Stress fracture whine

It’s time for my stress fracture whine. This isn’t going to be pretty, so turn away if you’re squeamish around self-absorbed melodrama. If you find a petty lack of perspective nauseous*, then do not read any further.

[*that’s right. something that makes you feel like puking is nauseous. if you feel like puking you are nauseated. people who say or write that they’re nauseous are actually saying that they nauseate others. and that is funny to me.]

So here begins the whine. I’ve been on crutches and unable to carry Peanut for three months. And it’ll probably be another two months because I made the mistake, seemingly harmless, of sitting cross-legged on the floor to do a puzzle with my son. Without thinking I put the bad foot under my right leg while we were sitting, and the pain returned. The rest of the week has increased the pain and I now feel it all the time again.

That means at least six more weeks, if not more.

We’re a sling family–we cuddle and carry everywhere. We don’t own a stroller. He likes to be in our arms a lot. And we like that, too. I like to carry him, to cuddle him, and to tell him things on our walks, during our errands, and around the house. Because of my fracture I can’t carry my kid, and I’m sad. He’s sad. He doesn’t want to go for walks because he knows when he gets tired in the middle, I can’t help him. He doesn’t want to go to the playground because I can’t climb with him. Peanut is a timid guy in new places and around crowds, but he’s had to run through an airport pretty much by himself twice, and will again this month, because I can’t carry him. (He won’t use the mei tai. I could use crutches and the mei tai, but he refuses to try.)

I’m tired of crutches. I’m tired of being non-weight-bearing but extra-weight-bearing, if you know what I mean. I’m tired of the  inability to run, the inability to hold my kid while he brushes his teeth or carry him to his room after a bath, the need to hop on one foot with our lunch plates, the pain of accidentally putting my foot down while washing dishes. I’m tired of holdng hands while I crutch down the street, four fingers held tightly by a little boy who feels sad and alone that he’s so far from me.

I’m tired of stress fractures that won’t heal. I’m tired of expecting to be fully functioning because the reality of my human body is that I probably will be less and less wel functioning for the rest of my days. So I’m tired.

And whiny.

[And this section is for all the people who seem to Google “stress fractures that won’t heal”. Today, and for at least the next six weeks, they’re my peeps.

During our move from the icky part of the state to the better part of the state, I somehow cracked a bone in my foot. I have a history of stress fractures from running, and this time I was just barely increasing mileage and frequency from a paltry ten miles a week to about fifteen miles a week (always following the 10% rule because I’ve been here before and don’t like rehab or PT or water running or crutches). And I got the familiar sense of needing to crack my foot for three weeks straight. Sure enough, my old sports med guy said third or fourth metatarsal stress fracture. Bone scan points to fourth met. (First fracture was ischial tuberosity, second was femoral neck, third was femur on other side, fourth was calcaneal. Now I’m the proud owner of a cracked fourth met.)

So I got an air cast and crutches. Doc tells me I can walk in the air cast. I do. For 6 weeks. Fracture gets worse. So I go non-weight-bearing for 3 more weeks. The cast makes it worse (it’s too heavy, and makes me rest my foot often, which hurts it).  So I ditch the cast and go completely non-weight-bearing for 3 more weeks, and after two weeks of painfree hypercarefulness, the pain is back. Know why? I sat cross legged on the floor to do a puzzle with my son. Sitting on the floor with the bad foot tucked under me set me back another six weeks. After 12 weeks of care and 15 weeks from the first pain. Even with an ultrasound bone-stimulator contraption that cost us two weeks’ rent. (Insurance paid half. Gee, thanks. Otherwise it would have been a full month’s rent. When do Americans get to have health care instead of health insurance?) That means I’m at square one, and need at least six weeks, completely non-weightbearing to heal this thing. That’ll be at least 18 weeks. If all goes well.]

