Weak Ankles

Recently, my friend Christo has been experiencing a stronger gravitational pull in her foot [aka she’s been injuring it a lot] and I was reminded of the time I sprained my ankle in a totally normal, not-embarrassing way.

I won’t bore you with the details of how it happened, all I will say is that it was definitely not while I was playing online Sorry! with my friends and was running back from the bathroom to make sure I didn’t miss my turn.

Because that would be just plain embarrassing.

I will tell you, though, that I was in my room when it happened – again, in a totally normal, could-happen-to-anyone way – and I slumped to the ground like I got hit by a poison dart. I curled into a ball, trying not to move, eyes scrunched shut in an attempt to make the stars disappear from in front of them.  Once I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to lose consciousness from that sudden, blinding pain, I slowly started to move.  I somehow managed to stand up, putting all my weight on my uninjured left foot, and took some deep breaths. As soon as I felt stable again, I put a little pressure on my right leg. The dizzying pain shot through me once again and terrible thoughts flooded my brain. I tore a ligament, I broke my ankle, my dorm isn’t wheelchair accessible, what am I going to do.

I’m a bit of a worst-case-scenario thinker.

The mere thought of having a broken ankle caused my room to spin yet again, so I plopped myself down on my bed, trying to talk myself down from the near panic attack that had started bubbling up.

It’s not broken. It’s just twisted. if I stay off of it for the rest of the night, it will be fine by morning.

Alas, I was not fine by morning. I still couldn’t really put pressure on it and by the time I was dressed and ready to start my day, I was convinced my right foot was going to need to be amputated completely. By now, I had alerted the entire student body to my dilemma [okay, so really only my close friends who happened to be online, but at the time it seemed like anyone who would listen] and my friend had insisted on taking me to the NYU Health Center.  Fortunately, the distraction of talking to her in the waiting room allowed my thoughts to stray from trying to imagine what phantom pain would be like.

When my name got called, I did see a few more stars out of pure fright, but I managed to hobble my way into the little room the nurse lead me into. She took my vitals while we waited for the doctor. When the Doc finally arrived, she had me take off my sneaker and sock so she could take a look at my tender ankle. She gently pushed one finger into my flesh and I gasped in pain. She looked at me, eyes wide, and said, “That hurt??”, unable to hide the shock in her voice. I hesitantly said ‘yes’, not wanting to lie but afraid of what that look on her face meant.  She shook her head to return her expression to its former neutral state and said that she thought we should take an x-ray – “just in case”.

Now, I had been x-rayed before (I get pneumonia a lot), so it was fortunately not a new experience to drudge up new fears for myself.  I still, however, was running through all the ways it would inconvenience me to have a broken ankle in my head while this was happening. I answered the x-ray technician’s questions quickly, still lost in thought.

“Have you ever had an X-Ray before?”
“Are you pregnant?”
“Is there any chance you could be pregnant?”
“Are you sure?”

I don’t know if he was trying to find out if I was easy or if he was just being thorough in his job, but I just wanted him to get on with it and tell me my fate.  He finally got to scanning my foot and led me back to the room I was in before. The doctor came back in eventually to give me the results, though I’m not sure how accurate they could possibly be, since only about 20 minutes had passed.

“So, I don’t think you broke anything.”
“You don’t think?”
“It’s possible there was a little hairline fracture, but it’s hard to tell with the x-ray.”

Wow. Thanks for the vote of confidence, doc. Whether she saw the fear in my eyes or was going to say this anyway, she insisted that either way, all she could do for me was give me an air cast and tell me to stay off it as much as possible.

In New York City. Sure, no problem.

As she fitted me with crutches appropriate for my height, I suddenly regretted all the times I traipsed around the house with a pair of my mother’s old crutches, saying that they were so much fun.

For some reason, my friend had stayed in the lobby this entire time and was waiting there for me when I got out. I told her the prognosis was really just “bad sprain” and she quickly took my bag from me, despite my resistance. She patiently walked slower than a tourist with me as I tried to figure out the best way to maneuver these long, annoying poles that were forcing me to employ upper body strength I didn’t possess.

When I got to my class, I hugged my friend goodbye and thanked her a bajillion times for being with me through this – I honestly probably would have passed out if it wasn’t for her. Sitting in class was easy. Suddenly, I’m empowered. “Pssh, injury shminjury. I’m totally fine.”

Then class gets out.

Now, not only to I have to use my wimpy arms to haul my body around on one foot via large wooden sticks, but I also have a messenger bag to battle with that I did not previously have to endure. The obstacles were aplenty and I think I made it one full block before giving up and slinging my crutches over my shoulder, choosing to dramatically hobble instead. Thejudgemental looks of the passers-by who saw me carrying my crutches were not ones I ever hope to receive again, but damnit, using crutches was HARD!

So, I somehow managed to get myself home, crutches and all, and promptly put them in my closet. I commended them for lasting a full afternoon without being tossed into a nearby dumpster, but told them that I wouldn’t be needing their services anymore.

I feel like I had a point when I started this story. Now, however, I think the only things I have learned are: I’m extremely dramatic, doctors are fairly useless and I have little to no upper body strength.

Also, you would think that a hypochondriac would be relieved when there was actually something wrong with them. I am exactly the opposite. I used to exaggerate and complain that I had tuberculosis every time my cough lasted longer than three days until the one time my cough was so bad that my doctor actually tested for TB.

My friends have learned by now to talk me down from any Ebola-virus ledge I might be heading towards when I get a cold (or, more recently, talk me out of thinking I had bed bugs when it was really just allergies), so I do tend to trust them when they believe my symptoms are doctor worthy. On a weirdly similar note, sometimes I’ll have symptoms [aka extreme pain every time I ate any food at all] but will refuse to go to the doctor for fear of what the diagnosis might be.

So, while an extreme stomach ache will cause me to think I have multiple organ failure, I am happy to report that this definitely sprained, possibly hairline fractured ankle, healed very well and now causes me significantly less problems than my once-injured-but-untreated right hip.

But that’s a story for another time.

~ by Valerie Anne on 10/17/2011.

3 Responses to “Weak Ankles”

  1. Re the pregnancy thing… when I injured my leg in France I also was asked 3 times (in French, through my friend) whether I was pregnant, so I think it’s just procedure.

    • I understand the question, but the way they were like “Are you SUUUUURE?! There’s NO WAY you could be pregnant?”

      It took everything in my power not to be like, “If I am, you better call the Pope.”

      • Yeah, that’s basically how they asked me (at least, I think, I wasn’t that aware of what was going on as I was in pain, plus it was in French, I’m just going on what my friend told me).

        I understand they have to make sure every woman knows she isn’t pregnant when they go in for an x-ray, but I’d quite like it if they found a way to check that didn’t make them feel like hos

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