Lesson from my Ankle Surgery

Today marks two weeks since my ankle surgery. Two weeks of pain medication. Two weeks of sitting and laying with my foot up. And most challenging of all, two weeks without leaving the house! When I told most of my friends that I was having ankle surgery, they were utterly confused because I had no recent accident and I had been walking around seemingly normally.

So, how did this happen? Let’s flashback to two years ago. One day I woke up and felt pain shooting through my ankle. Figuring that I slept wrong, I proceeded to get ready for work quite confident that the pain would go away once my body warmed up. I limped to the bathroom and then limped to the car to drive to work.

Long story short, three days passed and I was still limping around inch by inch and the pain was constant. Absolutely certain I had not recently done anything major to injure my ankle, I was left with no choice but to head to see the doctor. Looking back, my doctor must have thought I was lying, trying to hide something, or just crazy because I reassured her that I had not twisted my ankle, fallen, or even exercised on it. Well, after crutches, a temporary boot, and an X-ray, she discovered FOUR broken bones off my ankle. Say what?!

After a referral to an orthopedic specialist to deal with my mysteriously broken ankle, he determined that the bones were likely from an old ankle sprain in my running days, a misstep off a curb, or from some other weird force of nature. The doctor decided that since the break was older, the pain was probably ligament or tendon damage. He proceeded to give me a cortisone shot in my ankle. Boom! No more pain.

So, with broken bones remaining and my newly numbed ankle, I was off to go bust it up some more for a year! I didn’t do it on purpose. The cortisone shot made me feel NO ankle pain, but it didn’t heal anything. Well, eventually, the shot wore off. And, wow, I felt more pain. I went back to the doctor and he gave me another shot. And, guess what? I went on to run and prance on it for another year. And, guess what? The shot wore off. This time, the pain was WORSE than ever and I now had even MORE damage than ever. So, six days after my appointment, I was in surgery to remove broken bones, and another bone spur, and repair ligament damage.

Moral of the story: Fix things the first time! Don’t cover up painful areas of your life with figurative cortisone shots and other numbing aids. You may not feel it at the time, but trust me, it is in there damaged, and eventually, when it emerges from the numbed darkness, you WILL feel it.

Whether it’s a painful physical injury that you’ve told yourself you can live with or an old emotional injury that you’ve resigned to live with, don’t let anyone encourage you to cover it up or MASK it. Be healed and recover once and for all. The absence of pain doesn’t always mean the absence of a problem.

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