Ever since that fateful night of that disastrous bunny hopping, people have been trying to give me advice on how to recuperate my broken foot.
My mother, who seemed to have forgotten that I was barefoot when I broke my foot, told me not to wear high heels ever again because “don’t you know you are beautiful as you are without being tall?”. My uncle told me not to stand up, sit down, bend my knees or jump on a trampoline. My dad told me not to take pain medication and that it was imperative to my healing that I immediately set out on a 24 hour journey to Kuwait if I had any chance of walking again…
While all of this was said with well-meaning hearts and good intention, it was utterly useless to me. What I really wanted was to talk to people who’ve had broken feet before. I wanted to know how they managed everyday tasks.
Like how to keep a screen door from slamming in your face, how to transport microwave dinners from the kitchen to computer desk on crutches, how long did it take for their broken feet to heal, the best way to give yourself a pedicure when you get bored and whether temporary insanity was a normal symptom of fractured bones…you know things that well-meaning, never before crippled people wouldn’t actually be able to tell me.
The problem I found was that people who had never broken a foot bone before suddenly became experts on metatarsal repair. They developed a verbal diarrhea of advice for broken foot recuperation. But the people whose opinions really mattered (i.e. previously broken people, nurses, doctors, radiologists and surgeons) all felt the need to show tremendous respect for my vast (non-existent) knowledge of rehabilitation and would stop themselves abruptly telling me the one dreaded line I have come to hate to the core of my existence: “…ohh why am I blabbering on with this advice. This is what you went to school for. You probably know how to deal with this way better than I do.”
The answer to that is a loud resounding HELL NO! The truth is I have no fart of a clue on how to deal with this. I think back on all the all-nighters I pulled and nothing in those flower doodled notes indicated any practical training for real life situations. In fact, I will come clean to the whole wide world right now and tell you that my four-year kine program came with no instructions on how to rehabilitate ANYTHING.
Everything I learnt about rehabilitation, I learnt at my workplace. And since most of our patients shy away from poorly planned bunny hopping church games, I haven’t seen too many multi-metatarsal fractures in my time.
I looked through my old kinesiology books…the ones I bothered keeping. I was reminded of how to calculate angular velocity, perhaps to show me how fast I will crack my vertebral column if I twist at an awkward angle to pick up an M&M off the floor. I relearnt the concept of static and dynamic equilibrium, neither one of which I currently possess but hope to someday. And of course, the concept of gravity which we all know is the reason why I’m in this mess in the first place. Absolutely nothing practical.
What broken footed people needed to know were things like the most effective way of propping pillows to maximise drainage of foot inflammation and how to use your crutches as mops, door-closers and pretend Uzis to amuse oneself when times get tough.
I racked my brains through the pages of information on physiology and sports psychology that I only ever used for scantron sheets and came up with a blank. Not only was I going through a foot crisis, I was now also going through a quarter life career crisis. This is something I’m told every 25-year-old with a fracture of the second and third metatarsal goes through.
I was wallowing in this sespit of self-pity at my seemingly useless kine degree the other day wondering if there was anything…anything at all that I would be able to use in this situation.
Many years ago (summer of 2007) I took a course on Athletic Injuries. It wasn’t in my list of requirements for the program. I took it as an elective. In essence, this course was taken for shits and giggles. Essentially, this was probably the most practical course that any university could offer. I could have completed this one course and went into the workforce and wouldn’t have had any less knowledge than I did going in with a $70, 000.00 piece of paper proving how smart I am.
Now this course was taken a long time ago, so my brain seems a little rusty with all the specifics but I do remember one line that will stick with me forever. “Good leg to heaven, bad leg to hell”. It was the golden rule of stair climbing for the stair-climbing impaired. “Always remember this folks, even if you remember nothing else from this course”, Professor Gus would say. “Good leg to heaven, bad leg to hell”.
Excited with this nugget of knowledge, I bravely hopped over to the stairs. I held on to the staircase tightly. With a trembling broken footed leg, I put my good foot on the first stair. I had done it!! I had climbed a step!!
Of course, I needed to outdo myself. If I could do one step, I could do a whole flight of them. And in 25 minutes, I had done a whole flight of them. Never in my life before had such a miniscule thing felt like such an incredible achievement. Maybe my degree wasn’t entirely a waste of life.
Sadly, that was all I could remember. The rest I’ve been figuring out as I go along. Here are few of the things I learnt about fractured metatarsals that my degree did not teach me:
– When sleeping at night, your malfunctioning foot needs to be elevated above heart level. This is easily achieved with one pillow. One does not need to prop it on three pillows, a military blanket and a dictionary. All this does is give you a sleepless night and severe back pain. You may want to give your crap foot optimal care but be kind to the rest of your body parts. After all, they are all pitching in and working overtime to help out.
– It is normal to curse inanimate objects to painful deaths when one bumps their foot against them. Don’t worry, they usually don’t return the same courtesy.
– The one-crutch usage is a myth. You either use both crutches or use none at all. The only exception to this rule is when you use one crutch to beat people who point and laugh at you.
– In light of the circumstance, the 5 second rule temporarily changes to the 10 second rule.
– Pain medication is what doctors administer to help you sleep. Sleep is what pain medication administers to help with pain.
– Be smart when trying to clean your tub. The smart thing to do is to not clean any tubs.
– Discover God. Sometimes the need for spirituality is born out of catastrophe and trauma. But a lot of time it’s just born out of having too much time on your hands and a need to talk to someone with a delightfully incomprehensible sense of humor.
– Light weight-bearing exercises, a giant boot cast, calcium and Vitamin D are all wonderful things the doctors and literature recommend to get you up and running. But the most important factor that they fail to mention is patience.
– This too shall pass.
And so there you have it. If you ever find yourself with a broken foot (God forbid), you now have the expert advice of a kinesiologist on hand to fall back on. And don’t worry, I have a degree to support it 😉