Saturday, November 21, 2015

Fall into Winter - Part Two

It was late February, 2007.  Nearly 39 years after I broke my leg walking to the bus stop.  It was a Thursday morning.  We were coming to the end of tax collection season (March 1) and I was really busy.  I had a noon meeting away from the office that day and I was scheduled to chair a meeting in Lansing on Friday morning.  I was rushing to get my investments done and make sure everyone would survive without my being there until Monday.

I had a corner office with a wide  hallway separating it from the front clerical offices.  Offices were all carpeted, but the hall was tiled with runners running down the center.  I was walking back into my office when it happened.

Before I knew it, my left leg (I previously broke the right one) just went out from under me.  I landed on my rear.  When I looked down I saw the bone sticking out of my leg.

I yelled.  Then I yelled again for help.  My Deputy came running and the first thing I told her to do was to take my boot off before my foot started swelling.  Here is a photo of the boots I had on that day.  (I donated them a few years ago since I never again put them on my feet.)

My friends from the fire station arrived to transport me to the local hospital.  I broke both my fibula and tibia and my ankle.  Instead of spending my afternoon at a meeting, I spent it in surgery.

The surgeon re-constructed my leg with a steel plate and nine screws.  I spent the night in the hospital and came home to see all my family here the next day, Friday.  Saturday night, my son had to call EMS to come take me back to the hospital.

I was deathly sick.  I had no idea what was going on and being immobile and knocked out by anesthesia after effects along with the pain medication that was pumping into my leg really freaked me out.  I was diagnosed with norovirus at the hospital.   Hey, when it rains, it pours.

Back home at last, I was non-weight bearing for eight weeks.  I had this ridiculous scooter that I rested my left knee on and propelled myself with my right leg.  My previous experience with crutches was a disaster, so the scooter seemed the right choice.  Even so, I fell off the scooter one day right onto the ceramic tile floor.  Luckily it happened when my son was here (he moved back in when this happened).

The original cast was so heavy I could not sleep in bed and had to use a chair and ottoman.  Not great for my back issues, either.  After two weeks they put me in a removable cast, though I wasn't allowed to remove it.  It was just lighter.  And eventually I got rid of the scooter and propelled myself with a walker, still putting no weight on my left leg.

I had to have a friend help me into the shower with a garbage bag over my cast.  I sat on a stool.  It was impossible to ever feel really clean.  The same friend came everyday to look in on me.

The IT department from work came and hooked me up to their computers so that I could work from home.  I kept up with all my office work, but I never once paid attention to what was happening at the Board table.  Oh, what a relief it was.  Since I live just a mile from the town offices, we just shuttled papers back and forth a couple of times a week.

After six weeks in the lighter cast I was actually able to remove it at night and really walk around in it.  But by that time I had managed to get a stress fracture in my right foot from pushing myself around in that damn scooter and then using the walker.  So, now I had a cast and a boot.  And a cane.  And it wasn't over yet.

Once the leg was completely healed, I had innumerable hours of physical therapy.  The calf muscle in my left leg was gone.  I almost cried when I saw what my leg looked like after 13 weeks.  I was still using a cane to walk around, too.

My surgeon told me in the emergency room that if I had hit my head instead of breaking my fall as I did with my hands and rear-end, that I would be in the morgue, not the ER.  It was a sobering thought.  As I went through my recovery, I knew that my working days would end the following year and I would not run for re-election.  Life is just too short.

In April, 2008 I re-entered the hospital to have all the hardware removed from my leg.  I knew two people who had issues with their screws coming loose, literally, and having to have surgery, so I decided to just get it over with.  Four weeks in a walking cast was a piece of cake after what I had been through, though I did have to go back for more physical therapy.

My two legs look different, especially the ankles.  My left leg is much stronger than my right.  It also has some ugly scars.  And if I turn my ankle the wrong way, the scar tissue is very painful.  Want to know if the barometer is dropping?  Just ask me.  In the cold winters here I have to keep socks on over that ankle to relieve the pain.

Up next, what I've learned about falls and my balance after this experience.


  1. What a horrific story. Do you ever wear shoes/boots like that any more? I have only ever worn tiny heels the odd time since I had a hip replacement and that was kid's play compared with what you went through. Luckily, having studied T'ai Chi for a few years, my balance is pretty good.

    1. Haven't worn heels since the day I fell. That's in an upcoming post.

  2. OMG! Your poor thing! First to see the bone sticking out and then all that trauma plus the norovirus...there are no words. Your pain must have been just horrible plus all the recovery. Funny how we are weather forecasters due to our joints. One thing that put a huge smile on my face-how much family gathered right around you and that your son moved back in to care for you. You should be proud. Your friend, also, is rare and you are lucky to have someone who is there for the good, the bad and the ugly. No more boots like that for you!

    1. Actually, I had little pain at the time. I was more worried about who was going to run my meeting in Lansing, lol. And I get teased about telling everyone what to do while I was waiting for EMS.


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