On Saturday July 13th, 2013, 36 hours after returning home from a whirlwind work trip across Texas, I ran in the 5K Foam Fest in Haverhill, MA with my wife and our friend Brendan. We were Team Squirrel Power, with awesome custom shirts made by Emma and Brendan. The run was a “fun run” loaded with obstacles including mud pits, bouncy castles, walls to scale, three story slides, electric wire, and more. The run started on a steep uphill which sucked away all my breath, and left me panting and unable to re-catch my breath. I made it through several obstacles, and just under half way through the race, when I entered the bouncy castle. Basically it was a giant inflatable bouncy house you had to run/bounce through. To enter or exit the bouncy room, there were inflatable ramps letting you transfer from the muddy ground, to the inflated floor three feet higher, and then back down to terra firm when you completed navigating the castle of doom.
When I was heading down the exit ramp, my wet and muddy shoes slipped on the sloped inflated plastic and I fell. My left foot slid down into the mud and immediately became stuck fast, which meant when my body weight arrived, the foot couldn’t budge, and so my ankle turned, my leg pushed sideways, and everything came apart.
My ankle was dislocated, and my foot was pointing in the wrong direction. If your normal healthy toes pointing forward are the twelve o’clock position on a clock face, my toes were pointing at around eight o’clock. I also broke both the fibula and tibia. The tibia’s end broke off into two pieces. The fibula enjoyed a combination of two serious breaks. One was a diagonal break through the bone, with a few fragments coming lose. The other was a spiral/vertical break splitting the bone in two lengthwise rising up out of the diagonal transverse break.
I was taken to the Lawrence General Hospital Emergency Room in an ambulance. After some time I was given pain killers and knocked out briefly so the dislocation could be reset. The doctor apparently did a very good job at re-aligning everything that had been dislocated. I’m not sure if it was the Propofol they used to knock me out for a few minutes, or the massive pain while I was unconscious, or what, but when I came to again, I was overwhelmed with panic. I was sobbing and hyper ventilating, but not due to the pain. I was irrationally afraid and had lost any semblance of emotional control. The panic slowly ebbed but then came back in waves over and over, more and more slowly each time, each wave bringing with it a fresh bout of tears and hyper ventilating.
I was kept over night, then surgery was performed on my leg Sunday morning. Screws were used to re-attach the two broken off chunks of the tibia. Two screws were used to secure the spiral/vertical break, joining the two halves of the bone back together. Then a plate with six screws was used to re-attach the upper and lower parts of the bone to allow the diagonal transverse break to be supported. While the pain on Saturday was intense, the post-surgery pain on Sunday was far worse. All of the bone break pain was still there, will major surgery, screws, plates, and massive sutured surgery incisions being added to the mix.
I was finally able to leave the hospital on the following day, after I was able to demonstrate that I could use crutches.
Once home I started off nesting in the living room on the couch. I stayed there until Thursday, when i moved my post-operative care over to the Lahey Clinic. Lahey is closer to me than Lawrence, has a stellar reputation, and my primary care physician works at Lahey, so it seemed the thing to do. They removed the cast/splint, cleaned the leg, evaluated the x-rays and determined that everything looked as good as could be expected. They put my leg into a red fiberglass cast and sent me home.
I moved upstairs to the bedroom. The bathroom is closer, the TV is easier to use (I don’t have to shut out daylight with curtains like I do with the projector setup downstairs), the bed allows for slightly more comfort than the couch, and I could finally sleep next to my wife, whom I’d been missing for close to a week. I haven’t left the bedroom/master bath since.