Uncommon and Slow-Healing:
Navicular and Talar Head Fracture
The talus is the base of the ankle and the navicular is the bone that connects the ankle to the foot.
I realized early on that there isn’t a whole lot of information about the healing of these bones.
Talar head fractures are an uncommon injury, while navicular fractures are notoriously slow to heal. The navicular, along with the 5th metatarsal, doesn’t get the same blood flow as do other bones in the body. Thus, they are considered high-risk fractures. Because it’s not a common injury, there isn’t solid data out there regarding its best management. The approach for my non-displaced fractures is conservative treatment. I’m okay with that. In fact, unnecessary surgery is a no-no in my book.
But the “let’s wait-and-see” approach clashes with my “let’s fix-it” nature.
During one of my Ortho visits, I expressed my frustration with the pain, swelling and continued bruising of my ankle and foot. You’d think that being a nurse I would have understood my situation. But, I really didn’t. It took a couple of weeks to get a clear diagnosis. Initially, I was trying to walk on it and keep my ankle moving. The pain was horrible, but I didn’t want to end up with a stiff, arthritic foot/ankle. Even after an MRI showed the navicular and talar head issue, it took me a while to understand the nature of my injury.
In the back of mind, I kept thinking “this thing is never going to heal”.
Because the navicular bone supports the junction of the ankle and foot, the bone has been described as a “keystone”.
A keystone is that wedge-shaped stone placed at the apex of an arch. It’s the final piece placed during a building’s construction and it is literally the key that locks all the other stones in place and allows the arch to bear weight. Damage to the navicular means losing normal mobility of the joint.
Without the strength of the navicular bone, the arch collapses.
I was told that if the bones did not heal, I was in for a much longer recovery.
The importance of non-weight bearing while the navicular heals is because of the decreased blood flow to that bone.
Further stress on the healing bone could cause it to break completely or end up healing poorly.
I have a new respect for the complexity and importance of that little N-Spot that joins the ankle and foot.
Stay OFF of the Foot!
Navicular and Talar fractures heal.
They just take time and patience. It was a challenge at first, but staying off of my foot has been the key to my healing.
On my way to work the other day, I was listening to a podcast with author Anne Lamott.
Her book and three simple prayers – Help, Thanks, Wow – spoke to me.
“Help” is not a word that I use often.
It took me 3 weeks
to really stop moving after my injury. Even then, I would barely ask for help.
Struggling to stay out of a depression has been a challenge.
It is uncomfortable for me use the “H” word, but I found that when I finally talked to my husband about it, even just that helped.
He helped me shift my thoughts of “this thing is never going to heal” to “this thing’s going to heal and be stronger than ever.”
Those words make me smile every time. I love him so much.
While talking with a friend about my fight to stay positive,
she gently pointed out to me that I do not share my struggles.
She said she couldn’t really relate to me sometimes because I don’t share the ugly bits of my life.
I don’t ask for help because I feel like if I share my problems that I will
somehow be breathing life into them and making them bigger.
I’m slowly learning that the opposite its true.
Sharing one’s struggles and asking for help is actually a good sign that one is self-aware and secure.
Clearly, I am still working on this one.
“Thanks” was easy
Sitting in the space of gratitude has helped me reframe my thinking in so many ways.
When I realize that I am feeling frustrated, I shift my focus to gratitude. I breathe and say “Thank you”. ‘Thankfully it wasn’t worse. I love that I can use my arms and am thankful for the strength of my other leg.
Focusing on the “good” of any situation shifts my mind every time.
To speak “Wow” from my heart, I must see things with my heart.
I have mornings that I still wake up with pain. But I sometimes notice, with my eyes still closed, that I feel a smile on my face.
I know it’s a new day. My ankle will heal. So, I slip my peg leg on and hobble to the kitchen for my morning coffee. In the time it takes me to get my brew going, I take a moment to look out the window. Rain or shine, I am in awe of the beauty and the energy of nature.
You can’t rush Mother Nature.
But, here are things that can help with the healing process…