[Heads up: This post contains x-rays and pictures from post-surgery that some might find icky.]
There are days that change everything; moments that divide your life into “before” and “after”. For me that day was early June 2004 when I was in car accident on my way to work.
It was as accidental as an accident can be. I wasn’t distracted while driving or speeding, I simply hit some gravel that been kicked up onto the pavement at a curve. My car lost traction and swerved into the opposite lane, I over-corrected and hit the wall around the month of a tunnel. (Side note: The tunnel was left completely unmarred, not a scratch or a chip. And that’s just rude.)
I was practically standing on the break when I hit the wall, which created a compound fracture of my talus bone and tore every ligament of my ankle. I was taken to a local trauma center and had emergency surgery; and although I was close to amputation, I luckily was assigned to a great orthopedic surgeon who was able to save my foot. I was left with three screws in my ankle, and chronic pain.
My mobility slowly degenerated over the next decade. The pain got worse, my limp became more pronounced, and when my hips started clicking with each step I knew it was time to visit an orthopedic surgeon again. This time they took out two of the screws, removed bone spurs, fused a joint, and lengthened my achilles tendon; I spent three months with an external fixator on my lower leg. As much as I would like to say the surgery fixed all my issues and left me ready to run a marathon, that is just not the case; I still have chronic pain and a limp.
Look, what it comes down to is that living with chronic pain sucks. It just sucks. If I overwork or underwork it one day, it’ll be sore the next. The joint is tight when I first start using it (you know after like sleeping or sitting); it’ll also get tight if I’ve been on it for too long. If the weather is too hot, it swells; if the weather is too cold the joint gets tight. My ankle is a diva!
It effects every part of my life. Every choice has to be weighted out to determine if it’s worth it. For instance, I love going to the coast, but I’ve spent a lot of time over the last 13 years looking at the ocean from afar because walking on soft sand is quite literally the worst. When given the option of walking or driving, I will almost always choose driving. It’s not that I’m lazy, I’m conserving.
Although it defines so many of the decisions in my life, I don’t want it to define who I am.
When it comes to pain I choose not to suffer, but instead I choose to take the pain; to let it be a part of my life, but not my whole life. Now, that doesn’t mean the pain doesn’t ever stop me; it has brought me to my knees before and it will again. I’ve cried in pain. I’ve cried in frustration. The cold sweats that happen on a regular basis as my body deals with the pain, are particularly fun. When those times come, I let myself feel it, but with the knowledge that the worst will pass.
Talking about how easy it is to travel to the places I’m going will be a big part of this blog. Hopefully it will help others who are looking to take a trip figure out what will work for them. There is a way, you just got to figure out what the way is for you.