When your ankle is still a beach ball


With Monday come and gone, I’m now into my third week of recovery for my monstrously swollen, sprained ankle of fun. For those who don’t want the full story, last month I stepped on a utility cover in the street, which proceeded to cave in.

(Okay, its not as swollen as a beach ball, but it gave me an excuse to reuse that image above from five years ago. As far as I can tell, the original vector artist doesn’t have it online any more. That’s a shame, because Yuki looks too cool for school).

But I digress. After seeing the lovely Dr Reilly in Wahroonga last week, we determined that I’d torn some ligaments and muscle, but hadn’t broken the bone. I had a bone fracture in roughly the same place when I was 14, so was relieved beyond belief that I wouldn’t have to repeat all that treatment again!

Unfortunately, sprained ankles are also less than fun, as I’m sure many of you can attest to. The biggest challenges for me aren’t using the crutches or getting used to the cam boot, but with cabin fever and sleep. I’ll spare the cabin fever discussion for another post, because I think its an interesting juxtaposition between the alleged hikkimori people expect quiet nerds to be, and my need (yes, need) to commune with nature and exercise a little each and every day.

(Oh dear, I just used the word juxtaposition. Someone, shoot me in the foot, please).

So anyway, sleep

Yes, sleep. In one word: it’s nigh impossible. Wait a minute.

The bruises wrap around all sides of my foot, so regardless of the position I put my foot when I lie down in bed, within a few minutes I start feeling sharp pain. I can prop it up on cushions to reduce the swelling, but the end result is I spend half the night gritting my teeth and cursing under my breath, before finally succumbing to extreme physical exhaustion and falling asleep. It’s a cruel irony, as most of our healing takes place when we sleep, and it renders me a groggy mess for the rest of the next day!

As I pull myself out of this self pity wallow I’ve so thoroughly constructed for myself though, there is room for hope. While I’m disappointed this has essentially ruined any chance of fun for the winter university break, I’m relieved I’m not having to cart my injured foot around campus for classes. I can take it easy for the next few weeks and recover on my own time, with plenty of Chamomile tea and support from my lovely Clara and my family. It’s also given me an opportunity to sit in front of the computer for extended periods of time and finally get a ton of nagging system and blog maintenance tasks done that I’ve been putting off for far too long.

It’s also given me a chance to reflect on just how lucky I really am, despite living in far more challenging times. Earlier in my 20s I was one of the cynical “life is so hard” people, but the older I get, the more I realise just how much I have to be thankful for. Sometimes I just need to bust up my foot to realise it.

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Ruben Schade is a technical writer and infrastructure architect in Sydney, Australia who refers to himself in the third person. Hi!

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