After The Fall: Mr. wOw’s Big Sprain

Mr. wOw walks (a very slow) mile in an injured friend’s size 11 shoes

Just a little over a year ago, a very dear friend, and my excellent co-worker suffered a terrible accident. Her mangled foot and her life will never be the same. She was simply standing at the bus stop waiting to come to work when her life changed forever.

I visited this incredible woman at the hospital and while she was in rehab. I was not one of those who was brave enough to accompany her to her excruciating therapy sessions. Better and braver friends did that. But I saw enough. She racked up millions (literally) in medical bills. Her lawsuit is pending. Her complaints have been minimal.

Now she is back at work, part time but as vigorous and committed to work as ever. She wears a size 11 man’s shoe on her injured foot. She walks with a pronounced limp. In time it will change, but it will never be the same. We are only a few years apart in age — she is younger. We have many of the same cultural references. We also shared a walking style. Fast. I mean really fast. I have never been a “strolling” kind of guy. I walk to get to where I am going. I walk fast. I cut ahead. I jump the traffic lights. I often exclaim: “What is this, the Easter Parade?” when caught behind people languidly drifting along the busy city streets. So my friend and I liked walking together. Two determined dynamos on our way. It was always fun and we always laughed at how pokey everybody else was, while we strode ahead.

She cannot walk with such dynamism anymore. Though she walks faster with her injury than most healthy people, I think.

My sympathetic thoughts about all this were outside my realm of experience until about 14 days ago. Mr. wOw fell down while hailing a cab. The taxi was rushing toward the curb, I stepped back instinctively and … fell over my feet. One of those weird little stumbles. I slammed toward the pavement. I instinctively put my right hand out to brace myself. I was down and up in a second. Embarrassed for having fallen down. Pissed because the cab that was so anxious to have me, sped away. My hand hurt and so did my foot. Oh, shit — had I twisted my ankle again? (Years ago I’d had a bout of twisting and injuring one or another ankle, and they’d never been quite strong again.) I didn’t notice till I reached the Port Authority — another taxi arrived with unusual swiftness — that my hand was bleeding heavily. My foot was really painful but when I got home I saw that my ankles were fine. The impact had been to the front of my foot, however that had happened. It didn’t look bad. I went to bed with a painkiller.

I woke up in agony and nearly crippled. I could barely walk. My foot was massively swollen. I decided I should go to the emergency room. It was the day of the freak snowstorm. Although the Hoboken hospital is only four blocks away, I could not get a local tax service to come to me. When I did finally persuade somebody, they claimed they could not find our address. Now, we do have trouble sometimes with our Hoboken address — it’s a little off to the side of a main street — but this was ridiculous. In a final burst of desperation I said to the taxi driver, who called and claimed he was “right in front of your house”: “Look, I am a very middle-aged man in a bright green shirt and with a heavy limp. I look like Quasimodo. You can’t miss me. I’m going to stand in the middle of the street!”

Fifteen minutes later, no cab. I gave up. I couldn’t walk the four blocks. In a rage I crawled upstairs and cursed the day we moved to Hoboken and also into a three-story house. The accident happened Friday. I returned to work on Monday, hobbling and hunched. My boss wondered why I kept muttering about “Sanctuary!” and who the hell was Esmeralda?

That was then. This is now. The swelling has subsided some. The pain too but I am still in quite a bit of pain. I can walk. Slowly, with a limp. But I am determined not to limp, so I have kind of thrown my back out, once or twice in my determination not to appear infirm. It doesn’t seem like anything is broken. But I don’t know. Nor have I received any stable advice on how to treat the foot. Ice or heat? Elevated or bind it up? Nothing seems to help, really. I am seeing my doctor today to ask his advice on a foot specialist. Maybe something is broken. Who knows?

I do know this. Though it is only the very smallest variation on the injury my friend suffered, I now know what it is like to not move swiftly. To be cautious with every step. To watch others jauntily go about their business while you are wincing — every movement is a possible disaster. To feel suddenly old. Oh, that is the worst part. Anticipating more infirmity, realizing this is possibly the audition to the rest of your life. (Depending on how one holds up.)

My pain will pass, most likely and I will walk fast and furious again. That won’t happen for my friend. Not for years.

