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Dramatis Personae

YOUR HUMBLE BLOGGER, our heroine
YOUR HUMBLE BLOGGER’S RIGHT ANKLE, our villain
YOUR HUMBLE BLOGGER’S RIGHT KNEE, our tragic figure

Assorted other characters including a HUSBAND, a NURSE, a BOX OF PAPERS, a STAIRCASE, and GRAVITY.

Act One

YOUR HUMBLE BLOGGER is in the process of loading her car for the purposes of moving house. She is carrying a BOX OF PAPERS down a STAIRCASE. Six steps she navigates without difficulty, but on the seventh and final step, YOUR HUMBLE BLOGGER’S RIGHT ANKLE declines to perform its assigned duty, pitching YOUR HUMBLE BLOGGER headfirst onto the landing.

GRAVITY, which has been present in the scene since the beginning, takes center stage.

The BOX OF PAPERS is the first to receive the impact. (YOUR HUMBLE BLOGGER is still holding onto this BOX; she will, when she has leisure afterward, take a moment to be grateful that she is wearing braces on both wrists already.) By some miracle and mercy of Providence, the ANKLE does not take any of the weight GRAVITY has sent careening downward; it survives this entire drama with no perceptible damage, which is most unusual for our heroine’s life. The remaining weight falls upon YOUR HUMBLE BLOGGER’S RIGHT KNEE.

After a moment of shaken relief that she was not at the top of the staircase when she was so cruelly betray’d by her ANKLE, our heroine picks herself up and completes her task, carrying the BOX OF PAPERS to the car.

Act Two

On her way back from the car, YOUR HUMBLE BLOGGER notes that the right knee of her jeans is stained with blood. Grumbling in annoyance at the small split in the fabric, she goes upstairs. Here she grouses to her HUSBAND about the treachery of the ANKLE, then washes out the larger split in her RIGHT KNEE, which so nobly sacrificed itself for her. She places antiseptic ointment and a bandage upon it, puts her stained jeans to soak, and goes about her business.

Four hours later, it comes to her attention that the wound is continuing to bleed — not copiously, but enough to draw attention. She concludes it would be wise to change the bandage and renew the antiseptic. In the process of doing so, however, she notes that the skin around the wound does not move in the fashion she expected; its behavior implies greater depth to the split than she had originally estimated.

With trepidation, she asks her HUSBAND whether he concurs. He does. She, in a state of great vexation, gathers her belongings and goes to the hospital.

Act Three

We shall not try the reader’s patience, nor their fortitude, by recounting every detail that transpires at the hospital. Suffice it to say that a friendly NURSE cares for the valiant RIGHT KNEE, straightening the edges of the wound and putting in seven stitches (the split is not so large, but as YOUR HUMBLE BLOGGER scars easily, she takes extra care in closing it). She contemplates putting our heroine in a joint-immobilizing support, but ultimately settles for an ace bandage and instructions for YOUR HUMBLE BLOGGER to remain off the leg as much as possible for a while, because standing, let alone walking/going up and down stairs/lifting heavy boxes would put strain upon the stitches. And so, suitably chastened, YOUR HUMBLE BLOGGER goes home.

Postscript

So that’s where things stand. This . . . puts an annoying spike in the process of moving, as getting to the car (or even moving around within either the source or destination residences) requires navigating stairs — which I can do, but toddler-style, step-together step-together. I am deeply annoyed at my ankle for deciding to stop ankling, and simultaneously relieved it didn’t happen at a higher elevation. My wrists are fine; my ankle’s fine; it’s just my knee, which has a little red smile, now sewn shut.

This is not how I wanted to spend my Thursday afternoon.

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

swan_tower: (Default)

So as many of you know, my husband had ankle surgery recently. He’s on crutches, putting no weight on the affected foot . . . for 8-10 weeks.

That’s a long time.

