Now, about that boot…

9 minute read

December 23, 2015, 5:12 PM

You may recall that this past September’s splash photo showed me posing with a broken merry-go-round at Pentagon City Mall, i.e. this:

At Pentagon City Mall, sporting a boot cast.

Note the choice of footwear.  I’m wearing a Crocs shoe on one foot… and a massive boot cast on the other.  It was posted without any explanation other than a mention of its presence, but clearly, something was up, because I don’t normally wear a boot around like that.

Truth be told, I was in the boot because I had broken my foot the month before in what could best be described as an example of why there needs to be a concrete pad at every bus stop (write your local officials and ask them to make it so).  On August 6, I was working my regular assignment during the evening rush hour.  Elyse and another friend were “bus stalking” me on that particular day, so they were on board, along with the regulars for that route.  About halfway through the route, the bus wouldn’t go up a hill.  This was not a big surprise to me, as the bus had started indicating problems at the beginning of the trip, i.e. I figured it might die on me.  I had experienced a problem like this before, relating to the transmission, and restarting the bus solved it at that time.  Okay, then: parking brake, neutral, turn the bus off.  Start it back up.  Release the parking brake, and… it wouldn’t go into gear.  That took care of that, I suppose.

Okay, then: time to attend to the bus, and prepare to be broken down for a while.  I was on a hill, so wheel chocks were definitely in order.  I also got the road triangles ready to go.  I started walking towards the rear of the bus, and stepped on an uneven part of the road surface.  I briefly lost my balance, and I heard a loud cracking sound.  Catching myself, I set my right foot down and felt a crunching feeling coming from inside my foot.  That was not a nice feeling.  It also hurt to stand normally on my right foot.  I could only walk on the left side of my right foot.  To do otherwise would cause me great pain.  I finished putting the triangles and the chocks out, and then took a photo of the area where I had stepped:

The area where I got hurt. Note the uneven quality of the road.

From this low angle, you can tell that it’s fairly rough.  However, from a standing height, it looks even.

I called the bus and my foot in, and soon, there was an ambulance to retrieve me.  The EMS people let Elyse and the other person come along, with Elyse in back with me, and the other person in the cab with the driver.  We went to Washington Adventist Hospital.  On the way, an amusing moment came up.  Elyse is no stranger to hospitals, relating to various medical issues that she’s had.  We all got a laugh when I said, “So is this your first time riding in an ambulance not on your back?”  This was my second time riding in an ambulance, as the previous time was when I dislocated my right shoulder in April 1999, having fallen in the bathroom at my parents’ house.

Arriving in the emergency room, they got me signed in and everything, gave me a hospital bracelet, and found out what happened.  While they were getting things prepared, the guy in the space next to mine (only separated by a curtain) was talking, trying to figure out what the drug that they used on the anthrax patients was.  I said, to Elyse, in a somewhat quiet tone, “That’s cipro, no?”  The guy then said, “Yeah, that’s the one!”  Laughter ensued.

Then the news came in: it was a fracture, at the base of the fifth metatarsal:

The fracture.

They gave me a copy of the x-rays on a CD, and wrapped my leg up in a splint:

The splint.

Then they gave me a set of crutches to help me walk around.  Fun stuff.  After we were done in the ER, Elyse, our other friend, and I parted company, as I had to attend to more work stuff back at the division, and also figure out a way to get home at that late hour, since I had broken my driving foot.

And by the way, going up stairs on crutches is no fun.  I never realized how far it was to the third floor until I had to go up all of the stairs to my place on crutches.  After getting through the main door, I just pushed myself up the steps on my behind with my good foot.

The next day, I found an orthopedist and made an appointment, and Mom was kind enough to come up and help me out for a while, since I was clearly in need of assistance.  My friend and swimming buddy Suzie helped me out with the car situation, as my car was still at work.  She took Mom to the car, and then Mom drove my car back to the house.  For that, I was greatly appreciative.

On Sunday, we went shopping, and so I got to use those electric carts at a few stores.  Big surprise: Roots Market in Olney doesn’t have any sort of electric cart or even a courtesy wheelchair.  That was really lame on their part.  Apparently, people who eat the all-natural and organic stuff never get hurt.  In the other places that we went (Whole Foods, Giant, Target, Walmart), there were electric carts.  And it’s funny, too: despite having been to all of these places many times before, and having taken a regular cart through all of these stores before, using the electric cart was a completely different mindset.  I wasn’t walking through the store: I was driving, even going so far as to use the (pathetic) horn on the cart.  I also took out a few displays in the process, since I wasn’t used to how to turn it, with no mirrors and a different seating position than a car or a bus.  The phrase, “You’ve had five accidents and someone’s done cussed you out!” came to mind.

In going around to all of these various places, we took my car, with Mom driving.  That was a different experience, being a passenger in my own car.  It also gave me a newfound appreciation for what Mom went through while I was learning how to drive.  When you’re a passenger in someone else’s car, you assume that they know what they’re doing in it, since it’s their car and all.  However, when Mom was driving my car, I was watching Mom’s driving style, and thinking about how I would have done it differently than she was doing.  I was watching lane positioning, as well as timing on moves, and was thinking about how I would do them – especially since we were driving in MoCo, where I live.