So, no matter what the diagnosis is on my foot, I will walk with my friend again this week. We will hobble and limp together in an unequal solidarity. And we’ll laugh at how fast everybody else is. Where are they all going with their great big strides? Pokey is the way, don’t they know it? And a limp can be rather stylish in the right jeans.

P.S. Mr. wOw’s wonderful  doctor says there is no break, but a bad contusion. Mr. W. must be patient and take a chill pill.

P.P.S. Mr. W. will still be walking with his much more challenged friend. Mr. wOw has learned a lot. He is a better person for having hailed a cab.

 

53 comments so far.

  1. avatar J G says:

    P.P.P.S
    Mr. WOW is much loved and revered and we are all better for knowing him.

    P.P.P.P.S.

    If that IS indeed a photo of your foot in the above picture, you should be a foot model, even if you’re modeling for Ace Bandage, you could still be a foot model.

    P.P.P.P.P.S.

    Please get well soon.

    • avatar Mr. Wow says:

      Dear JG…

      Thank you.  Not my foot, but I do retain a very nice set of tootsies. Still shapely. Perhaps no longer up to modeling….

  2. avatar Daniel Sugar says:

    So sorry you’re not feeling well. (I hope you recover quickly!)

    Best,

    D

    • avatar Mr. Wow says:

      Dear Daniel

      Thank you doctor.  I feel…funny with the medication they give me.

      • avatar rick gould says:

        Mr. W–Ha! I have a feeling the truth is something you never resisted ;)

        Sorry to hear about your foot, as well as your friend’s serious injury.

        I never take good health for granted, especially since my only health insurance right now is the basic basic my college offers.

        But I’ve been lucky. No serious ailments or injuries in my life. My neck and back pains are remedied by yoga and a conscious attempt to not stress. And being a transplanted Portlander, the mold capital of the world, I have worked on my food allergies to alleviate my outdoor allergies…and have lost 32 lbs. in the process.

        At 52, I’m putting in more effort on my health and fitness… it does pay off, I have to remind myself when I’m curled up with a book and wondering if there’s any chocolate in the house!

        Get better!

      • avatar Mr. Wow says:

        Dear  Rick…
        Well, with me at almost 59 and you at 52, we are pretty much in the same place. 
        I can’t concentrate on yoga.  I’m not sensitive enough. And my conscious attempts not to stress lead to…much more stress!    I’m busy doing leg lifts while sitting on my couch (very effective, actually!)  and wondering how to hold onto my ass if I can’t climb the  stairs two at a time or do the treadmill for 30 minutes at the high incline. 
        I know—59.  Who the hell cares about my ass?   

        Eh…I still get out of the shower every day. That damn mirror.   
         
         
         

      • avatar rick gould says:

        That mirrored yoga studio keeps me honest!

        Oh, and I am a fast walker, too. Friends always tell me to slow down. I’m always whipping around lacksadaisical college students on campus…

        Nice seeing a post by you, even if it’s about health woes…
        Here’s to good health!

      • avatar Mr. Wow says:

        Dear Rick…

        Yoga.  I envy you. I’ve never  been able to master it or feel  comfortable.   And yet I see it is a wonderful exercise.

      • avatar Baby Snooks says:

        I think Epsom salts help with the ankle. I know a dimmer and pink light bulbs help with the mirror in the bathroom. Keeping a cane around is wise after 50. Life happens as they say. Particularly after 50. We tend to go from rock and rolling to slip and sliding.

  3. avatar Lila says:

    Oh, Mr. Wow. Here’s hoping for a complete recovery for your poor foot.

    I commiserate: two days before you fell off the curb, I was out trail riding with my neighbors. The horse is a little crazy sometimes. I was thrown against a tree and received quite a solid whack to my lower back. First order of business: yep, I can feel all my extremities. Next: carefully… yep, everything is functioning as it should, no grinding broken sensations. But I was already getting quite the goose egg and knew this would not be good. Once swelling sets in, you just have to wait. The next few days, moving was really painful and sneezing was agony. Putting on pants and shoes was a major effort. But it is mostly resolved now. I still have trouble bending to one side but that is fading too. Here’s hoping your injury will also fade off on its own.

