Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

Well, these are new to me — crutches!

Initial report on Oct 27 (one day after onset):

Hmmm…First time using the crutches. First time wearing a cast boot. Will be getting an MRI the first time. I think the horizon of my life has just expanded.

Let's see… what happened? NOTHING happened, literally. Here is what I wrote to a friend in email last night:

Okay, so I came to work. Got busy. Then I felt that I wanted a shower to clear my head, so I went to the gym and did a 20 minute light run on the tread mill just to break a sweat.  Then I went to lunch. Came back to my desk and started working. So far, nothing abnormal at all. An hour later, all of a sudden, boom! Some severe pain just flared up in my left ankle and it bent me over. I was just typing at that time and didn't even wiggle my feet! Anyway, I hopped to the breakroom and grabbed an ice pack. No relief. It got worse. For two hours, I tried to ice it, massage it, gently bend it. Nothing worked. It just got worse and worse. So bad that I was shaking and sweating, and feeling nauseous. I hopped to my manager's office and told him that I needed to go to the Urgent Care. I was going to drive myself because Erik just called me earlier saying that he was feeling sick (again) and was on his way home to rest. But I wasn't sure if I could go the whole way without passing out because it was just that painful.  Luckily, our administrative assistance lives in Palo Alto and offered to give me a ride.

After I got dropped off at the Urgent Care, it was the usual story — endless wait at the waiting area, in the little room for the nurse to come, then for the doctor, then for the X-Ray technician, etc. etc. I was on the verge of tears the whole time and might even have shed some. The doctor could not see anything wrong from the X-Ray and told me I need to see a podiatrist tomorrow.  She sent me home with crutches (I needed them because I couldn't put any weight on the foot) and pain pills.

While I was waiting, I had my iPhone and a book. I managed to glance at my emails quickly, but other than that, I was in such pain that I could not function as in reading a book or typing emails. I think now the pain pill has kicked in, and I'm in a comfortable position in the couch, so I feel better now.

Yep, that was it. The pain just came out nowhere and it was debilitating. It woke me up in the middle of the night last night and I had to pop a pain pill to get back to sleep. This morning, I was going to toughen it out so I postponed taking the pain pill. Boy, did I pay for that one! The pain just intensified so much that nothing I did (elevating the foot, laying still, etc.) could help until I gave in and pop in another pill. Now, I start counting the minutes after three hours or so because the instruction says one pill every four hours.

I  went to see a podiatrist this afternoon. He looked at my ankle and pressed here and there and then suspected stress fracture(s) in the navicular (a little bone near the top of the ankle).  The damage was accumulative and it just happened that the chemical and biological reactions finally pushed it over the edge. Hmmm… sounded plausible.

He has ordered MRI for me so he can know for sure and know the extent of the damage. The only appointment with the lab I can get for tomorrow is at 6am. Early! Ouch, that's even more painful than the ankle! Now, I got the cast boot on the foot to keep the ankle stable. It's still 25 minutes till my next pain pill and it's already hurting excruciatingly now.

The doctor emphasized again and again that I need to let it heal fully before doing any exercises on it, which means 8-12 weeks of rest. Argh! But he just did surgery on a girl who did not follow his advice and ended up having to have the bones fused. I definitely don't want that to happen! Okay, maybe I should pick up some knitting books from the library?

Update on Oct 28 (two days after onset): The doctor called and said that the radiologist from the MRI lab did not see stress fracture. He would like to see the MRI result (I have the CD) himself tomorrow when I go see him and run some blood test on me. I told him when I first saw him yesterday that I had a Dr. House case for him. I think I did.

Update on Oct 29 (three days after onset): I went to see the podiatrist today. The pain level has subsided a bit — I no longer live for the next pain killer pill now, but still I cannot put any weight on the foot. So I'm not off crutches yet. The redness and swelling have gone worse. The doctor ordered an array of blood tests for me, which I did in the lab next door.  He'll call me tomorrow about the results.