29 thoughts on “Stress fracture whine

  1. wow. that’s almost half a pregnancy in terms of time passing to produce a healed bone. i always thought puzzles were dangerous, now i’m convinced. peanut, though, is learning some good skills as you heal. independence skills. and he will have you back in some weeks. i’m sure your sitting cuddles are extra good these days.

    you’re allowed to whine, tho. i would go nuts hobbling around after my 2.5 year old daughters. i practically hobble now, and i don’t even have a fracture. i’m just old… freakin’ old! i wish you accelerated recovery. maybe this setback will be shorter than you think. i’ll drink to it. i’ll drink lots in hopes that will help.

  2. Are you getting all the cyber flowers that I am sending to you right this instant?

    Honestly, I don’t know how you have managed to go this long *without* whining (and you are absolutely entitled to!). You’re my hero.

  3. I just stumbled upon your blog while researching stress fractures. I love your blog and rants! Keep them coming – and I hope you heal soon!

  4. My sympathies. I suffered a severe sprain and broken 5th met on Dec. 22. Today they decided the met wasn’t gonna’ heal on it’s own, and the doctor said if my workers comp would pay for the thing then the bone stimulator might be worth a shot but he actually expected to be putting a screw and a bone graft in. He advised me not to put money into the treatment as I was likely just postponing the inevitable. Almost 4 months in and I’m gonna’ give it a shot if they’ll pay and then let ’em cut. I don’t wanna’ limp outta’ this life.

  5. Hang in there! I can commiserate! I have had reoccurring stress fractures the last 3 years and am now in 2 walking casts (stress fractures in both feet). Crutches are a pain, I know. My friends always teased that I needed a moped or segway. but at least that would be hands free, right?! Its really easy to get discouraged, trust me, 6 stress fractures in the last 3 years…I know discouraging. Every day I feel like my feet are never going to heal and I will be broken forever. The only advice I can give you is that yes, it really sucks right now and is very debilitating. but you want to be healthy 1, 5, 15 years from now. So we have to put in the time on the crutches and aircasts to ensure that. People think I am crazy and my boyfriend says I complain too much. but they dont understand the frustration surrounding it. But I do, and so do others that read your blog! its a great way to vent!! Keep it up! Stay on those crutches and take your calcium :). Before you know it, you will be piggy backing your little munchkin around on your healthy legs!!

    • @christin Oh my. Feel better. Some days you think, “at least my triceps are rocking”…and other days you think “what the hell is going to happen when I’m 80?” I’m off the crutches now, and everything is back to normal. But man, that first day without crutches feels so, so, so good, doesn’t it? You’ll get there. I wish we didn’t have glass feet, but we do. So hang in there! I feel for you! (And you would be surprised how many people find my blog searching “calcaneal fracture that won’t heal”. We’re really not alone, even though it feels that way…)

  6. I am currently suffering from my first stress fracture…3rd metatarsal. In addition to having a four year old and almost two year old I am also 31+ weeks pregnant. I injured myself about 9 weeks ago and I’m still in a boot and I am still feeling pain. I go back to the doc tomorrow, and I’m pretty sure I’m going to break down and cry. My last baby was 2 weeks early and it’s possible this one could be the same…which gives me about seven weeks to heal. But I feel like I am still at square one!! It is so stressful!

  7. That sucks, I know how you feel though. I have had bilateral stress fractures in the lower portion of my legs for two years. I first did the boot on one leg then the other, then I did the air casts, then I had both of my legs put in hard casts, and I walked with crutches for two months. I have used a wheel chair for two weeks. Now I sit more than 80% of the day, i have been doing this for nearly four months and I still have pain. So stress fractures are awful and I feel like I will be dealing with this for the rest of my life.

  8. And I am currently on the bone stimulators that don’t seem to be helping but my doctor says this recovery time is unusual but reading all these comments makes me feel other wise.

