Broken ankle fractures life as you know it

February 01, 2012|Susan Reimer

Forgive my absence from these pages, but I recently suffered a dislocated fracture of my ankle while saving a kitten from a speeding car.

The bad news is, it required reconstructive surgery and I have to spend the next six weeks on my butt. The good news is, Christina Applegate will be playing me in the Hallmark made-for-TV movie about my heroic self-sacrifice.

There is nothing like a broken ankle to help you realize that just about everyone you know has had one. And, like the doctor said after asking me how it happened, broken ankles are boring, but the stories behind them never are.

Hence the kitten tale, which I made up. The truth is I slipped on the kitchen floor, but that is too boring to repeat.

And all those friends and relatives who have had broken ankles? Just about every one of them has at least one piece of invaluable advice to share. The big winner? Put a cooler in the tub to provide a sturdy seat for showers.

More lessons from the ankle diaries:

•There is nothing like seeing the attending physician walk across the emergency room, hand extended and saying, "I've been reading you for 25 years," to make you realize that you could have taken five damn minutes to curl your hair and put on a little makeup before heading to the emergency room.

•There is nothing like not knowing what to say when the intake nurse asks about your medications. "A white pill for my blood pressure" doesn't really get it done, and stupid answers like that are a big reason why there are hospital errors. Keep a card listing your medications and their doses in your wallet, and keep it up to date.

•Elevated toilet seats with grab bars are amazing. Everybody should have one. And it is just this kind of loss of dignity that adds the proverbial insult to the proverbial injury.

•Remember the 1991 movie "The Doctor," in which William Hurt returns from being a patient and orders his interns and residents to undergo the same battery of tests they routinely order for patients so they will learn empathy and compassion? All orthopedic surgeons should be required to live for a week on one leg or with one arm or in bed with a bad back.

•I have spent years in yoga focusing on stability and balance. (Apparently, that hasn't really worked out for me.) Upper-body strength? Turns out that comes in real handy, too. Especially with crutches and elevated toilet seats with grab bars.

•There is nothing like a dislocated ankle fracture requiring surgery to install plates, pins and screws to get your son to call you and your daughter to spend the weekend with you. Wishing, or a head cold, won't get that kind of attention.

And finally, there is nothing like a broken ankle to make you think you should have married one of the super-moms you have been hanging with all these years. The ones who know what you need before you do and get it done. Like my neighbor Betsy or my sister Liz, the nurse.

But it's more than OK that you didn't. Because there is nothing like having your husband beside you in front of the roaring fire he built to help you realize that.

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