Sunday, August 14, 2016

Fankle, Continued...

(This is my second post in My Fankle Journey.)

I'm back! I've been through quite a lot during the past few weeks, and I'm finally ready to begin blogging again. So let's dig in! :)

If you've read my blog post, "My Pioneer Trek Sacrament Meeting Talk," you've been introduced to Fankle. If you haven't read my aforementioned blog post, let me catch you up to speed: in early June, 2016, I sprained my ankle very badly while longboarding. I endured quite a lot during my recovery, but it turns out, my new friend, Fankle, decided she can't live without me and has extended her stay! So sad face! :'(

So. Six weeks and two days after I sprained my ankle in the Zermatt parking lot in Midway, Utah, I went to my yearly physical checkup. While going over everything, I asked my doctor about my ankle that was still swollen and painful. He looked at it and said, "Well, I'm not an ankle specialist, so I can't say for sure, but if it's been that long, I would definitely go get it checked out by a podiatrist. I highly recommend Dr. _____ in our building, he's well qualified and a very good doctor."

After my checkup was finished, I walked downstairs and asked the receptionist if Dr. _____ had any appointments that day? I told her, "It's not urgent, I just know all doctors have cancellations, so I wondered if he's available?" She went back to his office, checked with him, and told me to come back at 1:30 p.m.

During my appointment, my podiatrist pushed, pulled, and twisted my sweaty foot. I apologized for my sweatiness and explained that my hands and feet sweat when I'm nervous. He didn't even blink an eye and said it was perfectly fine. (After searching Google images about my condition, I see that my sweaty feet are probably the least of my podiatrist's worries! Ha ha.) My podiatrist asked me many questions, after which he said I should have definitely already recovered after six weeks, so he had me do an x-ray. I knew my ankle wasn't broken, but went ahead with the x-ray since I wanted an answer to what was causing my pain.

The x-ray revealed nothing was broken—yay! But my podiatrist said there was a shadow on one of my ankle bones, which he thought was probably a bone bruise. Thus, he said I needed an MRI to confirm. I was bummed at the news of having to have such an expensive procedure done, but I agreed because if a board-certified podiatrist with an excellent reputation couldn't figure out my ankle's problem with the exam and x-rays he did, I knew something was going on.

The nurse scheduled my MRI, but mildly freaked me out with the safety-precaution questions she asked. While I don't have any severe allergies, I am allergic to sulfa antibiotics—which is why her questions made me nervous. I didn't want to go into anaphylaxis (is that the correct term?) in the MRI machine! Yet I later realized I would be just fine because I wasn't having any dye for my procedure. Whew! :)

Unfortunately, I had to wait an entire week before getting my MRI done. During that time, I kept hoping my Fankle would diminish, but "she" proudly stuck around.

For some reason, I had some anxiety about the MRI, which is weird for me. Usually, I'm so easy-going with medical procedures, but this one seemed really big to me. To combat my nervousness, I researched and read everything I could find about MRIs. As I rationally thought about what my MRI experience would be like, I knew I would be just fine.

But deep down inside, I knew Fankle was not fine. I knew something was really wrong with my ankle. I knew it the second I jumped backward off the longboard! Yet after all my ankle research and doctors' exams, I was still hoping and praying for a miracle. I knew they were just as stumped as I was, so I thought, "Hey, maybe it was just a really bad sprain, exacerbated by the fact that I trekked 23 miles through Wyoming on week three of my recovery! Maybe I just need an extra few weeks to heal!"

As a side note, my podiatrist said my pioneer trek most definitely did not help my ankle's condition! Yeah, I thought not—but I'd do my pioneer trek again in a heartbeat! It was absolutely worth every single minute of every sacrifice I made! :)

The morning of my MRI, I felt like I was going to court. Not that I've ever been to any sort of legal preceding, I just imagined that's what it would feel like: complete nervousness at the verdict that could change my entire life!