    But – my husband commiserates, too, because in Bosnia he stepped off a curb and broke his foot. Just an odd twist, like yours, and just a hairline break. The Army doctor gave him a “boot” and crutches and told him to stay off it. The crutches were a pain and he found he could hobble along on the boot, so he did. Next visit, the break was WORSE rather than better. The doctor threatened him with an old-fashioned plaster cast if he could not follow instructions. He followed instructions.

    So, I am glad you are seeing your doctor, I hope nothing is broken, and… follow the doctor’s instructions!!

    • avatar Lila says:

      Ah, I see your PS (this is what I get for walking away in the middle of commenting). Glad there is no break.

      • avatar Mr. Wow says:

        Dear Lila,

        Thanks!  No break,  but my luck in never having broken anything–except my collarbone when I was four (and I recall that vividly!) and never having experienced much physical discomfort, even when I was kinda dying, has left me ill-equipped for this. 

        But it does put things into a bit more perspective.  So I’m trying to look less obviously pained and not make it the first subject of conversation.  That on eis hard, actually.

  4. avatar Sadie BB says:

    Mr wow… Ahhh yes. Nothing like that first middle-aged injury. After 50 years of never breaking a single bone, even in my little toe, I managed to flatten myself while jogging and break my arm. The part the hurt worst was when the emergency room doctor said ‘oh yes, very common injury FOR A WOMAN YOUR AGE’.
    I would have clipped him over the ear, but my good arm was broken.

    • avatar Mr. Wow says:

      Dear Sadie…

      How did you heal?   The worst thing is I can’t quite keep my balance, so it is difficult to even lift weights or so other upper body  exercises.   I feel sure if this keeps up, all musculature will disolve and B. will begin  referring to me as “ole mushy.” 

      • avatar Sadie BB says:

        Mr wow – I healed perfectly. And followed my doctors and physical therapist advice to the letter even when it was tiresome and painful! Btw I do a lot of my upper body exercises sitting down anyway.

  5. avatar Sadie BB says:

    I did find out why little old ladies wear those hideous button front blouses. With limited mobility it was all I could wrestle myself into.

  6. avatar pm50x says:

    A couple of years ago I broke the ankle. Multiple breaks which required screws, etc. It healed perfectly then 3 weeks later something went horribly wrong and it hasn’t been right since. But . . . the MOST frustrating part of it you nailed in the first part of your message. The walking. I too was a fast walker, always was (had to be to keep up with tall mother as a young kid). Not being able to briskly go about my business is still a problem and I have tried to get used to the pokey, I can’t do fast anymore routing, but with additional therapy I’m improving slightly. I wish you well with your recovery. The best part for me so far is being able to say, truthfully, I probably have a screw loose somewhere.

    • avatar Mr. Wow says:

      Dear PM5OX…

      aRRRGGGG…!

      Nobody walked faster than me.  I was like the wind.    Now–at least for the moment–I’m  a weak breeze. 

  7. avatar Daniel Sugar says:

    Well, speaking of injuries, this might cheer you up:

    “I’ve told Billy if I ever caught him cheating, I wouldn’t kill him because I love his children and they need a dad. But I would beat him up. I know where all of his sports injuries are.”

    Angelina Jolie

    • avatar Mr. Wow says:

      Dear Dr. Sugar…

      Thank you.  But the image of the fragile-limbed Jolie and the delicately-boned Mr. Billy Bob Thornton in anything resembling a physical altercation is….just creepy.   Like zombies fighting.

  8. avatar Miss Lee says:

    My middle-aged wake up call happened in 1995 and involved 3 discs in my back and my right hip.  Basically, as the discs bulged and hit the nerve, the muscle spasm pulled my right hip out of the socket.  I didn’t walk at all for a few weeks and not well for months.  I went through physical therapy and had weekly massage for years which helped quite a bit but I was never quite normal, especially the hip.  Then I stopped doing the exercises and I found myself back in pretty dire straights, unable to walk upright again.  I scared me quite a bit and I started to exercise religiously.  Doing the basic physical therapy exercises was daunting at first.  Now it is two years later and a combination of yoga and pilates has worked wonders on my hip.  I have restored the full range of motion in my hip and strengthened my core. As long as I do my exercises and don’t do anything stupid, I can navigate quite well although I am not always pain free. So my advice is to do what the docs tell you and you will be fine in time.  Just don’t expect to heal as fast as you did when you were in your 20′s.  You can’t turn back time but you can work at being the best you can be at whatever age you are.   

