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Alan_B : One false step, and my ankle was broken
Diary entry posted Thu 9:42pm 14 April 2011

In the previous 3 months, I had just taken up running again, after a nearly 6 year hiatus. I was determined to return to my old form, so I started entering races: first, a couple 10k races, then a 12k, a 15k, an 18k, and then a half marathon.

I was planning to sign up for my second half marathon with a friend, but it had filled up. So I found another event, which was a trail marathon. I wasn't completely new to trail running - I enjoy it - but some sections of a trail are giant opportunities to injure oneself.

It was mid-march, and I had completed the first 12 miles through some rough terrain - and then I stepped on my foot funny on a relatively flat, unthreatening section. *crack*. I thought I had torn a ligament. I limped the final mile, got a snack, hopped in my car, and drove an hour back home ...

It was pretty painful by the time I arrived. It was very difficult to walk out of the car to the sofa. That was the last time I put weight on my foot for 2 1/2 weeks.

My girlfriend, who was a saint through all of this, took me to urgent care that afternoon, where I discovered that I had broken the end of my fibula - the lateral malleolus. I got a splint, which I used for a few days, until I visited the orthopedist, who got me a boot.

I had it easy compared to some people on this board; my girlfriend took great care of me - drove me where ever I needed - and I used a knee scooter to get around. (I highly recommend a knee scooter for anyone who's injured this way.) The only time I was in serious pain was during that short walk from the car to the sofa. However, you quickly realize how much you take for granted when you don't have regular use of your foot. Not driving for 4 weeks was a big handicap.

2 1/2 weeks out, I was walking with the boot without crutches, but I only started feeling normal after 4 weeks, when I went to an elastic ankle brace. I'm surprised that, of the pain I do feel, most of it is in the leg muscles - even in the other leg.

I'm in my 5th week of recovery. I'm walking a couple miles each day, figuring that this modest, low impact exercise is the best thing I can do to recover, as long as the pain stays very modest. I still walk a little slow, with a slight detectable limp. I go back to the doctor in a week.

Although this was a modest break, I was hoping to be 100% at the end of six weeks - I don't think that was realistic. The thought of trail running at that time is crazy. My hope now is that I might be able to bicycle instead of run, take 2-3 hour hikes, and start ballroom dancing again - as long as I take it easy. I'll follow doctor's orders, of course. My main goal in keeping this diary is to share what recovery might look like if there's an injury of my magnitude - not a life-changing break, but significant enough to keep someone from their lifestyle.

I still hope to running - I was aiming at my first marathon this year. I'll write about it. I'll also write about what measures I do to keep myself from injuring myself again.

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 Thu 9:42pm 14 April 2011
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