bar fight

bar fight

Random Person: “What happened to your foot?!”

Me:  (deadpan) “Bar fight.”

Given my spectacular falls on trails, I expected that at some point, I’d injure myself while running and not be able to run or train. I didn’t expect to break my foot in a bar fight with a stair step. But, it’s makes for a great story.

August 12th, we ventured into downtown to see our new favorite band, The Peach Kings, perform at Smith’s Olde Bar.

The Peach Kings  at Smith’s Olde Bar  8/12/2016

Just as the second to last song of their set started, the full force of the beer I had hit me. I scurried away to the restroom.

I was so focused that I completely forgot about the one step down from the annex into the main bar.  I landed hard on my left foot. I immediately felt the pain but was so relieved that I hadn’t actually fallen that I hurried off, did my business and returned to the show all before the last song started! Yay, me!

Not. I could feel my foot swelling inside my Chuck.  Between The Peach King’s set and Mobley’s set, I inspected my foot. It  was warm and starting to swell, but otherwise intact. We hung around through Mobley’s set (amazing performer – one man band with a fantastic voice and rocking beats). Sadly, I couldn’t dance. I’m sure Mobley was giving me the eye (hey, it’s entirely possible since the Atlanta Room holds about 50 people and the crowd was about 20 strong) while I stood off to the side with my foot on a bar stool.

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Mobley at Smith’s Olde Bar 8/12/2016

After consulting Dr. Google, I determined my foot was likely broken so, naturally, I did nothing about it until Monday. By nothing, I mean, I floated in the pool and self-medicated with wine.  I noticed bruising and a bit of swelling but the pain was bearable unless stepped on by dog or child, then there was yelping and hyper-ventilating.

Saturday and Sunday it didn’t look so bad

I called a highly recommended podiatrist Monday morning. Enter the start of the medical field frustration cycle.

Frustration 1: No one will answer the phone. First, the search results for office hours were wrong, so my call went straight to the answering service. When I called back at the time service message indicated for office hours (8:30), my call still went to the service message. Half an hour later, same thing. Another half an hour later, same thing. Finally just before 10 AM, I talked to a real live person. Yay! Not.

Frustration 2: I can’t get an appointment. I explained to the receptionist that I had very probably fractured my foot and needed to see someone as soon as possible. The very nice receptionist said they had an opening a little over two weeks away. Yeah, no.

I insisted, I have broken my foot, I need to see someone sooner than that, please.  Suddenly, there’s an opening for the end of this week. Okay, better, but not quite. I said, well, I really need to take care of this now, so I’ll call back later.

Frustration 3: I’m kept waiting in the exam room.  I check-in at the urgent care, noting one person in the waiting room, and think ,well, hopefully this won’t take too long. Before I can even put away my insurance card, I’m ushered back to an exam room. Where I wait. And wait. And wait. And wait. I get it. It’s an urgent care facility: it’s first come, first served, and I don’t seem to be in any agony.

About thirty minutes later, the nurse comes in to take my vitals. I immediately start freaking out because holy high blood pressure!  High blood pressure, heart disease and stroke are  family traits which is why I run, walk, swim, do yoga, and lift weights.

While I stew on my blood pressure numbers and jump up and down from the exam table from stiffness and boredom, another 30 minutes passes. I’m starting to wonder what urgent medical crises are going on in the other exam rooms. Finally. the PA walks in, asks me a few questions and palpitates my foot. I wince. She orders an x-ray. Finally!  Now we’re cooking with gas. On a really low flame.

IMG_3577Frustration 4: I get vague and deflective answers. This time, it’s only a 15 minutes wait to get the films done. Back to the exam room for more waiting.  The PA pops back in to let me know the x-rays show an incomplete fracture, they’ll splint it, and give me a prescription for the pain and asks if I want crutches. No thanks, I have a pair from when I severely strained a hip flexor (which by the way hurts a whole lot worse than a little foot fracture).  Meanwhile, I’m peppering her with pertinent questions – mainly how long before I can run?!?!?!  Of course, like a responsible PA, she did not laugh at me but told me to follow-up with the specialist.  I can’t say I didn’t expect that answer, but I wanted  a glimmer of hope.  After the nurse splits and tightly wraps up my foot and hands me a sheaf of papers (with the heinous high BP figures staring me down and the Dx of “fracture of unspecified metatarsal bone(s), left foot, initial encounter for closed fracture”), she tells me do not to remove the splint until I see the specialist. Fat chance of that.