And while I can’t rightly compare my own difficulties to his, it’s going to be a long time for both of us. All of a sudden, I’m carrying most of the household on my own shoulders, because he can’t. Many tasks that I’m used to sharing with him (laundry, taking out the trash, etc) are now mine alone. Things that didn’t use to be tasks suddenly are: I have to be available when he goes to bed, because while it’s possible for him to drag his crutches and the pillow we’re using for his leg up the stairs as he slides up them — they’re too narrow for him to crutch up — it’s a pain in the neck, and much easier if I carry those for him. Some tasks that I would normally let slide for a little while now have to be kept 100% up-to-date; the ant infestation plaguing this entire city isn’t related to his surgery, but that doesn’t change the fact that I have to wash the dishes right away or risk finding a conga line of ants making their way across our kitchen to whatever I left out, and I have to keep the living room constantly tidy or he won’t be able to cross it safely on crutches.

But. My friends, I had a stroke of genius, and it already promises to do wonders for my sanity.

We’ve been making extensive use of stools and folding chairs in various places so he can kneel on them(1) while he showers or washes his hands or whatever. I found myself wondering whether it would help to put one of those in the kitchen, too — and then I thought, no. What we want in the kitchen is one of these.

It arrived this afternoon. Today, for the first time since his surgery, my husband scrubbed some dishes. He loaded the dishwasher and emptied it, too; he put dinner into the oven and took it out again. He can’t do everything; kneeling for too long is uncomfortable, and he has to be careful that it doesn’t roll out from under him and drop him into an unexpected split. But he can function. He can probably manage to bake some brownies if he wants to — and if you know my husband, you know how much that means to him.

And me? I was giddy with delight. The sheer fact of knowing that I don’t have to do everything kitchen-related is a relief all out of proportion to its actual size. Sure, I’m still facing another two months of having to carry his plate to him and then carry it back when he’s done, because you can’t really do that on crutches and the stool doesn’t transition well to carpet. But he can make his own sandwich for lunch without having to balance on one foot while he does it, even if I’m the one who carries it to the couch. He can wash dishes, which is a task that normally falls about 70-80% in his bailiwick instead of mine. He can prepare simple dinners. All of these are things I expected to have to do myself for weeks to come and now . . . now I know that he can help.

I’m well aware that the situation I have with him is business as usual for a lot of people. If you’re a single mother with a toddler, you’ve got to carry every bit as much weight, without the compensation of a charge who continually thanks you and can at least accomplish tasks that don’t require standing. And they don’t sell products on Amazon that will magically turn your toddler into more of a functioning adult. But if you ever find yourself dealing with a similar situation, remember the merits of a simple, flat-topped, caster-mounted stool. It can work wonders.

(1) Some of you will now be thinking of those kneeling scooters you’ve been seeing around lately. We rented one, but they don’t corner well at all, and our place is too small for him to easily navigate indoors on that thing. It’s useful only for when he leaves the house; the rest of the time, it’s crutches, which are far more maneuverable.

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

swan_tower: (Default)

According to records, on February 13th of 2014, I started physical therapy.

It felt a little ridiculous: I had a sprained toe, which is not exactly a major injury. But hey, if you can’t really bend it for months on end . . . so I went to PT, and it got better.

Then, in April, just as that was drawing to a close, I found out I needed ankle surgery. Since I wasn’t going to do that until after the karate seminar in Okinawa, my orthopedist advised that I go to PT beforehand to stabilize the joint as much as I could. So I did that for three months, and then I went to Okinawa, had surgery, got out of the boot — and went back to PT.

And it dragged on. And on. And on.

But as of today, I am free — ish. My remaining issue is mobility, rather than strength, and in some ways the strength work we’ve been doing at PT has been hampering improvement in mobility, because of the way it puts stress on the muscles. The biggest things that help now are heat and massage, and I don’t need to go to PT for a couple of hours every week to get those. So my therapist told me to cancel my remaining appointments, and to check back in with them in a few weeks. For the first time in just shy of an entire year . . . I do not need physical therapy.

It’s about goddamned time.

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

swan_tower: (Default)

I have bought a new dress for the World Fantasy banquet. I am sitting here trying to remember the last time I bought a dress that wasn’t a historical costume I paid somebody to sew for me.

