Fresh snow covered the roads and Maverick, my friends’ dog, was excited for a morning run. I was house-, dog- and cat-sitting for my friends who were topping up on Vitamin-D in California before their second baby is due to arrive. Lacing up my shoes while Maverick was doing his happy dance with vocals, I was getting excited to run through fresh snow. There is something magical about running through fluffy, glittering, untouched snow, and I love it.
Mav and I headed out of the door and towards his dog park (so he can poop in privacy and read the morning newspaper aka sniff all the trees). While the fresh snow was nice and grippy, I noticed that there was quite a bit of ice underneath. However, being used to running on varying terrain, and on snow and ice, I did not think much of it. After leaving the dog park and putting Mav back on the leash, we were heading down (literally downhill) a residential road. I was thinking about my then upcoming race, Lake Sonoma 50, when I slipped on ice and crashed to the ground. One second, I was running, the next, I was on the ground in tremendous pain, with an ankle that looked like my thigh and a foot that felt like it wasn’t attached to my body anymore. Even though, everything happened super fast, I must have noticed that something is majorly off; while falling, I looked at my ankle – crashing down, my ankle/foot was pushed up to my outer leg and then flopped back (imagine a 180-degree flip-flop). Instant pain shot through my ankle and lower leg. I knew my ankle was severely injured and I was terrified, in particular as my foot felt numb.
After a minute or two of trying to compose myself, I realized that I did not have a phone with me and there was no one around. I frantically looked around for anyone to help me, but there was no one. And there was no chance I could stand up, let alone walk. Telling myself that if no one comes by in the next 5-10 minutes, I would need to start scooping down the road on my bum until I find help, a car pulled out of a garage two houses up the road.” Thank god”, I thought. Waiving like a crazy person, I flagged the car down; a lovely mum with her three kids on the way to school. The mum, Teresa, offered to get me to the hospital and so with her help I climbed into the trunk of her car (as the kids took up the other space). Luckily, most people in Canada have a SUV-type of car so the trunk was roomie. Mav jumped in as well and off we went. Well, first to drop off her daughters at school and then to drop off Mav at my friends’ home (and get my purse and phone), and THEN to emergency. Being in tremendous pain throughout the car journey, all I remember are the speed bumps and Teresa worrying about me passing out. I also texted Adrien that I had injured myself badly. He called me and I mostly whimpered and sobbed. He knew it was bad and was coming to Calgary.
Once at the hospital, it wasn’t until the docs saw my x-rays some 2.5 hours later that they finally got an IV and painkillers into me and moved me into a bed. A nurse cut my sock and tights open and a doc asked me whether I can feel the touch on my foot. I could, but I was still in a lot of pain, just now feeling like I am flying through space. They gave me more painkillers – yay! Adrien arrived and I was over the moon to see him, although at that point I was mostly crying. The docs came in and started to push more stuff into my body while explaining to me that my ankle was dislocated and they need to put it back in place. The meds kicked in and knocked me out. When I woke up, I had a cast on my leg and a surgery planned for two days later. Due to the damage to the ligaments, the surgent put a plate in to help my broken fibula heal and a wire to stabilize the ankle.
It’s been just over 4 weeks since the surgery and my ankle is looking more like an ankle (not a thigh or calf). It’s even moving to some extent. However, it has been a bit of a roller-coaster to say the least. When you are truly committed to running, it shapes and defines you. When injury suddenly takes that away from you, you can easily find yourself adrift. The drastic change in lifestyle and independence is what I struggle with the most. Most of my time spend away from home or work is based around running, and sitting on a couch with my leg elevated for 95% of the day is simply not my cup of tea. My bum hurts and I simply do not know what to do with ALL that time. And there are these constant reminders of the things I can’t do, like carrying a glass of water or a bowl of soup on crutches. Running injuries are mentally hard as you never really know how long it will be and it might be a 2-steps-forward-1-step-back kinda dance. However, I strongly believe that they do make you stronger and teach you invaluable lessons. I may not be running for awhile, but that doesn’t mean I cannot work on my strength and train in different ways. Or even learn French (Adrien n’est pas impressionné) 😉.