Sunday, November 13, 2005

The Hidden Perils of Autumn

I’m injured. I’m hobbling about on crutches, my right foot swaddled in a big blue rubber velcroed shoe.

How it happened: I was midway through an 8.5-9 mile run yesterday, on a glorious fall morning, with P. We started at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, ran the length of the Mall, skirted the Capitol and headed east, to RFK Stadium.

I was feeling sluggish, and my hip joints felt a bit stiff. As we rounded a corner at the halfway point, in front of RFK, I slipped on some wet orange and yellow leaves, underneath was which uneven asphalt.

My ankle collapsed and my foot turned underneath itself, and I dragged it for a split second, the top of my foot now hitting pavement, as pain shot throughout my foot, before drawing my right foot up and hopping on my left one.

“$@%*!!” I yelled, limping now. The early morning was quiet, and my shouts lingered in the still air. P. followed me like a worried mother hen, asking if I was all right.

He suggested that we walk the 4.5 miles back. I said grimly, stoically, and stupidly, “Don’t worry, it’s fine.” After another minute, we started running, albeit slower, back to the Lincoln Memorial. My foot hurt, but I thought I could run it off. The pain was bearable.

We had to stop twice for me to stretch my foot, which was getting stiffer. With 2 miles left to go, P. said that he’d be happy to get his car and pick me up. Which was very nice of him.

But being the sadomasochist I am, I said, “No, I’m fine. Really.”

The aftermath: We made it back to the Lincoln. The run took us more than 1:20 to finish. My foot was sore, but I could walk on it. I even thought I could possibly do a hill workout today. How wrong I was.

We had some hot green tea and ginger scones here, then I went to Target, where I spent close to 3 frustrating hours printing photos from one of the store’s photo machines. Don’t ask. I was on my feet for that entire 3-hour period. Which was a mistake.

By the time I got home, I could barely walk. Within another hour, I couldn’t touch my right foot on the floor without excruciating pain.

At 5:00 p.m., I called my doctor. She suggested I go to the emergency room. The emergency room! I thought. That sounded serious. "Perhaps I should wait," I said hopefully. I do not like hospitals.

I just wanted some “Buck up, you’re fine!” advice, and good drugs to counter the dull throbbing pain deep inside my foot.

Instead, my doctor insisted I go, saying the sooner I went, the sooner I could get the pain treated. I could have fractured my foot, she said, and at the very least, sprained it.


So I ate dinner, then packed a good book and bottle of water. I knew I was in for a long wait: For emergency room doctors, an injured foot is at the bottom of the priority list. E. drove me to the hospital. Outside the emergency room’s sliding glass doors, two elderly bathrobed women connected to IV’s nonchalantly smoked unfiltered cigarettes.

The Good News: After waiting 3 ½ hours, and after getting 3 x-rays of my foot (X-ray technician: “You have tiny feet!”), a physician’s assistant told me that I did not fracture my foot.

The Not-So-Good News: I did sprain it, though how severely, she did not know. Time will tell, she said. Indeed. If it’s a mild sprain, I can start running in little over a week. If more than a mild sprain, I’ll be off the roads for another two to three weeks.

A nurse gave me 600 mg of Motrin (“Muscular pain is more painful than breaking a bone in your foot,” she said, and told me to take up to 1800 mg of ibuprofren a day for the next several days) and stuck my foot in a blue velcroed shoe splint to stabilize it.

Then she handed me a set of crutches, and wrote down the name and phone number of an orthopedist to call most of the pain hadn’t subsided by Wednesday or Thursday.

At 11:30 p.m. last night, I hobbled out into the cool night air on my new crutches. “Ah, well,” I thought, counting myself lucky. “It could be worse.”

I am not a good invalid: It’s a bit difficult to get around the house, as we have three stories and two sets of stairs. And it’s frustrating to have to ask E. for simple things, such as getting a glass of water (I need both hands to grab the stair railings and haul myself up and down). I find myself stumping about on the second floor, where I'm most often sequestered, muttering in irritation.

But apart from these minor logistical hurdles, my life hasn't changed too much. And today, my foot feels at least 50 percent better. So much better that I can probably drive again by tomorrow.

I hope to be running again by next weekend. Cross fingers.


  1. omg!
    Think up a good story for the office. They'll be hungry for some juicy explanation.
    Let's see ... there was this creepy guy in the dark up by a Bethesda buss top who jumped out and made me trip; but I hobbled on fast enough to escape him....

  2. Sorry to read about this. Hope you enjoy your rest! It could always have been worst and maybe this won't be too bad after all is said and done. Good luck!

  3. Good grief! Look what happens when I leave town!!
    Seriously, this sucks, but yes, could be much worse. Make sure (you know this part already) when you go to an orthopedist (if you do go) you go to one who runs. (I know a good one.)

    Cross fingers you are healed in a week!!

  4. uugghhh. bex! that is so full of suck! speedy recovery to you!!

  5. Ugh. Injuries are the worst. Take it easy. Here's to a speedy recovery.