I am failing.

As long as I’m on a roll of doing things I haven’t done in hmmmm let’s be conservative and say ten years?, I think I should also get new black heels. And this is where I turn to you, O internets, because I don’t like high heels (but I recognize their uses), and if there is any maker of heels who makes some I would actually like, I want to know about them.

My criteria are as follows. Each one should be footnoted with the caveat that I know I may not be able to get what I want, or at least may not be able to get all these things in one shoe. But I might as well try.

  1. Not too high of a heel. You may recall I had ankle surgery less than three months ago. My ideal would be maybe 1-1.5″; anything above 2″ is Right Out at present. And in general I prefer lower heels, because . . .
  2. Padding beneath the ball of the foot. I can and do use inserts to help with this, but it annoys me that we have an industry built around providing something I think the shoe ought to provide in the first place. I end up with a lot of foot pain if too much of my weight is on the ball of my foot for too long; it’s like my body is saying “we stopped doing this shit when you quit ballet at the age of eighteen, and aren’t going to put up with it anymore.”
  3. Arch support. Does this even exist in high-heeled shoes? If so, tell me, because my god do I need it. I have stupidly high arches, and wearing shoes that don’t support them gets painful quite fast.
  4. Allowance for a high instep. A lot of those strappy shoes put straps right across the top of my arches, which, as mentioned before, are quite high. Result: I feel like my foot’s being cut in half by my shoe. This one’s more of a stylistic thing than a characteristic I’m likely to find in a specific shoe manufacturer, but as long as I’m describing what I want, I ought to include everything.

Is there anybody who consistently makes shoes that match this description? Or even parts of this description? I could go to the store and try on shoes randomly until I find something that works, but I’d like to be more targeted in my shopping if possible. Seven years of dancing on pointe left me with an absolute lack of tolerance for badly-made or ill-fitting shoes, and a desire to avoid spending hours trying things on if at all possible.

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

swan_tower: (Default)

The problem with being in physical therapy is that even when I’ve declared a Day Off From Everything, I still have to do that.

I mean, I could skip it. But since my happiness is better served by recovering as quickly and thoroughly as possible, I’m still going to put myself through my paces. Other than that, however, I intend to spend today having lunch with a friend and reading on the couch and maybe going out to celebrate a bit when my husband gets home from work. Also on the celebratory list: last night I slept without a brace on my ankle, for the first time since the surgery. It was an experiment, to see if it would complain at me when I turned over or whacked it against my other leg — and it did, a little, but not enough to counterbalance the sheer joy of being able to fully relax. I have hopes this will help with the problem where the tendons and muscles that kept cramping while I was in the boot are actually giving me more pain than the bit that got surgeryified.

Who knows. Maybe I’ll work on “The Unquiet Grave” tonight. Because it isn’t work if I decide to do it of my own free will, right? :-P

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

swan_tower: (Fizzgig)

As of a few hours ago, I am officially Free of the Boot.

The boot is dead; long live th — wait, no, it can die in a fire.

I’ve graduated to a mere brace: a complex arrangement of laces and straps and velcro designed to make sure I don’t re-injure myself while I get my strength and mobility back. I suspect, though I can’t be sure, that I’m already off to a better start than I was last time, owing to all the PT I did beforehand. Stepping on my unbooted left foot is still mildly scary (and my heel hurts like crazy, it’s so tight), but it doesn’t feel as pathetically weak as I think the right one did post-boot.

Either way, I’m not going to waste any time. My first PT appointment is tomorrow morning! At this point I could probably do the relevant exercises in my sleep, but it’s good to have someone helping me pace myself, plus they have nice things like the electical stimulation machine that will speed my recovery along.

In the meanwhile, I’ll be over here curling my toes and rubbing my heel and generally rejoicing in the fact that I am free, free, FREE.

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

swan_tower: (Default)

I’m at the stage of surgical recovery now where the thought that keeps going through my head is, “I want my body back.”