Update on Oct 30 (4th day): The doctor called with the blood test results. A few factors were high pointing to rheumatoid arthritis (RA). I need to see a rheumatologist right away. Called around and it doesn't look like I can get in until next week. The doctor assured me that I wouldn't die while waiting. In the mean time, I'm off pain meds now, but still I can't walk on the foot yet. The redness and swelling have stayed at the same level as of yesterday.

Update On Oct 31 (5th day):  The pain is still slowly subsiding. That's good. The swelling has not gone down much but it hasn't gotten worse either. Good too. With the help of the cast boot, I was able to take a few steps here and there (limping style). Next update probably will be on Thursday, Nov 5 when I go see a rheumatologist. That's the earliest appointment I can get after calling around for a couple of hours on Friday. I guess that's an indicator that RA is not immediately life threatening.

Update on Nov 2: I'm off the crutches now. They are so annoying because I cannot carry anything in hand while using those crutches. Walking hurts, but not too bad. I walk very slowly. Big improvement from last week. The ankle is still purple, but not too bad either.

Update On Nov 5: Okay, I guess I'll die, someday. (See this new post for a full update.)

13 Responses

  1. Patrick Herlihyon 28 Oct 2009 at 3:18 pm

    Terrible news, Mei.. hope you heal quickly!

    mudworm

    Me too! Thanks Patrick! I'm so glad that I got a great ride in over the weekend.

  2. Alison Chaikenon 28 Oct 2009 at 9:14 pm

    Ouch! I was just looking at your beautiful photos from Coe when I saw this post too. At least you should have tumbled off a high cliff and had a great story to explain such a painful injury. Good luck to you in figuring out what's wrong and get well soon!

    mudworm

    That's what people said to me when I broke my finger while moving a TV set.

  3. Krishnaon 29 Oct 2009 at 9:42 pm

    That is terrible news Mei! I'm so sorry to hear you're out of commission.

    I hope you get a good diagnosis soon and have a speedy recovery. And take more rest days in the future!

    mudworm

    Thanks Krishna! I think I'm taking the rest days FOR the future right now. :mrgreen:

  4. Caraon 31 Oct 2009 at 10:22 am

    Mei- Just saw this blog and I'm so sorry you are injured. Foot injuries suck. Take it super easy recovering- it is so not worth it to push things, especially early on in recovery (I learned this lesson the hard way with my last big injury before my current knee thing– my foot. If you need a recommendation for a fantastic podiatrist, by the way, let me know). Once you are ready, if you are inclined, swimming without kicking (use a pull buoy) is a good way to get in safe foot-free exercise. Heal up well
    -Cara (from low-key HCs)

    mudworm

    Hi Cara! Thanks for the encouragements and tips! There is a pool at the gym, so swimming might just work, but is that winter at my door? Got a cold chill already. Hey, wish you a speedy recovery in your knee too, Cara! Let's kick the injuries' butt together!

  5. Dirk dBon 02 Nov 2009 at 1:34 pm

    Sorry to hear this, get better soon Mei!

  6. Paulon 02 Nov 2009 at 3:32 pm

    Sending healing vibrations. Take care!

  7. Charlieon 03 Nov 2009 at 8:37 am

    Ouch, ouch, ouch!

    I wonder if with the change in pedals, you were twisting a little more to release…maybe that contributed?

    I want to wish you a speedy recovery and yet at the same time say please be patient with yourself and let this heal completely.

    ///Charlie

  8. mudwormon 03 Nov 2009 at 9:41 am

    Let's see… Patrick, Dirk, Paul, Charlie here… I think I hear Henry Coe calling. I've said this to some of you — I'm optimistic that I will return on my bike soon. And when I do, I want to ride far, deep, and steep! :-D Thank you all for the positive thoughts!

  9. Dirk dBon 03 Nov 2009 at 10:49 am

    As Charlie says, give it time to heal, though exercising that patience is usually the hardest part of the entire process.
    I remember a foot injury that for some reason kept bugging me for weeks and weeks, perhaps because I kept riding with it..
    We'll keep Coe in good shape for you!