Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Ankles are Stupid

Yes, the bruising is real, and it is spectacular.

This past Saturday, a group of us left from Lynn Suspension Park and made the slow, wet climb towards Norvan Falls. None of us were going particularly fast, and the trail was one of the easier ones we had done in the past few months. The trail went through a series of stream crossings just before the falls: slick rocks, uneven roots.

I didn't slip on any of those. Instead, I slipped on the wide, flat patch just after. I heard my ankle crack. I swore, and swore again. I tried to walk, and barely managed a hobble. I wailed: "I'm going to get so fat!", and then settled into a steady sob.

I had over 6km to go to get back to Lynn Headwaters. Running, this is a mellow half hour. Doing the hike of shame out takes considerably longer. Lucy and I told the guys to keep going on to Norvan falls. And, half-supporting me, as the rain increased and the wind picked up, we started the slow trip back.

I've rolled my ankles too many times. Some are a sharp twinge that is almost gone by the end of a slow run back to the car, needing nothing more than a tape job and a few days with an ice bucket while watching bad TV. This wasn't one of those times. The outside of my ankle started to look like it was growing another ankle, and I could barely stand on it. I refused Lucy's continued offer to support me, instead opting to lurch over the rocks. Wanting to both help me maintain walking independence and also make it back before hypothermia set in, Lucy went into the forest and found me a stick to help support my left side.

As we slowly crept down the trail, I was awash in self pity. Lucy listened for me, then nicely reminded me that, as far as injuries go, this was a pretty good one - diagnose-able, fixable, non-lethal. So that's how my mantra for the rest of the way out became: "At least I don't have MS."

The guys caught back up with us on their return trip from the falls. As Lucy was getting cold, she ran back to see if the park ranger could give pick me up and drive me out on the last 1.5km of the trail. Tony took over the task of hiking me out.

I should note that Tony is a fellow CPA, CA. This is important because, at this point, I was crying and swearing at every step because my ankle hurt so, so badly and it was still a long way back. In addition, one of the guys had given me his clear poncho with a hood. Oh - I was still using my walking stick. On several occasions, I would try and wipe the snot from my nose, forgetting I had this stick in my hand - resulting in re-performing the age-old game you play with a younger sibling of "Why Are You Hitting Yourself In the Face?". So what I am saying is that it is good that one of us could represent the professionalism and resilience of CPAs (as that person was clearly not me).

Just as we finally arrived at the last section of the hike out on easy, wide gravel road, the park ranger arrived with Lucy. Sitting in his little 4x4, covered in warm blankets, is still one of the biggest reliefs I have ever felt. Back at the ranger cabin, the plan was to wait for one of the guys to pick Lucy and I up, drive us to our cars at the other parking lot, then we would make our way over to Lion's Gate hospital for X-Rays. Somewhere in here, I should note that this was both Lucy's birthday weekend and also Valentine's Day weekend, so possibly not exactly how she had forseen things to go.

As we were waiting for Scott to pick us up we heard sirens. Lots of sirens. An ambulance and two fire truck's worth of sirens. Who had come....for me.

Sidenote: there are people who use this phrase "the way you do anything is the way you do anything." I enthusiastically disagree with this phrase, as somehow I am able to have a reasonably successful professional career despite having the kind of personal life that involves getting semi-naked in North Shore Parking lots, owning a cat whose main hobby is glaring, and somehow being 31 and still negotiating the old laundry machines in my apartment building's basement. And yet. Having multiple emergency vehicles show up for a rolled ankle does pretty much sum up my melodramatic attitude towards any and all injuries I sustain.

As tempting as the stretcher looked, Lucy and I headed over to the hospital under our own power. What this looked like was me, looking at my ever-swelling ankle and bursting into tears at random intervals, while Lucy ensured I got an X-Ray: "It doesn't matter that she walked on it. She walked on a broken bone for 3 weeks before". (This happened in the Great Metatarsal Hairline Fracture of October 2014).

The diagnosis? Not broken, 4 weeks off.

I definitely have been milking this injury. Barry and Amber came over with Indian Food and wine on Saturday night (Barry and I both hold the firm belief that ankles are stupid - me from rolling them, him from knowing enough about his predilection for rolling ankles that he actually has self-preservation skills in this area).  My friend Andrea messaged me Monday morning to ask how my weekend went. I replied with a request for her to bring me over some groceries that evening.

Andrea not only brought over the requested groceries (plus a bar of chocolate), she also had her boyfriend come by and drop off food for dinner. Andrea is a wonderful friend, although the two of us are very different, as she is a very practical engineer, while I couldn't even figure out how to do up my snowshoes on my own. The best way to sum this up is our Christmas presents to each other. I got Andrea a book about female friendships, along with a hand-written card detailing how much our friendship meant to me.  Andrea got me a (German) knife, as the knife I currently had was dull, and it was frustrating for her to use said knife when she was helping me to make dinner. When Andrea's boyfriend came over, we decided to give him "the cat test." By this, I mean that he approached my cat, and we were curious to see whether the cat would glare at him (my cat's normal state), or attempt to bite his hand.

As a sidenote, as the Rolling Stones say, I may not have the cat I want, but I appear to have the cat that I need. What this means is that, on the very few occasions I invite guys up to my apartment, I apologize in advance for my cat: I have no idea what he is going to do, but I know that it will likely be awkward. And, in my defense, my cat seems to have a talent for spectacularly curtailing any possible romantic prospects I have.

Anyways. The cat seemed to like Andrea's boyfriend, which I pointed out as a positive. Andrea's boyfriend countered: "Maybe the cat is evil, and game recognizes game." While I couldn't argue with this point, I did reflect that Andrea had previously injured her wrist from punching someone the wrong way in hockey, and seems to have have a life goal of getting the most penalties during hockey without getting ejected from the actual game.

I wish I could say that I am dealing with this injury in a graceful manner and am using the time off for self-reflection and personal growth. However, anyone that has been with me on a Sunday afternoon, stuck in traffic on the Lion's Gate Bridge, knows that this would be completely untrue. My coworkers, seeing me limp around in Birkenstocks and a tensor bandage, have all expressed sympathy. I tell them: "It's okay, it could be worse". Not  adding that, considering most of my self-inflicted injuries the past few years, it has, in fact, been worse because, on occasion, I run like an asshole and make reckless decisions.

When I am out running, and hiking, my world feels big: I draw my running routes over the North Shore Mountains, look at topographical maps, plan to be out for hours, pack jackets and hand warmers and and toques. Injured - everything gets small, draws in upon itself. My apartment, a yoga mat, watching the bruises change colour. It's bad, and it's not bad: to be quiet, so I can be loud in the future. And, with all things, there is a price to pay for loving what you love. Sometimes, for me, it is the slowing down, the limping walk to work, the sore throb at 2am through a swamp of bruises that reminds me that everything has a cost, and sometimes, there are months when you pay.

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