This article is seventh in a series of seven that chronicles my experience following Lisfranc injury.
Part 1: Learning about the scary life-altering potential of a Lisfranc fracture
Part 2: Setting goals for Lisfranc recovery gives optimism, determination and purpose
Part 3: Surgery day and learning about the Arthrex InternalBrace
Part 4: Lisfranc recovery is slower and tougher than imagined
Part 5: Relearning to walk and ride a bike after Lisfranc surgery
Part 6: The 215-mile Lisfranc recovery test
Part 7: Looking back a year later
Today is the one-year anniversary of the day I jumped on a trampoline and suffered a Lisfranc fracture of my right foot. It’s a good day for reflection, to consider how far I’ve come and the challenges yet to overcome.
I contemplated a number of physical activities I could perform in to celebrate making it this far, then realized I’d already committed to a three-mile fun run with my wife. Running for the sake of running was never really my cup of tea, but I had to admit that the run would be a pretty good test. Walking and running any kind of distance is among the few activities that still seems to hurt.
So, 365 days after suffering a potentially debilitating foot injury, I tied on some stiff-soled running shoes, threw water bottles in a pack, put the dog on a leash and walked a couple miles across town and milled among a hundred other runners at the starting line. I hadn’t done anything like that in a couple years, and certainly not since my injury. It would be interesting to see how my foot held up.
But first I’ll summarize in brief the eight months that went by since finishing the Telluride to Moab mountain bike ride last September.
As soon as we got home from the mountain bike trip I returned to High Intensity Training boot camp classes, which have been a staple in my conditioning for close to a decade. I completed most of the programs right off the bat but skipped the most dynamic movements like skater jumps, lunges, squat jumps and mountain climbers. Now, 12 months after my injury, I finally do all of those exercises again.
I had an office job when I was injured, but in November, six months after injury, I quit in exchange for some good old fashioned manual labor. I spent most of the winter working on my feet doing framing, drywall, masonry and other heavy lifting that required going up and down ladders, jumping in and out of windows, and crawling under houses. I wore good shoes with my custom insoles but managed the work without incident and with little problem. Only after the biggest days of work did my foot hurt, but on those days, everything else hurt, too.
I didn’t dive into the ski season as vigorously as I usually do. My first day on the slopes was in December, seven months after injury. My foot was still mildly swollen, and I had to wear thinner-than-usual socks to compensate. Even with thinner socks, I had to take a break after two hours to relieve the pressure. That same problem resurfaced during a January ski trip, and I was worried it would be my new normal. In mid-February, however, I went to Jackson Hole and skied two days during a big storm cycle. I kept the boots on all day and barely took a break. I skied hard and searched out some of Jackson’s steepest lines. That’s basically when my winter started, and I went on to ski aggressively at Alta, Snowbird, Sun Valley and Snowbasin, as well as at a few of our lesser-known resorts in Idaho.
I made an exciting discovery about a month ago, 11 months after injury, when I decided to rock climb for the first time in five years. I sold all my too-small-for-me climbing shoes and bought a pair of board lasted lace-ups designed for beginners and/or crack climbers. I was nervous about climbing because it requires unique and sometimes-intense foot pressure, but I also wondered if the combination of stretching and isometric strength training might be a good way to further condition the Lisfranc joint. I’ve been climbing a dozen times now, and so far it’s been fantastic.
Finally, its important to point out that I’m not 100 percent healed (or, at least, not 100 percent back to the way it used to feel). My foot is stiff first thing in the morning and takes a half hour to loosen up. I wear stiff soled slippers around the house more often than I used to. My foot aches after a big day of exercise. It seems to hurt more when a cold front is moving through. And I really haven’t been able to run or walk for any great distance yet. With summer plans that include two or three backpacking trips, as well as a bid to climb Idaho’s highest peak, I’m hoping that will soon change. In fact, yesterday I went out and bought a new pair of stiff-soled hiking shoes, and I’m hoping the’ll usher me through a summer that includes miles of backcountry travel.
That brings me back to the starting line of the three-mile race where a hundred or so runners milled around near the bank of the Boise River. I don’t mean to be anticlimactic here, but the truth is that my wife and I didn’t run the race. We walked it, and it was a really good time. With our dog on leash, we happily walked near the back of the pack and finished in 59 minutes and 31 seconds, almost dead last.
But we’d had a chance to walk and talk and get the blood flowing. And we’d walked to the race, and home from the race, a day that added up to more than seven miles of walking and talking, which is something I couldn’t even have fathomed a year ago when I barely got by on crutches.
Meanwhile, I’m engaging in an array of physical pursuits at a pretty high level. In fact, the past seven days included a road trip and higher-than-average array of activity. There was hiking and climbing in Joshua Tree National Park; a day hoofing it around Los Angeles; hiking on Mount San Jacinto and Arizona Hills, California; whitewater kayaking in Cascade, Idaho; and mountain biking and rock climbing in Boise.
Writing it down seems a little nuts, actually. That’s more activity than some people will engage in this year. So if you’ve experienced a Lisfranc injury and are worried about how it’ll impact your ability to walk, run, play sports or recreate, you’re in for a bit of an ordeal because it’s going to take those things away for a while. But I’m here to say there’s plenty of light at the other end of the tunnel.