September 11, 2007 was a good day. I just got back from the beach 2 days before, and this was the day to catch up on groceries, laundry, and other life errands. I went to chorus rehearsal as usual, getting home about 9:00. It was a cool evening, and my dog, Dino was pretty wound up. I got him out in the back yard and got him running around; he came back in but obviously still had some energy left. Another run around the yard and we converged in the driveway behind my car. Was he up for one more go, or ready to go in? But instead of moving parallel, we moved toward each other and my left foot got tangled up in his feet with me stepping on his foot a little. I felt myself losing my balance, and became aware that my right foot was getting caught under my leg as I fell to the right side. I cried out as I went down, and I knew something bad had happened. “Did I?” I asked aloud, reaching down to my foot. My foot was crookedly angled to the side, and popped as I moved it toward a more normal position. “I did....” I groaned, knowing that I’d really hurt myself.
I lay there in the gravel for a few minutes, feeling the shock of the injury and the pain and swelling set in. I debated about what to do - my neighbor might have heard me if I called out, but she’s often said that she couldn’t hear the dog barking from my yard. I needed to get inside, so I rolled up onto my butt and crab-walked using my hands behind me, my left foot in front of me, and my butt to scoot, holding my right foot in the air. I somehow managed to get the door open and get inside, and made the short scoot to the phone. I called my friend Angie at 9:48pm. 4 rings...”Your house had better be on fire!” “No, but I think I’ve broken my ankle” I replied breathlessly. “Did I wake you up?” I hadn’t, but she’d had her dose of Ambien and some beer. Still, she said she would be over as soon as she could. I then called one of my colleagues and let him know what had happened, since I knew at the very least I wouldn’t be at work the next day. I assured him that Angie was taking me to the hospital and that I’d be in touch on Wednesday when I knew more.
I could inspect my ankle more closely once I was inside. There was a rough edge to the medial part that was definitely not normal, and the foot was still angled off to the side a little. It was starting to swell and it really hurt. I held out a slight hope for dislocation without fracture, but it didn’t look good. Angie arrived and wrapped my ankle with a towel and duct tape to cushion it and splint it a little for the trip to the hospital. She helped me to the car and drove me to the hospital. They brought out a wheelchair and started the process. Admittal desk, waiting room, triage nurse (who took off my towel), waiting room, and finally a bed/curtain. I answered questions, signed authorization for treatment, handed over my insurance card, and had the ER doc take a look. He ordered x-rays, which they did with a digital mobile unit, then sent the orthopod to talk to me. Meanwhile, Todd the nurse was placing an IVC and starting me with pain meds. First hydrocodone, 2 doses, which served to make me dizzy and gave me a little pain relief. Then fentanyl, which helped more with the pain. But nothing eliminates the pain of 3 fractures and a dislocation of your ankle! Dr. Smith informed me of the damages, and said they’d do surgery the next day. I’d be non-weight-bearing and in a cast for 6 weeks post-op. That night they’d give me conscious sedation and do a closed reduction and splint.
After signing some more forms, I was given propofol IV for the reduction. I remember some manipulation, but not really any pain. Angie was a trouper - she stayed with me through the whole thing. I had been asking to see the films, so after I was awake and splinted, they rolled the gurney down the hall to the computer screen so I could see the damages. Fractured lateral malleolus, which would need a plate, fractured medial malleolus which would get screws, and fractured caudal portion of the tibia (not a true malleolus, but called one for his purpose) which would also need screws. The whole foot was caudolaterally dislocated. This was a doozy. Finally at around 2AM, they had a room ready for me on the ortho floor. Angie came up with me then turned me over to Brian the night nurse. He got me settled in, then proceeded to take my entire medical history - definitely what you want to do at 2:30 in the morning after an orthopedic trauma, but he was doing what he had to do. We had a big debate over the necessity of a pregnancy test - biological possibility was there since I still have a reproductive tract, but no star shining in the east so it didn’t seem needed. Dr. Smith did end up giving me a bye on that one the next day. Once he left, I lay awake pondering the whole thing and the sudden change in my life. Around 4:00, I figured since I was awake, I’d talk to the night nurse at the animal hospital. So I called the nurse and filled her in, and asked her to let management know that I would be out for a long time! Managed to get a few hours of sleep after that, between calls to the nurse’s station for pain meds every 2 hours and needing help to pee.