Three weeks ago I arrived home from my summer travels and hit the ground running to get ready for the quick approaching school year. In my first day back I ran errands all over town, getting picture frames for the various posters we never got around to hanging last year, picking up supplies for my partner’s upcoming production gig, and getting a full load of groceries to restock the kitchen that we had left bare when we left in May.
That evening as I was putting the groceries away, I opened the freezer and before I could even realize what was happening, heavy bottle of vodka fell off the top of the fridge, crashing to the floor. I shuffled backwards, carefully trying to see where all the glass had shattered as my roommate called from the other room, “are you okay?” I shifted my vision down to my feet and realized there was blood pooling around my right foot from a gash on the top of my ankle. “Ummm…I think I’m gonna be…” I answered, slowly lowering myself to sit on the floor.
After a trip to urgent care, who promptly sent me to the ER when they noticed my inability to dorsiflex; and after a long ER visit with the biggest asshole of an orthopedic doctor, who tried to tell me that it was impossible to dorsiflex your toes and your ankle separately (which is completely false – try it right now, I promise you’ll be able to do each action independently); I was sent home with a boot and told to follow up with an orthopedic doctor soon. By this time I knew exactly what was wrong with my ankle. I didn’t know the name of the tendon at the time, but I could point to it and knew that it was fully ruptured. The ER doctors disagreed with me, and many of my friends tried to convince me otherwise, knowing my tendencies for anxiety…but I knew.
The orthopedic I followed up with later that week knew too. It took him 30 seconds of movement tests and palpation to confirm without any doubts that I was right. He scheduled me for an MRI and surgery as soon as possible.
I had reconstructive surgery two weeks ago, which means I have eight more weeks before I’ll be able to start learning how to walk again.
The tendon that ruptured was my right tibialis anterior. This is the main tendon in charge of dorsiflexion, an action necessary in pretty much everything you do while standing – walking, balancing, shifting weight – it’s also the main tendon you use while driving a car. So I can’t do much of anything alone these days…It’s been quite the few weeks of existential crises.
I’ve shifted my schedule and lessened my class load to accommodate that amount of work it is to just live right now (it takes me twice as long, if not longer, to do every little mundane daily action; many of which I can’t do at all without the help of my roommate or partner). I’ve given up the classes I was scheduled to teach this semester, replacing those work hours with admin and grading positions (not at all duties I would choose if I had other options). I’ve been rethinking my plans for my thesis, realizing that I may be a year before I’m back to dancing full out again. I’ve sworn off vodka (not that I liked it much before anyway). I’ve started taking showers sitting down. I’ve developed a system of using crutches upstairs, a knee scooter downstairs, and a method requiring both arms and my healthy leg to scoot/crawl my way up or down the stairs (something that will be very sloppy in the coming weeks whenever I have to do it outside in the rain). I’ve gotten used to asking for help all the time – for things I’ve be doing on my own since I was a child.
It’s a lot. I’m learning patience. I’m grieving my autonomy. I’m continually reminding myself that I value community and that asking for help is a good thing.
These photos are of me the day after my surgery. This is still one of the main positions I return to during my days. Partially to elevate my injury, partially to rest because of how drowsy the pain medication makes me, partially to ground myself and take deep breaths when the grief and anxiety become overwhelming.