When I take off the boot to let my skin get some fresh air, my ankle is still swollen, still discolored from the skin irritation, and scarred. It doesn’t look like my ankle; it looks like somebody else’s. In the early days of recovery, taking the boot off was scary, because I need to keep my foot in a flexed position and the post-surgical weakness made me afraid that I would accidentally move it too far. Now? I’m not afraid at all, because I couldn’t move my foot too far if you paid me. With every passing day, it stiffens up more, my ankle petrifying into a single position. At this point I’d feel pain from the muscles before I felt it from the repaired ligament. By the time I get to physical therapy, I’ll have nearly no range of motion at all.

I recognize that in the grand scheme of things, it could be far worse. I’m young enough, and the surgery was minor enough, that I expect to recover fully. I could be stuck with the sort of injury you never get over, the kind where you have to learn to live with the body you’ve got now, rather than hoping to regain the one you had before. But it’s still alienating. And I have cabin fever, not only for my house in general and my living room in specific, but for my own physical existence: my body isn’t moving very well, so I’ve got this increasing and pointless desire to somehow crawl out of it for a little while and go running around in the sunshine.

Clearly, I need to learn astral projection. :-P

Fortunately, I’m near — well, not so much the end as a turning point. Unless something has gone horribly wrong, I’ll be out of the boot next week. Which won’t magically transform my ankle into its old self, but will mean I can do something other than just sitting around being patient. I made some physical therapy appointments yesterday. I’ll be able to walk without my legs functionally being two different lengths. I’ll put on jeans for the first time in a month. All of these are Good Things.

In the meanwhile, I sit here and keep thinking, “I want my body back.”

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

swan_tower: (Default)

My left ankle appears determined to play the Evil Twin, as it is getting up to all kinds of shenanigans that didn’t happen when I had surgery on my right ankle.

Let’s recap: when we last left our not-so-intrepid heroine, she’d dealt with an allergic reaction to her antibiotics, splitting headaches from her painkillers (which is just totally illogical and should be outlawed), and twitches of a sufficiently painful sort as to make her afraid she’d actually undone some of the surgeon’s work.

To that list, we may now add the following:

1) Recurrence of the exact same pain that caused me to go to the orthopedist in the first place. This is hopefully just part of the healing process, but when I called last Monday, they told me to make a new appointment if it didn’t stop by the end of the week. Well, I didn’t manage to call on Friday, and as of yesterday it was still happening (though less intensely and less frequently), but today it seems to be okay? We can hope.

2) A muscle relaxant that refuses to either have its advertised effect of relaxing muscles (seriously, I swear I twitch just as much on it as off), or to have the side effect of drowsiness. Which sucks when you actually want the stuff to help you get to sleep.

3) Itching in and around the scars that makes me want to scratch my foot bloody — and that’s when I’m sitting down. When I get up to walk, I want to just chop my foot off and make the whole thing end. Fortunately, I can get this somewhat under control with a raft of oral antihistamines, anti-itch cream, and band-aids over the scars to protect them chafing.

4) A massive charley horse in my calf about ten minutes ago, that made me yell loudly enough to make my husband come running. The good news here is that my ankle is stable enough at this point for me to take it out of the boot and use a foam roller on my calf, which at least helps a little.

All of which I share partly to vent, and partly because I know I have enough writers reading my blog to think you all might as well get some anecdotal notes in case you ever have to write about a character recovering from something like this. >_<

I will be so glad when this is done.

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

swan_tower: (Default)

So that twitch I mentioned yesterday? It recurred this morning, badly enough to catapult me straight out of sleep into grabbing my leg and yelping. Which worried me enough that I called the doctor and he had me come in for a quick examination at the end of their lunch hour.

Turns out all is well; I have been reassured that this is neither a result of something going wrong, nor likely to be a cause of it. The surgeon’s assistant theorizes that they aggravated some of the nerves in that area during the operation, which is why I’m in more pain generally than I was last time, and hurting even more when I twitch. The surgeon himself also mentioned that there’s been a new development in this procedure since I had it done on my right ankle: a teeny-tiny anchor he drilled into the bone to help secure the ligament. Which goes a long way toward explaining why the aftermath of this particular surgery is feeling more like my first one (when I was nine and they drilled into the bone) than my second (when I was twenty-nine and they didn’t).

