The Cankle

It was the Spring of 2005.  I was training for a sprint triathlon…a goal that never came to fruition, all due to one fateful morning with a girl on a bicycle.  That girl…(dramatic pause)…was me.

Clipping my garage door opener to the front handlebars of my bike, I pushed off, the cool morning breeze hitting my face.  I was living in total suburbia, surrounded by shopping centers, stoplights and distracted morning commuters.  My routine was to swerve potholes, fire hydrants, and small children sporting Dora the Explorer backpacks for a couple miles, and then chaos would melt into countryside.


I must interject at this moment the importance of the garage opener.  I was living with 2 girlfriends at the time, and it was our only access into our apartment’s garage. A replacement would cost $50…which would most likely have to come out of my ever-so-important coffee or clothes budget, neither of which I was interested in sacrificing.

Resume story.

Glancing down at my speedometer I was going 17mph while pedaling hard and fast across that busy intersection.  Swerving a pothole, the garage door opener tumbled helplessly onto the ground, just as the light turned green.  Cars were now dodging me, as my head careened around, glued to that precious garage door opener on the pavement behind me.  Surely if I kept my eyes on it (instead of the road in front of me), it would not parish, but have everlasting life.  With my radar beams keeping close watch to make sure some soccer-mom-mini-van didn’t crush it into millions of pieces, my legs continued pumping up and down, up and down.

Up and down.

Up and…SMACK!!!!!!!!

Suddenly, I could feel my entire body being thrown with great force in a ninja-style-180-movement, my head hitting the pavement and my handlebars punching me hard and fast in the gut.  I laid on the cement only for a moment, and when the blurry streets became clear, I was running (fine, limping) across the highway, throwing my body on top of the garage door opener, saving it’s life.

Humble bow.  Curtain closes.

Curtain re-opens.  Act II.

Cars were honking, children were pointing and laughing. I had saved the garage door opener’s life, but not without first sacrificing my own.  I found my way back to my mangled bicycle which was laying in a heap on the road.  Turns out Spring is road construction season in Minnesota, and after hitting a pothole, I had run into a 7-inch sharp, tall curb pedaling full-speed without braking.  My legs were bleeding.  My helmet was tipped halfway off my head, scratched and mangled.  My front tire was flat, handlebars crooked, chain = off, and pride…well, let’s just say you can’t run into a curb at full-speed and have any left.  I began the Walk of Shame home, limping all the way.

By the time I arrived home, my left ankle appeared to have a large softball growing underneath the surface of my skin.  I had never seen anything like it in my life.  This was the Sprain of All Sprains.  The King of All Krashes.  Alright, that was lame….I’ll stop, and just say, It Was Bad.  After a $25 co-pay and an hour in the waiting room…(two things I can never get back)…the doctor confirmed that yes, I sprained it.  (money well spent?)  I went home with an aircast and instructions to ice and elevate.  It took months to get the pain and swelling down…something the doc said would “just take time…”  Well, A LOT of time went by and still things didn’t seem as they should.  I made a visit to an orthopedic surgeon who looked at the ankle and said, “Your ankle’s really, really strong.  I don’t think you have anything to worry about.”  Defeated, I left realizing this swollen ankle was now just a part of who I was.  As time passed, I began to lovingly refer to it as, “my Cankle,” a name that my family, friends and I have called it for over 7 years.

Reflective silence.  Curtain closes.

Curtain Re-opens.  Act III.

One Ankle…One Cankle.  For over 7 years, this is how I’ve lived my life.  I’ve continued to enjoy the great outdoors all these years, but not without paying a price the next day.  The Cankle has caused me to give up my dream of becoming a Professional Tennis Player…what?  Why are you laughing?  The “talentless” can still have dreams, right?  It has made shoe shopping a huge pain.  All in all, the Cankle has made walking, standing, hiking, running, and wearing 6″ stilettos (yeah, right) extremely frustrating.  But I’ve survived.  I haven’t complained…too loudly.  Until this summer…

After a bike ride, the Cankle was sore, as usual.  The next day I was on my feet for 8 hours – teaching a skin care class.  Soreness was turning to aching, aching was turning to pain, and the pain made it nearly impossible to walk to my car.  I was SO OVER living like this!!!  Seven years ago, the doctor said the only people who would get surgery on an injury like mine were Olympic Athletes.  But after 7 years of yo-yo Cankle issues, I was determined that non-Olympic Athletes still deserved to walk without a walker – AGE 31!!!!!!

One month ago I made an appointment with another orthopedic surgeon.  She looked at my ankle, felt it, moved it, twisted it, turned it, and played the fun game called, “Does this hurt?  What about this?  How about THIS?!”  I passed every test.  “You’ve got a good strong ankle,” she said.  “I don’t think you have anything to worry about.”  She took X-rays and they looked, “perfect.”  All things I had heard before.  “Well, if it would make you feel better, I could do an MRI…”  Before she had even finished her sentence, I had scheduled the MRI along with a follow-up appointment.  “No need to schedule a follow-up with me,” she said.  “I really don’t think you have anything to worry about.”