I was told to hold very still during the MRI. And because I wanted my MRI results to be perfect—so that I wouldn't have to have another one, but also so they could finally get my diagnosis correct—I held completely and perfectly still! I didn't budge even one millimeter! Yay me! That said, it was a l.o.n.g. 25 minutes. I'm grateful they made me as comfortable as they could and that I had music to listen to. I'll forever remember the awesome happy songs that helped me make it through: "Can't Stop the Feeling" by Justin Timberlake; and "Ride" by twenty one pilots!

Now, I must share this happiness (below)! But first, a couple of items:

1.) I love that Justin Timberlake is wearing all white. I love wearing all white! It's like, my thing! I probably love it so much because when I wear all white, I don't look quite so pale! Ha ha. In fact, I hope my next dress purchase will be a new white dress for church!
2.) Prior to Fankle, I could have totally danced in this video! Sadly, thanks to Fankle extending her stay, I'll just have to be happy with watching Galen, Justin and Lev—they're my favorite dancers in this video!

And while I'm at it, I'll share this catchy song too—even though it's not put together as well as Mr. Timberlake's. That said, I love their beat and style of music! This gem makes me want to dance and kickbox and sing all at once! Ha ha. Yes, you read that right. I kickbox, too. :)

After my MRI, I felt such freedom and accomplishment! You laugh, but I was really nervous about it! I even prayed for my angels to be with me that day. :) Thus, I just had to document the fact that I made it through(!), then I happily headed home.

I had nearly four days of waiting for my MRI-results appointment and spent that time with my wonderful family and extended family.

The Sunday before my Monday appointment, I was released from my calling as first counselor in my ward's Young Women presidency. While I will dearly miss all of "my" young women and the sweet leaders I served with, I will not miss all of the time it takes to help run an organization of such great importance. I honestly think serving in the YW presidency is like the equivalent of having a part-time job! Including my time as Young Women President while living in Texas, I've been in the amazing YW organization for nearly four and a half years! Yes, I'm ecstatic to have more time to spend with my precious family!!

I had butterflies while getting ready for my MRI followup appointment. When I was almost ready to go, Greg suddenly asked, "Can I go to your doctor appointment with you?" Surprised, I said, "Sure." I was only surprised because Greg was certain my results would tell me I was fine. He was sure we'd have a good laugh over Fankle one day! I, on the other hand, never wavered in my feelings that something was wrong. And, oh boy! would I have loved to have been proven wrong in this situation! Unfortunately, I was entirely too right!

We didn't have to wait at all for my podiatrist's nurse to come bring us back to the exam room. Just thinking about that experience gives me butterflies to this day! Dr. _____ came in with my MRI report, sat down and said (something like), "Okay, the results are in. You have two bone bruises—one in each bone [the tibia and fibula]; a partially-torn ligament on the outside-front of your ankle; and a torn tendon on the inside of your ankle." He then went on to explain what it all meant.

Apparently, bone bruises are just one step away from a fracture! I had no idea of the seriousness of bone bruises, but they are a big deal. I finally understood why my ankle/foot/calf were so greatly bruised—the bleeding actually came from my bone bruises! My bone bruises will heal with immobilization. My partially-torn ligament isn't too big of a deal, but it still needs time to heal and immobilization is the answer for that problem as well. But the tendon tear is where my biggest problem is...

My podiatrist explained that my posterior tibial tendon (or tibialis posterior tendon) had a linear/longitudinal tear in it, and without surgery, it won't heal properly—or possibly not at all. He said that too much time had passed since the date of my injury, and the chances of the tendon growing back together properly on its own are slim-to-none. He also said that I could just be put in a boot for eight weeks—to see if it would heal on its own, but that I would be really disappointed if it didn't heal and I had to have surgery anyway—and then I'd still be in a boot for an additional eight weeks after that!

As I listened to that kind man, I was in denial! I didn't want to believe that I was going to have surgery for the first time in my life! I mean, I've had plenty of stitches (or sutures, as surgeons call them) before, but those were nothing like actual life-changing surgery!!

