Breaking in the New Year

I broke my right ankle on Dec. 30, 2017. And in so doing, transformed my 2018.

Heading into the new year I’d been mulling other things I wanted to accomplish: running another 5K, getting back into swimming, maybe writing another novel, maybe doing Picture-A-Day again, shaking up our gaming group’s routine with a couple of cool one-shot or double-shot adventures, winter camping with the Boy Scouts, and other stuff that hadn’t fully formed into ideas yet.

A right ankle in a blue cast
My broken right ankle, in its spiffy blue cast. The Geek Tree glows in the background. Credit: Ken Newquist.

And then I broke my right ankle in two places. It happened in an instant. I went out to my car, stepped on some snow-covered ice, and suddenly there was a snap and I was down on the pavement. I knew my ankle was more than dislocated and a trip to the emergency room confirmed it: dislocated with two breaks. It required surgery to fix — the bones wouldn’t align correctly without it — followed by a splint until things healed, capped off with a traditional cast for six weeks so the bones can do their thing.

As you might imagine, this complicates life. Since I broke my right ankle, I can’t drive. That’s made getting to and from work a lot harder. Walking and running are my primary forms of exercise and they’re both off the table for three months. We were planning on going skiing this winter; the rest of the family’s still going but I’ll be on the sofa. Camping with the Boy Scouts is not happening until late spring, if not summer. Listening to Brandon Sanderson’s Oathbringer (Amazon), the latest Stormlight Archive — something I was doing on my walks and at the gym — just became a lot harder.

A right ankle in a cast, accompanied by essential books and electronic devices for keeping a geek dad occupied.
The essentials for a sofa-bound dad: a stack of D&D books, my Kindle, my Nintendo DS, snacks, Chick-Fil-A cup with water, and the goodies box with the various other things I need. Credit: Ken Newquist

I’m trying to stay positive.

I’m on the other side of the surgery, and the surgery went well. My ankle is in a cast, and that’s a hell of a lot better than being in the splint. I spent the remainder of the Christmas break playing Horizon: Zero Dawn (Amazon) on the PlayStation 4 (I bought it the day before I broke my ankle). I finished Andy Weir’s Artemis (Amazon) and made a big dent in Tim Pratt’s The Wrong Stars (Amazon).

I found some light exercise routines that I can do without impacting my foot. I’m to getting back to writing routine. Not skiing potentially means more gaming, whether it’s board gaming with friends, playing Destiny 2 on the PS4, or getting in on an online Blades in the Dark (Amazon) adventure. Recovering from surgery gave me the chance to binge the new Star Trek: Discovery series. I got my Knights of the Dinner Table column in on time … and I’ve got two more that are almost ready to go. I’m contemplating some projects I can do while stuck on the sofa, like building out a hexcrawl campaign or painting miniatures.

And I have never, ever been so close to beating Dragon Quest IX.

Healing my broken ankle is going to take months; rebuilding my strength after that may take several weeks more. There’s no quick and easy path back, but there is a path back and hopefully it will lead me to where I was before that fateful day in December.

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My broken ankle, in its lovely blue cast. Credit: Ken Newquist.

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