Schwartz.World!

My Foot

Mon May 09 2022

I can’t remember how much I’ve talked about my foot on this blog, but I don’t think it’s much. I like talking about the injury because I was raised to enjoy complaining and find the experience cathartic. Last summer, I was feeling pretty good about myself physically. I was sleeping a lot better (although not as good as now) and getting back into running. About a week before the injury, I ran 6.5 miles to the lake.

The last time I broke a foot was a week after I ran 14 miles on a >90 degree day.

Nobody expects to be the guy who has broken both his feet, but here I am, not even 40 years old and I have done so. My first injury to that area was in high school when I broke my ankle in the parking lot of the McMinnville WalMart. True story. This was one of those breaks you could almost shrug off. Like it was technically broken.

My second injury was an evulsion fracture of my left foot. This is when you roll your ankle, and a tiny little bit of bone snaps off the side of your foot. I was in Yerevan, Armenia and I rolled my ankle on the way to the airport to come home. It was a real bummer, but if anybody wants a post on what the inside of an Abu Dhabi emergency room looks like, I can absolutely provide. This was another inconvenience, a few months hobbling around in a walking boot.

The injury

Cut to July 2021. It’s been kind of a shit year. The End-Of-The-World was a tough time for parents with little kids, and then I got the CPAP, but now it’s summer and I’m starting to bounce back. I took my daughter to the skate park where we often hung out. I stepped up onto a ramp to go around somebody.

Here’s the funny thing: It turns out there’s an angle that if your foot is at that angle, and you flex it a little, 3 or 4 times your body weight in forces gets applied to the shitty little ligament that holds your arch up. If you get in this position, your foot breaks. The ligament goes and without its support, the bones break. Who knew? I put my foot in the bone-break position and stepped up onto the ramp. Then I heard a noise like someone snapping fingers in my ear.

I knew that I had broken it, and unlike my other two fractures where I could have almost convinced myself nothing was wrong, this time I knew. My foot was done. We went home, slowly and horribly painfully, and I found my boot and crutches from my last injury. With them on, I could manage a little, but it was obvious.

The ER doctors said my foot wasn’t broken. What the shit? My foot was completely broken. I’ve seen the x-rays. It’s not ambiguous. The medical term is “broke the shit out of it”. Look it up. I don’t have the original x-ray, unfortunately.

The actual medical term

Lisfranc injury. We even have our own subreddit! https://old/reddit.com/LisfrancClub

Basically it’s a class of injury where you break the bones in the middle part of your foot. This is usually when people get confused, because they are more used to hearing about people breaking ankles or toes. No, I definitely broke my footsie.

Aftermath

I had an ORIF surgery to fuse the bones with screws. Recovery was agony, 2 months non-weight bearing in a fiberglass cast. I am a big dude, and crutches were not my friends. I did the best I could to keep up with the kids, but I was unable to come close. By the time I sat down next to them, they’d be up and running around.

I checked out pretty hard for a bit. I couldn’t do anything. After the 2 months was up and I could bear weight again, I switched to a boot, and then eventually to a hiking shoe, which is still my main shoe.

In February I started running again and could get up to about 3 miles. I felt pretty good when running, but my foot started to hurt quite badly at other times, especially on uneven surfaces. I went back to the doctor, and ultimately had to go back under the knife to remove the offending screws which were causing me pain.

Which brings us to today.

How is the foot?

People ask me about the foot from time to time, but I can tell that most are a little disappointed at the bummer of an answer. The truth is that I have most of my mobility back and am running 3 or 4 days a week. Yesterday I pushed my younger daughter in a running stroller for 4.5 miles. I have almost no pain when I’m running. This is awesome.

I went to the White Mountains with the fam a couple weeks ago and we hiked and I was fine with that too. This is also awesome.

But there is another side, which is that my foot just hurts sometimes. Sometimes I don’t notice it at all for a while, and others the pain is so intense that it takes my breath away. I feel the weakness in the foot whenever I have to walk quickly. I still can’t chase the girls around the house the way they want me too. Maybe it’s the support of the running shoes? Maybe I should wear them around the house.

I asked my doctor if being pain-free was a possiblity and he hedged. “You’ll be fine,” he said. “You won’t have any pain eventually. I don’t think you’ll have chronic pain… Well… You could have some pain.” I can handle the pain, but it’s definitely shaken my self-image a little bit. I felt athletic and strong last year, now I feel crippled sometimes. I’ve mostly accepted the hard truth, which is that some injuries are catastrophic and this is one of them. Yes, it’s better now, but better doesn’t mean “the way it was before”. I’m pretty confident the door has closed on reaching that state. I’m a little worried I’m always going to be “the guy who broke his foot”. Certainly I feel that way.

Yes, it’s better in the sense that there are no more interventions left.

In summation

Feet are really unpleasant to break. If you’re going to break something, I encourage you to pick a different bone. Consider your jaw.