inert (caution: contains all manner of tv and film spoilers and ‘cancer’ and ‘AIDS’)

On the latest and varied, real and imaginary ATR progress widgets, I am:
- 3 weeks, 4 days post-op
- 4 weeks more in full NWB casts
- on episode 9 of Mad Men Season 3
- catching up on this season’s Grey’s Anatomy
- rapidly becoming adept at drawing creatures of the sea in various states of sartorial sophistication

All things taken together, a single-word generating ATR progress widget would yield ‘Shitty’. Mine is a world where Kepner lives and McSteamy dies, where the still-living Kepner is additionally sleeping with Avery (JACKSON FUCKING AVERY!!! ), where all the married ad men are sleeping with anyone they damn well please and doing whatever the fuck they want, while it’s a real monkey-performing-shitshow for the women and wives, who all have bigger breasts and/or nicer dresses than me anyway, AND they’re all striding around or shifting their hips while walking around on their own two feet. (Except Guy MacKendrick. That dude’s foot was just mown off.) And it makes me want to wail, ‘What the hell is the point?’

The more salient and sobering news came this past Friday, from which I am still slightly reeling: mine is the hospital with the non-progressive protocol, so I’m NWB and in casts for another four weeks. Apparently, this was due to a lot of non-compliance in this hospital and a high rate of re-rupture once patients came out of casts and were put into boots. There really isn’t much of an upside to this except that I can be REALLY sure that my a-hole of an AT is stuck together by the time I start in a boot. I’m sure I could make more :/ type faces and get put into a boot and start weight-bearing sooner, but I want the doc’s support, guidance, and say-so. (Don’t tell The DG, but, truthfully, I’m generally an aim-to-please-do-as-I’m-told sort and trying to go rogue on this would fill me with dread.)
So. I’m just going to chalk it up to bad luck in being closest to the hospital with the most passive protocol, and count myself lucky that everyone has so far been kind and efficient, and look forward to seeing the lovely plaster man twice more… (shh)

I know. Stop with the malingering and complaining. No good will come of it.
The DG and I almost had an(other) argument because I was whinging about something ATR-related, and he said things weren’t that bad and that I needed to keep things in perspective, to which I made some comment about everything being relative and that one might make the same argument about perspective to someone with cancer who wasn’t dying of AIDS and starvation in some war-torn country, and then The DG accused me of comparing myself with people with cancer and AIDS and I most certainly wasn’t and I said so and he said I most definitely was and then things almost got out of hand. A word of advice to other ATR sufferers whose partners have suddenly become full-blown carers as well, maybe don’t mention ‘cancer’ or ‘AIDS’ around them because that shit makes them crazy.

Maybe for perspective I will watch ‘My Left Foot ‘. Although, given my state of worse-than-cancer-and-AIDS-and-starvation-combined-self-pity-and-selfishness, maybe I’ll just envy him his sinister foot dexterity…

I would just watch ‘Misery‘ but The DG won’t allow it.

cast system

Under the sea
Under the sea
Nobody beat us
Fry us and eat
In fricasee

Not long ago I said to The DG, “If I ever get a tattoo, it will be of a fish with a monocle.” When we decided that a monocled fish was hilarious is a mystery to me, but that’s the brief and unsatisfying backstory.

The first cast was plaster but there wasn’t much of a drawing surface. Fish with a monocle:

The second cast didn’t have any solid drawing surface on it and The DG wouldn’t let me draw on the fabric in case it seeped through and poisoned and killed me, but really I think he just thought it might get on the sheets. So there were no sea creatures wearing anything at all. AT ALL. THANKS DG.

The third cast only lasted two days. I went in to have it done because the post-op cast felt like it was too loose and sliding down my leg. I like to think it was just through the fabric slackening but was more likely my calf muscle beginning to shrink into nothingness. They did it in white because the stitches hadn’t come out yet and I guess they were still making sure I wasn’t going to bleed through it or something. I was THRILLED. Monocled Fish v2.0.

The fourth cast was at the request of Stuart-the-plaster-man. He was amused at the monocled fish, promptly filleted it, and, when asked what the next one should be, without hesitation said, “Shark in a top hat.” Here you go, Stuart. I might have been the first person ever to request white fibreglass. I threw in a monocle for good measure.

The inspiration for the fifth cast came from one of my teammates from my indoor softball team. Without further ado: Squid In a Morning Jacket.

