“I told the doctor I broke my leg in two places. He told me to quit going to those places.” Henny Youngman
People in theater wish each other good luck by saying “break a leg” before a performance. The phrase and variants of it have been used in numerous cultures and even transcended theater. An example is what German pilots in the First World War would tell each other “Hals- und Beinbruch” or “neck and leg break.” The term is basically superstition because if you wish someone “good luck” that is actually bad luck.
Two weeks ago tonight while taking pictures on the National Mall in Washington DC I took a fall near the Washington Monument. I have always wanted good pictures of DC monuments at night and I finally have a camera that takes good pictures at night. So after dinner with a cousin I had her drop me off at the White House where I started my journey. I trekked from the White House to the Washington Monument where I took pictures of it and a long distance shot of the Capitol Dome. I decided to hike toward the World War Two and Lincoln Memorials walking down the gentle incline from the Washington Monument all the while stopping periodically to frame the picture. I had stopped and lined up a really nice shot of the Lincoln Memorial with the World War II Memorial in the foreground. I took the picture and turned to my left to take another look at the Washington Monument and as I did so I went crashing down about 2 ½ to 3 feet off of an un-illuminated ledge onto a concrete walkway which rings the monument. While it is lit near the sides it is not in the center of the Mall. Since it was pitch black out with no moon I had no warning and could not brace for the fall.
I landed hard on the side of my right leg and felt immediate sharp pain. I got up brushed myself off, made sure that my camera was okay, priorities you see and gingerly put weight on my leg. I found that I could put some weight on it and decided to continue my march toward the World War Two and Lincoln Memorials. Since I had to get back to the Georgetown University campus I figured that it was just as close to head that direction as it was to haul my ass back to Pennsylvania Avenue. Besides I had to get my pictures and figured that if I couldn’t go any farther I could flag now a cab. I managed to complete my mission and got back to my room and figured at worst I had bruised a bone or pulled a muscle.
The next morning I got up and I was in pain and amid all of my drug collection I had forgotten the ubiquitous 800 mg. Motrin that military docs and corpsman give out for almost any malady. I have several bottles and had left all at home or work. Not smart. I was in pain and spent the rest of my conference with my leg up and made sure that I had purchased some Advil doubling up on the dosage to kill the pain. That evening I met a friend for dinner walking as little as possible and finding that beer worked as well as Advil to kill the pain. Thankfully my friend Pat a Marine Lieutenant Colonel that I had attended Command and Staff College with and spent some time with in Iraq as I was coming into country bought dinner and several pints of Irish Kilkenny ale. I did feel better. Beer has wonderful medicinal qualities when used correctly. The next morning I drove back to Virginia and stopped by a local Navy Health Branch Clinic where I was x-rayed, given Vicodin and the aforementioned Motrin and a pair of crutches. Since the base deals with a lot of athletic injuries due to the large number of SEALS, EOD and Riverine forces stationed there the doctor was pretty sure that I had a break of my Fibula but could not confirm it without further tests. She told me to stay off of it as much as possible, manage the pain and see mi primary care provider in Camp LeJeune.
I did that and after more inconclusive x-rays was scheduled for a Bone Scan and MRI. I stayed off of the leg which hurt a lot and spent most of the weekend sitting on my bed with my leg elevated while watching baseball games and DVD movies. I got my MRI yesterday and the Bone Scan today. When the tech injected the radioactive tracer agent called Technetium MDP (Methylene Diphosphonate) and within seconds the hurting area lit up like an explosion. You know that you have an injury when the technician looks at the monitor and simply says “that’s impressive.” When the first scans were done I went back to my office and shortly before going up for the final pictures I got an e-mail from the staff radiologist who told me that it I had a non-displaced fracture of the Fibula head near the Tibia Plateau. There was no ligament damage. While I was in the Bone scan he came in and discussed what was going one and noted that my knee was obviously banged up from a lot of sports or military injuries but that nothing appeared to him that would require surgery. The Bone Scan and MRI confirmed the damage the x-rays could not.
My primary care physician then got me an appointment with Orthopedics this afternoon. I was showed all the films and told that apart from pain management that there was not much else to do since the Fibula is not a weight bearing bone. The Orthopod told me that since my fracture is non-displaced it did not need casting and that a boot would probably make it hurt worse. He told me that I could as the pain level permits ride my bike and begin to wean myself off of my now ever present crutches.
Now I have about 6 weeks before I can run again and 30 days of light duty. It could have been worse and I am glad that there is no ligament damage or anything that requires surgery.
That’s the news for now but as Mickey Mantle said: “I always loved the game, but when my legs weren’t hurting it was a lot easier to love.”