  9. I am on my third stress fracture since May. I am 55 years old, a lifetime runner and cyclist and have been unable to exercise 5 out of the last 7 months. It helps to read about others who are experiencing the complete lack of control that happens with these things. Not to mention the fear that even when you heal, it will just happen again. I’m tired of hearing ‘you’ll be fine by summer’ or ‘you just need a goal’. Ugh. These well meaning (and heartless) people have no idea that not working out now, affects the entire summer! Can’t express how worthless you feel when you can’t even scrub the bathroom floor, or lift a load of laundry, let alone having to abandon the half marathon I was training for, or the biking in the mountains this summer.

    • Susan, I totally feel for you. What about when they say, “maybe next time you need a new sport and could shelve the running shoes”? I’ve changed sports med MDs just for that. Hang in there. I have no words of wisdom except that my fracture did eventually heal and I’d be back to running but just don’t enjoy it pregnant. So I’m walking massive distances on steep hills. Hiking is lovely and all. Running is my thing, though. Good luck. Being broken just sucks for so many reasons.

  10. PS. Keep whining and I will read it and send my sympathies. This time I am checking the notification boxes so I can stay tuned.

  11. Running is the bomb. Got a Nike Plus for Christmas and probably overdid resulting in a ischial tuberosity crack. A fall in May off of my bike caused the other two– L3 compression and sternum. Osteoporosis diagnosed at that time so I am concerned about the future. Be careful after your baby is born not to get too thin– I made that mistake at your age and think it is hurting me now. And don’t forget to stretch! You think you don’t need it when you are young and it catches up later.

  12. Hi to everyone out there in the same boat as me. I have a third metatarsal stress fracture and have been in a boot for almost five weeks and can’t tell any significant inprovement. I am getting really frustrated , too. Maybe I’m not patient enough but six to eight weeks is getting closer with hardly any difference. I also have a heel spur and have had chronic plantar fascitis for about a year. I wonder if that could be slowing down the healing. Going back to the doc in few weeks. Hope everybody out there is getting better. Thanks.

  13. I love that I found this blog! I have had stress fractures in both feet for over 2 years now, with surgeries on both- twice on one to repair nerve damage as a result of the fractures and swelling. i get so frustrated, because it seems like no matter how you explain it to people, and how much they say “I know, this must be hard” I know that there is no way of putting into words how it feels to not be able to do ANYTHING! It may sound like a cop-out statement, and of course I know that things could be worse, and that people out there have different trials and tribulations… but I am at the end of my rope! I go to see yet another ortho surgeon in a couple of days, and for me it really does seem like to cast my feet, and wheel chair it would be delaying the inevitable. What would you do? no matter what I do, my feet break… I went from being someone who could not stand to be inside, or sitting, to someone who cannot walk normally without breaking my feet. HELP!

  14. I am really losing my mind. I had a second metatarsal stress fracture misdiagnosed for two weeks, finally diagnosed, put in an aircast for 3 months. While in the aircast my 4th metatarsal started to kill me so I went off the boot and the second is healed but now I have a 4th metatarsal stress fracture. I think it was due to the pressure that the aircast was putting on the outside of my foot. I am really sick over all of this.

  15. Yeah, this is all a real drag. First my right foot, not that is ok but hurts now and then, and now it’s my left foot.

    I am a daily jogger, and I keep moving with lots of padding, arch supports, and curling my toes under. I go slow and pretty flat footed and not very far. I think I may have to quit and take up swimming for a while. I am 59 years young and in good condition otherwise. For general use, I am going to try wooden bottomed Dr Scholl’s or something…I heard that helps.


  16. Hi Everyone,

    I have a calcaneus stress fracture & ligamentous strain on the 2nd & 3rd metatarsal bone. I’ve been on a air cast boot & crutches for almost 8 weeks now. It doesn’t feel like it’s healing at all. There are days where I think it’s gotten better & I made the mistake of trying to see if I can put weight on it, so I think I need to be more patient or else I’m just setting back my recovery longer. I’m just very frustrated going to work on crutches & now I will have to go to school with crutches too. I can’t play with my kids like how I used to, all I can do is sit or lie down around the house depressed. I have to keep telling myself to think positive or else I know depression will take over me. Does anyone here have experienced there stress fracture actually healing? How long did it take and what did you do to help it heal faster?

