Wednesday, October 26, 2016

This Boot Is Made For Walking

This week presents us with another episode in the continuing saga of ankle adventures. I hope you're not tiring of this little fiasco; since I find myself unable to walk without assistance, drive a car, or do anything that would give me any other content about which to write, I have to go with what I know. And what I know right now is this: the term "walking boot" is grossly misleading. More like "torture boot" or "hobbling device."

Monday morning was the big day--I was emancipated from the bright orange cast after three weeks of confinement. We were up bright and early for our appointment at the Foot and Ankle Institute, and I got one more Driving Miss Daisy Susie ride in the backseat of the car.

The end of my chauffeur experience.

I was a little apprehensive about having the cast removed. I knew they wouldn't accidentally amputate my leg (right?), but I also enjoyed the protective covering that cast had provided for my ankle. It was orange, it was cheery, it was safe. It also weighed about 15 pounds and prevented me from washing my leg. Yes, I suppose it was time.

As easy as 1...



On the plus side, it's probably the skinniest my leg has ever been. I couldn't believe the tiny little chicken leg that was laying on the table before me. They gave me some gauze and rubbing alcohol to clean my stick leg up a bit, and then it was time to learn the wonders of the walking boot.

Any time a doctor or dentist tells you something is going to be "uncomfortable," you should drop everything and pray for mercy. I was told that walking on my still broken ankle would help promote healing, and that as long as I took it slow and "listened to your body," I would be in great shape. Listen to my body? The same one that feels like it's dying when I do more than three jumping jacks? The same body that wants to veto protein shakes in favor of Jimmy John's delivery (a recent example, as it happened yesterday for lunch)? Bless. What a long, strange trip it's already been.

For the record, I did ask for the most stylish boot option available. I find it impossible to believe this is it, but I was assured it was the best option for those with less-than-intact fibulas.

Straight out of the Herman Munster footwear collection, here it is.

When I said I was looking forward to cooler weather so I could wear boots, this was not what I had in mind. Following my general lifestyle mantra of more is more, I have to award it points based on sheer size alone. Or, as a lady in the veterinarian office waiting room so candidly put it, "That is the biggest boot I have ever seen--substantial!" I also have to laugh that Ortho Carolina wanted their logo on this thing. I'm not sure I would want myself as a brand ambassador at this point, but hey, they are the experts.

Channeling that very fabulous and innovate Reebok Pump, circa 1989, my air walk boot can also be inflated to provide more support. I've tried pumping that big boy full of air, I've tried it with virtually no air at all. The result is pretty much the same, with the comfort level hovering somewhere around being hit in the ankle with a sledgehammer every time I take a step. I'm sure my recovery is aided by the fact that I was already so athletic to begin with, so thank goodness for that (insert maniacal sarcastic laugh here).

I was happy when the doctor also recommended I keep my trusty scooter for another week as I adapt to walking on two legs again. Now, I have my choice of walking with crutches and my special shoe, lurching around in just the boot, or scootering to and from. I've amassed a lovely collection of mobility aids here beside my well-worn spot on the couch.

I still can't stand in the shower, so the shower seat lives to soak another day, and while I have to practice moving my foot as if pressing the gas pedal as part of my rehabilitation, I'm can't drive a car for a couple more weeks either. I'm a few days in, and while I can tell it's getting better by the day, it's going to be a while before I'm literally kicking up my heels again. Or jumping over that retaining wall in Clemson Memorial Stadium.

As always (or since this whole broken ankle situation began), I invite you to give thanks for the healthy bones in your life, and to have mercy on those who are not as fortunate. This walking boot may look cool, but I can promise you the struggle is real.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Injury Update: Who Needs a Fibula?

God willing, this is my last week in the bright orange cast. Not that it hasn't been fun; actually, it hasn't been. At all. But everyone has been so sweet in their concern over my injury, it's time for an update from my now well-worn spot on this couch.