    • avatar Mr. Wow says:

      Dear Miss Lee…

      Thank you!   And how grateful I am that my little injury doesn’t involve discs.  Imagine what a crybabyI would be then!

      • avatar Miss Lee says:

        Mr Wow,  You would just handle it while the tears flow. Pain hurts but life leaves you little choice as I am sure your friend would tell you.  Be fearless (or at least bluff well).

      • avatar Mr. Wow says:

        Dear Miss lee…

        I live to be fearless.  But I am so not.  I often bluff pretty well. 

        Thank you for reminding me that the bluff is very vital. 

  9. avatar Mr. Wow says:

    B. has been a saint through all this.

    When I am ill, I retreat.  In the room, all alone, no eating, no talking.   When pressed I will say: “I’m in pain” and then hobble away. 

    I try not to ask too much of him, but my very “I’m not asking too much of you”  begs for attention. 

    He is ever alert to my various moans, etc.

  10. avatar French Heart says:

    I feel for you and your friend. I was born super-fit, athletic, a fight-to-death win any race kinda kid even in 1st grade. Went balls-out into a ‘male’ field–tho in high-heels and a white Chanel suit…then a dumb accident and head injury…permanent cognitive problems/vertigo. The vertigo lead to three bad falls…broken foot/crutches for 6-months on the hills in San Francisco. Then when my mother dying last October out race-walking, distracted, and took a flying fall onto cement and on my head…just in time the left side of my face contusions/black and blue. Thought it was kind of funny…except worsened the vertigo. Then a couple of weeks ago another spill and both my feet with torn tendons..one with a small break.

    Ice, heat, elevate foot at night while asleep, Tiger Balm heat patches and a brace has helped….and don’t want to lose fitness so still exercising madly with 6.5 hand-weights….actually am so ticked about another injury that putting that energy in the exercising and looking good if I do say so.

    Courage…hardly anything bad ever happens without an accompanying blessing. Jus wait, you’ll see. In the meantime, sitting is the most unhealthy thing so compensate. I got a Hula Hoop, turn on ‘I’m Yours’ & Coldplay and can now do 100+ revolutions. Great calorie burner and good for the waist and core.

    Your friend sounds like a real winner who will eventually prevail.

  11. avatar French Heart says:

    PS: that’s just in time for Halloween.

  12. avatar Rho says:

    Mr. Wow, so sorry hear you are ailing,  Please take good care of yourself.

  13. avatar Mary says:

    Oh my goodness Mr. Wow, how awful for you.  I understnd your lesson of empathy though.  Terrible way to learn but so often it is how the  best lessons stick. 

    I managed to avoid any major damage to myself until 2 weeks before 60 and I can tell you without a doubt that prior to that I felt as invincible as ever.  Run, no problem, hop,   skip, jump, walk fast, you name it.  I still played womens softball, still hopped up in the saddle of my horse and gallapped bareback through the fields.  Hah I would secretly yell to the wind, I will be 80 and still do the same.   WRONG.

    In just two or three seconds it all changed.  A patient of mine buckled her legs, locked her body while I was hleping her move a matter of inches, leaving me with a pretty serious back injury and nerve damage to my leg.    Now that little voice says, HAH back, you are not so invincible are you?  So I move a lot slower, consider each move carefully, what realy needs to be done and what can wait, what is the shortest distance to point A from point B.  I accept it but not willingly.  I do the exercises that my pt gives me and take the pills and rest with ice and wait for insurance to make decisions of what to do next.  Today was the first day I broke down , my resolve lay bare but after I had my little breakdown I got mad and when I get mad I get busy.  The therapist said I need to get a CANE!  NO NO NO NO NO, NO CANE, not ready for a cane.  So now I am determined and angry and got the fuel I needed to fight back. 

    I know it is discouraging when you get hurt and how intune to the problems that go with it.  Hang in and do what the docs tell you.  Feel better real soon!     