After leaving urgent care with my foot wrapped up tightly, I called the specialist back and nabbed the Friday appointment. Again, I had to wrangle that spot from the receptionist. It’s like they don’t want to see patients.

Frustration 5:  I’m still waiting and the splint is causing my foot to hurt.  I tried, I really tried, not to mess with the splint, but after enduring more discomfort and being woken up by my foot throbbing, I had to first loosen then completely remove and re-wrap the splint. Tuesday, after 24 hours in that nice tight splint, I noticed my toes were distinctly sausage-like and my pinkie toes were smooshed.  Wednesday, I took the splint off completely so I didn’t have to go through the awkward foot-in-a-baggie ordeal to shower.  I was not at all pleased with the lovely deepening and spreading bruises and the sore hot spots. Clearly, the swelling, newly apparent bruises, and discomfort were from the splint being too tight.

Tuesday’s sausage toes (left) and Wednesday’s deep bruises and hot spots (center and right)

Thursday, I left the splint off most of the day but stayed off my feet.

Friday before and after seeing the podiatrist

Frustration 6: I’m told what I already know and pay for the privilege.  On Friday, I finally got in to see the podiatrist.  As I relayed the whole story, the podiatrist is nodding her head in that standard medical school bedside manner way, then says she knows that particular step well and she’s seen more than one patient who has fallen down it.

The podiatrist took one look at the x-rays from Monday and declared that since they were “old,” she needed new x-rays.  I hobbled across the office to the x-ray machine, still wearing the splint. I asked if I should remove the splint, but was assured it wouldn’t matter.

It did. As soon as I had returned to the exam room, I had to remove the splint and hobble back across the office for a second set (third, really) x-rays. Very graciously, I was told I wouldn’t be charged for those. I should hope not! It wasn’t my mistake.  The official diagnosis was “Yep, it’s broken.”  Ya think?!   I now have this lovely boot for the next four weeks at least and extremely limited activity.  Those air-walker boots are heavy and expensive.  CHA-CHING!

I made a futile attempt to get permission to do some sort of exercise, but the podiatrist shook her head and chuckled before declaring, “No!”  I wouldn’t be a crazy runner type if I didn’t try, right?

Frustration 7: I’m going nuts.  For four weeks, I must hobble around in the boot and do no weight-bearing activity.  No running. No walking. No swimming. No biking.  No lower body weights. No yoga. I guess I could do yoga that doesn’t require the use of my feet, but that’s not much yoga. I can feel my fitness slipping away and I can’t stand being so still.  I will be a good patient and wear the boot and keep off my foot as much as possible. I will not risk not being able to run.

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Two Weeks Post-Break and One Week with the Boot

I confess. I made it two weeks post-break/one week post-boot before the lack of exercise became too much, mostly because my sleep pattern went to hell, yet left me feeling utterly exhausted. I started 10-20 minutes on the recumbent bike, in the boot. Then I started gentle yoga classes, in the boot. And walking rather slowly on the treadmill, in the boot.   As of right now, I’m three and half weeks post-break. I’m still wearing the boot even though I can put normal shuffling around the house pressure on my foot without pain. My foot does feel fatigued rather quickly (hello atrophied muscles).

I adjust my goals.  At the beginning of this year, my race goals were a 5K a month and 6 half marathons. I adjusted that when I decide on a 50K in September/October, dropping some of the 5Ks since they would interfere with my training plan.   When I see the podiatrist on the 15th, I hope to hear good news. I still have race goals, even if they aren’t quite the same as they were s few weeks ago!