Craig vs The Tough Mudder-Ankle and Fibula lose big (ORIF/break)

by Craig
(Central Virginia)

Hello all- my name is Craig, and I’m a 39 year old male in central Virginia…and here begins my tale!

A friend and I had started a pretty intense exercise program about a year ago- my main goal was to try to test for SWAT this December (2011). I had dropped from 257 to 223, and things were going fantastic.
Roughly June of this year, he had heard of an event called the Tough Mudder, a 9-10 mile extreme obstacle course, which was going to be held at Wintergreen Ski Resort here in Virginia. I said it sounded great, and was a perfect opportunity to test all our hard work.

Flash to October 23. I had already completed 3 miles, swam a dumpster full of ice water, climbed cargo nets, 2 sets of 12 foot walls, and sundry other obstacles. Next in line sounded easy- basically an industrial grade slip and slide down one of the ski slopes. The mountain was all chewed up, and traction was hard to find, and the obstacle was approaching pretty fast. I decided that since most of the padding I still had was in my rear, I would jump onto the slide, land on the backslide and slide away. Didn’t happen that way.

As soon as I landed, I felt/heard a crunch in my right leg. I looked and saw my foot about an inch to the right of the ankle, lying flat on its side, and pointing up. “I think I’m hurt”, was my first thought. I thought it was a really bad sprain. I can’t remember if I moved my foot independently, or with my hand, \but as soon as I righted it fell to the side again almost immediately. A friend who was there taking pictures said I Immediately began cursing, and she could tell I was hurt, but I have no recollection of any of that! Apparently the incident caught a lot of attention- I’ve been told that on the Tough Mudder site, if you go to the date and type my placard number of 5557 in, you can trace from injury to being transported from the field of battle. I haven’t checked- I was there, don’t need the pictures!!!!

I was taken to the ER and had x-rays, and the ER doctor stated my mortis had shifted, and he thought he saw a small piece of bone where the ligament may have pulled away. A pain in my calf was explained as the muscles overcompensating for the injury, and he sent me home with a splint to get a referral for a specialist a few days later. I was disconcerted to see that the right foot looked about 20 degrees off from my left!

October 25th I saw the specialist. After being x-rayed, the tech stated why she knew my leg was hurting higher up, but wouldn’t say more. When I saw how grim my doctor looked, I knew it was bad. To my understanding, I had ruptured all the ligaments in my ankle, and the force had traveled up my leg and broken the top of my fibula. She stated that I needed surgery, and set it for two days later. She stated that I “probably” would be able to go back to work eventually, but that my ankle would never be the same.

I went home and started a program 6 wks. Absolutely NWB, and keeping it elevated for at least 20-22 hrs. a day. She said 8 was what she wanted, but I wasn’t trying to stretch this out any longer!

I went back for follow up on December 6, and she was very pleased with my progress, but gave me 6 more weeks NWB…not what I wanted to hear. The break in the fibula looks the same to me, but the doctor stated the ankle is my problem, and that the bone will heal, and is a common break, even though to me it’s a train wreck. Next appointment is January 17th, and she says that if it looks good then she will schedule a date to have the screws removed. I was having issues where as soon as I took the foot from elevation it would swell and discolor. I showed the doctor and she stated it wasn’t severe enough to cause worry, and after a course of Keflex the problem pretty much dissipated. There was also a terrible scare on Dec 10 when I fell and landed on the bad foot in the cast, but a follow up on December 13 revealed via X-ray that the screws had held, and the fibula appeared no worse for wear.

So far it’s been not a lot of fun. Fortunately, besides the few days right after surgery, I have been almost pain free. Of course, any twinge now must mean that something is wrong and that healing is totally undone. During the first six weeks my sleep schedule also totally changed, keeping my up all night and sleeping all day. There were a few, shall we say, emotional moments. I keep having this fear that when the cast comes off, the foot will just bonelessly flop to the side again, and when she tells me to try to stand the first time my leg will just crumble beneath me. I can also see that leg atrophy, and feel the weight slowly creeping back. I am trying to do upper body with dumbbells, but that only goes so far. I also battle with being depressed about the injury, and have flashes were I believe I will never walk again, or be able to do anything that I have done before. I’m also afraid that my SWAT hopes have been put to rest forever.

I have read a few stories on here, and it seems that there are a lot of “real world” answers here, as well as a ton of support. And God knows that’s what I need more than anything now!
If anyone has any comments or questions please feel free to post them. I wish everyone else luck and speedy recoveries!!!

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