bimalleolar fracture: a user’s guide

Given the right conditions and correct stresses, bones–and sometimes spirits–wither and break. Earlier this month I had returned from visiting my sister who lives north of Atlanta to help her and my niece who had broken her elbow. En route to Georgia, my car experienced engine failure. The mechanic’s assessment: blown head gasket. What a not-so-great run of luck. My job-search efforts to that point weren’t successful; I recently replaced a couple tires; and I had no idea how I was going to find the $ to replace the engine (about $4,000). I am sure that I was stressed.

I could not have anticipated what was waiting for me when I got back home to Jackson. It was Sunday evening and, crossing my front lawn, I slipped and fell. It should have been an ordinary fall, but it wasn’t. My body fell right, and my left foot and ankle took a hard left. I felt a snap, saw my foot flop limply while an ankle bone popped out and bobbled around. I was in shock. I was in a world of physical pain but all I could think was, Holy buckets. I have neither any health insurance nor the foggiest clue on how I could pay for a broken ankle. The pain was stabbing and the ball of my foot was wobbling independently of my ankle bone, so I crawled on one knee to my house to call my neighbors for help. I knew my situation was serious enough to go to the E.R., which I did and where my ankle was temporarily reset.

Fast forward a week and a second visit to an orthopedic doctor and his assessment: bimalleolar fracture. Surgery was a must and was performed on the 18th. The surgeon plated and screwed the bits and pieces of the lateral malleolus (pictured at right) back together. Once that was complete, the medial malleolus popped back into place, and the surgeon secured that with two longer screws.


And now for the user’s guide if you experience a similar fracture. The second day after surgery is kind of grim. Unpleasant. If you tolerate pain medication, this is the day to take it. If you have the financial means, consider getting or renting a knee scooter. The knee scooter vastly improves your ability to get around the house. I also recommend getting a pair of training gloves initially–these reduce the blisters you’ll experience from using crutch handles.

If you’re uninsured like me, prepare yourself for a small mountain of hospital bills. It’s a bit overwhelming to see what I owe. But hopefully if you’re like me, you live in an area of the country where the medical care is excellent but doesn’t cost what you might pay in a larger metropolitan area. I truly have to find any silver lining these days can afford me. My spirit kind of depends on it, for the moment.

And if my luck turns a corner, which I think it might, I’ll get fitted for a walking boot in a couple weeks, and I might be able to walk my dogs again, albeit slowly and extremely carefully. Fingers/toes crossed.