On Monday, I had my appointment with Dr. Rockower at Capitol Orthopedics and Rehabilitation.  There, they removed the splint, and replaced it with a boot.  An amusing moment was when I saw a model skeleton on the floor:

I asked, “What happened to him?”  Their response was, “He didn’t pay his bill.”  I was amused.  That happened at a subsequent appointment as well, where there was a skeleton that was in the proper position, but was missing its face, and I asked the same question.  Turned out that he didn’t pay his bill, either.

Following the appointment, things were greatly improved.  I now could walk again, with the goal of working myself off of the crutches.  The idea was to go from two crutches to one, and then to none.  That took about a day and a half to complete, and in any case, I was glad to be rid of the crutches, because I never really got the hang of walking with one leg plus crutches while on the splint, and I had far too many close calls with the ground.  Boot with crutches was better, but I wanted to be rid of them.

The day after the appointment, we worked on getting around a bit.  After all, I couldn’t drive, so I had to master transit with the boot.  All I have to say is, thank heavens for low floor buses.  We got around, taking the Y7 from my street to Wheaton, taking the Red Line from Wheaton to Gallery Place (Mom’s first 7000-Series ride!), we took the 70 in an Orion V from E Street to Pennsylvania Avenue, and then took the Yellow Line from Archives to Pentagon City.

We spent some time going around Pentagon City Mall, and I even got a mirror selfie at Nordstrom:

Boot selfie.

After going around the mall for a while, taking the Yellow Line from Pentagon City to Petworth, taking the 79 to Silver Spring, and then taking the Y7 back home.  There was one slightly awkward moment on the 79, though: my parents had come up to ride my bus the weekend before this all happened, and so my mother had seen me in action on the bus.  Mom turned to me on this trip and said, “You’re a better driver than she is.”  Even though she said it quietly, it was still a tad awkward.

You also learn how rude some people can be to a person on crutches.  I was taking the escalator from the mezzanine to the platform at Pentagon City, and a train started coming in.  Now, in my state, there was no way that I was going to run to catch it, but a person behind me was intent on catching it, and yelled, “Excuse me!” towards Mom and me.  When we got to the bottom of the escalator, I stepped off, and the man just about plowed me over in his rush to catch the train.  I should have hit him with my crutch.  And we both caught this train, too.

In any case, I was confident that I was good to go at this point.  Mom stuck around until Thursday, though, because we all thought it made sense for her to stay with me for a preexisting engagement with a high school friend of hers who lived near Annapolis.  Rather than meeting halfway between Annapolis and Stuarts Draft (i.e. around Front Royal), we just came to Annapolis.  So that worked out.

Then after Mom left, I was pretty good to go.  I took the bus to work one day so that I could participate in the then-ongoing pick.  I also went down into DC and had lunch with some former coworkers from Food & Water Watch.  Amusing was when one person saw me in the office and said hello like it was nothing, and then did a double take.  After all, I hadn’t worked there in more than two years.  All in all, we had fun.  I also did some grocery shopping at Trader Joe’s on 14th Street while I was down that way, and then took the bus home.

I also hung out with Elyse on a number of days.  I’m thankful that her parents were so accommodating, because she and I had a lot of fun on those days.  Normally, the arrangement is that she finds her way down here (she lives in Ellicott City), which she typically does via public transportation, and I’ll take her back.  With my being unable to drive, her parents came down to get her at the end of the day whenever we got together.  Her birthday came during this period, and so we went railfanning.  Then when we got home, I cooked some sort of birthday dinner, consisting of hamburgers, vegan mac and cheese (Elyse can’t do dairy), and “brownie bites”.  Not a bad time.

Mom came back for my second appointment, and I got some very good news: even though I wasn’t healed enough to go back to work yet, I could take the boot off and drive my own car again, just as long as any pain from the break wouldn’t cause me to hesitate when hitting the brake.  The next day, we put that to the test.  Mom drove my car to the church across the street from my house, where there’s a big parking lot, and I took the car for a spin while Mom sat at a nearby picnic table.  I would take the car up to a decent speed, and then did a panic stop, i.e. enough to set off a DriveCam if I had one.  Success.  The October splash photo was of my face when I realized that driving was a “go”:

All smiles, back in the driver's seat of my own car.

I loved having my freedom back.  As appreciative as I was of having Mom drive me around, I was delighted to finally be able to drive her around again.  We then went to Montgomery Mall, with me driving.

It’s also funny how things work out, too.  During the six weeks I was out, I got caught up on stuff.  I completely cleared my photo backlog on Panoramio and Flickr, and also got professional licensing set up on  And I posted the New York City photo set from the trip that I did with Doreen in June.  And I’m still on top of it all, which impresses me even more.

I returned to work near the end of September, feeling refreshed and excited to return to work.  I was delighted about how smoothly everything went during the whole process, too.  Everyone was extremely helpful, from the people at work, to the worker’s comp company, to Dr. Rockower and crew, and everyone in between.  I never had to call any of the ambulance-chasing lawyers that sent me mail advertising their services.  And if I ever do break something again, I know where I’m going to get put back together.

And in the end, I’m just glad to be back on two feet once again, having had a complete recovery, and therefore able to put the whole experience behind me.

Categories: Elyse, Personal health, Work