In June of 1998, I was living in Pascagoula, MS, where I was the Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church. One Saturday, my family and I, along with two other families, got on a boat owned by one of those, and went out to Sand Island to spend the day. The water in the Mississippi Coast Sound is pretty churned up with a great deal of industrial traffic, so locals who have a boat, for a “day on the beach,” go out to the barrier islands.

What we did upon arrival at Sand Island was to decide where we wanted to anchor the boat; once that was determined, the pilot pulled away from the island a bit, and said, “OK, drop the bow anchor there.” I went forward and did that, then walked back along the deck towards the cabin as the pilot backed the boat towards the island. When he was as far back/close to the island as he wanted to be, he said, “OK, now take the stern anchor onshore.” That’s what you did; then the bow and stern anchors would hold the boat in place.

Standing there, I looked towards the stern and saw my friend Steve holding the anchor. I placed the bow, so he gets the stern, right? He looked at me with a “Go on, what are you waiting for?” look. So I took off my hat and sunglasses, looked at the water, and started to dive in—but then Boy Scout training kicked in, and I remembered that you never dive in water when you do not know it’s depth. I jumped in.

Water that I thought was probably over my head was about knee deep, and let’s just say that when I hit the bottom, my left ankle rolled. I totally blew it out, twisting it so badly that I got a spiral crack in the fibula (fortunately the non-weight bearing bone in the shin). Long story short, we’d just arrived, but I was done for the day. I made it to shore, where I was given a beer and a handful of Advil (I know, but he was an ER Doc, so I did what he said), and proceeded to camp out under a beach umbrella.

A couple of hours later, another Doctor took me ashore in his boat, where we went to the hospital and after several X-rays, I was placed on crutches and in a ski-boot cast.

I was in the ski-boot for about four or five weeks, then my follow-up appointment was cancelled, and then I went on vacation, and there ended my recovery. No PT, no follow-up X-rays, no nothing.

I’ve always had some issues with that ankle, but I come from the “spit on it, rub some dirt in it, and keep on playing school.” So when I was having some problems on the outside of that foot, after X-rays and exams, my Sports Orthopedic Doctor (new one, new town), said, “MRI.”

I’ve met deductible, insurance said “OK,” so I did. This week I met with my Doc to talk about the MRI and what he learned from it.

In a nutshell, there was some damage done in that jump back in ’98 that has not healed. Tendons and ligaments don’t necessarily repair themselves, and bone spurs have developed, etc., etc., etc. The recent pain I’ve had is referent pain from the damage that remains in the ankle, and when I’m running (OK, probably jogging), backpacking, etc., there are going to be issues. Surgery is in my future. Not now, not in the immediate future, but one day. “You’ll know when the time has come,” the Doc said.

But here are a couple of lines from the MRI report:

“There is attenuation of the anterior talofibular ligament consistent with sequelae of prior partial tear.” (I have no idea what that means.)

“Fairly prominent is trigonum with moderate posterior subtalar degenerative osteoarthritic changes manifested by narrowed joint space, marginal osteophytosis, and subcortical degenerative cystic changes of the opposing articular surfaces.” (Huh? WHAT?!)

“Mild tenosynovitis of the otherwise intact tibialis posterior and peroneal tendons.”  (one more posterior comment and someone is going to get hurt.)

So it’s been 15 years since I blew my ankle out, and I am facing the reality that one day (no time soon), I’ll have to deal with it. Great. But can someone please—Radiologist, Orthopedist, someone, please learn to speak and write (or dictate) in English that a relatively intelligent person like me can actually understand?

Yeesh. Knowledge is power, but this is disabling. Not the injury, the report. I need a medical dictionary!

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