    • avatar Mr. Wow says:

      Dear Mary

      Thank you!  And yes–the specter of the cane is there.  

      I am angry at my body and probably not helping my body because I don’t want to give in. 

      I’ll be a better.  I’ll try. 

      thank you again.

  14. avatar mary burdt says:

    Mr. wOw, How sorry I am to hear of your injury. You are a lucky guy to have B there to keep an eye on you…I somehow know you need him with you. Follow Drs. orders and in no time you will be as good as new. My best to your co-worker also. Mary

    • avatar Mr. Wow says:

      Dear Mary…

      Thank you…

      B. has been fantastic.  I need him so much.  I am not great on my own.

  15. avatar LandofLove says:

    Mr. wOw, what impressed me most in your story was your realization of your new solidarity with your injured friend. That’s the kind of insight that many people never achieve. I’m so sorry for your injury, but I think your compassion and empathy are already speeding you along a healing path—both physically and mentally.

    • avatar Mr. Wow says:

      Dear Land of Love…

      It’s always easy to say, “I understand,” “I sympathize”–and you can, up to a point.  But then comes a point–it always does in life–when you really can.  It might not be the most pleasant, the happiest self-relevation, but probably the most important.

      So this is a little journey on my road to being… wildly and forever  imperfect, no matter what I learn. 

      • avatar Mr. Wow says:

        Ummmm…self- revelation. 

        Tiny font and no spell check.  Really, REALLY? 

        Come on…give us a break, here. 

      • avatar French Heart says:

        PS Mr Wow–Go to Youtube.com for ‘How to Ice foot’ ‘How to Bandage foot’ ‘Exercises for foot pain’ You’ll find short vids by docs and physical therapists that are very helpful until you get to the doc.

      • avatar Mr. Wow says:

        Dear French Heart…

        I’m at the “How to Get Rid of Foot” point.

        I did see the doctor, who told me to be patient, careful, and this too would pass.  It’s still a hell of a lot of pain. 

        BUT…I was not hit by a truck, as my good friend was. 

  16. avatar Deirdre Cerasa says:

    Dear Mr. WoW!
    So sorry you are in pain! We all want you to feel better. Great advice from so many about giving it time. You will be walking fast again soon. Love and prayers for your friend whose road is longer.
    I am still counting on the train trip! It is another reason for you to get better!
    Hugs,
    Deirdre

    • avatar Mr. Wow says:

      Dear Deirdre…

      If we get to the train at any point, I won’t really care about my foot.  I will be carried on a litter and wafted in and out of the various cars in which my WoW friends have been stashed. 

      We will all drink a lot (apologies to non-drinkers or former alkies–you can smoke pot.  Or just look virtuous.)  

      We’ll have a good time.  But right now?  My foot is throbbing.  I’m hobbling over to pick up a Mega-Millions ticket tonight. 

      • avatar Deirdre Cerasa says:

        Mr. WoW,
        I have visions of Cleopatra! Precious Liz would have nothing on you!
        Hope the possibility of a big Mega-Millions win helps with the pain. Of course, I am sure you already know that hobbling is no help for throbbing! Elevate and cocktailerate!
        Deirdre

  17. avatar maytaguide says:

    Well, I hope you recover fully, but I think the cab driver who sped away and left you on the ground was really an unprintable term. My experience of falling in NYC taught me, in hindsight, to get to the ER ASAP. The stray dog my daughter and I took in got anxious on the leash and took me for a tumble at the corner of Prince and Thompson. I waited a few hours as the swelling grew, but it was my wrist not my foot, so I got there on my own.

    • avatar Mr. Wow says:

      Dear Maytaguide…

      Oh, well, he didn’t want to get involved. 

      People falling down.  He probably thought I was drunk.  Which I wasn’t, much to my own surprise. 

  18. avatar Rho says:

    Mr. Wow, how do you feel today?  Better I hope.

    • avatar Mr. Wow says:

      Dear Rho…

      Friday, Nov 18.  Not so hot, tho I must constantly remind myself that I have not been hit by a truck, do not work in a Chliean mine, was not born into grinding poverty, can see, hear, speak and move all my limbs.  (Okay, right now I’m feeling a little challenged on the latter.)

      “Ouch” is my word.  It is still very painful.  And as I am having perennial work issues, I am more depressed than usual over this physical event. 

