Philadelphia, PA, USA

5 Things I Learned from Breaking a Bone

On Friday, January 29th, 2021, I was running down my stairs as I usually do only this time with urgency. With that thought in my mind, I don’t actually know what happened next, but I was on the floor with my leg under me. I felt like I was having a complete out-of-the-body experience, and I heard myself screaming. At first, I thought I was going to scream curse words as if I stubbed my toe, and that’s what I wanted to do, but my body took over and the scream that came out of my throat was nothing like I’ve ever heard before. It was raw, gnarly, and all sorts of wrong.

My mom came running up the stairs and somewhat snapped back to reality. At that moment, I knew that the out-of-the-body experience was my mind’s way of protecting me from the trauma that just happened and thinking I had to be self-reliant on myself. I didn’t feel the pain at first, I didn’t feel anything until I came to. I’ve known for a while now that my mind has a way of dissociating from reality to protect myself, but because I knew at that moment someone was home to help me. It all came back. In that moment, I felt sick. I thought I was going to throw up, and my mom tried to ice my ankle when in reality I was screaming, “My toe, my toe, my fucking toe!” After about 5 minutes, and a cold compress on my face to bring me back to some normalcy… I got up, climbed up the stairs, and went back to bed. 

I slept for about an extra hour, and then when I got up to pee, that same sickness and faint feeling came over me again. It was an absolute struggle walking those 5 steps to my bathroom, and every other second I had to lay down on the ground with my face pressed to the cold floor. Before I had the nerve and guts to get up on the toilet, I laid on the bathroom floor deep heaving. I didn’t feel pain, but I felt sick. And I knew, I needed carbs ASAP. I knew the second I had something in my system, and it being carbs, I would be fine. I called my mom and she makes me a plain roll and 2 croissants and I devoured them. But I felt alive after I did. The swelling and bruising were intense, but again, I felt no pain. Just slight pain putting weight on my foot. That Sunday, January 31st, my sister urged me to go to the urgent care by our house to get it checked out. A snowstorm was heading our way, and to her, it didn’t look right. 

We all thought they’d at most say I have a sprain and some bruising, but nope. On January 31st, I found out I fractured my 5th metatarsal, a bone connecting to my pinky toe. Was given an air boot or walking boot, whatever you want to call it. A copy of my X-Rays, crutches, and told to see an Orthopedic Surgeon ASAP. The news was enough to destroy me, all I could think about was how behind I would be from work. How much I would have to put aside. How much I would have to delay. My mind focused so much on the negatives, and obviously, in that state, I took to Doctor Google with my issue and found the 5th metatarsal can be a pain in the ass to heal, and sometimes required surgery. I felt empty. I felt like I had lost it all! I felt and then I cried. I cried so hard. I never felt so alone before until this moment, until this injury. Because I grew up being forced to be self-reliant from a young age, and now I had to count on others.

5th metatarsal x-rays best case scenario

Initial X-Rays from Urgent Care. Urgent Care doctor doens't know shit, he misdiagnosed me and said it could be a "Jones fracture." It was NOT a Jones fracture. Get a second opinion! Or go to an Orthopedic, not a podiatrist. The Orthopedic Surgeon told me the best news ever when he took a look at my X-rays! 

For a few days, my parents would invalidate my experience, my injury, my feelings about the matter, and my dad has continued to do so. I’ve gone forward looking into therapy because I need it. If there wasn’t a kick in the ass before, there’s definitely one now.

About a week after my initial diagnosis, I saw an Orthopedic Surgeon. He’s been in the field for 19 years, and waiting in the office room I remember hearing the nurses talk about my case. I remember hearing from the doctor, prior to seeing my X-Rays, a big "ooph" because 5th metatarsal fractures usually require surgery. 

In walked in the doctor followed by a student doctor a second later, and he was such a friendly fellow! In seconds when he took a look at my X-Rays, he said the best words I could ever hear! I didn’t need the crutches, it’s not that big of a fracture, and it’s away from any dangerous locations! Within 2 weeks, I was already allowed to put weight on my foot! All those Google and Reddit posts had nothing similar to what I was going through, and I was going through a legit BEST CASE SCENARIO! I was thrilled, thankful, and overjoyed! I walked out there, and my friend took me out to celebrate with some lunch. But rather I paid for her lunch and gas for helping me get to and from my appointment. How good is it to have good friends? Friends you can count on!