Upshot is that I have a prescription for a muscle relaxant to take at night, and I’m no longer expecting to go off the Vicodin and onto Advil in the next day or two, like I did last time. In theory I was hoping to get back to work tomorrow, but we’ll see how much of my brain survives the barrage of drugs that “may make you drowsy” (read: will put me down for the count). Oh yeah, and I’m still getting over the jet lag. My plan of sleeping these issues off simultaneously is still going according to plan, at least.

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

swan_tower: (Default)

I’m back from Okinawa (about which more later), and as of this morning, I am done with the ankle surgery. But only with the surgery part of it: now I’m facing a month of incarceration in a plastic boot.

Since I’ve done this before, I have the dubious joy of knowing exactly what I’m in for. Though I’ve made at least one improvement this time around; putting one of my arch support inserts in the boot has done wonders for the circulation to my toes, which I remember as one of the chief miseries of the last round. On the other hand, this evening my foot twitched in a fashion that sent a bad enough spike of pain up my leg for me to call my orthopedist, except it was after office hours, so I probably won’t hear back from him until tomorrow. So that officially undoes all my happiness at the circulation thing. >_<

This is the most tedious part. I can’t do anything to speed my recovery; I can only (try to) avoid setting it back. In a month I’ll get to do PT, which will be a joy by comparison — please remind me of that when I’m suffering through it. :-P But at least the surgery itself is over, which is a relief.

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

swan_tower: (Default)

Physical therapists cheat. :-P They set the rules of the game, but just when you get to the point where you feel like you’ve got the upper hand, they change the rules out from under you.

Given that my ankle surgery won’t be happening until the end of July, I’m in PT right now to strengthen the joint and make sure the problem doesn’t get worse between now and then. Which means a whole lot of exercises, one of which has escalated in the following manner:

Balance on one foot? Okay, I can do that.

Balance on one foot on a squishy foam pad? . . . okay.

Balance on one foot on a squishy foam pad with your leg behind you to screw with your balance!

Balance on one foot on a squishy foam pad with your leg behind you and a heavy rubber ball in your hands!

Balance on one foot on a squishy foam pad with your leg behind you while waving the heavy rubber ball in various directions!

My PT seriously threatened to make me play catch while balancing on one foot on the squishy foam pad. >_<

I mean, okay, yes. I have gotten stronger. And my balance is vastly better than it was, say, six months ago. But there’s a point at which you think, can’t I just enjoy my accomplishments for a little bit? Do you have to pull the rug out from under me every time I start to get my footing on it?

Yes, they do.

Doesn’t mean I don’t want to give them the stink-eye for it, though.

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

swan_tower: (Default)

I made reference to this in my previous post; I’d forgotten that I hadn’t actually said anything about it before now.

I’m going to Okinawa in July. Every few years, on an irregular schedule, Shihan and various other people put together an intensive karate and kobudo seminar, bringing in people from a variety of countries (Germany, Spain, Denmark, the U.S.) for about a week in Naha and on Kori Island. It will be my first time going; the last one was five years ago, and I was much too low-ranking to attend. Sometimes there’s a tournament, but apparently Shihan got tired of waiting for other parties to get their act together, so this time it’s a seminar only.

I made the decision to go before I knew I was having ankle problems; I paid the fee before I got told I was going to need surgery. But honesty compels me to admit that before I went to the doctor, I told Kyle that I didn’t care what the prognosis was, I was going to Okinawa anyway. Because it’s bad enough to have to do this again: I will be damned if I let it take away my chance to experience that kind of intensive training. I’m going to be sweating to death for 4-6 hours a day in an un-air-conditioned budokan, and that isn’t exactly a thing to look forward to — but I am.

And then I’ll come home and have surgery and not go to karate for a month or more. But before then, I’ll work my butt off.

