not my driving foot. I am married to a considerate and helpful man. I know we all have different things that contribute to our contentment and recovery, and I want to give credit to those who deal with healing with additional bumps in the road. Your experience may be harder than mine, and my heart goes out to you.

Even though we are older, probably more cautious, and generally not the risk takers we once were, accidents still happen. It is so helpful to keep a great attitude and follow the doctor’s orders. Do you have any good ideas to share to help us endure recovery when something health related has sent us a curve ball pitch? Share in the comments.

Even when limping, stay charming, friends!