On Thursday, October 10th, I was at the Pikes Peak Athletics Conference (PPAC) League Meet, doing what I always do during a big meet: run around and scream at kids to run faster. Cutting across an overgrown field with the head coach, I found myself high-stepping into or onto something. You'd think I would know what it was, but truthfully, I was so distracted by how it felt that I didn't even think about it until I had limped off a good ten steps or so. I didn't hear a snap or anything - I just felt like I had jammed my foot up into my ankle and now sharp bolts of pain were letting me know I wasn't about to jog this one off.
I got taken to Urgent Care, where an X-ray confirmed what I had feared - that I had broken a bone in my foot. My particular break was a complete fracture of the fifth metatarsal. The location of the fracture within the fifth classified it as one of the three common types of fifth metatarsal fractures: a Jones Fracture.
That night, while hopped up on Vicodin (I hate the feeling!) I did some research to see what I could learn. I can't say the findings were encouraging. This prognosis is sobering to say the least:
If a Jones fracture fails to unite (malunion or non union), which is a common problem with these fractures, it can become a chronic condition. If this is the case, podiatrists will likely recommend that the patient spend more time in a cast, up to twenty weeks.
For several reasons, a Jones fracture often does not heal. The diaphyseal bone, where the fracture occurs, is an area of poor blood supply. In medical terms, it is a watershed area between two blood supplies. This makes healing difficult. In addition, there are various tendons, including the peroneus brevis and fibularis tertius, and two small muscles attached to the bone. These may pull the fracture apart and prevent healing.
On Monday, October 14th, I had a consultation with an orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Simpson. We scheduled surgery for the following Thursday, October 24th. The swelling in my foot was still pretty impressive, and it had to cool down a bit. The surgical process for my type of Jones fracture is simple enough. Take a screw and drill it through both parts of the bone, parallel to the shaft of the bone. Ouch.
My temporary splint got thrown in the trash, and I was given a bionic boot, with its six-velcro-strap beauty.
I took a half-day off the previous Friday, but now I was back to work, in modified form. Being immobile while teaching a bunch of eleven and twelve year olds isn't the easiest job out there. I spent a lot of time lying on the couch at home, as well. Cale and Melissa were both heroes and put up with my constant requests during those first few days.
My mom dropped me off at the Orthopedic Surgeon's office late in the morning. The staff admitted me, gave me some gas, and next thing I know it's over. Surgery went smoothly. By now, I had started to feel a little better every day. Of course, the surgery put me back a bit recovery-wise, and I got to enjoy Round 2 of feeling beaten up. Melissa brought me home, and the next few days again were rough.
At my monthly meeting with the orthopod, I was given permission to bear weight as tolerated, as long as I was in the boot. In other words, I could wean myself from crutches.
Maui! I never, and I mean NEVER, seem to go on vacation just for vacation's sake. Melissa and I went with our friends Brian and Kate, who had in their possession for one week a beautiful shoreline residence on Maui's northwestern corner.
The highlight of the trip may have been getting to swim aside tons of sea turtles. The ocean swimming also represented my first semblance of exercise in nearly two months.
Another milestone! By now, I had been itching to try putting some weight on my left foot but had managed to resist the temptation. On my next orthopod visit, I got to lose the boot and begin PT sessions. I quickly called up my friend Simon and scheduled a visit with him for the next Monday.
I really struggled those first few days. My foot had barely any stamina before it started throbbing from all the joint movement that hadn't occurred for months.
My first taste of meaningful outdoor activity, I soft-pedaled for a bit short of an hour outside on the west side of town. Just in time, too, as I had been adding pounds at a fairly alarming rate, going from a pre-break 142 to a high on this day of 158.
Just this week, I began "briskly walking" - I can't help but think of mallwalking when I say that. I kept trying to tell myself that this is no different than if you were in shape to walk the 80th mile in an ultra. Good luck with that.
I'm probably still a week or two from taking my first running steps. I'm able to do some real mountain biking. It's been a while; I enjoy coming back to it. I'll probably continue to ride more than I have in past years once I'm healthier.
It's been almost 5 months since I've run. At no other point in my life since I began running have I been away from it for this long. It's time - I'm excited to be putting this thing behind me and be moving again!