Hilary's Ankle Injury

Hilary injured her left ankle on a mission trip to Northern Ireland in the summer of 1999. She stepped in an unseen hole while demonstrating a field game to some children in Dundrum. It made a loud "pop" and immediately began to swell painfully.

She was rushed to the nearest emergency room — in Down Patrick, where St. Patrick is buried — where she was x-rayed, examined, and released with a "severe sprain."
swollen ankle with bandage marks
Over the next week, Hilary's ankle remained swollen and pained, despite her dutiful following of the "R.I.C.E." method of care: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. Praise the Lord, Hilary just happened to bring along an ACE bandage, and two of the students on the trip were athletic training majors and were able to keep it properly wrapped. Isn't God amazing?
One of Hilary's "firsts" on the trip was the excruciating experience of soaking her leg — up to the knee — in ice water for forty minutes. In a large metal pot. Metal gets very cold, very quickly, as her bare foot found out. Apparently, it's a popular sports medicine treatment. Just one bit of advice, if you are about to have such a remedy administered: amputation first. (The only cool part — no pun intended — is that your appendage turns cherry red because of the blood that rushes to the surface.)
reddened ankle post-soak
Exactly one week later, during a one day layover in London, the mission group got lost. For four and a half hours. Walking around London's subway system carrying all of their luggage. By the end of the day, they were all understandably tired, and most chose just to stay in the hotel.

Hilary and two others, however, did not wish to waste their few hours in a city like London sitting around a hotel. They went to dinner at the Hard Rock Café, and had planned to see the nearby sites (like Buckminster and Big Ben) before night fell.

After getting walking directions in the nearest hotel, they stepped outside. And Hilary's ankle promptly collapsed. You know, like when your ankle decides to lay down on it's side while the rest of your leg remains vertical? Well, Hilary's ankle made a tremendous cracking sound, and went out on her.

The doorman (it was that kind of hotel) helped her to limp inside and sit down, where the concierge called an ambulance. It was the first time Hilary had been in so much pain she couldn't stop crying (which was very frustrating when trying to communicate). The ambulance workers half-carried her to the vehicle and proceeded to the emergency room. It was Hilary's first (and, so far, only) ambulance ride and it was all free — thank goodness for Socialist healthcare!

The hospital Hilary was taken to was the same one in which the Queen Mother had given birth to all of her children, so Hilary was able to do a little sight-seeing in London.

She was in the emergency room from eleven at night until two-thirty in the morning. She got x-rayed and examined again, and got a very nice compression bandage that looks like a rolling pin cover, which she continued to use for the next seven months. It was again diagnosed as a severe sprain, and she was told to stay completely off of it for a few days.
Hilary on return international flight
It is highly recommended that one have some sort of leg injury when one flies: expedited check-in, zipping through customs, special waiting areas, riding in the little beeping carts, getting on the plane first — it's great! Seen here is Hilary, in her three seats for the international return flight (courtesy of a compassionate man two-thirds of the way up the plane from Hilary's original single seat), with her foot propped up on a basket and pillow (courtesy of the ultra-nice stewardess).

Those crutches were standard-issue British crutches from the hospital in London. They were hard for me to use, being used to American crutches!
Upon return to the United States, she got her doctor to look at it, just in case (one never knows with Socialist healthcare). Her doctor examined it, x-rayed it, and pronounced it a sprain. She was allowed to do anything — with care. As time passed, Hilary was encouraged to "use it as much as possible to help the sprain heal." That fall, Hilary participated in Asbury's production of Fiddler on the Roof, among other things.

In January of 2000 — seven months after the original injury — Hilary's ankle was still sore and swollen. He mother took her to see an orthopedic surgeon, who promptly put her in a leg cast. The bone had been broken the entire time, and the bone chip had become lodged in Hilary's ankle, inflaming it.

To make a long story short, Hilary was in a wheelchair from January through July of 2000. The cast did not do a thing — surgery was required. She was given the choice of scheduling it after finals were over OR having the surgery early enough to actually walk down the aisle . . . hmmm . . . wonder which she chose? In April, Hilary had her first surgery ever (and discovered, too late, that she was allergic to general anesthetic, which was not fun). She was allowed to practice walking again a week before the wedding, but used the wheelchair intermittantly for a month afterward. Charlie and Hilary postponed their honeymoon to DisneyWorld until the end of July, so Hilary would be able to walk around the park. For the record, it is highly recommended that (if there is a choice) one NOT plan a wedding (or have a dress fitted) while confined to a wheelchair. It is mind-boggling how many places are not handicapped-accessible — including many, many "handicapped" bathroom stalls!

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