Speaking from the supine position

Bimalleolar fracture and right ankle dislocati...

Image via Wikipedia

Six days ago I broke my ankle and foot by stepping off a curb. Not by sliding into home base, not by making a heroic jump from a burning building,  but by stepping off a curb. There weren’t even any adult beverages involved, more’s the pity. I heard a snap as I fell and yelped, and watched as my left ankle swelled, a purple tinge coloring the outside edge of my leg and foot. We were right next to our car, which made it relatively easy (thanks to a strong son and husband) to transfer into the back seat, get my leg elevated and drive to our local emergency department.

I am an x-ray tech by profession, and have x-rayed hundreds of ankles in my lifetime, so it was no surprise when the ER doctor came back with the diagnoses(“You broke it”), the splint material and some ace bandages. We  had even stopped at home on our way to the hospital to pick up some crutches, anticipating the challenges of ambulation I would face when we left the Emergency Room. While we were waiting for the discharge papers to arrive, I tried to think through what would need to happen at home to allow me to adjust to life with one leg immobilized and painful; I tried to remember what I had told patients over the years as they hobbled away from the cast room at the ortho clinic looking dazed. Some of that ‘good advice’ filtered through the pain and shock, but there are things that only a real life experience can teach you. Example: I had no idea how much time is spent in the “supine” (pronounced ‘sue-pine’, accent on ‘pine’) position, otherwise known as “flat on your back”. In order to keep my ankle/foot elevated and somewhat pain-free, I spend all my sleeping hours and many of my waking hours supine. It is hard to get used to this! It has given me a new perspective on life, literally and figuratively, so I hope to gain from it. Thus, some of my blog entries will be titled, “Speaking from the supine position.”

As a someone who has been around a lot of  sick and injured people, I thought I understood more than most what the difficulties are which patients face after a minor trauma. But although I understood that objective knowledge of fractures, including  dozens of  years working with orthopaedic doctors, attending severe trauma cases and assisting with orthopaedic surgeries, does not completely prepare one  for the subjective experience of sustaining a fracture, it is still somewhat shocking to experience first hand what I have seen people go through as patients. There’s a lot more to it than I thought. And I will share that with you, eventually, but right now I need a nap – which will be done in the supine position, of course.