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A Dance Injury: MRIs and Physical Therapy

physical therapy
By Brittany Zimber

June 7, 2012. That was the date of my injury. My first appointment at home on land was September 20, 2012. The first man I went to was an Ankle and Foot Specialist. He was great and I felt like he really listened to me. I was all, Yes this is going to be over and fixed so quick!

You know what is a beautiful thing, I don’t delete anything. Which I have said in a different blog post. So here is part of my email after my first appointment at home.

“He told me physical therapy will not fix the tear it will only make the areas around it stronger. He showed me the MRI and where it is in fact torn apart and has leaked fluid. And there are tendons that he thinks may be torn but the angle of the MRI doesn’t show that area properly. He says the only way to fix it is to have surgery and when he repairs the ligaments he wants to repair the tendons if need be.”

This was my right foot. So, touch the front of your right ankle. Closer to the outside. That is where the torn ligaments were. Now go to the outside of your ankle where that bone is and feel right behind it. Between your Achilles and your ankle bone there is a tendon there. That kept snapping and getting stuck over my bone. I know, so gross.

But, guess what. “They” wanted a second opinion. I have an email stating that because it was not an emergency surgery they didn’t understand why I needed it.

Mmmm.. Because I am a Dancer and my ankle is my career..

Okay, sure. What dancer wants their ankle cut open anyway.

“So after the company decided they want me to get a second opinion, my case worker calls me and tells me they want to send me to Miami. This was about a week after my appointment with the first doctor. At first I said yes because I figured it would probably take them about a day to get me scheduled and get sorted. No, of course not. After almost a week I told my case worker that I wanted to stay home, it wasn’t making anything faster by sending me to Miami. Also, if I was meant to get surgery and not able to walk I don’t want to be stuck in a hotel room in Florida by myself. She said she understood and told me to look for an Orthopedic doctor to check out my foot for a second opinion. I sent her quite a few places on September 30. I then have an email from October 2-3 saying that she had contacted the doctor and was waiting for him to “take my case”. It then took until October 15th to get a doctor’s appointment with that doctor. Now this doctor, who took 2 weeks to “take my case” literally looked at my foot for about 5 minutes. I tried to give him the MRI to look at and he said he had already looked at them.”

That was from an email I sent on October 24, 2012. Why would you try to push me to go to a Doctor in Miami when I am from New Hampshire? That’s a pretty long way for a second opinion… Don’t ya think?

I remember this “second opinion” Doctor very well. I felt as though he already knew exactly what he was meant to say to me. He told me he had already spoken to my case worker and that he already looked at my MRI. In another part of the above email I explain how upset I was because the Doctor was insinuating that I was making this shit up. This was after I was telling him where the pain was and explaining everything that had happened. He then said, “Well you injured the front of your foot so how do you have pain in the back?” Imagine that line in a much more snarky tone.

Side Note: I keep calling him “Second Opinion Doctor” because that is literally what my case worker wrote in the emails to me. It gives me a little giggle every time I write it now.

Well dude, because I landed on the top of my foot and basically bent my Achilles in half… I would guess I didn’t only injure the front of my ankle. It wasn’t over worked. I landed many feet down on the top of my foot before the rest of my body. Point your foot as hard as you possibly can. But now imagine having all of your body weight on that foot plus the force behind landing on that foot. I am not a cat, I did not land on my feet in an awesome cat like way. It was basically a Superhero landing. But, without the Super-Hero-ness. Do you think that only the front of your ankle would be injured? Naahhh Dude.

What I was saying or feeling didn’t matter. I got sent to physical therapy anyway.

Did it work, you ask?

Nope.

My Physical Therapist was wonderful. Everyone at Derry Sports & Rehab was great. But it didn’t work because my ankle was too far gone. It was actually making my ankle worse.

They told me that my ligaments were so bad at that point there was pretty much nothing there to strengthen. Let’s go back to the first Specialist I saw at home who said, “physical therapy will not help the issue.”

I feel like that kid from YouTube who just had his wisdom teeth out. (My favorite YouTube video ps.) “IS THIS REAL LIFE!!!”

Now it is the middle of December and I have had around a month of physical therapy. That was six months after my initial injury. That’s it, a month of physical therapy.. Again.. “IS THIS REAL LIFE!!!”

When I went back to the “Second Opinion” Doctor he told me I needed another MRI. One because the last MRI was from August and two because it wasn’t very clear.

Acca-scuse me?

Seriously…. So let me get this straight. The first time I went there you took about five minutes to say that I was fine and I needed some physical therapy…. Now you are saying that the MRI actually wasn’t clear enough for you to read and it was from too long ago.. Mind=Blown.

Now we are in the middle of December. I need to get another MRI. The Holidays are coming.

At some point I get the next MRI.. and in this one email here I tell my case worker that he wants me to go to a specialist in Boston who works with the Boston Ballet. Great, Perfect.

End of January rolls around and the first open appointment with this specialist in Boston is March 20th. At this point I was so frustrated and everything was taking so long. This is her response to my frustrations.

“I understand, it can be often very frustrating when expectation for a full recovery is not achieved as expected. Per the report the doctor given his medical expertise all conservative care was provided and did not have much other curative measures to advise. We can only proceed with the medical recommendations that is advised by the specialist. I had previously offered you to come to Miami, these are also resources we would like to extend to you in an effort to get you all the assistance we can offer.” – Case Worker

So again.. Why do I need to go to Miami when I have perfectly good specialists in my area. One who already said I needed surgery… Sitting here… Still confused.. Years later.. Well, stupid me was all “Sure, if this will make everything go faster, I’m in!!”

Ladies and Gents, Lesson Learned.

Slow and Steady actually does win the race.

So a week later I was in my car with my dad and my dog Brady driving 24 hours to Florida to “finally” get my ankle fixed.

Just Kidding.

Let us play the game a few truths and a lie. Which part of the above sentence was not the truth.

  1. I was with my dad
  2. I was with my dog Brady
  3. We drove 24 hours to Florida
  4. My ankle was finally getting fixed.

Find out more tomorrow on the Ankle Chronicles.

Read Part 1:

A Dance Injury: How a Split Second Can Change Everything

Also by Brittany Zimber:

The Body Struggle is Real: A Dancer’s Story

Show Creation on Cruise Ships: Another Opening, Another Show

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