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

swan_tower: (Default)

Same song, second verse. A little bit louder, a little bit more JESUS H CHRIST THIS ISN’T FUNNY ANY MORE.

Which is to say, I will be having ankle surgery.

Again.

Same ligament as before . . .

. . . just on the other foot.

Listen up, kids: sprain your ankles too often as a youth, and this will be your reward before you’re anywhere near your dotage. An orthopedist wiggling your foot around and saying “Wow!,” followed immediately by “Sorry, that’s not what you want to hear your doctor say, is it?” An unstable ankle joint that’s causing microabrasions and is already building up a bone spur, so let’s get this surgery done soon, shall we, before we’ve got ourselves a lovely case of arthritis? Oh and it’s so helpful that you still have the boot from the last round. We can just stick you right back in it. Not your first rodeo, here’s your forms, you know how this goes, and hey you’ve even got some blog posts to remind you of the unpleasant things in your future. Isn’t this great.

The surgery isn’t scheduled yet, but it will be some time between the very end of July and mid-September. Putting it off that long probably isn’t the most intelligent thing I’ve ever done, but god dammit I am going to Okinawa. The last time this karate seminar happened was five years ago; I don’t know when it will happen again. And I am not letting my stupid fucking ankles keep me from it.

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

swan_tower: (Puss in Boots)
I'm not usually much of a shipper (in the fanfic sense) . . . but I want ALL THE HAWKEYE/BLACK WIDOW FIC NOW.

Ahem. Apart from me loving those two and wanting them to get their own movie, I thought The Avengers was quite excellent. Once I have it on DVD, I may well sit down and try to pick apart just how the writers managed to balance their script. Superhero movies have foundered before on the "too many heroes/villains" problem, but this one did a remarkable job of giving each character a meaningful role, without letting the pacing bog down in side tangents. It's helped, of course, by the fact that they're operating off a whole slew of individual movies -- but that doesn't account for all of it, because you can do that and still have a terrible team-up (just look to comic books for proof). This one handled things very deftly, I thought, and I'd love to dig into how.

And now, I crash. Because I survived my first kobudo seminar today (though I'm not sure my feet did), and have earned my rest. :-)
swan_tower: (karate)
Despite the broken toe, I went to my belt test on Friday. Yeah, possibly that wasn't the best idea, but I'm annoyed enough by the time I missed due to the ankle surgery; the thought of waiting until September to test because of my stupid pinky toe was just not acceptable. (Not to mention that missing class Monday and Wednesday to let the bone start healing produced a noticable downswing in my mood; I'm book-stressed right now, and need my exercise to counter.)

I was particularly eager for this test because moving to the lowest degree of green belt (green with a white stripe) means I get to start kobudo, which is weapons training. Sai and bo mostly -- the little hand-held tridents and the staff -- though sometimes they break out the tonfa or the nunchaku. My only weapons experience is with Western rapier-and-dagger fencing, so I'm very keen to see how other things work. Plus it means I'll be getting more like four hours of exercise each week, rather than two, and that is not a bad thing. In fact, if I can manage to have a pair of functioning feet for any real length of time, I'm hoping to go back to the SCA fencing practice on Sundays, too.

So I'm being careful, but I'm back in class. I'll try to keep my weight off the outside of my foot until it's been at least three weeks, and definitely keep the toe buddy-taped that long or longer; then we'll see how it's doing. Fortunately, in the immediate future I'm likely to have several new kata to practice (karate and kobudo both), so my attention's going to be more on learning the sequences than refining my footwork. But any way you slice it, I'm not going to let a bone that tiny prevent me from getting my exercise. I am tired of this gimpy-feet business, yo.
swan_tower: (Hel)
Sometimes I think it might be refreshing to break my arm.

I don't want a broken arm, of course. But if I'm going to injure something, it might be a nice change of pace to have it be something on the upper half of my body, instead of the lower.

