Seven weeks post-toe break and I’m feeling restless.
It all started around mile 2 of the XTERRA Trout Creek 5K trail run (see race post here) on March 6, 2011 when I hit my toe on a tree root and went down. Since I was wearing Vibram Sprints, I actually felt extreme pain when I hit the tree root, but I continued running throughout the final mile of the race. After crossing the finish line, I had difficulty walking. By the time I got home, my toe had tripled in size and my foot began turning colors. In my living room, I accidentally tapped the cat scratching post with my toe and dropped down in extreme pain. I took a shower, took some Tylenol, and put ice on it.
It was suggested to me that I broke my toe, but I had no gauge as to what that meant. I figured it would be uncomfortable for a while, but I would be back to running and martial arts in a few weeks.
I already had a foot boot from a previous injury, so I wore that since my foot didn’t fit in a shoe. I was told to buddy-tape my toe, but that proved difficult because I couldn’t move my toes apart enough to wrap tape around them.
Six days after the race, I went to Kung Fu practice because I was determined to learn Part 2 of the Hsing Yi seminar. I figured I would be okay because the form involved a lot of arm movement rather than leg stances and kicks. Silly me. Just the act of standing and moving was excruciating. Bad decision. I went home, took Tylenol, took a shower, and put ice on it.
I stayed in the boot for 3 weeks, then squeezed my foot into sneakers. I should have stayed in the boot for another week or two. By week four post-race, I was getting discouraged. I didn’t understand why I was still in so much pain while at rest. I talked to other people who said they had broken a toe and they told me it shouldn’t still hurt so much. So, I went to a foot doctor, had some x-rays taken, and was told that I had a “fourth toe proximal phalanx spiral extra-articular fracture in the distal one-third aspect of the bone”. So, in words the rest of us understand, I broke it completely in half?
I was told I would be in pain for a while longer and the pain was completely normal. They wanted to see me back in 4 weeks for more x-rays.
I had the bright idea of biking a few miles around 5 weeks post-break. Yet another bad idea. Apparently, trying to pedal with my heel still somehow made my toe throb. Oops.
After 5 weeks and 3 days, I experienced a significant decrease in pain. It no longer hurt to sit still. I still couldn’t spread my toes or curl them, but I could lift them up a little. This was promising. I celebrated by walking around a Renaissance festival for 6 hours during my sixth week post-break. My toe was throbbing after 2 hours.
So, here I sit (literally) at 7 weeks. My toe is down to twice its normal size and my foot discoloration is gone. I can spread my toes most of the way apart and I can lift my toes up, although I feel stiffness while doing so and a residual throbbing after trying. I still cannot curl them for 2 reasons: 1) pain and 2) they just won’t seem to go that way. I have to stick with sneakers because, apparently, wearing flip-flops or open-toe shoes involves a toe curling action that I was not aware of under normal circumstances.
Week 8 will be spent wandering around Seattle and Vancouver. So, take THAT fourth toe! Please don’t let me down!