In 1993 I started year 6 at school. Up until this point I had been lucky enough to get through my life with no major problems (although I had febrile convulsions when I was around 18 months and now get really, really tired when I have a fever). In April, 1993 we had our year six camp. This was the first sleep over camp I was able to go on, and I was very excited as I had had to choose between going on a three day trip to Canberra in year five or the year six camp.
Anyway, back to the beginning of that year: Mum and Dad had planned a holiday to visit my mum’s cousins with a major road trip from our house in the Blue Mountains, NSW to Brisbane and back again. As it worked out, this trip and the camp ended up being almost at the same time. To go away, meant that I had to leave camp at 11am – instead of staying until 3pm – this seemed like a fair trade-off to me.
On the first day of camp we had free time in the afternoon. There was a huge trampoline that everyone wanted to go on… so my friends and I ran to try and get there first. I was almost there (not coming first because I was, and still am, a really slow runner!) when I felt my ankle twist under me and I made the most spectacular dive to the ground. I limped my way to the trampoline and one of the camp supervisors rubbed my foot. It still hurt but felt a bit better – and there was no swelling so I got on with my day.
The next night there was a bush dance. I was dancing with Brendan, and Nathan was behind us (I’m amazed I still remember their names!). Nathan and Brendan were trying to kick each other in the back anytime they could. So it wasn’t really dancing, more getting thrown around as Brendan tried to inflict pain on his friend. Suddenly, once again, my ankle twisted under me and down I went. This time I got to sit out the bush dance (which is something I wanted to do in the first place) with my foot elevated and an ice pack on it. Still no swelling so after the dance, we all went back to the cabins and went to bed.
The next morning was the morning I was leaving at 11am. We had a talent show that morning and my friends and I had been working on a dance to preform. Halfway through the dance, my ankle went again and down I went.
I hobbled to the car when Mum and Dad picked me up and sat in the van with my foot up on the ledge behind the drivers seat. We travelled to Tamworth and then onto Glen Innes the next day where we stayed with my Mum’s cousins. As my foot wasn’t getting better I was taken to the hospital where we were told that I had strained a ligament, I got given a pair of crutches and a quick lesson on how to use them up and down the corridor (I can still picture that corridor).
A few days later we drove from Glen Innes to Burringbar. We took the crutches back to the hospital in Glen Innes and picked up a new pair at Murwillumbah. My ankle had almost stopped hurting by this time but I used the crutches for a few more days. When we continued on our trip from Burringbar, we returned the crutches to the hospital and didn’t think anymore about it.
In October, 1993 I had my orientation day at high school and because of this had half the day off. After orientation I was walking down the street with Mum and my foot started hurting. I turned to Mum and said “My foot’s hurting – like it did when we were away”. No matter how much I thought about it, I couldn’t remember twisting it or hurting it in any way at all.
I went to the doctor and had physio but it didn’t help. I got a referral to an orthopaedic specialist. He suggested more physio and crutches to give my foot a rest – this also didn’t help. Finally in December, 1993, he suggested putting my foot into a cast for two weeks. It was a walking cast and I had a special shoe for it. After a few days my foot didn’t hurt, but my heel started to really hurt. I resorted to using the crutches again and when they removed the cast on the 23rd of December, we discovered that the skin on my heel had been rubbed raw!
On the 26th of December, we went to my Nana and Granddad’s to celebrate Christmas. I crouched down to pat their dog – and my ankle started to hurt again. Because it was Christmas and New Years it took a while to get another appointment with the specialist. I eventually ended up with another cast being put on the day before I started Year 7, and this time it was suggested that it stay on for six weeks and that I use crutches.
From then on my ankle hurt every six months and they would suggest crutches and physio before resorting to immobilising my foot in a cast. In my diary in 1998 I wrote “I have my foot in a cast again, same reason!” and also stated that this was about the eight time. I had x-rays, MRIs, bone scans, cat scans – pretty much every type of diagnostic test that they could think of. I had an orthopaedic specialist and a foot specialist (who I called the specialist specialist). I had numerous diagnoses from a tendon strain to it being related to growth spurts.
Throughout highschool I had a lot of trouble with bullying due to my ankle. Because I had no definite reason why my foot was in a cast I was called a hypochondriac, told that I had swapped my cast over night, I was faking it, that it was just ‘growing pain’ that I was making a big deal out of and more. I remember one girl (who I was best friends with in year two/three) used to pick on me every agriculture lesson. She would swear that the cast was on the other foot the day before, and say that I was making it all up. I hated going to agriculture because of her. One day after I had been to the specialist she started in with the same things again. When she said “what’s wrong with you then?” I replied “I have repeated strain of the ankle capsule” and her face changed. She took a step closer and said “oh, that must really hurt”. I just gave her a look, said “yeah it does” and hopped away.
Anyway… in 1998 I was in my specialist specialist’s office and he was about to suggest another cast when he felt something in my ankle. Finally I had an operation which removed a non-malignant growth about the size of a grain of rice from my ankle and since then I haven’t had any problems. I’ve had a hard time finding shoes, since due to the problems my left foot is a size smaller than my right (when I was younger I had shop assistants say “you poor thing” and that’s the most help they could give). I’ve also had a few twinges when the weather is changing but that’s all.
On Friday, my foot started to hurt. I asked James if his heel was sore (as it also feels the changes in weather) and it wasn’t sore – either was my wrist (another chronic problem due to a work incident). My first thought was ‘bugger!’.
I didn’t do anything to start it hurting. It is still hurting today, and yesterday (after six hours at work) I could hardly walk. It’s not swollen and is hurting in the exact same place as it used to – which is a very specific spot (see pic below).
Tomorrow morning I have to get up and ring the doctor first thing to try and get an appointment – and we will see what happens.
I have a bad feeling about this.
Sorry about the lack of pictures in this post. I looked through my photo album to find some of me with crutches (and I know there are a lot) but for some reason there are none in my albums. I think that I have excluded them – but I definitely don’t remember doing this!