First, sweet vindication. It turns out that, as I have been trying to tell those who would disapprove, I am not the only idiot fan to jump over the retaining wall in Clemson's Memorial Stadium after a game in order to gain access to the field. Apparently, I'm also not the only idiot fan to get hurt in doing so. Last week, my alma mater released new safety protocols for fans after football games. Among the most notable, no one is allowed to jump that wall any more. My dear friend John took this picture on Saturday after the game with me in mind:

I wish they had that signage a few weeks ago when I made my leap. I am a consummate rule follower and, while that cautionary suggestion didn't deter many Tiger fans, it would have stopped me in my tracks. But I digress. What's done is done, so let's discuss the current state of fractured fibula affairs.

I have been joking that in all this downtime I suddenly find myself with, I am going to write a children's book called Who Needs a Fibula? The answer, which I will stress repeatedly throughout the book, is that we all do. Life without a fibula is just not nearly as much fun. While the femur and the tibia get all the glory, that little fibula is the unsung hero, holding it all together. To illustrate my point (which I cannot stress enough), let me tell you how breaking a fibula can change your daily routine.

Most of you already know that my new method of transportation is my sporty knee scooter. I have now skillfully mastered the art of the 12-point turn to navigate even the tiniest parts of our home, and my scooter and I are kind of like Linus and his blanket. We roll everywhere together (pun intended). My clever and witty spouse has even given me the adorable (eye roll) nickname "Hot Wheels." I believe the definition of cruel irony is that moment when you roll your knee scooter over your one remaining good foot. There should be a "Backing Up" chapter in the knee scooter owner's manual, and it should simply say, "Do not back over your foot while backing up the knee scooter." We would all be better off.

While the scooter is a Godsend, it doesn't solve all my problems. For example, fixing one's hair and/or makeup while standing on one good leg and propping up on said scooter gets tiresome. Fast. I quickly discovered I don't have the stamina for corkscrew curls at this juncture in my recovery. I have been strictly a low ponytail girl, with (Gasp! Shock! Horror!) little to no makeup. I suppose since I'm not really leaving my house, this is a good way to save time, effort, and products. Still, when I get my foot back in proper working order, I am going to lay it all on as thick as a Texas beauty pageant contestant.

To add to my minimalist new style, the only thing that will fit over my cast is yoga pants. Once I figured this out, I went--where else?--straight to Amazon Prime and got myself another pair. The new pair has become my dress yoga pants while my other two pairs are my everyday, casual yoga pants. See, kids? That's why we need fibulas--otherwise we find ourselves calling elastic waistband stretch pants dress clothes, and that's just sad.

Here is a day-to-day of my view, and my style, during my recuperation. Strikingly similar, wouldn't you say?

Five days in the life of a fractured fibula. Yawn.

The broken fibula diet works nicely with elastic waistband pants, I have to say. Sweet Clint has been doing the grocery shopping, which means we have been eating quite well. The kitchen is stocked with all kinds of new-fangled treats--Swedish Fish Oreos, anyone? Our menus are a combination of guilty pleasures, death row inmates' last meal considerations, and all the junk food you've ever wanted to eat. We've had McDonald's, Mexican, pounds and pounds of pasta, Jimmy Johns, Thai snacks to bridge the gaps in our meal gluttony. Several sweet friends have brought us meals, and I think I had forgotten what good cooks I surround myself with! We've enjoyed comfort foods, casseroles, cookies, and sweets. Maybe once the Foot and Ankle Institute discharges me, they can send me straight to the fat farm.

Shockingly, gummy candy is perhaps not the best filling for an Oreo cookie.

I suppose I am getting some exercise. If you happen to be a frequent bathroom visitor such as myself, a fibula is a very nice thing to have. Otherwise, you will find yourself doing what trainers and fitness enthusiasts call a single leg pistol squat each time nature calls:

To look on the bright side, although this move is difficult, it will at least keep your casted leg in good shape. I'm sure my healthy leg is going to be svelte from propelling my scooter, so it's good to know my right one is also getting plenty of weight bearing exercise. Beast mode!

This bathroom discussion, and pardon me for it, brings me to my most dreaded time of day: bath time. I know Nurse Clint has to dread it, too, because it really is a team effort. Without a fibula, you will find yourself forced to use some pretty dreadful shower accessories. The first is the very fashionable and youthful shower seat. You've seen them in your Nana's nursing home, no doubt, and now we own one, too.

