How not to hurt yourself: a guide

It was late November or early December of this past year, and I was at work chatting at a friend’s desk. Chatting, standing, just like normal. My ankle turned, I cursed, and just continued on with my day. It hurt, yes, but it was nothing out of the ordinary; because of my Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (Hypermobility) (EDS), it happens often. I’m used to it by now. Fast-forward a few days, and my ankle is still bothering me (again, normal) but it’s more painful than normal. I purchased an ankle brace, and it seemed to help a bit. Fast-forward another few weeks or so. Ankle was feeling decent, and I was tired of wearing the brace, so I stopped. No issues.

Then the pain started. Again. With a vengeance. I can’t remember doing anything, so I’m going with re-irritation of the initial injury. Not impressed. Saw the doc, she suggested physical therapy and a RICE regimen. I asked if I should be in a walking boot, and she said it wasn’t worth the expense. I told  her I had one in the car – I already own one (from a past injury). She said absolutely, since I already have it – it was worth wearing it. We scheduled a follow-up for 4 weeks out, then went to schedule physical therapy. I started wearing the boot.

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That was January 25.

I had one physical therapy appointment, but because of the inflammation in my ankle we couldn’t do anything. It was a rather expensive icing session, and the physical therapist, who I have been seeing off and on for about 6 years, suggested I get a prescription for Prednisone to knock out some of the inflammation and pain. It did nothing.

Just a week later I’m in so much pain after running an errand that I’m in tears. It’s my right ankle, and though I have an hour commute, I had been driving in to work – not wearing the boot to drive, but putting it on when I get to work and then wearing it all day. That day when I ran out I was in and out of the stores quickly, but the pain was intense. When I got back to work, I called to schedule an appointment with the doc again; I was able to get in the next day. Doc recommended an MRI, which after much back-and-forth was scheduled for less than a week later, with the follow-up with a podiatrist almost two weeks after the MRI. Additionally, she suggested I stop driving; with the ability to work from home, I’m happy with the option to rest my ankle and not spend a fortune on gas for a couple weeks.

MRI went fine – I requested that the MRI report was sent to both the doctor’s office (standard) and directly to me, so that I could see what the issue was – see if I was imagining things as I was beginning to believe – and really get an idea of how badly I had injured myself. I received the report the Monday following the MRI (which was on a Thursday), and it stated that I had some swelling, and something called Sinus Tarsi Syndrome. I did my research, and it essentially said that I had simply turned my ankle one time too many. With such a report, I was comfortable with it – it would likely require an injection of some sort of corticosteroid, and I could mosey on my way.

I wish it had been that easy.

What the actual outcome is is so much more than Sinus Tarsi Syndrome – I actually ruptured two tendons – the Peroneus Longus and the Peroneus Brevis – and tore a ligament. There’s also some sort of debris in the front of my ankle – the doctor doesn’t know if it is bone fragments or scar tissue or fatty tissue (he equated it to chicken fat) – that will need to be cleaned out. So it will be a process. It will be a combination of arthroscopic (for the front) and open (for the tendon/ligament repair) surgery, so it will be rather extensive. I’m not looking forward to it. At all. I’m actually quite terrified.

The first three weeks after surgery I will be in a plaster cast, unable to weight-bear, unable to move my ankle. The three weeks following the cast will be spent in a splint – I’ll still be unable to weight-bear, but apparently will be able to start with range of motion and physical therapy. After that is a walking boot, and we’ll go from there. Of course, moving at whatever pace the healing will let me. I won’t be able to drive, which means I won’t be able to get to work. I have been lucky enough to be able to work from home for the last few weeks, and I should be able to do the same until I can get back into the office. I’m lucky to have a great work environment, great co-workers, and a great boss. It’s a relief to have one less thing to worry about. I just need to worry about the healing, and getting better.

Three and a half years ago I had my left knee operated on, and I ended up with an open wound, infection, and a long, arduous, painful healing process.  It was a horrible experience, and I hoped to never have surgery again. I was at my lowest point ever right after surgery – I spent most evenings sobbing my eyes out because I couldn’t deal with the pain, couldn’t deal with my shoulders dislocating every time I pulled myself up the stairs on my butt, couldn’t deal with the inability to be independent. I relied on my husband for EVERYTHING – I couldn’t put ANY weight on my foot, couldn’t shower on my own, couldn’t prepare my own meals.

I don’t want that to happen again, of course. I want it to be as smooth as a process as it could be. Of course.

There’s one big difference between last time and this time: little man. He’ll be 18 months old in a couple weeks, and he’s running circles around us already. He is an amazingly active boy, and loves to have us playing on the floor with him. One of his favorite things to do is to get a book and plop on the closest lap for that person to read to him – and then making the rounds to the next lap. He’s a whirling dervish  and this is going to be quite the experience. I love to be first and foremost the front-runner for munchkin’s care: I love to give him baths, I love to give him snuggles and smooches before bed. I love to get him jammied up and help him brush his little teeth and hair. I’m going to have to lean on my husband a lot more for the next couple months. We’re also incredibly lucky to have extremely supportive families. My husband’s family lives just down the road, and though my family is further away, they’re right here when we need them. It’s yet another weight off of our shoulders.

My main concern is that the surgery won’t actually prevent this from happening again; it’s only going to fix the issue for now. So yeah… I’m terrified that it’s going to happen again. And I’ll have to do the surgery all over again. I apparently should just figure out how to not hurt myself again.

That’s the key to everything: I need to figure out how to avoid hurting myself. When I was first diagnosed with EDS, the rheumatologist was real forthcoming: “if pain, then injury; be careful.” That was the extent of his guidance/notes/everything. I need to start wearing ankle braces ALL the time. I need to try and remember to keep BOTH feet on the floor and balanced, instead of keeping my weight on one foot more than the other. It’s time to start keeping myself in check. It’s time to start being careful. For me. For my munchkin. For my family.

6 thoughts on “How not to hurt yourself: a guide

    • Thank you – I appreciate that. It’s going to be extremely tough with Logan, but we’ll get through it!! I’m not as worried about the surgery as I am how I’ll get through everything with munchkin. We’ll see! Thanks for stopping by.🙂

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