What brings this on? Oh, the little toe of my left foot, which I have just broken for the third freaking time. Also the middle toe of that foot, which is sprained: a nice companion to the sprain in the big toe of my right foot that I suffered last year. And the ankle surgery when I was nine, and the ankle surgery when I was twenty-nine -- same ankle, natch -- not to mention the countless sprains on that front over the years. And (for a minor change of pace) the damaged cartilege in my left knee, and the problem with the saphenous nerve in my right leg that never did get explained but eventually went away.

But I suppose between me and my brother's four broken arms*, we balance out. Whoever was responsible for dealing out injuries to my family really needed to shuffle the deck better.

Anyway, in the grand scheme of things this is minor; I probably won't even get it x-rayed. (There's no point unless the fracture is displaced enough to potentially cause mobility problems later on, and at the moment there's no particular reason to think that's the case.) It is certainly not [livejournal.com profile] truepenny's recent catastrophe with her ankle. But I gotta say that it's bloody annoying.



*That is, he's had a broken arm four times. He does not have four arms that got broken.
swan_tower: (London)
So apparently, coming down with a cold isn't enough back luck for one trip. This morning, I did the one thing I must not do:

I twisted my ankle.

Yes, THAT ankle. On my way to the Tower Gateway for the DLR, I stepped on the edge of one of the shallow gutters along the footpath and overturned my foot, in exactly the direction it needs to not go. While it's probably fair to say I did more damage to my nerves than to my foot, that isn't to say it escaped completely unscathed; it is a bit twingy. Still, "a bit twingy" is much less than I feared, in that first instant of blind unreasoning horror. As soon as I could think, I dropped my bag and downed some Advil, and put my foot up on on the seat on the ride out to the West India Quay, and fortunately, the Museum in Docklands is abundantly supplied with portable folding stools. (Also, while I'm sure it's possible to walk out there -- heck, I'm not surprised to see Google tell me it's closer than Chelsea, less than four miles -- no way on God's paved earth was I going to do that, even before the ankle incident.)

So I'm largely okay, more rattled than hurt. But definitely rattled, I must admit.

Not that I let that stop me. )

Museum days are not terribly exciting to write about, I suppose; most of this post is Ankle Drama. Oh well. Maybe I'll be more exciting when I go to the Linley Sambourne house tomorrow.
swan_tower: (exercise)
(Yeah, I know, I'm posty today. Trying to clear out some links that have been sitting around for a while, that require more discussion than can profitably be done in a linkdump post.)

Someone a while back asked what I was doing about the problem of collapsing arches in my feet. Since most of my foot/ankle problems are interrelated (surprise!), I figured it was worth doing one collated post on all my physical therapy -- with bonus link about barefoot running.

This site shows pictures of most of the PT. I'm doing all four exercises in the "resistance band" group on that page, plus two others: with cotton balls between my toes, I'm squeezing the toes together, and I'm also doing the one where you put your foot on a towel and gradually scrunch the fabric up with your toes. Three sets of 15, each day. So far I've graduated up two resistance bands; when I can do four sets of 15 with the next (and strongest) band, I'll probably call it quits with that stuff.

I'm also doing three other exercises, more newly-added to my repertoire. First, I'm standing on one foot. No, really. Aside from the atrophy caused by the surgical recovery, I also had a pre-existing weakness in my tibialis posterior, which is a muscle that runs down the inside of your ankle and splays across the sole of your foot. It's one of the muscles closely involved in arch support (another being the tibialis anterior, on the outside of the joint), and it plays a big role in balancing. When I try to stand on one foot for any real length of time, I can feel it crapping out on me, causing my ankle to roll inward, with predictable consequences for my balance. So this exercise is remarkably tiring, at least for one tiny part of my leg. The other two are lunges (of the athletic, not the fencing, sort) and one-foot squats, which I can't really do worth a damn. I'm supposed to stand on one foot and squat down as low as I can (including lowering my back and sticking my butt out; this isn't a pliƩ), while keeping my heel on the ground. Between the weakness of that one muscle and my possibly structural inability to dorsiflex very far, this turns out to be a carnival of wobbling on my part.

