Gotta Get My Feet Back On The Ground

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It’s been a hell of a few days, and that’s all I have to say about that.

Well, it’s not, of course, because I talk too much and this blog doesn’t help matters.

Saturday I had a small gathering of friends. People misbehaved and I had to throw them out. That IS all I’ll say about that one, except that, onwards and upwards, I ended up getting a good night’s sleep, refreshed and ready for the Sunday ahead. I was not getting the boy this past Sunday, as he was staying an extended period of time with his Dad as we are trying to break up Spring Break a little so we aren’t paying so much goddamned money for all-day daycare. So Sunday, it was slightly overcast but getting nicely warm (for Spring, so, high 50s/low 60s), and I decided what I really needed was a long, difficult hike in the forest, to clear my brain and body and soul.

I set out with my water, my phone, my music and my knife, all essentials for such a thing and yeah, it was pretty muddy on the course I’ve run before in a trail run 5K I do every June. (Well not EVERY June, but more about that in a minute). I had to run and sail over a few patches that were really wet and concentrated, but mostly just picked my way around the wet bits by going deep into the woods, walking on downed trees (my balance is pretty good for an old lady), walking where there were clusters of leaves, etc.

There was one corner that looked so muddy, I wasn’t sure how I would get through it. It veers around in a sharp 45 degree turn and begins the ascent of a large hill. So I decided to just take a shortcut, and climb the hill with my hands and feet. It went pretty well, all things considered. I moved slowly and carefully and when I made it up, I felt pretty good. There are stairs built into the woods at the top of this hill and I made it up them easily, even though I always struggle with that part during the 5K. I came around the loop and then back down, crawled back down the hill without incident, jumped puddles, etc., and crossed the street into the longer part of the course. I’d only gone a little more than two miles but felt good and it was warming up so I took off my jacket and tucked my water in my back for the next bit.

I got to The Big Stairs that run behind the Rocky River Nature Center. They’ve been closed for two years as they were completely reconstructed, and, as high up as they are and how steeply they carve into the hill there, getting the stairs built soundly is important to everyone. So the race course had cut a different path the last two years, and this was my first visit to the stairs for a long time.

There are a lot of stairs. I mean, a lot. But that’s ok. I did have to stop once, near the top, but found the view so breathtaking I didn’t mind. I snapped a couple of pictures and then went on. The course at the top of the hill is mostly flat until you get to a series of descending stairs built into another part of the hill, but I was feeling good and like I could maybe do 6 or 7 miles.

All that, and just walking. And then my ankle turned to the outside, I heard a “snap” and I went down hard. Just like in November.

Those first few seconds after an injury you tell yourself you’re ok, it’s fine, you can get up and go on. But that’s just adrenaline, and then the pain catches up with your brain. I was yelling a lot of obscenities and kind of rocking back and forth. It was excruciating. Then I realized, how the ever loving fucking hell am I going to get off the top of this hill and down to my car, which was at least a mile away from the bottom of the stairs I had recently climbed.

I sat and tried to gather myself, get on top of the pain mentally. I texted a couple of friends and told them what was going on and where I was and asked if they had any suggestions. I sat there trying to will this event not to have happened, trying not to think about all the races I was going to miss, the four months I have spent rehabilitating this fucking ankle, all while trying not to puke or cry because it hurt pretty bad.

Like Blanche, I have become dependent upon the kindness of strangers at times, and Sunday was no exception. A couple about my age came by, and asked casually in passing if I was ok and I just shook my head no. The guy asked what happened and I told him, and explained about the re-injury, and he asked if I needed help. He said he “carried people all the time,” whatever that means, and I said I would figure something out, I had contacted a couple of friends to see if they had any ideas of what to do. He said well, we’re gonna loop around and when we come back, if you’re here, we’re carrying you down.

Which they did.

I was able to put a little weight on it, but just a little, so they helped me down the stairs, the guy taking the weight of my bad leg and the girl going in front so I didn’t miss my footing and tumble all the way down like Jill, breaking my crown. We hobbled to a nearby large rock and I said I thought I could make it to my car from there, I was parked super close, and shooed them on their way.

I lied, of course. I’m really bad at accepting help sometimes, and I was mad as fuck at myself, embarrassed, frustrated and a thousand other things. So I punished myself by galumphing all the way to my car. It took a long ass time and my back hurt so bad from walking crookedly, I could have just passed out in my car. But I knew I had to go.

I went to urgent care and they said it wasn’t broken, that I probably re-tore the ligament, to wrap it, ice it, wear an air cast, to follow up with my doctor, etc.

I messaged my doctor when I got home and he called me less than an hour later. I was well into a glass of wine by then and attempting to roast a chicken, which is harder than it sounds when you’re working with a bum leg, and he quizzed me about symptoms, admonished me about not being careful when the ankle still wasn’t 100%, told me to RICE it and wear my air cast or an ace bandage when up and about, and call him to follow up in a few days, maybe we would get an MRI.

It’s nice to have a doc who will call you on a Sunday. And strangers who will take time out of their hike to help you for a long ass while. So I’m pretty lucky.

I got home and was slowly limping in in my running clothes still, and one of the neighbors was out front on her patio drinking some tea or coffee. “Good morning!” she sang out to me. Now, this lady has barely spoken to me in the years she has been living here. Like most of the people here, she and her family are Indian and they generally keep to themselves and only socialize with other Indian people in the complex, of which they are many. I said hello and she asked what happened. I stopped and we chatted a bit and she said how she had sprained her ankle dancing last year and we talked about how it can take more time to heal a bad sprain or tear than a break. And she said she hoped it got better soon.

I finally figured it out when I went back inside and thought about why she would be talking to me. It was the “REFUGEES WELCOME” sign me and my kid made a few weeks ago and put on my door. Which I got a threatening note about from management only a week or so after I put it up, because you’re not allowed to have anything on your door and if you do, and someone complains about it, you have to remove it or you can be fined and even evicted. Apartment living is so great, right? So I took it down, but I’m sure everyone on my floor saw it, including the next door neighbor, who is the lady who said hi to me. So that’s something.

Maybe she was just happy that it’s finally Spring. It’s cloudy and the trees are still barren as fuck, and it was only 45 today so it doesn’t feel very springy out and I don’t feel very springy either. But I’ve kept this fucking ankle wrapped and elevated and air-casted, a lot more than I ever did with the original injury, and the swelling has gone down quite a bit, though it still looks like a cankle from hell. However, when wrapped, I can walk, and so that’s a thing, getting my feet back on the ground. Must not overdo it. Must go slowly.

It’s so hard to take the path that’s right in front of us sometimes. As I told a friend today, life has a way of making you go the right way when you try to ignore the signs and forge ahead the wrong way.

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