Eight Days In

Ankle update, along with some thoughts on reduced capacity.

This afternoon I have my appointment with the orthopedic folks, who will — um, I’m not sure, actually. Take another set of x-rays? Have me do an MRI? Neither? But presumably sometime today or soon, they’ll tell me one of the following:

a) the ankle is healing just fine, no sign of a break or ligament tear, and I can stop using the splint and start putting weight on it again

b) the ankle is healing just fine, no sign of a break or ligament tear, but I need to use the splint for a while longer to protect it while it continues to heal

c) the situation is worse than that, and there’s some microfracture the previous x-ray (and family doc) didn’t catch, or ligament tears, and they want to put me in a cast for 6-8 weeks

d) the situation is worse than that, and there’s some microfracture the previous x-ray (and family doc) didn’t catch, or ligament tears, and I’m going to need surgery to repair it

e) something else I’m not thinking of yet

I keep trying to plan for multiple contingencies, but of course, mostly, I just have to wait right now, and see what they say. It’s frustrating.


I do think I should be able to get on the plane Saturday to go to Hawai’i to give a talk at the University of Manoa, even if they put me in a cast.

There’s apparently something called a split (bivalve) cast, where it’s in two sections that attach, so you can take it off if you need to. Useful for people with cast claustrophobia, which isn’t really me, though I do maybe have a touch of it; I get a little panicky even about the splint sometimes.

But more importantly, an eight hour flight is long enough that there’s likely to be increased swelling, with an increased risk of blood clots, so if I can take the cast off and try to elevate the leg (on my backpack on the floor, probably) and massage it and such, that should help a lot. We’ll see what the orthopedic docs think.


I’m now eight days in from the injury; I was talking to my therapist yesterday, and we were talking about how incredibly frustrating I’m finding the decreased capacity. I’m used to…doing things, basically all the time. When I watch TV, my hands are busy crafting. When I’m listening to a podcast, I’m weeding in the garden, or cleaning the kitchen. My brain is used to being pretty constantly engaged in some way, and when it’s not, I have a tough time.

She asked why I felt so compelled to do stuff all the time, and I think she was expecting it’d be something to do with guilt or feeling worthy, but I don’t really think it’s that. (I’m sure there’s some of that too, yes, okay.)

I think it’s more about the ADHD — if I’m not doing something, my brain is like a squirrel, casting about in twenty different directions at once, little blinking lights going off constantly, and it’s stressful. Ideas sleeting into my brain. Benjamin Rosenbaum has commented that I can’t seem to get through one of our podcast recording session without coming up with ideas for three new projects.

When I settle to doing something, anything, especially if I’ve taken my meds, I can then focus on the one thing, and everything feels much better.

And you know, my big New Year’s resolution was to try to do less, to get used to doing less, because what had once been perhaps helpful habits have kind of evolved to something more like workaholic compulsions. I do need to learn how to just sit, and be okay with sitting. To somehow tell the ADHD brain to stop thinking, we’ve done enough for today. I’m working on it.


So the therapist suggested maybe this enforced inactivity could be seen as helpful in that regard, and I kind of wanted to bite her head off. Because it’s like I was running at 120%, and that was bad, clearly, because I was running past capacity, and it was exhausting and overwhelming. So I was already trying to pull myself down to 95%.

But this injury feels like I’m suddenly dragged down to 40% capacity, and that’s panic-inducing for my brain. It makes me so stressed and even weepy. I hates it.

She had one suggestion, that I’m trying to implement now, that was very concrete — literally exhale before doing things, like scooting my way up the stairs. Exhale every time I’m getting frustrated, or feeling overwhelmed, or about to take on a physically or mentally challenging task.

And you know — exhaling does help, when I remember to do it. She had a bunch of medical science behind why it works, and I’d be interested to read more about that at some point, but it kind of slid by me when she was explaining it. For now, I’ll just be glad that it helps.

Also, glad that most of my work really can be done sitting on the couch with a computer, so even if it feels like I’m working at 40% capacity, it’s really probably more like 70% — just tilted more towards computer work than normal.

There comes a point when I can’t stand to look at screens anymore, but I can get a fair bit done before that point. Hopefully soon I can go back to my normal mode, where computer work gets alternated regularly with physical work, with moving hands doing things.

Fingers crossed.

(I can’t cross my toes right now, alas.)

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