I thought of the sand, waves, punch and fireworks of our upcoming 4th of July weekend at the beach as I scampered down the stairs in my little turquoise slip-ons.
But instead of coming down on the sole of my left foot, the foot rolled inward and I landed on the outside of the ankle. There was a brief but interestingly textured pop, and I hit the floor of the landing.
It’s so unpleasant to remember that I kind of regret writing this.
“Oouuuuwwwww,” I said, both hands clutching the ankle as if trying to extinguish a fire.
Instead of seeing my past life flash before my eyes, I saw my immediate future. The ride to the ER. Chilly X-rays, cowering under the heavy lead blanket. A cumbersome brace. Ibuprofen pills the size of grapes. Strict instructions not to go anywhere fun, especially the beach.
These images subsided in favor of a single, burning thought.
Yes, I could wiggle my foot.
I sat in the stairwell for a long time.
Could I get up?
The first attempt was a bust. But I finally forced myself upright and tested my weight on the limb.
Having discovered that I could walk (somewhat), I wish I could tell you that I went back to my apartment, put the unruly ankle up on a chair and iced it.
I did not.
I am a stubborn person not possessed of a great deal of kinesthetic sense.
I did the laundry, put on a dress, and went to a wedding.
I put my left foot down carefully under the pew. During the vows, readings and lovely music, I was depressed by a creeping sense that things weren’t going so great down there. At the reception, I greeted the bride and groom while surreptitiously standing on one foot.
But we were soon on our way to the Jersey shore. I wrapped the offending ankle in an Ace bandage and propped it on my bag.
When we arrived at the family beach house two hours later, my mother took immediate stock of the situation, the way mothers do. She got an ice pack, a pillow, two Advil, and peeled off the wrap with grim tenderness.
I had never appreciated how sharp and slim that little protruding bone on the outside of your ankle is until I saw how it had all but disappeared in the puffy flesh around it. When I got up to go to bed, I found I couldn’t put any weight on the ankle at all.
I spent an unhappy, sleepless night. Every tweak of my body in bed seemed to flare in the ankle.
The next day, family members dispersed on various glorious outings, including strolls to the ice cream shop, bike rides, walks on the beach, and letting the dog out.
I was left behind to consider several heretofore serious, un-pondered dilemmas, including the problem of the stairs. My bad ankle could not support my weight in taking the next step down, but neither could it stay behind to balance me while the other foot made the trip.
“Did you ice?” my mother asked severely when she passed through the living room.
That night brought a violent thunderstorm, and the Fourth of July dawned humid and cloudy. Fortunately, last night’s rain had pounded down the sand on the beach. I wrapped the ankle tight, enlisted my husband to carry a chair, and set out.
I never realized the extreme degrees of pitch, roll and yaw that the human foot must perform to travel across sand. The nimblest fighter jet could never match it.
At lunch, we had to pull an extra chair up to the table because I was hogging two: one to sit in and one to ice my ankle on. We ate fresh-caught kingfish, lasagna, homemade bread, salad, pita chips, sugar-snap peas and ice cream. There were many cutting remarks about the possibility of my renting a motorized scooter in Atlantic City that night.
But I (ever so gently) put my foot down. I re-wrapped the ankle, put on jeans instead of a dress so the wrapping wouldn’t show, swallowed some Advil, and rode out with the rest of the family.
While my brother and parents each struck large jackpots in roulette or Joker Poker, I lost ten dollars before quickly concluding that the same luck which had thrown me down the stairs right before my vacation was still at work. Until dinner, my husband and I subsided to watching the Fourth of July celebrants within the casino.
After dinner, we all hurried to the casino roof to catch the fireworks. The family galloped across the smoky, flashing cacophony of the casino floor and was quickly lost to sight as I limped after, on my gallant husband’s arm. As we waited for the elevator, Dad appeared in the crowd.
“There you are!” he exclaimed. He had spent the last half hour sorely agitated that we would be late for the fireworks, and I was touched that he had come back to find me a mere eight minutes before the show was set to start.
On the parking garage roof, we leaned against a concrete ledge in the warm breath of the night wind, watching the glowing corridor of the gaudy boardwalk behemoths with birds wheeling like white moths, the packed roadways, and the high, lustrous bulk of the Borgata. The screaming of startled gulls punctuated the first firework, and after each series of explosions, the echoes clapped off of Harrahs, the Borgata and Trump Marina as if a giant iron-shod horse was galloping up the sides of the casinos.
Most of the family plunged back into the casino to great financial gain in the wee hours of the morning. But I went home to comfort the dog, unraveled by the terrifying booms in our absence, and put the ankle up again.
Now I’m back home. Should I have gone to the hospital? Maybe. But I figured that I could either shell out a $175 co-pay to hear that I should stay off the ankle and ice it, or pay nothing and stay off the ankle and ice it. The upside is that I finished two articles as well as a self-pitying blog, all in one day. The downside is that sitting on the couch for so long leaves me ravenously hungry and thirsty. Or maybe I’m just bored.
I looked up ankle sprains online and learned that they can take several months to heal.
Maybe I’ll be able to walk on the beach by next Fourth of July.