Here We Go Again – Lis Franc Strikes Again

Fair Warning: This is a piece I’m writing so I can process my emotions… that’s the whole point. So I’m going to let the Drama Llama have a good run – need to get it out of my system.

January, 2008… my husband and I have a marriage patched up with bubble gum. I drop my kids off at Sunday School, and as I turn to wave goodbye to my daughter, my foot twists on the babygate, and I fall flat on my back on the sidewalk outside. When I am helped to a sitting position, I see (for a fleeting second) that my toes don’t point the way they had just a second ago. My foot swells up quickly, and I can’t see much. All I want is the church folks to call my husband (who was at home) and my mom (to pick up my kids). My hubs comes, and drives me to the ER. I remember saying, “I’m going to cry” and then choking out just a couple of sobs before I lock everything back down. By the time I get to the ER, my foot is so swollen, no one knows what’s wrong – and Sunday at my local ER is very busy. We wait for four hours before I get so much as pain meds. Six hours later I leave with instructions to call the orthopedist, crutches, and a splint. I was in enough pain in the waiting room that I had to sing the whole time (How Great is Thy Faithfulness) to keep from crying. If I stopped singing, the tears would start flowing…

…cut to Monday. The doc tells me what I’ve done, and what that means. He is a kind man, a family friend. No more hiking, which I love. My life is changed forever, starting now. I’ve broken the first two bones (displaced fractures, one with a bone chip) and dislocated the other three at my mid-foot joint. It’s called a Lis Franc break/dislocation, and it’s very rare. The severity of my injury is common in fighter plane accidents, car accidents, but not at all in baby gate accidents. It will require surgery to fix my foot, including three 2″ long pins.

…cut to Wednesday. I wake up from surgery for a microsecond, and start crying. I don’t even remember the pain, I couldn’t have been aware for more than 30 seconds all told. I opened my eyes, saw my doctor, the tears started, he waved to someone, and I went back under. When I woke back up, he was gone. They explained to me that I had dilaudid in a pump – every time I needed more pain meds, all I had to do was hit a button. Pretty heavy stuff – I had to have oxygen to help me breathe. I went home Thursday – and yes, dilaudid is great stuff. My dad picked me up and took me to the store to pick up my pain meds, and I remember thinking, “Oh I’m fine! I’m sure I won’t need them…” Ha.

I spent the next month on my couch, with my foot elevated over my heart and a bag of ice on my cast. I’d wake up just long enough to count down the minutes until my next dose of Percocet, eat something to keep it company and go back to sleep. My mom had to come (after eye surgery – the blind leading the lame) to care for my children, 3 & 7. After a month or so, I got so I could fold laundry and interact a bit.

I was in a cast for two months, a walking boot for a month? after that, and in PT three times a week through the end of the year. In July, they went in and took the pins back out, which made me feel much better. The recovery from the second surgery was pretty nominal. That surgeon fixed my scars so they were less horrifying and repaired some of the nerve damage while he was in there for the pins.

Slowly I got my life back – to a reduced extent. I walked slowly and painfully, wore ugly shoes, but I went back to being a mom and a wife. I learned to take lots of sitting breaks. My marriage was not just restored, but made completely new. I had to tell my pastor (who felt horrible) twice that for what I gained in my marriage, I’d have cut my foot off. This remains true. But I was crippled – and I felt it.

In 2014, I took my son down to Crossfit to see about a PE credit for high school. When I heard that I could start exercising without having to walk first, I joined too. I used to walk down there… with my walking stick (1/2 mile). The first time my coach had me do walking lunges, I was so out of shape that I nearly blacked out. But crossfit led to lifting, and lifting strengthened my legs radically – without the repetitive impact of walking. Within a few years, I was able to walk farther than I had since the break – no walking stick required. My foot was always swollen, and usually uncomfortable, but I had gained so much.

I grew extra bone – on the back of my foot, and on the top. In 2020 I went back to the ortho ( a new ortho – our dear doc had retired) and asked about fixing things. He told me what the recovery would be to get the bit on the back taken off, and since it wasn’t bothering me, we decided to chop off the stuff on top. He told me he was going to try fixing the swelling, since no doctor has been able to explain why it’s still like that. He promised me I’d be up and running in 8 weeks. The swelling thought that was cute, and I wore compression socks for six months… and in a year, the bone on the back that hadn’t bothered me started to do so. The little mermaid and I, we both walked on knives… but I knew what fixing the problem would cost me.

In 2021, I started shockwave therapy. I had read articles saying that it could remove spurs. That turns out to not be true… but it did take care of the pain (after causing a good bit along the way).

It’s 2022. My husband looked at me a couple of months ago and said, “you need to do this”. I cried. I raged. I said I couldn’t possibly consider it. God sent me dreams, telling me that it would be a blip – something that looks horrible but will be a minor inconvenience on the way to freedom. And so I bent my neck and agreed.

Yesterday I went to the doctor. There’s only one fix for this problem. We’re aiming for surgery in September. He’s going to cut my Achilles tendon off, then remove the bone spur, fix whatever damage it’s done, tidy up anything else in there, sew me back up, and on I go to another epic journey of healing.

It means a month (ish) in a pointed-toe cast, and post-surgical pain. Then I will move to a walking boot with a wedge heel that will gradually lower as I do PT for 4-5 months. One is very careful with a healing Achilles tendon! I will not be able to drive for that entire time, as this is my right foot. You are considered “healed” after six months, and can be expected to be back to a gentle version of normal in about a year.

I have a lot of trauma memories of the pain and disability time on the couch. My body is reacting to those – not all the surgeries since that haven’t been too bad. I am hurting from the things I’m going to have to give up… my life is about to change again.

I wanted to pull back from everything and slam up my walls. It’s how I deal. My husband wouldn’t permit it. So now I have to learn to do this grieving, this hurting, without the walls up. I don’t know how to do that. I’m writing because I hear that it helps – and I need the help. I know this will be okay, but my heart is crying and my body is terrified. I am, literally, sorry for myself – as if I were outside myself. I don’t like that, I’d much rather be stoic. But I can only do that with my walls up. I’m sad. I think it’s okay – from outside – but I don’t want to be the weak one, I don’t want these emotions. If I know it has to be done, why do I have to feel this way?

I should count my lucky stars. I could be walking with a cane by now. I would have been, without lifting.

Anyway. I’m going to post some pix below, don’t scroll down if you don’t want to see them.

6 thoughts on “Here We Go Again – Lis Franc Strikes Again

  1. Curly Sue

    Hi Hearthie,

    I am sorry for all the pain you’ve been through. Surgery sucks. A physical therapist told me once that surgery is just controlled trauma to the body (and mind). I also understand the fear of pain from surgery and the recovery time ( though the longest recovery time I’ve had is only 4 1/2 months – nothing this major).

    Prayers for you:
    …the surgery goes well
    …wisdom for the surgeon
    …wisdom for you and your family how to navigate basic day to day life while healing
    …provision of meds/tools for pain management during recovery
    …peace of mind for you


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s