I’ve Had Nine Small Breaks Lead to One Big Deal

My life changed in an instant and I wasn’t prepared for it

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My number one coping skill is to go outdoors. I feel connected to nature in a way that eases my soul. I feel whole and well grounded. The earth heals me. It’s bigger than the life challenges I face.

Having intrusive thoughts? I walk it off. On the verge of exploding with irrational anger? I get out of the house. Stuck in the depths of soul crushing depression? I soak up the sun. Diagnosed with Advanced Osteoporosis? Husband comes home and finds me curled up in a ball, laying on the iced over lawn, wrapped in a tarp for warmth. It’s 19 degrees.

Six weeks ago I broke my foot for the first time ever. Well, my right foot, that is. It went something like this. I woke up and thought, ‘Ouch. My foot hurts.’ As the day went on I thought, ‘Ouch. My foot really fucking hurts.’ By nightfall the bruising was a deep, dark blue with a pale green outline. My toes tingled from excessive swelling.

By bedtime I was pissed at myself. By now, I have enough experience to know I broke another bone.

My first break was in September 2017. It went something like this. I woke up and thought, ‘Ouch. My foot hurts.’ As the day went on I thought, ‘Ouch. My foot really fucking hurts.’ By nightfall the bruising was vomit inducing purple and I had lost feeling in my toes due to excessive swelling.

Hmm. It’s probably a bug bite or I’m allergic to something. I’ll take two Benadryl and continue to walk on it for another ten days while working the homestead. Once the pain becomes crippling I’ll go to see the doctor where I’ll learn I spent almost two full weeks walking on fractured #2,3,4, and #5 metatarsals of my left foot.

After six months in an aircast my foot was healed. It was over, I mean just the beginning, rather. Three weeks later I broke the silver medal in the category of impossible bones to break. The Cuboid bone.

Exterior photograph of my cuboid break after having the soft cast removed for further testing.

Cuboid bone breaks are rare with insufficient research studies for treatment options. In layman terms: the only “backed by research” treatment option for this specific break is to remain seated until it isn’t broken anymore.

Cuboid breaks have a fascinating history but that’s a story for a different day. Today’s story is focused on my self pity. I was back in the aircast for another six months followed by 12 weeks of physical therapy.

I’ve since graduated to a sexy ninja brace I need to wear during physical activity for the rest of my life. Yes, it’s that dramatic. According to case studies, once the cuboid bone breaks — it weakens, becoming susceptible to future breaks.

This time I didn’t wait to go to the doctor. I called the clinic and was seen the same day. The doctor “just knew” it was broken, the same as I did but needed radiology reports to prove it for health insurance coverage. He skipped the in house x-ray and sent me to the local hospital for an MRI. After receiving the test results I was back in his office. I fractured #2,3,4, and #5 metatarsals in my right foot.

I was prepared with questions. Will I get cancer from having an x-ray every 21 days for two years? Will I die of heart disease from sitting on my ass waiting for bones to heal? And, the most important question. Why do the bones in my feet keep spontaneously breaking?

Never ask a question you don’t want to know the answer to.

The next two weeks were invested on tests. The Dexa Scan showed deterioration in both my hips and spine. Although my annual physical lab panel results were exemplary, the results of the Rheumatoid panel were epically not. There were other tests involved and all results unanimously led to the same answer for my question.

My feet are breaking from walking.

I found this out the same day I found comfort in the frosted lawn and the neon blue, 500 thread count tarp, and then I sunk to the bottom of a boiling pot of misery.

Here’s the thing about having a shit attitude, it perpetuates turning everything else in your life into shit if you let it, and admittedly, I did. My mental health shifted into a manic episode and I’ve been unable to eat and sleep for over a week. I’ve lost ten pounds.

I fell, dumping the last cup of coffee in the house all over the back porch and with a broken driving foot, unable to replenish my supply until a family member returned home work and could drive.

I’m walking circles in my brain and my living room, prolonging my healing and punishing myself.

I was referred to the only Rheumotology clinic in Iowa which specializes in Osteoporosis/Orthopedics and was fortunate to be given the next available appointment. October 22, 2019, seven months from now.

In the interim, the team of doctors currently treating me at my local community clinic are focusing on preventing breaks between now and then. This is done with a monthly bone building injection the insurance doesn’t cover. The cost is $210 out of pocket for each, $1,470 total.

I genuinely believe my shit attitude is the reason I lost five patrons this week, a $183 monthly income loss at a time when an out of pocket medical expense hits me, because that’s how the universe works.

Over the past two weeks I’ve started working on a total of 11 essays, adding up to just over 20,000 words collectively, and have yet to finish a single first draft. Instead, my mind drifts and I find myself cracked out on websites such as Mayo Clinic, Medlineplus, The Harvard Medical Review and National Institute of Heath, drowning in case studies and credible research, and learning about this incurable illness that’s scary AF.

I’m gazing through the kitchen window watching the wind blow by when my son approaches and asks if I’m okay.

“Of course, I’m fine. I’m sort of spiritually connecting to the physical world for guidance,” I reply.

“Do you want to talk about it?”

“There’s not much to say, really. Feeling sorry for myself has lost its flare. It’s time to get back on my feet, metaphorically speaking.”

“Why don’t you write about it? Writing always helps you feel better and you’re good at it.”

“You know, kid. I think you’re onto something.”

I pour a cup of coffee before sitting down at my laptop. Time comes to a halt. The cursor blinks. It’s not that I’m at a loss for words. It’s that I’m flooded with them.

I’m not afraid I’ll break my ‘not broken at the moment’ foot again — a sentence of at least three months of wearing an aircast on both feet. What I’m scared of is my future because in an instant, my life has changed, and planted a gigantic obstacle on the path I was currently traveling down.

Unsure of what to write, I began to type the broken record playing in my head. “I have Advanced Osteoporosis. I’m 45 years old.”

Newspaper reporter in Eastern Iowa. The views expressed are mine alone.

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