I was out of state on vacation, and upon returning, I had 7 voice mails from the orthopedic surgeon. At my follow-up appointment, she looked slightly humbled, slightly sheepish, as she proceeded to tell me about the FOUR INCH LONG TEAR in my Peroneal Brevis tendon, the bone/cartilage build-up, the muscle trauma, and the need for 5 procedures wrapped into one major surgery this Fall.  I realize that my medical issues are not all-that interesting to the rest of the world.  Except my mother, of course (thanks mom).  Mostly I just need to vent to the world, that YES, I was RIGHT…because. gosh-darnit, it feels SO GOOD to be right.  Boo-ya (insert high-kick, followed by a throbbing Cankle pain).

But what DOES make this tale blog-worthy is the conversation with my ortho that ensued during my appointment…

Ortho:  “…so before your scheduled surgery you will want to get your knee scooter ordered…”

Me:  “I’m sorry (laughing)…what did you just say?”

Ortho:  “You’ll want to have your knee scooter ordered.”

Me:  “You mean crutches, right?”  (still laughing)

Ortho:  (NOT laughing)  “No, I mean your KNEE SCOOTER.  You’ll be on it for 10 weeks post-op…”

Me:  (laughing stops)  (silence)  (crickets chirping…)

Suddenly, my eyes glazed over and I began staring off into space.  Knee Scooter?  KNEE SCOOTER?  Visions of me, driving a knee scooter through salons played through my head.  Thoughts of me arriving to the airport for my monthly business travel began to appear…I could just see it now…my luggage tied to a rope, hooked to my belt, dragging behind me as I drove my KNEE SCOOTER through the 5-mile long airport parking lot…through Colorado snow…aye-ka-rumba…

Me:  “I’m sorry…one more time, did you say KNEE SCOOTER?”

Ortho:  “Here’s a photo of the recommended scooter.  You can even get a personalized basket for the front!  Like a Hello Kitty basket!!!”

{uhhhh, she wasn’t kidding}





I just wrapped up a business trip, and while walking into my hotel I saw my first, live Knee Scooter in action.  I didn’t mean to stare, but I did.  I stopped dead in my tracks and I watched as a woman Scooted towards the hotel, where I began to pick up my pace and chase follow her.  I think she thought I was about to tackle and mug her, as she also picked up her pace and looked over her shoulder at me anxiously.  “Ma’am!” I yelled, certain I was about to be Maced, “I want you to tell me about your Kneeeee Scoooooterrrrrr!!!”  Her eyes softened, she slowed and we proceeded to “walk, scoot, n’ talk” about Life on a Scooter.  Her experience put me at ease, as she flawlessly executed her Scooting, Braking, Dodging and Turning.

As she Scooted away, I felt a bit more confidant about my surgery.  Until I remembered that I live in a condo that’s up 4 flights of outdoor steps, no elevator, with a surgery scheduled for November 16th…heavy Denver snowstorm season.  Why do I get the feeling that it’s going to be a blog-worthy Winter…?

6 comments On The Cankle

  • Your blog is so fun to read! I’m sorry about you misfortune with your cankle! Things seem to work out even when you doubt it! My husband, Jim, broke both ankles two years ago and I didn’t know how we were going to make it through, but by the grace of God and a wonderful community we did and I know you will too! Best to you! Looking forward to the upcoming blogs!

    • Thanks Becky! Yes, you guys had quite the ordeal! I might need to call upon you for some advice after my surgery…any tips or tricks for survival, let me know! 🙂

      Uncle Steve…hmmmm, good idea. Paul is definitely going on speed dial!!!

      Bri and Amanda – look at all these Knee Scooters coming out of the woodwork! It seems they are all the rage these days. Thanks for the renewed hope, and reminder that small children will probably line up for my autograph. Note to self: keep a pen in my Hello Kitty basket for such occasions.

  • Just give your cuz Paul a call and he’ll take care of you after your surgery.

  • Oh, Jenni! My mom broke her ankle in June and used a knee scooter for awhile. It seemed a lot more fun than crutches…? Or at least, my nieces and nephews thought so. I admit that I also took it for a spin once or twice as well. And who knows, with a personalized basket on the front, you might just end up loving it!

  • Eric’s brother had major ankle surgery this summer (sounds like similar woes to yours) and sported his knee scooter with pride. He zoomed it down the driveway at break neck speeds. Annika and Bjorn also thought it was pretty much the coolest thing ever. I like the far right picture you posted with it. Awesome. I’m sorry that you’ve dealt with this for so long. 🙁

  • Ha, ha, ha, ha…I mean, Oh, dear, I am SO sorry! Your writing gets my sympathy all messed up with my sense of humor because you really make it all too funny! Super big bummer about the surgery!

    What is with the knee scooter? Our pediatrician had to have one when she broke her ankle skiing (cross if that makes you feel any better). Have you ever been in a doctor’s office with little kids and have to make room for a knee scooter to roll in? Awkward! And I’m pretty sure I just stared in wonder at the thing. I still don’t understand. Why no crutches? Can’t you just go full-on wheelchair? You’d probably get way more sympathy! 😉

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