Triple Trouble: No Stirrup November Continuing Into the New Year

“While being injured has been a real mood killer, I will continue to find the bright side of things. I have people helping me that care, I’m assured my ankle is fixable, my seat is getting quite centered with all the stirrup-less riding and my right shoes all look brand new.”

It’s been a tough 13 weeks in this boot. This timeline is not what I had in mind after breaking my fibula from my not-so-fun fall off Payco during a competition at the end of Septmeber. I’ve made every attempt to find neat handicap accessible places to visit to occupy my time off of horses. However, it’s just not the same as swinging my leg over a horse several times a week.

Photo by Marlee Fritz

At my orthopedic appointment on November 10, the news was great. I was healing ahead of schedule and at my next appointment the boot could come off and I could start back with activity. I was ecstatic! I took the physician’s recommendations and started doing my range of motion exercises and began doing a bit more while in my boot. On December 1st, I was more than ready to ditch the dreaded boot. I even took my other cowgirl boot to the appointment with me (because, you know, I was itching to ride).

I was doing a little jig in the exam room as I waited for the physician to come in and give me the good news. It couldn’t be that wonderful. My doctor came in and totally crushed my dreams of getting back to my normal lifestyle. The fibula fracture at the ankle seems wasn’t healing anymore. UGHHHHH. We went from doing range-of-motion exercise and a little weight bearing activity to keeping the boot on 24/7 with no weight bearing at all.

It’s worth noting that this boot sucks and it’s stinky. The last thing I wanted to do was drag it into my bed every night. The news was heart breaking but that wasn’t the end of it. The two bones look so far apart from one another on the x-ray. My physician’s theory on why they’re not healing back together is that they’re healing themselves as two separates.

Photo courtesy of Marcella Gruchalak

Luckily, at this appointment, they cleared me for VERY light riding. I have to keep all weight off my foot while riding (so no stirrups), but they’re hoping doing activities that I enjoy will help increase serotonin levels. Serotonin stimulation is known to play an important role in establishing hemostasis and tissue healing, so I was obviously all for light riding in the arena and on trail.

Photo by DeAnn Long Sloan

My next follow-up appointment was set for December 29, 2023. This was a big one. At this appointment they were going to make the decision as to whether or not I needed surgery. At the last minute, my doctor’s office called canceling my appointment due to my orthopedic physician being needed in an emergent operating room (OR) case. I won’t lie, I was a bit upset. I just wanted some closure on treatment and to get back to normal living as soon as possible.

Photo by Kamille Huff

The next appointment was set for Friday January 5, 2024. Again, I was excited to hear the news — whatever it may be. Obviously, I was hoping to get good news. I’ve been doing everything under the sun to heal this bone: Calcium and collagen supplements, daily multi vitamin, TENS stimulator, increase in protein, cut out red meat, stop consuming any alcohol or caffeine, and ice submersion therapy. Nope, they cancelled this appointment too.

January 8, 2024 was the next appointment. Thank goodness, because I’m not sure I could maintain this regimen much longer. If I ate one more pack of tuna or one more rotisserie chicken, I might lose my mind — not to mention I crave Red Bull to the point I get ornery. My equipment isn’t going to hold up much longer either. My main ride these days, a black knee scooter, has been ridden so much that I needed to replace the brakes (my Las Vegas trip really took a toll on it). To solve the dirty boot in my bed conundrum, I pulled out my old boot from last year’s Jones Fracture, dusted it off, and now I have one boot strictly for the house and one for outside dirt. I’ve washed both of them so many times they’re falling apart.

Photo by Kamille Huff

Just when I felt confident the boot was going to come off, they called and canceled this appointment as well. At this point, I felt like my situation was not being taken seriously and I reached out to some very dear friends for a second opinion.

There are some people in this world that are so kind and helpful that we shouldn’t even think about giving our time and energy to those that are not. I can’t believe I didn’t reach out earlier. One of these people is the friend to whom I reached out and her husband (who happens to be an orthopedic surgeon). After looking through my x-rays and chart, it’s apparent that my ankle needs some type of surgical intervention and it should have been done weeks ago. I’m not going to lie — I’m a bit nervous. However, I feel like I’m in the best hands now and that I’m going to be fully functioning in no time. This is the first time I’ve felt this way throughout the entire process.

Photo by Kamille Huff

In the meantime, I get to bear weight and rebuild this chicken leg — since I can’t hurt it anymore than it already is. Putting a shoe on is WEIRD. I feel like I’m walking quite robotically. Also, I can no longer tell if my leg hurts due to building up muscles or fracture pain — which is actually quite humorous to me.

I’m hoping my next update will be more up lifting. While being injured has been a real mood killer, I will continue to find the bright side of things. I have people helping me that care, I’m assured my ankle is fixable, my seat is getting quite centered with all the stirrup-less riding, and my right shoes all look brand new.