I used to enjoy looking forward to this day, as it’s my brother’s birthday. However, there’s another anniversary now to… look forward to is not the right word, but remember and reflect certainly fits. Lat year on this day, as I was making my way home from work, as I was riding my skateboard on the streets of San Francisco, I hit something on the sidewalk that sent me flying. My landing was less than graceful, and the net result was that I broke my right leg. Specifically, I broke through my right tibia about two inches above my ankle, and I broke through my right fibula about two inches below my knee.
The break made necessary the installation of a metal plate along the tibia. The fibula they left to fend for itself (common practice, I’ve come to discover). I had to spend a month with my leg elevated over my heart 22 hours a day. the recovery since has been, well, interesting, to say the least.
At the year mark, what has changed in my life? The good news is that I can walk around much of the time and feel little discomfort. Yes, I said little, and I said much of the time. To this day, I still feel strange twinges of pain around my muscles. My right calf muscle still looks like something took a bite out of it; it still has not yet returned to full size. My lower leg along the scar (where the plate is) still doesn’t have much in the way of feeling when I touch it. Most telling is if I have to run across the street to beat a yellow light or counting down crossing timer. At that point, it’s a lot plainer to see. My ability to run has been greatly curtailed. Instead of running, I do a strange little limp hop that, to passers by, is a tell take sign that, while I may look fine on the outside, I did a number on myself that will have a long road to complete recovery, if complete recovery is even a possibility.
On the bright side, I’m doing better than a number of people thought I would do. The severity of the break had many concerned that my walking would be impacted, or that I would have a permanent limp. Some days, I do indeed have a more pronounced limp compared to other days, but most of the time, when I walk at a normal pace, few people can tel I was ever injured. Of course, my days of hiking mountains or doing long walks of an hour or more have been significantly curtailed, and I may never be able to do what I used to do, but I can still put on a pack and hike two or three miles without great difficulty. For a lot of the scouting events my troop does, that’s within the parameters of what we do a lot of the time.
The scarier thought now is that, at the year point, i can now have the talk about seeing if the hardware can be removed. The orthopedic surgeon told me that, at some point, the plate could actually become the weakest link in my recovery, because the plate and the pins/screws are less flexible than the bone, and pressure on both could cause shearing or other issues. Removing the plate and pins could help the bone recover more and get close to its pre-brake status, or at least as close as possible. It’s time to have that next conversation. The thought of going under again and getting cut again makes me nervous, but I’ll be really happy to get the hardware out if it makes sense to do so, and hopefully continue my recovery.
Many who have been through serious injuries like this remind me that it can take years before a full recovery can occur, and yes, in some cases, we don’t get the option of full recovery, but we do ultimately get better and adapt to what we can do. It’s helped me become a little more patient and it’s also helped me become a little more aware of other’s challenges. In that way, I think there have been a number of positives. rather than lament what I can not do at this point in time, I am reminded that for many others, the obstacles are much greater, and that I can do a lot more than they can, and to be grateful for that fact.
Here’s to future days, and an end to what has been both a short and a long year.