Sunday, March 17, 2013

Sorry Steve, That Leg is Going to Have to Come Off

I should be sitting here writing a race report for the Top of Mountain To Ya 11k.  I should be.  Instead, I'm going to tell you a story.  Its the story of a young man and his legs.  Up until 7 days ago, both of those legs were what I like to refer to as "not broken".  That is the state that I prefer my legs to be in at all times.  And so the story begins.....

Last Sunday I found myself with a brief window to sneak in some exercise prior to heading out for dinner with the parents.  Stumpy was in the garage waiting for me but in the interest of getting some more running miles into my legs I opted to run a quick loop out at Sherman Branch.  I figured that a little over twelve miles at a reasonable pace would serve me nicely.  And it did.  At least for a little while.  After completing the Roller Coaster and the first half of the main loop I concluded that I was slightly overdressed for the rising temperatures.  My body temperature was just a bit too high for this time of year so I took a shortcut back to the car to shed a layer.  I stripped off my long sleeved jersey and headed back to the trail in my running shorts and a sleeveless base layer.  This is when my day got really interesting.  In my minimalist attire I found that I was far more comfortable and kicking along at a significantly faster pace than in the first few miles.  As the trail passed beneath my feet I found myself in a playful and light footed mood.  I ran across trail side obstacles and jumped off ramps reserved for those on two wheels.  Passing other trail users I extended friendly greetings as my pace quickened even more.  Then, on a completely benign stretch of trail only a few meters from the turn to the Lake Loop my day took a frightful turn.  

That's right, I was attacked by a bear with chainsaw arms.  It was terrifying.  I narrowly escaped with my life.  Lucky for me he had a taste for small children so I threw Girl Scouts at him until his appetite for blood was satisfied.

That may not be the whole truth.  In fact, the real story is far more terrifying.  As I approached my next turn I was attacked by this:

I was not the least bit afraid of the Tommy gun.  I was more afraid of the giant wave crashing through the woods.  We've been in a drought for years so it is easy to understand why I would fear large volumes of water.

OK, fine.  I'll tell you the real yet very lame story of how I broke my leg.  I was running along and only half paying attention when my left foot caught a root.  Half an in inch in any direction and I would be writing a race report right now.  Somehow my foot managed to get caught in just the right way to stop all forward progress.  At least on my left side.  My right leg kept going.  Bad times.  As my leg flew forward I looked down just in time to see the back of my heel hit the ground.  As my knee hyper-extended the full weight of my body came crashing down and I heard a loud crack.  That is not a sound you want to hear.  That is much worse than the sound of the chainsaw bear because the chainsaw bear isn't real.

After spending a moment on the ground attempting to collect myself but failing miserably I decided it would probably be best to move.  With an abundance of adrenaline pumping through me I hobbled through the woods back to my car.  Only on the drive home did I realize the full severity of my injury.  Have you ever tried to drive a stick with one leg?  Yeah, that's a pretty good time right there.

Upon return to my sprawling urban estate I calmly explained to The Little Italian that it might not be a bad idea to go to the ER.  Yes, calmly.  That is exactly how I remember it.  If she attempts to tell you otherwise just know she is lying.  And she was drunk when I got home.  And the house was on fire.  And my cat was speaking Spanish.  Calmly.

If you ever have a true emergency I would strongly suggest that you not visit the ER.  Unless you have a knife sticking out of your face you probably don't want to go there.  And if you do have a knife sticking out of your face it might be too late anyway.  Depending on the size of the knife of course.

As I went through triage and explained what happened there seemed to be a certain level of comprehension from the medical staff.  Enough in fact that they felt it would be in my best interest to take several X-Rays.  I enjoyed that part of my visit.  Who doesn't enjoy a good X-Ray?  Anyway, no fewer than 6 different people attended to me during my four hour stay.  The only  problem I could see is that they did not seem to be talking to each other.  Two and a half hours in I was given an ice pack.  Ice packs are great for broken legs.  Another hour later my leg was wrapped from mid-quad to mid-calf in an Ace bandage.  And then the doctor came in.

He looked like a  professional.  He talked like a professional.  But.......

THEY MISSED IT!!!  They shot images of my leg from my knee to the tips of my toes from multiple angles.  I told them I thought my leg was broken.  The work was done for them.  6 people looked at me and no one noticed that my leg was broken until I went to Orthocarolina the next day.  I was there for three seconds before Chip, master of all things Ortho, said to me "hey look, you broke your leg."  No one at the ER seemed to notice.  Nor did they show me my X-Ray.  They simply told me I was fine and should probably take some Ibuprofen.  At least they gave me an ice pack.  That was awesome.  

A positive attitude is the key to a speedy recovery.  Here you see me expressing that the ER staff is #1 in my book.  Mental note:  throw away ten year old shiny blue running shorts.  Not a good look.

So here we are, you and I, embarking on the linguistic journey that is an injury blog.  The injury itself is a fractured fibular head.  There is some soft tissue damage as well.  I figure that second bit is of no consequence as we Michigan natives are anything but soft.  The physical pain is nothing to write home about.  I've had worse.  The only troubling moment I had this week was looking down at my leg after returning home from work on Tuesday and seeing that I had developed a cankle.  In the shockingly small part of my brain that handles logical thought I knew it was just inflammation.  The rest of my brain was telling me it was the rapid onset of obesity.  I've seen it on TV but had no idea it could take over your body incrementally. 

Two weeks on crutches and 6-8 weeks of limited weight bearing are looming in front of me.  I don't handle inactivity well.  I've already watched a dozen documentaries and am considering taking up wood carving.  A life sized replica of chainsaw bear would look great in my living room.  Until my mail order chisel set arrives I'll have to remain focused on developing a pedal interface for my crutches. What could possibly go wrong?