Dispatches, thoughts, and miscellanea from writer Jon Konrath

A cripple again

So, I’m a cripple again. I managed to sprain my left ankle, maybe on Thursday. I say maybe because it’s another one of those weird injuries that happened in my sleep because my ankles and legs are all fucked up. I have extremely flat feet; every podiatrist that has ever looked at my feet has said they were the worst they’ve ever seen. My last podiatrist has been practicing for over 60 years and he told me that. One time when I was in the ER for another foot problem, they paged all of the residents on staff to come and look at my feet, they were so fucked up. I’m surprised nobody has photographed them for publication in some journal. Anyway, flat feet mean that when you run, you get severe shin splints. It also means it’s very easy for your foot to slightly twist and hit wrong and fuck up all sorts of ligaments and muscles. And I’ve found that sometimes even when sleeping, the position of my foot can be a little off, and when I wake up after six or eight hours of that, the ligaments are all jacked up.

So I woke up Thursday morning, and that’s what it felt like. I don’t know anatomy, but there’s a chunk of soft tissue at the base of your ankle, where it meets the foot, at the outside edge, and that was tender. So I wrapped my foot in tape, and limped around all day. I didn’t think much more of it, because this happens to me maybe two or three times a year. And maybe once a year, I will go to a doctor or the ER or a clinic, and they will look at it, and say “damn, you’ve got seriously flat feet”, then tell me it’s some kind of soft tissue damage, and I should tape it, take a bunch of tylenol, and it will be OK in a few days. And it usually is. And I’d rather save myself the $400 and eight hours of exposure to TB and screaming kids and not go to the hospital and just follow their advice. So that’s what I did. And Thursday night, we had to go to Walgreen’s for something else, so I bought one of those stupid velcro and nylon splint things that wrap around your ankle.

By Friday morning, I could barely walk. It felt like the splint thing did more damage than it helped. Luckily, I am crippled often enough that I own a cane, so I was able to hobble around a bit more. We even went to dinner that night, and that was nice. As an aside, here is my major major fucking pet peeve about having a jacked up ankle. When I am on a cane, EVERY. SINGLE. FUCKING. PERSON. I see asks me every fucking possible detail about why I am on a cane. EVERY FUCKING TIME. I don’t want to talk about it. I don’t want to know myself. I’m sick of telling the story exactly two times after I tell it. And there is no story. What really amazes me is that show House has been on the air for, what, two or three seasons? I watched the first season before I got bored of it, and in that entire time NOBODY asked him why he was on a cane. NOBODY. Yet I can’t take an elevator or go to a restaurant without some mouth-breathing idiot asking me detailed questions about my medical profile. Today’s lesson: if you see a disabled person in a chair or on crutches or with a walker, DONT ASK THEM WHAT IS WRONG. Help them with a door, tell them to have a nice day, ask them about the weather BUT SHUT THE FUCK UP ABOUT WHY THEY ARE A CRIPPLE BECAUSE IT IS NONE OF YOUR GOD DAMNED BUSINESS. If you get to the point maybe where you are about to have sex with them, then you can ask, otherwise SHUT THE FUCK UP. And for those of you women riding public transportation, GIVE THEM YOUR SEAT YOU STUPID BITCH. You probably do stairmaster for an hour a day, but think you are too precious or entitled to give up your seat for two minutes to a person who can’t stand unassisted. And to people who think I am just overreacting, let me tell you this: THE ENTIRE TIME I EVER RODE THE MTA WITH A CANE, ONLY ONE PERSON GAVE UP HER SEAT FOR ME, AND SHE WAS LIKE 79.

Seriously, I am going to start telling people like that a Greenpeace protestor or Hillary Clinton campaigner knocked me over and broke my ankle.

