Today is Day One

Today is day one. My healing begins today. Up to now, I have been waiting and resting. But today it starts.

On October 28, I was engaged in the highly risky activity of walking down the hall and tripped over my own foot. Catching myself to keep from falling, I came down on my left foot so hard that it created the Snap Heard Round The Office. I knew right away that it was Very Bad. It turned out to be a Lisfranc injury, which in my case meant that my foot went “splat” and my Lisfranc ligament pulled on my bone so hard that it fractured it in two places.

Two hours before I broke my foot, I had decided to train for a half-marathon.

Two months before, I had completed my first triathlon.

Eight months before that, I was so heavy and out of shape that I got winded climbing stairs. I considered myself a strong swimmer, but I had never run anywhere other than .. well, ok – I had never run at all. I didn’t even own a bike. But I was sick of feeling bad about myself and decided to do something.

I trained hard. I got strong in ways I had never been. I lost weight. I became a new person who wasn’t afraid to claim what was mine.

Then it all came to a screeching halt. My doctor said that a Lisfranc injury is rare, but when it happens, it can end an athlete’s career. The only treatment was surgery to have a screw put in my foot, which would prevent arthritis from developing later. After a lot of physical therapy, I might be able to run again one day, but never for long distances.

I was frankly in too much excruciating pain to be devastated. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that she doesn’t know me and she certainly doesn’t know what I am capable of. She is the expert on putting screws in feet. My PT and I would work on the rest.

Surgery was on November 17. Six weeks later – today – I got my cast off. I have ahead of me one to two months of wearing a boot, followed by 6 months to a year of wearing an orthotic. I can expect pain and swelling for all of those 6-12 months. I can expect my scars to take all of those 6-12 months to “mature.” I can’t expect anything to be easy.

But – it starts today.

First order of business: while using crutches, apply weight to the foot as tolerable. I attempted a walk to the bathroom at my office. Touched my foot to the floor, slowly and with only the slightest whisper of pressure. My foot complained, but not loudly. I kept on. Slowly. But I did it. More than one person commented on how good it was to see me getting around. It nearly brought me to tears to think that this was a major accomplishment. But it was. And I was proud and happy.

Mostly I was happy to be rid of that awful cast. Fun fact: no-one can prepare you for how it feels to wear a cast. Imagine a molting snake. My foot swelled so much that I outgrew my skin, but with the exception of my toes, it had nowhere to go so it stayed put, getting tighter and more leathery every day. “Uncomfortable” doesn’t begin to describe it.

At home this evening, I wanted desperately to take a bath, but knew that I didn’t want to soak in everything that was going to come off of my foot. When I took off my sock, it looked like it had snowed on our bed. So first I tried a combination of wiping with a damp cloth, rubbing and peeling. Fun fact: You have a lot more skin than you realize.

When I got everything that was loose, I still didn’t want to soak in what was left so I opted for a shower. I still have to use the shower chair for now, but it felt so good to sit and let the water roll down my leg and not worry about keeping it dry. I sat and worked on peeling off dead skin until there was no hot water left (we have a high-efficiency ultra low-flow shower head so please be Very Impressed by this).

More rubbing and peeling followed and then I settled in for my night’s work.

Commence prescribed exercises:

1. Curl toes. Think about curling toes. Watch second toe twitch uncontrollably. Repeat several times. OK, that was fun.

2. Attempt to write alphabet with toes. A – mostly a twitch. B – better. C D E – oh God I am mostly doing this with my knee. My foot isn’t moving at all. F – cry. G – Deep breath. Steel myself for the work that is to come. H – Cat is on me. He heard me cry. I – maybe with him sitting on my face and keeping me from seeing how very tiny my letters are, I will feel better. JK – Just going to pretend that I am doing this with my ankle and not my knee. L M N …

Next, aloe for the scars and sitting for a while to just enjoy the feeling of air on my skin; to appreciate the freedom from the constant rubbing of the hard cast; to bask in the knowledge that I could move my foot right now if I wanted to – I just don’t want to.

Then, compression stockings and back in the boot.

Today is Day One. How many will follow? I don’t know. But I hope you will keep me company on the ride.

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About leftfootchronicles

In 2010, I went from 0 to Triathlon in 8 months and completely changed my life in the process. In October, on the very day I decided I would train for a half-marathon, I tripped and suffered an injury to my left foot that, in the words of my doctor, ends athletes' careers. I am not prepared to give up so quickly.
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7 Responses to Today is Day One

  1. WFNYCraig says:

    This is AWESOME.

    Reading about your triathlon on Facebook is part of the reason I decided to train for one this year. I will gladly read and cheer you on as you go. I have had one of those ridiculously transformative years that you describe before you hurt your foot. I know the feelings that you long to get back to.

    I will virtually cheer you on. May I also recommend dailymile.com ? You can post workouts there too, and that community has been beyond supportive as I dropped 60 pounds and as I look to go where you have already been and hope to visit again; Mount Triathlon!

    • Craig,

      I am not sure I have the words to tell you what that means to me. That I in all my lumpy, unhealthy glory could be an influence on someone’s health and exercise regimen, well – it gives me the inspiration to keep going even though this is really hard right now.

      My plan is still to do the Cleveland Triathlon again in August, even if I have to walk the run. It’s the principle of the thing – I feel I have to prove that I’m not going to let a little thing like a crippling foot injury stop me.

      I have a little posse forming – we’d love to have you if you want to do the Cleveland Triathlon together. It involves swimming in the inner harbor so it’s not for the feint of heart, but being the staunch supporter of all things Cleveland that you are, I think you will love it.

      In the meantime, I will check out dailymile. Every little bit of help I can get is appreciated.

  2. fractralfoot says:

    I am glad to see you started the blog! Somehow, it’s helpful to document everything. I don’t know about running long distances, but I can certainly run now. It took just over a year, but I am probably older than you are, which makes a difference. When I started doing the alphabet with the foot, my ankle would move about 1/4th of an inch. It has pretty much full mobility now, so don’t get discouraged. Picking up marbles with toes is also fun!
    I have put your blog on my blog roll. Hope it is OK.

    • Thanks so much for the link – the more people know about this and read it, the more I am held accountable. And maybe I can help someone in the process.

      I am so grateful for the encouragement from someone who has been where I am. I can’t wait until I work my way up to marbles. Sounds like fun.

  3. Lisa says:

    Wow, Heather, this is great!! I can’t wait to read your book when you’re done with all of this!! 🙂

    Your writing is very inspirational, mostly because it’s very real. I love reading what you write because you write about your true feelings and reactions and then present them in a way that’s both entertaining and engaging. Most of all, I feel (and I’m sure others do too), that I can really relate to them. Great job!! You manage to touch what’s “Real” in all of us!!

  4. Jen says:

    Well, crap. Now I’m going to have to get off my couch and exercise. Between you and Craig, I’m constantly hearing about the lure of running. And if you can face training despite the pain, it seems like it may be time for me to start too.

    P.S. I did the toe alphabet as my first day of training too. 🙂

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