Hop A Long to the Grand Canyon

Every journey is filled with moments that range from doubt to elation, especially healing journeys. As I rolled over in bed this morning, causing searing pain in my injured limb, I asked myself, “What are you doing going to Arizona to raft and hike when you can’t even roll over in bed?” The pain quickly subsided but the memory of it kept me spinning in my head and returning to sleep was impossible given the mountain of a to do list I faced. Scenarios raced through my mind and after a while, I tossed in the sleep towel and hobbled down the stairs to check a few more items off the list in the still dark morning.

It has been a strange week thanks to an unplanned collision with the hockey boards on Monday evening. I was rushing for the puck when contact with another player sent me careening on my backside towards the end boards. I remember thinking, “Don’t put your foot down, you’ll wreck your knee.” I managed to spin so that my feet would take the contact but didn’t get quite around so my right heel took all the impact.


That sound will reside in my mind for some time. I instantly knew I wasn’t getting up from that one. Waves of nausea hit with tsunami force and I lay there trying to focus as everyone skated over. I started crawling to the bench so the game could go on and finally enough nausea passed so I could get help to stand and be skated over to the bench. The Monday game has four docs playing so each one skated by to check on me throughout the rest of the game. “Bruiser” assumed primary care and with each shift a new symptom appeared indicated that I’d given myself “a darn good whack” and perhaps had broken something.

At the end of the game, I still could not bear weight on the leg and was skated off. The collective docs recommended a trip to the ER and that evening, Marian and I spent ten hours waiting for a diagnosis. In the end, though many favours of friends and colleagues, we got the X-ray reread and settled on “high ankle sprain.” Hockey fans will recognize this as the same injury as Pittsburg Penguin Sydney Crosby. A high ankle sprain is a challenging injury to heal and results when the ligament that holds the tibia and fibula (lower leg bones) together is stretched.

Much of the time since then has been spent in my chair, leg elevated, with ice and lots of good therapy from Ann Marie (of my Kili team). We had to fairly quickly decide whether or not to cancel our trip to Arizona. I made quantum healing leaps for the first several days and as a result, we decided to try to make a good of it with the caveat that the weather in Arizona in April is significantly nicer that in Newfoundland. Around Thursday I gained the ability to bear weight on the foot once again and so could begin the process of weaning myself off of the crutches. Now, on Sunday, I use them only when going out in the big world beyond the house to protect the ankle from uneven ground. Around the house, I can limp around fine.

I can’t remember a week where I did so little physical activity. The first day was like the gift of a snow day where I had uninterrupted time with my laptop. Soon after that though, I began to get a tad bit stir crazy and thanked the gods for my good luck in life that I have been blessed with ability rather than disability. My dad once broke his heel and couldn’t bear weight on it for four months. Two days of not bearing weight had my wrists sore, my back sore, and my attitude sore. I noticed my moods going up and done with the swelling of my lower appendage and the lessons that come from learning to live with uncertainty. I have no idea if I can raft next week, hike in three weeks or climb Elbrus in July. Time will tell. What I do know is that I’m taking it day by day, trying to be smart and do the right things, and seeking out lots of advice and rehab support.

One of the highlights of the week was co-hosting the Sports Newfoundland and Labrador Awards Gala with Jonathan Crowe last night. We wore matching tuxes and as he’s a little taller than I am, he remarked at the beginning of the evening, “You’re a mini me!” Being on crutches gave me lots of opportunity to make fun of myself and my situation. Thanks goodness I’d gone for the tux fitting the week before (that was an adventure in itself-they asked me way too many questions that I had no idea how to answer). Now, I’m proud to say I know how to put on cuff links!

So, Marian and I fly to Arizona tomorrow. She’s become an expert at taping techniques thanks to Ann Marie’s coaching. I’m heading off with a bum leg (that I frequently make a slip and call a “high altitude sprain”, horrible itching from contact dermatitis because of the tape, and a commitment to making good decisions along the way. Hopefully I’ll be able to call off a blog entry from Phantom Ranch to let you all know how’s it going. (And no news will be good news-if everything goes as hoped, I may be in the Grand Canyon from April 1-26 so don’t panic (actually rejoice) if you don’t hear from me!

Thanks to Marian, Deb, Ann Marie, Todd, Amy, Bruiser, and Ian for all their assistance this week.

Catch you from the Big Ditch!


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