5 Things I Learned From Spraining My Ankle

My constant companions.

My constant companions.

A week and a day ago I sprained my ankle during the NYRR Healthy Kidney 10K.  Needless to say, it’s been a really bad week since then.  I thought I’d be walking in a couple of days but it took a full 8 days before I was finally able to take my first few non-excruiciating steps (albeit still with an exaggerated limp).  Since this is the first time I’ve ever sprained my ankle, I’ve had the ‘pleasure’ of learning a few things from this experience and wanted to share them with you.


Things I Learned From Spraining My Ankle:


  1. Ankle sprains can take forever to heal.  While the doctor at Urgent Care said I’d be walking in 3 days and basically back to normal in a week, that was obviously a (damned dirty) lie.  The orthopedist I visited on Wednesday gave me an X-ray to make sure nothing was broken (nothing was) and said I could start walking on it as long as I wore a brace (I switched that day from the flimsy air cast I got at Urgent Care to this pretty sweet air cast brace I ordered from Amazon).  Per the doctor’s suggestion, I tried walking just a little bit that day, but woke up that night with intense pain which led me to believe I couldn’t actually walk on it yet, so the next day I was back to crutching around.  The orthopedist also recommended this compression wrap to help with the swelling and speed the healing (it’s still swollen, by the way, mostly on the top of the foot).  The wrap has helped tremendously, as I felt instant pain relief when I first put it on and have had more healing progress in the days since I’ve been wearing it (nonstop).  The doctor didn’t ok me yet for physical therapy, but he didn’t entirely rule out doing a marathon in 2 months, either (which I honestly think he said just because he didn’t want to crush my spirit even more).  Chatting with other people about times they’ve sprained their ankles leads me to anticipate many months of recovery with periodic pain lasting for years.  No bueno.
  2. Patience.  Ok, I didn’t really learn this.  I know it’s hard to believe (-dripping with sarcasm-), but I’m not a patient person, and my bum ankle didn’t transform me into a zen master, but I did learn some patience simply because everything I did this week took at least twice as long as usual.  And it wasn’t only a factor of my speed on my crutches – it seemed that once I finally got to my “destination” like the kitchen or my bedroom, everything took longer once there.  Maybe because I had to move more slowly as I balanced on one leg, maybe because it took a few moments to set aside my crutches so they didn’t tip over, maybe because after the fall I was bruised and sore in general and it made my whole body slow, but even simple things like doing the dishes or brushing my teeth took more time this week.
  3. How easy life is when you can walk (and how difficult it becomes when you cannot).  This week my apartment was in (more of a) shambles (than it usually is).  I had a growing pile of dirty laundry spilling across my floor because I couldn’t carry it downstairs to wash.  I dreaded having to get up to do anything because it was such a production (and painful to boot).  I still haven’t drunk from a glass since last Friday since I can’t carry it without spilling (I’ve only drunk from bottles and thermoses – whatever I can throw in a bag and carry with my crutches).  And if I wanted to eat something on a plate or bowl (instead of the bags of chips or candy bars I ate the first day), I had to wrap it up in saran wrap, place it in a flat-bottomed bag, and crutch over to my seat to eat it.  Today I can finally manage with only one crutch and it has opened a whole world of possibilities!  (Laundry!  Eating without saran wrap!  Moving things around!)  Seriously, if you’re looking for something to be grateful for tonight, be grateful that you can move around your home with relative ease and that getting up to go to the bathroom doesn’t require complicated procedures and metal props.
  4. How plans have to change day by day, hour by hour, and can affect plans years into the future.  While I kept hoping I’d wake up one morning magically healed, it hasn’t happened like that, so I’ve had to play everything by ear.   I initially thought I’d be able to work an EMT shift this weekend which is laughable now.  I at least thought I’d be able to do my kayaking trip this upcoming Memorial Day weekend (kayaking doesn’t require much ankle use!), until I realized there would be no way for me to walk down to the river or stand on a rocky bottom with water rushing around me. And while I hope to be running by mid-July, I don’t think I’ll be able to run a full marathon, which means Missoula is out AGAIN!  (I had to defer two years ago due to plantar fasciitis and last year I was at EMT camp.  The Missoula Marathon is turning into my white whale.)  I’m also probably not running Mesa Falls in Idaho in August, which really throws a wrench in my 3.5 year marathon schedule.  So instead of finishing the 50 States in December of 2019, I will be finishing it in ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ .
  5. When you order two Thai lunch specials from Senn Thai and you have nothing you can do but sit on the couch and watch Master of None on Netflix, you will eat both lunches in a row and enjoy it until you feel sick.  Or is that just me?  Surprisingly, that only happened once, but I can also tell you my appetite has not decreased at all despite my activity level going from four workouts per week to zero with zero walking.  Clearly I’m burning tons of calories via the healing process.


Things I Didn’t Learn:

  1. How to spell “ankle”, as 99% of the time I still type “ankel.”


Have you ever deferred a race for more than 3 years in a row?  Did you know how long ankle sprains take to heal?  What’s your favorite Thai dish?  Share in the comments!

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