    • Oh, Lester, I’ve totally been there. It doesn’t help, of course, because I can’t fix the foot for you. I had a calcaneal stress fracture that took a while to heal, but I remember since it was my third stress fracture to completely stay off it for 10-12 weeks. Feet don’t heal quickly.

      I *so* understand the depression of being a different person with your kids, the frustration of not being able to goddamned do anything normally. I’m so sorry. Hope it heals. If not, ask for a bone stimulator. I can’t prove mine worked, but I used it and healed. Might have been just the bone or might have been helped by the stim.

      Good luck. Hope the kids like board games and art, ‘cuz you can do those with them while sitting.

  17. Wow did I need to read this!! OMG! I’m an athlete, a coach and a runner. Not only can I not run, I can’t lift weights. Add to that the frustration and embarrassment of being in a boot (setting a great example to my clients), and I FEEL you!

    I have had this fracture for over 8 months!!! I only got it diagnosed 3 months ago, and I really relate to everyone else’s experience. Every time it feels like it’s healing, I’ll row or do something, anything for exercise and boom! I’m hurting again, and I’ve added another 2 weeks to wearing this dang boot.

    I can’t stand this!!!

    The frustrating part is I’ve broken my wrist and my pelvis, and they BOTH healed WAY faster than this!!

    Thanks for venting, so I could too.

    • Shannon, I’m so sorry. I can still feel the frustration, even though it’s been a while. Glad you found a place to rant. This is my single most frequently viewed post.

      My hip and pelvis fractures healed faster, too. A LOT faster.

      So infuriating. I hope you’re back on it soon. Swim? Lift sitting and lying down? I found the boot was hurting more than it helped so I stayed completely off the foot for months. Months. No weight at all. That’s what finally did it.

      Good luck!

  18. Thank you for the laugh after all of the tears yesterday. I am one of your peeps, and hope you are done healing!

  19. how are you now? i am a grandmom with a 2nd metatarsal stress fracture – got into a cam boot today – eight weeks podiatrist is telling me

  20. Thank you so much for this entry – it’s ancient history for you, but you still have a lot of peeps struggling with this injury:). I am 4 months into a 3rd met shaft stress fx – was doing great for 8 weeks: first a boot, then re-habbing and healing exactly as I was supposed to, but it was too much. The fracture line got worse and I have been in and out of the walking boot since. I am now in the boot full-time until the bone is 100% healed – however long that takes.

    I am grateful to be pain free and to have good gym and pool facilities, but I miss being an athlete, I miss running and training, and I miss walking around my house barefoot. My kids are 19 and 16 – so I don’t hold them anymore, but normally I would train with them – mountain biking, track workouts, long runs in the mountains.

    Your entry and the comments provide me with solace about how long it’s taking, that there is light at the end of the tunnel, and that I am not the only one who has/is struggling with the physical and mental components of healing from such a supposedly minor injury.

    Thank you also for your other blog entries. The quality of your writing, along with the humor, insight, and honesty of your posts create very powerful pieces that I enjoy reading and thinking about.

    • Amanda, I’m so sorry you’re having to go through this! Feet are dreadful, miserable patients. So little bloodflow, so easy to reinjure.

      Hope the 100% boot time works wonders and you’re back to your old activities soon.

      But I’m glad you’re at least reassured that we’ve all had a rough time and we all came through.

      Part of my recovery was custom orthotics from my sports med podiatrist. He cast my foot, made the orthotics, and put them in my boot. And I lost 10 pounds to take some of the load off. Both things might have helped. Who knows? But I’m better.

      Wishing the same for you!

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