Since my last ankle hell update wherein I learned from my MRI that I’ve had a broken fibula for the past 6 months, I spoke with my new orthopedic doctor and visited a new physical therapist at Columbia. I’m not 100% thrilled with the advice of either one and I have more questions that I’ll try to get answered next week. In a nutshell, I’m broken and not healing and life sucks.
The doctor said I didn’t have to wear a boot or use crutches, despite my leg still being broken after 6 months. She said I only had to wear that little Darco shoe that didn’t protect my ankle at all. That seemed wrong to me, and since I continued to have pain, I put myself back in the boot and on crutches to take the weight off and give the bone time to heal. Going back on crutches has been maddening, yes, but honestly the last 6 months have been such a nightmare, what’s another 6 weeks of hell? She did prescribe physical therapy that included ultrasound stimulation, and said I could bear weight as tolerated.
I got a second opinion from my new physical therapist and he agreed with me that I should stay in the boot and on crutches for now. He said this weekend I could start using a single crutch to give the bone a little bit of weight to promote bone formation, as it’ll have been 2 weeks since I took the weight off by putting myself on my boot/crutch regimen. He also pointed out my fracture on my X-rays – YES, that’s right, the doctor (from the Hospital of Special Surgery, no less!) should have known immediately from the X-rays that my ankle was broken. It’s truly astonishing the incompetency I’ve encountered in this debacle.
However, he disagreed with the ultrasound stimulation prescription, claiming it’s contra-indicated for fractures. This led me down a google-hole of research on ultrasound & electrical stimulation for nonunion or delayed union fractures (aka any fracture that hasn’t healed in over 6 months, like mine). It appears that contrary to being a contra-indication, ultrasound stimulation (or, even more so, electrical stimulation) is a well-established therapy for nonunion fractures. Unfortunately it’s not a magic cure-all, and it seems like many nonunion fractures do end up needing surgery. However, since surgery comes with all sorts of other risks and pain, I’m planning on trying every possible non-surgical therapy I can and using surgery only as a last resort. Also, since the prospect of ankle surgery truly freaks me out (and not in a fun Halloween way), I’m trying not to dwell on it as much as possible. Surgery!
Overall, I’m still totally dissatisfied by the incompetent medical care I’ve been receiving, from the initial orthopedist to the doctors at Hospital for Special Surgery to my various physical therapists. No one has caught on to anything, and it’s forcing me to be my own doctor, which is outrageous and frustrating and ridiculous and maddening. Sadly, I am learning an important lesson – don’t trust doctors with your well-being, let alone your life. I dread the day when I’m sick and even more mentally incapacitated than I am now, because I won’t be able to spend hours on google reading articles and trying to diagnose and fix myself, and my illness will probably be more severe, and I will be royally screwed. Ah, what fun things to look forward to in the future!
In other running news, I won’t be doing the Poland Spring Marathon Kickoff tomorrow, of course. But I picked up the shirt anyway, with faraway dreams of wearing it with an unbroken leg in the future. I’m also not going to be able to do the NYRR Dash to the Finish, which makes 5 NYRR races and 5 marathons I will have missed due to this injury. Oh, and for anyone keeping track, that means I’ll be 2 races short of qualifying for the NYC Marathon in 2017. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Again, I’m less upset about that than the waste of time and money, and the fear/constant dread that I’ll never run again.
I also cancelled my NYC Marathon volunteer shift because even if I worked comms/dispatch instead of in the ambulance, I’d still have to be in a tent in Central Park, which would be a challenge to get to. Plus I’d still be in the boot, so I’d be a minor liability during a mass casualty event – not a good thing. I’m really disappointed about the marathon volunteering, because last year was truly such a high point for me (before I mistrusted everyone with a medical degree, sigh…), and it’ll be another full year before I’ll have that kind of opportunity again — an opportunity of which there are only a handful more of in my future.
I’ve also officially cancelled my backpacking trip to Patagonia this December. It was a tough (and expensive) decision but ultimately it’s a huge relief. Even if my bone was completely healed by then (which is actually unlikely), it still would have been too much for my atrophied legs to hike up to 8 hours every day with a fully loaded pack. I’ve lost a literal inch of muscle from my calf compared to my normal leg – a full inch! 🙁 I can only imagine how many years of my life I’m losing by being so sedentary. That plus the incompetency of the medical profession and it’s a wonder I’m still alive.
How many races have you missed in your running career? How much do you distrust doctors? What are you going as for Halloween? Share in the comments!