By a week later, I was already walking in sneakers, and 2 weeks after my initial appointment I was told the bone is healing well. I could return to light and low-impact activity, but I couldn’t overdo it yet. Nonetheless, I’ve learned so much in such a short amount of time, but when it first happened it felt like it was going to be forever. 

Let’s talk about some of the things I learned from breaking a bone. 

1. Nothing is forever!

It may seem like that injury you get will put you out forever, but honestly, change your mindset to think about the good and the small wins in each and every day. When you rewire your brain to think good things, it makes getting through the day so much easier. Your body knows what to do best, and if you haven’t had a rest for a long time this is your time to rest. Sleep in, take naps, sleep early, play video games, do whatever makes you feel fully rested. I cannot stress this enough because I’ve had problems and angst with this same foot for months and my body was definitely screaming at me to rest, but I never did. I thought I had to be busy, which leads to my next lesson.

2. Busyness does not equate to success. 

I felt like this was programmed into me quite young that being busy means you’re successful when in reality it really doesn’t mean that at all. In reality, being too busy or always working, working, working, means you’re not taking care of yourself. Your life requires a work-life balance. It is necessary. It is vital. If I had just rested, slowed down, months ago, this probably would have never happened. If you’re too busy, you can’t find things to be intentional about. You can’t be intentional. You can be grateful, but it’s not the same because you’re still taking something for granted. Your health, your legs, your feet, your arms, think about it. 

3. If you learn to listen, the truths are right there.

I remember thinking, “What is life trying to teach me? Why do bad things keep repeating themselves recently?” Because right before this I had a slew of problems from December. And as mentioned in #2, I’ve had problems with my foot for months. If I had just rested, taken a break, took off, completely shut off for a while, learned to have a work-life balance, and learned to slow down sooner, this probably would have never happened. 

4. Life is a constant process of relearning.

Man, this one is a biggy! In the beginning, before I went to urgent care, I had to relearn how to get around. Those 2 days I was hopping around constantly on one leg, and getting down the stairs on my ass. After my urgent care appointment, I went from hopping around the house to scooting on my ass everywhere because the boot was too heavy. I had to relearn how to sleep with the boot on. A week after I didn’t need the boot to sleep anymore, and had to relearn how to sleep. You’d think it’d be easy but I had a bad habit of stretching mid-sleep and hurting my foot. And again, I had to relearn to walk around the house with the boot on. During the third week, I relearned how to walk again, but with shoes on. I learned I still can’t bend my toes because blood got into my tendons, and so my toes feel like a rubber band when trying to bend them. 

I’ve been relearning constantly how to do even the most basic of tasks. I had to retrain my brain, change my mindset, and this is how I know anything you want to do that you’re not a pro at can be done. We are all going to be beginners again and again at one point or another. 

5. It’s okay to have bad days. It doesn’t mean it’s a bad life.

When you’re injured your mindset is legit going to change rapidly from day-to-day, and sometimes, moment-to-moment. One day you actually get of bed, change your scenery, get a shower, and maybe even throw on some skincare. The next you’re so tired and mentally and physically exhausted from having to struggle to get around that you turn over on your side and say, “Nope! Not getting out of bed today!”  And that is completely okay! You just have to honor what you feel in the present moment and be intentional about it. Because it’s what’s best for you at the moment. Don’t listen to anyone who is not your doctor, they don’t know shit. 

I still have to remind myself from time to time, “Diana, slow. Go slow. No rush. Slow.” Because I’ve always been a quick on my feet type of person, literally and metaphorically. Now, I have no muscle in my foot and leg, I have no balance in that foot or leg. I can’t be quick on my feet, I’d get reinjured! My body is doing what it knows how to do best, and I have to remember to take care of it. Otherwise, I’m taking something I have for granted. And no goals, no intentions, for my year mean anything if I don’t have my health! Think about that! Your bucket list means nothing if you’re not healthy enough to actually go do them. 

Needless to say, my bruising has subsided substantially. Half my foot was black and blue, and most of that is gone. My toes are still purple in color, and my fracture annoys me from time to time. But I've been blessed with very little pain, limited mobility, and just better outlooks as time goes on!

5 things i learned from breaking a bone pinterest pin