Slipping and sliding on one foot over the edge of the tub and onto this medical supply wonder is the closest thing to a thrill this cracked ankle customer gets. It will get your heart rate going, I assure you. Never underestimate the value of a non-deadly bathing experience.

Obviously, the bright orange cast cannot get wet; this is cast care 101. To aid in protecting Big Orange, the orthopedist gave us some thigh high freezer bag-type covers, which proved faulty. My cast did get a tad damp, which is not a good thing if you value hygiene, and my dutiful nurse wound up using the blow dryer on my foot for half an hour (not an experience either of us can say we treasured). Back to Amazon Prime we went, and now we employ the Seal Tight Cast Cover. Spoiler alert: it's basically a tourniquet with a vinyl bag attached.

I wanted to take a picture of myself with the cast cover on, but I couldn't bring myself to do it. This is partially because of modesty reasons and partially because I cannot stand wearing it one tenth of one second longer than I must. I don't know why this woman in the picture is smiling, unless the thing is so tight and has been worn for so long it has also cut off the blood flow to her brain. As soon as that evil cover is clamped down on my leg, my quadriceps starts to cramp and my toes--Clint can attest--turn blue. It is extremely environmentally friendly in the fact that it will reduce your shower time drastically, believe me. Welcome to the broken fibula life.

After two weeks of living as a shut-in, I was aching to get outside. Saturday, in a sheer act of desperation, I managed to curl my hair, throw on some makeup, don my best pair of yoga pants (the dress ones), and venture out. It's not so much getting out of my house that causes me trouble, it's getting up the stairs to get back in that becomes an American Ninja Warrior worthy obstacle. But the lure of a pumpkin spice latte and the need for a pumpkin for my front porch was greater than any daunting flight of stairs, and so we went. I am a woman who lives for holidays and I cannot be stopped.

Nothing says fall like cruising on your scooter through the pumpkin patch.

After my Saturday excitement, I had a relatively quiet Sunday--with the exception of this very unusual request I got via Instagram message. Up until this point, I thought Instagram was for pictures of food, flowers, and puppies; who knew this kind of deviant behavior was out there?

Needless to say, I did not accept this very creepy offer, although the hubs and I were both surprised to learn that breaking a fibula can also be a money making venture. I realize the bright orange cast is a thing of beauty, but $50 for ten minutes? This is a new form of (extravagant) weirdo. Thanks, but no thanks. I've seen it all now. 

I've got a doctor's appointment Monday morning to have my cast removed and to get myself a walking boot. As much as I love shoes, this isn't one I'm particularly excited about, but I am sure it will bring about a whole new set of adventures. I promise (as long as you don't have a cast fetish) to keep you posted. In the meantime, don't forget to take a moment and give thanks for the healthy fibulas in your life. Who needs it? We all do!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Sports Related Injury

We've joked for years about having "Stancil luck." Things tend to happen to both Clint and me that just don't happen to other people. I suppose Stancil luck is closely akin to Murphy's law, which basically says anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. Lest you think I'm exaggerating, we are the proud owners of a dog who went blind after cataract surgery six years ago, when the odds of that type of complication were one in one hundred thousand. Clearly, that little dog is a Stancil, too.

Saturday was the first Clemson football home game we have been able to attend this season, and it was a great one. ESPN's College Game Day broadcasted live from Bowman Field, two college girlfriends joined us for an afternoon of tailgating, two more friends were in town for the game and I was able to spend time catching up with them, and my friend John had a birthday tailgate to celebrate turning 40. The day was filled with festivities, all leading up to an 8:00 kickoff--a night game in Death Valley, with #3 Louisville coming to town to take on my #5 Clemson Tigers.

Our first tailgate of the season, and I think it turned out pretty well.

After all, what's a tailgate without a few accessories?

All decked out in our game day colors.

I got to spend some quality time with Sharon, who was my roommate our freshman year at Clemson.

From the birthday tailgate--what a perfect cake! 

Happy 40th Birthday to John! Thanks for such a great tailgate!

