I remember the exact day when it happened – it was on the 31st of October in 2012 that I broke my talus bone (read the story here). And in the first two weeks after the accident, I got a total of SIX CASTS put on me. Well, not at the same time, of course. Here’s what happened…
After I broke my talus bone (ankle), I got cast number 1 at the medical center in Wanaka because I needed it for the ride to the hospital. Then, when I got to the hospital itself, they had to align my foot up 90 degrees, so naturally, they had to take off the first cast and give me another one – cast number 2. After hours of wondering what was going to happen to me, the next day, my little toe suddenly started to hurt. The pain was so unbearable that I asked the nurses if they could open my cast, which they did, but no right away. The next day I got a new cast (number 3) for my travel back home, and I came back to the hospital a week later.
So a week later, I had the operation, and I got a new cast – that was cast number 4. The next morning, everything started up again. My little toe started to hurt, so I once more had to ask the medical staff if they could open up my cast, but to my surprise, they told me that I had enough space in the cast to wiggle my toes and that everything was fine. But everything felt totally NOT fine, so after five hours of agony, they finally decided to cut my cast open. A few days after that, I went back home, and naturally I had to get another cast because they opened up my previous one, so I got cast number 5. Unfortunately, cast number five wasn’t lucky either. My little toe started to hurt again – the best description for it would be that it felt like my little toe was on fire, with a lot of numbness spreading out from it. It wasn’t just uncomfortable; it was so painful that I had to call the nurses again. None of them believed me because, well, who could really have so many problems with casts, right? So because no one believed me, my cast wasn’t opened, and I heard the “you have enough space in your cast, everything is fine” lecture again. I felt like a spoiled princess because I was telling everyone over and over again to open my cast, but no one was listening to me. I couldn’t wait to get back home then.
After a day of enduring the pain and having to stay in the hospital, I was discharged. By the time we got home, the pain was unbearable – I couldn’t feel anything except the burning sensation. It was in the middle of the night when I asked Jerry if he could do something about it because I couldn’t take it anymore, and I’ve had enough of people telling me that everything was fine when I felt that it clearly wasn’t. So Jerry took a knife and cut off the part of the cast that was under my pinky toe (at that point, I wouldn’t have minded that much if he amputated it). What we saw was clearly the culprit of the pain I’d been experiencing for the past few days. There was a really huge deep purple lump, and I couldn’t feel anything in that part of my foot. On top of having a really nasty ankle fracture, I was now afraid that my nerves were damaged. The lump didn’t go away the next day (I didn’t expect it to – it looked like something that wasn’t about to just go away after a few hours), and because a part of it was still covered by the cast, we went to the medical center and I got cast number 6 – my final cast, the lucky one.
Other people’s stories.
When I started sharing this story, especially on my Instagram account (where I share exercises and tips on broken ankle recovery or just fracture recovery in general), people all over the internet started contacting me and sending me photos and stories about their own experience and what they were going through.
To be honest, I felt a bit lucky after finding out about others’ situations, because what I got was “just” a lump, but others had some really serious problems with their ankles, legs, and casts. It really put a lot of things in perspective, but the story was always the same – they thought that everything was fine. When they complained, the medical staff told them that everything was ok and that it was all in their head.
From what I’ve experienced and from what I found out about what others have experienced, I can only tell you one thing – never be quiet about what’s hurting you or causing you discomfort. Ever.
Remember this: If you feel that something is not okay, then something is not okay. Period.
If you’re in a cast and you feel pain and think that something serious could be happening, don’t ever ignore that feeling. Something is very likely not okay, and sometimes, maybe it’s more than just “not okay”.
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You have to ask for help.
Talk to the doctors, the medical staff, and be persistent. As a patient, it’s your right to request them to check up on your injury or your cast if you’re feeling any discomfort or pain, and as doctors and people in the medical field, it’s their responsibility to help you out in any way that they can. If your body is telling you something, don’t ignore it. Listen to it. Help it heal – help yourself heal.