Wanting to blame someone or something for my predicament, I asked my podiatrist if the first urgent care clinic had misdiagnosed me? He said, "No, there's no way they could have known what truly happened to your ankle without doing an MRI."—which is not the standard protocol after just being injured. X-rays and exams are the norm, especially when my foot felt like all its tendons and ligaments were intact—which is exactly what every doctor thought when they examined me. And after all of that, they would have told me to wait four to six weeks to heal, anyway!

Also, because my tendon tear is right down the middle (like when you pull apart string cheese, length-wise), no doctor would have been able to tell that my tendon isn't working properly because it was still fully attached and working properly—it just happened to have a tear in the middle of it.

As I've thought about it further, I realized that even if I had visited another doctor before I went on our stake's pioneer trek (during week three of my sprain), they probably would have said the same thing: it's not broken; it's just a bad sprain; wait until six weeks have passed—if it's not better by then, come back.

I wasn't trying to be rude to Greg because I dearly wanted him to be right with my whole heart and soul (that nothing was wrong with my ankle), but I totally said, "See?! I knew I was right! I knew there was something seriously wrong with Fankle!" He looked quite bummed-out. I felt even worse. :'(

We scheduled my surgery for that very Wednesday—just two days away, and listened intently to everything my podiatrist told us. We headed out the door and my mind was racing with everything I needed to get done at home so I could be ready for my surgery.

Before we continue, I'd like to say this:

For two months before my fateful "you need surgery" podiatrist appointment, I spent hours upon hours researching everything I could get my hands on about ankle sprains, ankle anatomy, and ankle recovery. Even though I knew about bone bruises, I didn't completely understand just how serious they are. I thought for sure my problem was just with my ankle's ligaments, fascia and retinaculums. Thus, the second my podiatrist began telling me what was wrong with my tendon, I knew right away that it was nothing to mess with.

Because of all the research I had done, I knew that surgery was my only option for a successful ankle rehabilitation. I desperately wanted to regain full function in my ankle and I wasn't about to mess that up just because surgery is nerve-wracking! I knew that surgery was exactly what I was supposed to do.

I say all of that because I was asked by family members if I was really sure that surgery was the best option, or if I had gotten a second opinion? I assured them I made the right choice. *Not to mention, my podiatrist has been a practicing doctor/surgeon for 21 years. I've read his credentials, and he's one of the best! I even compared podiatrists to orthopedists for my specific condition, and felt extremely confident that, for me, I made the right choice in picking my podiatrist.

It feels good when you know you've made the right choice, doesn't it?! :)

Everything after my MRI followup appointment over the next two days are a blur, but I remember being super tired from working so hard to get everything ready. The one thing I do remember from this time in my life is the dream I had. I'm fuzzy on when it actually happened, but I know it happened before my ankle surgery:

I dreamt I was in this amazingly beautiful and huge building. I think it was like a fancy hotel or someone's gorgeous and enormous home. While there, I began running extremely fast. My hair was flying out behind me! And I wasn't even sweaty! Ha ha. Suddenly, I began endlessly leaping, and jumping, and turning! I was limitless and completely perfect in my technique! My body did everything exactly as I desired! I was this amazingly fast, complicated and beautiful dancer! My awesome dream lasted quite a long time, and I continued dancing like that until I awoke.

I was really sad once I remembered that Fankle was hindering me from dancing like that in real life. Yet over the past 11 days, I've relied on my stunning dream more than once to help get me through my ankle-surgery struggle. As I think about my dream now, I believe it was a gift from Heaven! I believe Heavenly Father knew I needed to have a break from reality, and that vivid dream was exactly what would get me through. :)

As you can see, I'm not done writing my Fankle story—not even close! With this post, I'm only finishing act one! Ha ha. But right now, I need to go get ready for bed, and it takes me quite a while in my current differently-abled state. Just know that more Fankle updates will be coming, and I can't wait to write it all!

The next post in My Fankle Journey is "Fanklestein."

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