Sunday, January 13, 2008

Lessons to be learned from my fall

In case you haven't been reading the papers you may have missed the opening PJMixer story for 2008 - I broke my ankle a couple of Fridays ago. It was one of those nasty slip and fall accidents in an icy parking lot. Ironically, I'd been skiing with the family all afternoon and was on my way back to the car at the end of day. There are quite a few memories of apparent insignificant decisions I made during the walk that haunt me a little - maybe we should take this earlier aisle and find that gap in the snow bank; watch for the cars; let's walk close to the bank where the snow is better. Then I turned the corner from the roadway to the aisle and the road sloped down a little. We spotted the car and in that instant the dusting of snow gave way to a sloped ramp of ice. I was carrying quite a bulky equipment bag and lost my footing once or twice before the final extended plant of my right foot which immediately went over on edge and twisted. I heard Suzanne yell about the same time I let out a cry of pain and then I was in a pile on the ground trying to otch over on my bum out of the way of an exiting car ( I still think I may have heard a crack as it happened). I immediately thought I'd broken it, but after assessing the damage I seemed to be able to move it quite well and I could actually put some weight on it to get into the car. Suzanne found a ski patrol guy to look it over and he did a pretty thorough assessment although it was now beginning to swell. He said it was a bad sprain and gave me a snow bag for the trip home. At home, I iced it, had some dinner, took some Ibuprofen and went to bed. I could hobble around a little and in the morning called TeleHealth for advice on the quickest way to get an x-ray. I went to emergency pretty early on the Saturday. Triage and the first resident doctor guessed that I had a bad sprain - especially since I shouldn't be able to walk on it if I'd actually broken anything. After one more assessment and some pushing from my side, I got the x-ray that showed the damage. Here's the funny thing. I asked the radiologist if it was broken and he said that he wasn't allowed to say anything, after which he quickly added "don't put much weight on that" a couple of times as I hobbled back to the treatment room ! Diagnosis: lateral malleolus fracture.

The rest is mostly about hospital visits, surgery and recovery. The one interesting aspect is reporting first hand on the Canadian health care system. I'm lucky to live close to one the one best hospitals in the country and so far the service has been quite good at
Sunnybrook. I got the orthopedic surgeon appointment within 2 days and my surgery was 3 days after that. I've counted the number of people I've interacted with since going to emergency, including admins and receptionists (because you have to wait for them too and they can help you through the process): 21 (including 8 doctors, residents, radiologists, anesthetists and surgeons) over approx. 15 hours in the hospital.

Getting to the lessons, and hopefully relaying some insight rather just rambling on about my bad luck.

Accidents happen. No matter how well you protect yourself and take care, accidents do happen. With all the sports I play, collisions and falls I've had, I've never sustained a broken bone in sports. I must admit a couple of past serious injuries occurred in situations involving alcohol, however this being the most serious was just one of those unlucky accidents. I've had a few slips on ice this winter and occasionally felt a twinge in my back or leg muscle - those were lucky slips I guess.

Do you believe in karma ?
I often feel superstitious and I'm careful not to throw a jinx, but karma is a little different. I believe karma relates more to the inevitable consequences of your actions, not just your thoughts. Good karma could be giving a homeless guy a quarter, in this case the guy was holding a sign that said 25c for good karma. Bad karma could be lying about your son's age to save a valuable ski coupon. Can writing about it produce karma ? What about engaging legal action, now that's a pretty seismic karmic action, no ?

Don't put off something you want to do today.
The day of the accident, I taught my daughter how to ski. I'm so pleased I did that. It took a lot of work to get her out (with extra effort to get Suzanne to help too), but I'm really glad I persisted. I'd be pretty upset if I'd delayed that action, had an accident and then have to wait a whole year to see if she'd be interested again ! What about all those chances I've had to try new things, what if I'd never tried to water ski or ride a skateboard, and now, who knows whether I'd be able to ? Some thought I was a little nutty playing two nights of ultimate and one of shinny a week this winter. Well, I feel pretty good that I got all those games in before this injury. I miss being able to play sports already !

Your leg bone is connected to your hip bone.
Everything is connected, mess one thing up and you could get completely out of balance. In my case, taking 1/2 my body weight off one leg is pretty tiring, my left leg is complaining and my right hip isn't happy with it's new positional requirements. You try finding a comfortable sleeping position with the equivalent of a ski boot on one foot. Take care of your body, don't neglect any one part. On this theme, I've even taken this opportunity to try and start a better upper body exercise regimen. I believe in holistic health, for example, the skin on my face shows the slightest sign of stress in my life. Right now, my body is pretty messed up, however I don't have any zits!

Be a friend. When you're down and out, you need friends and family to lift your spirits and you really appreciate a helping hand. Thanks to everyone's kind words and offers to help and a special thanks to my wife, Suzanne who not only is great caregiver but keeps me entertained !

1 comment:

Scott said...


Very sorry to hear about your accident. And I thought that 2007 was the year of the ankle/leg injuries.

Last summer Brenda slipped on a hike in Bon Echo Provincial Park and ended up with a torn ligament. Between Christmas and New Years Andrea broke her leg after she landed badly from a jump over a shrub in front of a local arena. She fractured her fibia and chipped her tibia (or is it the other way around?) and will be wearing a cast for 6-8 weeks.

And as if that wasn't enough, two other friends of ours sprained/strained/chipped their ankles last year, and another friend broke his leg in 3 places after slipping at a Raptors game at the ACC.

Take care of yourself!