The latest but not greatest: King Crab (aka The DG…) riding a seahorse.

under the knife. (i insist.)

The junior doctor said ‘conservative’. (I <3 the NHS.) I made a face like this :/ . He fled to fetch the consultant.
The consultant was a taller, blacker, orthopaedics-trained, version of Yoda. I asked all the usual questions that no one can really answer about one’s own treatment decision - they’re all there on the internet and we’ve all read them and there’s reasonable evidence either way depending on the protocols followed.
But Ortho-Yoda deflected and asked me, “Are you the sort of person that worries all the time?” The DG snorted a laugh. I suppressed the urge take a swing at him while Ortho-Yoda continued, “Because if you are, then have the surgery. Otherwise, you’re just going to sit around and worry for 6-8 weeks about whether you should have done it. People who worry feel better when they make a decision to take action.” A different take on a protracted debate from someone who seems to have seen and done it all. Use the Force, Ortho-Yoda.

Surgery was scheduled for that afternoon and then Tuesday and then Wednesday - 5 days post injury. (I <3 the NHS.)

Surgery was mostly hilarious.

First, the outfit. Expected: the gown, the foam slipper, the hairnet. Unexpected: the underwear - basically, the hairnet but with leg holes. I wish I had a photo. And they can’t get you out of your clothes fast enough. But (I<3 the NHS) I had to wait 3 hours after the scheduled time so I was sitting in hairnet-panties for 3 hours. Those fuckers are ITCHY.

Second, the choice of anaesthetic flavour: general or spinal block. I had just assumed that it would be under general but this anaesthetist-shaped cheery thing gamboled over and informed me I could have a spinal block instead. Rationally, I was overjoyed at the notion that there was an alternative to being knocked out and having a tube down my throat. But I balked at the notion of being awake. I made a tentative ‘general’ sounding noise and she shuffled away, less enthused. Wrong noise, clearly. Moments later, her boss swept in - surely a caricature of what an anaesthetist is supposed to be - and sold me on the spinal: “We have cupboards full of every drug you can imagine - you’ll feel great and, if you want, you won’t remember a thing.”

Third, the surgeon came through and his shoes look like he’d been strolling through an abattoir. He mumbled a bit, then he drew an arrow on my leg:
Doc: I’m just going to mark this leg here. So we get the right one.
Me: Har. Just in case.
Doc: You’d be surprised…

Cut this one

I peed in a cup to make sure I wasn’t pregnant and then I was off.

What they try to gloss over is that the spinal block is a NEEDLE IN YOUR SPINE. It doesn’t tickle. And they can’t give you The Happy before the block because a) you probably can’t follow their positioning and breathing instructions very well in Happy Haze, b) they can’t reliably tell whether it’s actually working and you can’t feel your legs or if you’re just Happy, and c) you need to sit up for the spinal block and with The Happy, you’d probably just roll off the bed.

Surgery was less than an hour and it was Quite Happy and the anaesthetist mostly chatted about skiing in Canada (I’m Canadian) and visiting the Toronto suburbs that his Asian (UK version) relatives lived in (predictably, and racist-ly-of-me, Brampton and Mississauga), while all sorts of doctors drifted in and out and chatted and peered at my leg, and the surgeon reassembled my AT to, I shit you not, ‘A Fairytale of New York’.

They wrapped me up and wheeled me out and left me in recovery while they tried to find me a bed on a ward.


I insisted I wasn’t spending the night and spent most of the time prodding my dead legs and laughing. When I discovered I had no feeling in my lady-junk I laughed and prodded that too. Eventually, the block wore off enough that the hairnet-panty-itch became unbearable but not enough for me to be able to lift myself off the bed so The DG had to rip them off. It was sexy. If ’sexy’ = ripping a junk-hairnet off a paraplegic.

I lost it a bit when I actually did have to spend the night. The block hadn’t worn off enough for me to support myself on crutches and sitting up made me feel a bit sick. The DG all but restrained me, and then abandoned me to a ward filled with weeping, vomiting, snoring, and wailing women. (I <3 the NHS.) Also, while my rupture didn’t leave me in excruciating pain, they couldn’t bring the pain meds often enough that night. Where’s the spinal block and the numb-lady-junk when you really need it?