      Actually, it  is B. who has suffered the most.  I am so depressed I have barely spoken for three weeks.  I feel—what is there to say?  I hate my job and I am in a lot of pain at the moment?  Not to mention the big scar on my right hand.   I think I am doing him a favor by not speaking, but I know he is  hurt and disturbed by my silence.  He deserves much better. 

      But there are people with real problems.  If I could get my head out of my ass I’d get out of this job and be a better person for myself and a better partner to B. 

      I’ll be 59 in January.  I suppose there is still time. 

      • avatar Sadie BB says:

        Oh mr wow — it’s ok to vocalize the misery. That’s what friends are for.

        As for your dear mr b. – sneak up behind him while he’s making coffee, give him a big hug and a kiss, and whisper “thank you”

        trust me, that will make him happy!

      • avatar Mr. Wow says:

        Dear SadieBB…

        I am going to do that tonight.  I’ve been such a drag.   I’ve been ill before–very ill– but I have never experienced such a physical trauma.  (Well, my broken collarbone when I was four–but I was too young to feel too bad for myself. Self pity is a more mature emotion. ) 

        Thinking about it, my fall was probably made worse because my fifteen pound backback was as usual, strapped to me. 

        Anyway, and again—my little accident certainly gave me a feeling of  what people who suffer real trauma go through.  A very small feeling.  But you know, it has been good to contemplate all that.  Lucky me.  As usual and…so far. 

  19. avatar isa says:

    Mr Wow, haven’t logged in in a while, and as I did today I had to check your column.  So sorry to see you hurt your ankle.  It’s great you are taking care of it.  I neglected a sprained ankle treatment for years and last year I was at the ostheopath’s office every two weeks.  Still not fixed, probably never will be, the ligaments just stayed stretched for waaaaaay too long.  So this year, my back froze up.  It turns out I have lumbar spine protrusions, probably caused by my insistance on carrying my kids on my hip for waaaaay too long, or a previous dance injury, or more sedentary life after a very physically active life to now a somewhat active life or who knows….So these past two months I have been seeing the sports medicine doctor for adjustments and the like.  He tells me if I do not take this seriously, I’ll need hip replacement surgery…..Oh joy!!!  The point is I totally empathize with your inability to walk fast and your restlessness and crabbiness.  I also love to walk fast, or loved to walk fast, move fast, feel totally strong in my body, can’t quite do it anymore….And it does not feel good.  I know you have been struggling with health issues, so this might feel like insult to injury. When our limbs or extremities fail us, and we can’t move as well, we really feel how vulnerable we can be.  So continue the treatment they recommend.  I always feel some movement is better than no movement.  However you can keep yourself mobile, try it.  Now back to my rehab exercises….

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and Mr B.

    • avatar Mr. Wow says:

      Dear isa..

      Thank you!  

      My health issues are only issues if I do not take my meds every day.  Then…I would die. 

      But I have been quite lucky in terms of things being broken or sprained or my physicality challenged.   So—I’ve been a big crybaby and not easy to live with. 

      But…one always gets brought up short.  Over the weekend I caught a documentary on the terribly injured soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan.  I cried for them and I cried that I had ever cried over my own minor pain–experienced at the age of 58, on a city street, hailing a cab. 

      Back to moving my foot around and not taking painkillers. 

  20. avatar omasan says:

    Mr. Wow,

    I read your posting last week with much amusement–I always enjoy your postings. It brought back memories of when I fractured my foot three years ago and what an unpleasant experience it was. I understood where you were coming from but thankfully it was all just a bad memory. Yesterday, while walking down the stairs to the subway platform, I missed the last step and ended up spraining my ankle. Why do we always take things for granted until we lose them? Maybe that the only good thing about having bad experiences like this is that they give us a sense of appreciation for all we do have in the good times? (I’m trying to be positive here!) Wishing you (and me) and your friend a speedy recovery.

  21. avatar Mr. Wow says:

    Dear Omasan..

    I hate to admit this, but I have gotten kind of hooked on the program “I Survived.”  Grim tales of getting through all sorts of horrors. 

    Talk about be humbled and having a sense of perspective!

    Thanks for your good thoughts.