Broken Bones

Illustration of Foot Bones

All too often people who are abused have at some point had their bones broken. I know I have. Broken bones are incredibly painful and often need surgery to repair, especially if they do not mend on their own completely or need to be repaired. Domestic violence victims often make excuses about what happened when they seek medical care. They make excuses out of fear of their abuser, embarrassment over what happened, they don’t want their abuser to go to jail because they pay the bills, and many other reasons. I lied because I just didn’t want anyone to know I was being abused.

I received a broken first metatarsal in my right foot after a night a violence. My abuser came home late, drunk, again. My abuser was a local truck driver, he was a rock hauler. That night he came home drunk in his rock truck, pulling 24 TONS of rock! This was obviously completely against company policy. I argued with him over drunk driving and him potentially losing his job. He had control over all of the money because I didn’t work. If he gets fired, we have to leave the hotel we were all living in. I absolutely was FURIOUS over him driving drunk in a truck with tons of rock. I told him he could kill somebody. His answer, well I brought the truck home so I could just go straight to the mine from home. Like seriously, what the fuck?

The argument ensued and escalated to violence, as it always did. He was up in my face yelling at me. Next thing I know I felt this ridiculous INTENSE crippling pain in my right foot. He had stomped on my foot. I fell to the floor crying out in agony. He flat refused to take me to the hospital. My foot immediately swelled and turned black. There was no question in my mind something was broken. He called me some names, cussed me out, and left. He left in his rock truck. I got up and was completely unable to walk. I had to crawl around the hotel room. I had no car, after all his car was back at the shop, at his job location. I needed immediate medical attention but did not call my mother right away, I trying to figure out another way to the hospital. I did not want her to know he broke my foot. So I couldn’t sleep that night from all the pain and all I could think about was what excuse can I use that would justify this huge, black foot I now had.

Morning rolls around, I am still in intense, severe pain. I decided to go ahead and call my mother. I told her I needed to go to the hospital and it needed to happen ASAP. I told her I fell down the stairs last night and I was unable to walk. She came and picked me up immediately. When she got there the 20 questions started flying. I decided to admit the truth to her. I didn’t want to because she always gave me a lecture telling me to leave my abuser. I really didn’t want to fucking hear it I told her. I couldn’t walk down the stairs. I couldn’t carry my daughter, she was only like 7 months old. I had to crawl down the stairs.

I went to the hospital emergency room. That was a nightmare. Once again I had to crawl into the damn ER. Constant, intense pain, especially when I would bump my foot. The woman called me to the back, with no wheelchair, even after I filled out the paperwork describing my foot injury. The woman told me to walk back. My mother yelled at her, “look at her goddamn foot, does it look like she can walk?” The lady merely said, “oh” and walked off. She came back with a wheelchair. Sometime later the doctor came into the little curtained room and examined my food. He stated most likely I had suffered a severe fractured in the top of my foot somewhere because of the very dark, black, bruising. He sent me to x-ray. When my x-ray came back, he met with me again to discuss the results. Sure enough, he told me the first metatarsal in my right foot was nearly broken in half. It was a severe break. He told me if I did not see an orthopedic doctor the bone definitely would not heal properly and I would have problems for the rest of my life. They put my foot in a temporary half cast. The half cast went from the top of my toes, around the bottom of my foot, and up the back of my calf to nearly the bend in the knee. They wrapped it with ace bandages and gave me a referral to the orthopedic doctor. The doctor wanted to know what happened. I told him I fell down the stairs. He cut me a look, he had to know I was lying. The type of break did not match my story.

Within a week I was at an orthopedic doctor. He asked me what happened, ugh here we go with another lie. I told him I got it slammed in a car door. He knew better, I am sure of it. He told me the break was so severe that I absolutely needed to be in a case for 8 WEEKS, that’s two months. I also needed to use crutches and was not allowed to walk on it for any reason, mot even a minute. As he was prepping for the cast, he asked if I preferred a certain color. I said what ya got? Purple? You have purple?! Well, my abuser just didn’t like the color purple so purple it was! I figured he broke my foot, fuck it he can look at the purple cast for the next two months.

I continued to have pain in the foot, even when it was time for the cast to come off. I followed the doctors directions to a T, I used the crutches and I did not walk on it. At my follow up appointment for the cast removal he took another x-ray. He came back in and said I have bad news and bad news. You have to stay in the cast for ANOTHER 8 weeks. I said, “are you fucking kidding me?” He stated the fracture is still not fully healed. He did tell me I could start walking, minimally and not to over do it. He ended up leaving the cast on and he attached a rubber thing to the heal so now it was a “walking” cast. Ugh. I was so over this shit.

Another eight weeks goes by and I am at my follow appointment for cast removal. He took another x-ray. He stated the bone was healed enough to remove the cast. I was in a cast for 4 months. The worst part, my foot is STILL in pain and the muscles are weak from not being able to move. I had to go for another follow up appointment one more time to make sure everything is okay. I started walking again and got my muscles working. Now there was a new problem! Apparently the bone did not heal properly. My big toe now only bends up at about a 35 degree angle. I cannot wear heels!!! My toe just won’t bend! The big toe on the left foot extends/bends up at a full 90 degree angle.

I go for my next follow up appointment. I explain to the doctor I still have pain and I can no longer wear heels. I show him why. I showed him how my big toe won’t bend up like the other one. He referred me to physical therapy to try to get it working up to a 90 degree angle or as much as possible. After months of physical therapy, the therapists did the best they could do. I was only able to get my big toe at about 40-45 degrees. It was heartbreaking to know I may never wear heels again. At almost a year after the break and the months of physical therapy, the doctor decided I would need surgery to fix the pain and to gain more movement in my toe. He said I would need an osteotomy on my right metatarsal. An osteotomy would be performed by cutting the bone in half and putting it back together with a pin/screws.

And not it is surgery day. In the middle of the surgery I hear a buzzsaw going! I pick my head up, look down at the doctor who is doing the surgery and I asked him, “Dr. so and so, are you finished yet?” He responded, “no Valora, not yet, go back to sleep.” I went back to sleep. I didn’t feel anything when I woke up during the surgery. When I was awake and coherent, I questioned the doctor about what happened because I wasn’t sure if it was real or I was dreaming. He said I did wake up and I spoke to him. He also explained that once they put me to sleep, they gave me a block in my leg which numbed me from below the knee down. He stated they give patients as little medication as possible during a procedure like this because it is not necessary. He stated I really didn’t need to be knocked out for the procedure but it just makes everything easier. I was okay with that explanation.

At the next follow up appointment there was improvement in the pain, but no improvement in mobility. I would never again be able to wear high heels again. To this day if I want to wear heels, they have to be platforms, meaning the bottom of the shoe under the toes has to be an inch or so high as to level out the height of the heel in the back. I would also learn in the future from another x-ray, because I broke a toe on that foot, the osteotomy he performed was “textbook perfect.” I also discovered I had severe arthritis in that toe. But it RARELY every bothers me. I do mean rarely. I guess I am lucky in that area. The podiatrist told me I should be in agony. Guess I am quite lucky.

The broken foot happened about three months or so after my traumatic brain injury. If I would’ve left him after my brain injury I would never have received the broken bone.

“Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier.”

-Colin Powell

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