I couldn’t get out fast enough the next day. Which meant I didn’t leave until about 3pm. There were upsides: I did get some flash crutches with moulded hand grips and reflectors, two types of pain meds, and a shedload of laxatives. Score.

the main event

If I try really hard I’m sure I can just about swim up from the haze and outline the details of The Incident.  But it’s been 3+ weeks now and, right this moment, I’m laid up on the couch with a spectacular hangover.  Having just broken from my lengthy captivity with The DG yesterday, (who, bless his over-protective and sensible soul, wouldn’t have countenanced my stumping around on handi-sticks in an east London pub replete with asshats, filled to spilling gills with Guinness and bourbon) I promptly met a friend and my brother and drank myself senseless.  It’s a wonder I made it home alive.  Fellow ATR sufferers: you have enough to contend with, try not to add ‘crippling retardation’ to the list.

The general characteristics of my ATR are similar to many: I was doing some kind of activity that involved my legs and feet and felt something give and suddenly fell over and got annoyed with the ball that didn’t hit me and gave stink-eye to the guy that didn’t step on me or kick me and ripped the heads off of the well-meaning first aiders who tried to help me.

The specifics are that it was Saturday afternoon, I was playing indoor softball - a non-sport if ever there was (see my first post ‘my cockadoodee atr’ for details on indoor softball) - and went to run from 2nd base to 3rd and my AT just snapped.  One second I was standing and the next I was on the floor.  I do remember an instant of intense pain, but I was surprised more than anything else so there was no weeping or screaming or floor-hitting like I’d always imagined would accompany an ATR.  Mostly, I remember sitting and looking up at people from the floor asking them what the hell just happened.  And telling them nottofuckingtouchme.  After The DG managed to calm me down enough so I’d let the first aiders near me, I went a bit shaky and started pouring with sweat.  Attractive.

They finished the game while I waited with a bag of ice under my heel and then The DG took me to A&E (that’s the ER to you North Americans) at Homerton University Hospital in London.  I was seen by this great nurse practitioner in the fracture clinic who did a Thompson’s test and told me I’d ruptured my ATR.  And then I cried.

We did manage to get a video of my Thompson test.  I find it simultaneously hilarious and deeply disturbing.

I was half-slabbed (plaster cast on the back of my leg) and sent off with an appointment to see the orthopaedics docs on Monday.


I suppose if there’s any useful take-away message here for anyone who has just injured their AT or isn’t sure if they have, it would be to go with your instincts - I knew something wasn’t right and that it wasn’t just a strain or a sprain.  I refused to put any weight on it or to attempt to walk on it, even after people suggested I try because they’d thought an ATR should have been more excruciatingly painful or would have had more instantaneous swelling.  (Incidentally, when we asked the orthopaedics nurse why the pain wasn’t as bad as people made it out to be, she explained that with a full ATR, there wasn’t anything there to hurt.  And that the swelling would come later.)

More on The Surgery and other stuff when I’m less (more?) bored…

(I drew a monocled fish on a bit of plaster when I was high on codeine.)

Monocled fish

my cockadoodee atr

"And there it was: Gone!"

I ruptured my ATR playing softball.  How very sad.  Not just softball, but INDOOR softball, which isn’t even a SPORT but a game played in the United Kingdom that can best be described as the embarrassing offspring of the ill-considered union between a batting cage and a pinball machine. (See here for info or for a laugh.)  And to top it all off, it was the LAST game of the LAST session before Spring Training and the outdoor season.  (Although, ‘Spring’ is currently a misnomer in British English.)

My widget tells me it’s been 3 wks, 1 day since my ATR.  If there was a widget (much like the NYR Marathon widget) tracking emotional progress from rupture to FWB, I would be somewhere on the path between ‘outright bitchy’ and ’still bitter’.

Maybe writing this blog will help alleviate some of the crushing boredom.  Maybe my drivel might help someone else who has affronted the gods of walking-around-like-a-normal-person.  Maybe it can serve as an outlet for my ire (because The DG certainly isn’t going to put up with it all for too much longer).

I shall update this and write something relevant to my injury and recovery in due course.  Right now, it’s time for a bath.  So, as baths are currently still relatively major projects with minor risks of drowning, I bid you adieu.

ATR Timeline

  • Name: poisonorange
    Location: London, UK
    Injured during: Crime fighting (or, softball)
    Which Leg: L
    Status: NWB

    524 wks  5 days Post-ATR
    524 wks  1 day
       Since start of treatment


March 2023
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