After all that afternoon fun, it was finally game time. You really could feel the excitement in the air. Our national championship dreams were at stake and so were theirs. Both quarterbacks are Heisman potential, and this showdown would likely put one out in front of the other. It was a must-win. One ESPN analyst said it was the best game he ever saw in person. Others called it "electrifying" and "thrilling." We stood practically the entire game and the Clemson crowd roared for four whole quarters. After some heart-stopping moments, the Tigers won, 42-36.

All smiles after a Tiger victory...just before we headed down to the field.

Clemson fans, including this one, were ecstatic! Win or lose, rushing onto the field after the game is still a tradition at my school. I'll admit that I've done it plenty of times before, but because it's not easy to gain access to the field, I usually only venture to try it after a big win--like our win over Louisville. My friends, Clint, and I hurried down the stadium stairs towards the field. Last year, after our win over Notre Dame, I got to the wall between the stands and the field and froze. It took me about five full minutes to get up enough courage to jump down. Oh, but not this time. I decided it was best to just get it over with and go. I pulled my dress down as best I could and just hurled myself over the top of that wall.

Just to prove I wasn't the only one who wanted on that field post game.

Have you ever hurt your foot so badly you could feel it in your teeth? That's kind of what it was like once I hit the ground. But I was determined not to ruin a fun night, and so I insisted it was just a sprain. Even when the swelling started and that ankle got big, fast. One of the trainers on the field came over and agreed: probably just a sprain. In the spirit of Clemson family, he told us someone would drive us in one of the athletic department golf carts back to our car, to avoid walking on my bum leg. We picked up some stray sideline ice (I'm basically part of the team now, right?) and used Clint's handkerchief as a makeshift bandage, and off we went. I did manage to grit my teeth and walk out of the stadium to the golf cart, all the while insisting I was fine. (I would have taken a picture of our group in the orange and white golf cart, but I was so focused on not throwing up from the pain that it kind of slipped my mind).

After just three short hours at nearby Oconee Memorial Hospital, during which this impatient patient tried to leave multiple times, the x-ray revealed that I did, in fact, break my fibula (as a side note, we were told there were three other people in the ER who had also gotten hurt trying to get on the field). A most disappointing diagnosis. I remained sure that they were wrong and that by the time we got back to Charlotte to an orthopedic doctor, I would be walking around and fit as a fiddle. I left Clemson with a souvenir set of crutches and this lovely splint:

Since it's my right ankle, I'm not able to drive, so we channeled Driving Miss Daisy all the way home, with me piled in the back seat and my chauffeur/nurse/husband probably regretting that "in sickness and in health" part of our vows. Monday morning, we arrived for our appointment at Ortho Carolina where I felt smug in the fact that while I entered on crutches, I would walk out to the car practically healed upon my exit. I just wasn't sure exactly how to do that since putting any pressure on my foot seemed unbearable. Still, modern medicine is full of miracles.

Another x-ray later and I got to choose the color for my cast. Yes, cast. Thankfully, this break doesn't require surgery, but I will need to wear a cast for three weeks before going back and being put in a walking boot. I don't think I even need to tell you what color cast I chose, right?

After all, since this happened in conjunction with the football game, I'm considering it a sports related injury. Even my doctor concurs. He and several nurses got a kick out of the orange cast. I'm glad I could spread my team spirit around the Foot and Ankle Institute on a Monday morning. Solid orange, indeed.

The very last trinket I got with this whole adventure (besides a trendy chic shower bench and some thigh high baggies to go over my cast) was a new set of wheels. Since I can't drive, and crutches are terrible, meet my new mode of transportation for the next three weeks.

It's called a knee scooter, and I'll be giving out free rides to anyone who wants to come visit. It works just about anywhere except for small spaces, which turns out is most of the house. I can, however, wheel and deal like a pro around that new kitchen of ours. Just when I thought I couldn't feel any more awkward or silly, here comes the scooter. But you all know that I live the glam life, so I suppose this shouldn't exactly come as a surprise.

I believe this injury will keep me benched for homecoming in two weeks. And that was probably my last foray onto the field after a game. If anyone needs me, the dog, my scooter, and I are all parked in my living room with "toes over nose" as the orthopedist says. I'm consoling myself with the fact that Saturday night in Clemson, this fan really did leave it all on the field. GO Tigers!