So if you have arch problems, you want to do the inversion and eversion exercises, the ones where you're moving your foot from side to side against resistance. And it turns out that helps a lot for balance, too: in karate last night, I discovered that when I do one of the rapid 180-degree turns many of the kata include, I'm now landing in zenkutsu-dachi on the far side with MUCH less instability than I used to. I never thought to connect that with the arch issues, but it seems to be related.

Also -- on the topic of arch problems -- you might want to read up on barefoot running. This is something I only recently encountered, and I'm not a runner myself, so I don't have much first-hand knowledge on the subject. But there's a chapter in the book Born to Run that makes a convincing argument for how our highly-engineered running shoes have actually contributed to foot problems, rather than reducing them. And the reasons seem like common sense: the shoe, by stiffening and cushioning the foot, radically changes the mechanics of how we run. I had a deeply suspicious reaction when my primary care doctor told me the solution to my arch problems was putting more support in my shoes; wouldn't that just further weaken my feet? (You can imagine what my PT said when I asked her.) There's at least some evidence that running barefoot, or in minimal shoes, with a forefoot or midfoot strike, will actually strengthen your arches by -- here's a wacky idea -- using them as evolution intended.

I'm not likely to take up running any time soon, but for those of you who do it, you might want to investigate some of the minimal-shoe options out there.

And now, having dealt with some of the crap cluttering up my browser, I'm off to be productive on a different front. Namely, folding laundry.
swan_tower: (exercise)
I thought I'd be out of karate for two months following the surgery, but my orthopedist and physical therapist both said I could go back sooner, provided I wore the brace and paid close attention to what my ankle had to say. Fortunately, after thirteen years of ballet and other dance training, I am very good at listening to my feet.

So yesterday I returned to class, and god, was it a relief. Seeing people, stretching, getting some exercise . . . and it turned out better than I expected, actually. There are things I can't do: jumping, for example. And my balance on that foot is very sketchy right now, so kicks are kind of off the menu (of course the senpai running the warm-up chose to do a kick combination across the floor that day). But the only thing really interfering with my ability to move is that I can't pivot sharply; ask me to move from a left-hand punch to a right-hand one and I'm fine, but reverse the order and I have to just kind of mark it. It's bloody hard to do sharp movements with the upper half of your body and cautious ones with the lower half, especially when you've been working and working and working at integrating your whole body rather than moving in parts.

Kumite (sparring) is still way in my future, but at least I can do kata, cautiously. As I said to several people, even if I could only do 40% of the work, that's still a lot more than the 0% I had before. And it turns out I can do more than 40%. This makes me very pleased indeed.
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Went for a walk around the neighborhood today. Partly because, although I don't want to court skin cancer, I'm a little appalled at how pasty I've gotten; it means I've spent too much time indoors. Partly because yesterday a trip to the Stanford library (which requires a moderate bit of walking) was way more exhausting than it should have been, and if I'm going to walk around London again, I need to get me some endurance back.

Thursday was my first physical therapy appointment. The woman tested strength and range of motion on my left foot (for a baseline) and then on my right, and we talked about the ancillary problems I've got aside from the surgical recovery -- collapsing arches, plantar fascitis, metatarsalphalangeal sprain (say that one five times fast), and some mechanics issues of long standing, to whit, my extremely limited range of dorsiflexion. For the time being, my primary assignment is to stretch out all the muscles stiffened by my time in the boot; to that end, I'm actually not wearing the brace all the time, because it would just continue restricting my range of motion. Plus it presses on one of the two incisions in a moderately uncomfortable way, which is less than ideal.

The orthopedist cleared me to start biking again, though he advised wearing the brace. I'll probably give that a few days more before I try it, but the idea appeals. It gets me out in the sun (which we're finally getting a bit of), and helps regain what endurance I had, and I can accomplish some errands in the bargain. All good stuff.

In the meantime, I sit around and make faces while I point my toes. I will get this mobility back; it'll just take some time and mild suffering. But that's okay by me.

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