Back in September, I had a misstep and fractured two bones in my foot/ankle; the navicular and talar head.
So far, my experience nursing a navicular and talar head fracture back to health has been humbling.
Being on the receiving end of the healthcare system for the last 9 weeks has been okay, but certainly not fun .
Peg-legging around with my big boot, is a challenge.
But, my ankle/foot is healing.
I have a renewed appreciation for what my patients feel like when dealing with a broken body part.
Fracture of the Navicular and Talar Head
Though the other side “looked” worse,
this is where the pain was from the get-go.
Uncommon and Slow-Healing:
Navicular and Talar Head Fracture
The talus is the base of the ankle. 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.
Just because surgery was not required at the moment, that didn’t mean it wasn’t a possibility.
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.
You can’t rush Mother Nature.
But, here are things that can help with the healing process…
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 an Oprah podcast with author Anne Lamott.
Her book and three simple prayers – Help, Thanks, Wow – made so much sense to me.
“Help” is a word that I do not use often.
“Thanks” was easy
To speak “Wow” from my heart, I must see things with my heart.
It’s important to slow down, tend to and mend the body.
Broken bones will heal.
Healing with intention, from the inside-out, is slow,
but it is sure.
As long as you have wings – Fly!