Anyway, we got home Friday night, and my ankle was fairly fucked. So I took a bunch of pills to sleep: Gabapentin, Tylenol PM, and Tylenol-3 (Codeine). I slept about two hours, and it felt like someone had parked a truck on my leg. I then spent about two hours trying every combination of pillows and supports, none of which could put my leg in a position that didn’t hurt. But I was still in excruciating pain, and had to crawl to the restroom, since walking wasn’t working anymore. I also really wanted to sleep, but like I said, I had taken enough drugs to knock out Rush Limbaugh, and I was so awake, I could have flown a plane. When I couldn’t take it anymore, I woke up Sarah and told her we had to go to the ER.

I always hate the ER, because when you show up, even if you had ten gunshot wounds and were holding your severed arm in your lap, they still make you wait six hours, and then they ask you 50,000 stupid questions. (“So Mr, uh, Kornath, do you smoke”/”just sew back on my fucking arm already!”) The ER here was a completely different experience. The people were extremely nice, very efficient, and had me checked in within the time it takes you to get your food at McDonald’s. There was nobody in the waiting room, which is weird because I thought on a Friday night/Saturday morning at 3:30 AM, there would be scores of gangbangers or something. It was just me and Sarah in chairs, watching a Star Trek rerun from the original series, which I don’t 100% enjoy to the point that I’ll rush out and buy the DVDs, but it was entertaining enough, and it wasn’t the Jesus channel, so there. I also got a wheelchair when I got out of the car, and it had a million different adjustments and leg holders, so I spent forever fucking with that and considering maybe buying or renting one in the future.

We got a room, got a table, got all of the vitals taken, and after a while, the doc came in and bent it and felt it and looked at it and said it was a sprain. I should restate that everyone was incredibly polite and helpful and asked where we relocated from and how we liked Denver, and apologized for the wait, and on and on. It was weird. It was like anti-New York customer service. Anyway, as for the foot, there was some worry that it was a septic joint, because it was very red. But my skin is ivory-white, and if you put a piece of paper on it, it will leave a red mark, so it wasn’t a rash. That didn’t stop them from giving me some antibiotics and writing a bunch of shit on my foot with markers. They also gave me Vicodin, which is pretty much pure heaven. Once it kicked in, I was in this totally lucid state, and was babbling on about ideas for the million dollar idea blog, although I remember none of them now.

I got home with an aircast, a set of crutches, and 15 Vicodin tablets, which I am carefully rationing. I was able to sleep on and off through the weekend, and now I’m about caught up. The crutches are a huge pain in the ass. They’re very hard to use – you use completely different sets of muscles, and maybe if I had trained for the gymnastics events in the Olympics, it would be fine, but walking from the bed to the kitchen is about like running two miles at top speed for me, and the altitude doesn’t help, either. Doing something like using the toilet is very difficult, and taking a shower is impossible. (I did yesterday and it almost killed me. And I’ve still got all of this marker shit on my foot.) I couldn’t put any weight whatsoever on the ankle, although now I can put a tiny bit on there.

This is all incredibly depressing. I think everyone thinks it’s goddamn hilarious that I was down for a week with the stomach flu, and now I’m going to be out for however many weeks with this, except I don’t think it’s funny at all. If I believed in god, I would blame him, or maybe blame myself for something I did in the past to bring this on. When you alternate your day between being goofed up on pills and being in total agony, and your big project of the day is to get out of bed and walk ten feet to take a shit, you start to get really weirded out. And of course, the most beautiful two days of weather happened when I was bedridden. I’m sure when I get walking, it will snow out. I’ve been having a very bad spell lately anyway, because I’m not writing, and I’m not getting any of the stuff done that I said I would when I moved here, and the days seem to just vanish. And now I’m into this whole thing of one medical problem after another, and I’m only 36. I need to live twice this long to retire. I think that after I get this ankle working, I will quit trying to find a job, quit writing, quit every single thing on my plate and make it an 80 hour a week job to just go to physical therapists, go to gyms, eat an absolutely impeccable diet, go to allergists, see shrinks and doctors, and do absolutely nothing except obsess about my health, 24 hours a day. Because it seems that if I do any less than that, all of this shit happens.