How Did You Do It?

That I was able to pick myself up off the sidewalk, hobble up the stairs, lurch over to the chair, and ask my niece to bring ice should have reassured me that there was nothing too impressively wrong with my ankle. But on that personal pain scale – not the standard “scale of 1 to 10” with varying degrees of frowny faces – it hurt worse than birthing a ten pound baby. Worse – almost – than tearing my MCL trying to tackle an Intermediate slope on my third-ever run down a mountain on skis. And definitely worse than the time I broke my left foot and insisted on walking around on it for a month before getting it looked at – because I felt like such a dork for having stepped on it wrong in the first place. By the time we got to the ER, I’d have signed over the pink slip to my car for a shot of something that would make my right leg disappear.

To add insult to injury, I had an adverse reaction to the pain meds that landed me in the ER twice in less than twenty-four hours, so now I’m completely drug-free and cranky. The pain’s down to a dull roar, and I did get to choose my favorite color – purple – for the cast. But three days in, I can’t help but imagine it as a purple ball and chain while I dream of purple sledgehammers.

“How did you do it?”

The truth is tedious. I’m compelled by nature to tell it, but given I broke my fibula – which I have dubbed, “The Fibber” – I am giving myself permission to fib about this all I want to. Because the truth is dull. You can handle the truth just fine, but trust me – you don’t want to hear it. And I don’t want to bore you. (Next time your child lies, give them the benefit of the doubt – maybe they’re just trying to spare you death by boredom. If they make a habit of it, send them to their room with a copy of my book, A New Leaf for Lyle.) Here are the first three installments of my choose-your-own-ending version of “How I Did It” (click the drop-down next to each for the slightly-more-interesting-than-what-really-happened stories):

How Did You Do It #1: The Penguin Story

penguin-footRescuing a flock of tiny penguins from the flood waters in north Texas. I saw them heading for the storm drain, and bent to scoop them up in my arms. At that point, I twisted my ankle and rolled into a ditch as I fell – but not before nabbing the tiny, trembling birds from a dark and certain death. I struggled to my feet, and as I did so, the tornado sirens sounded.

I had lived long enough in “Tornado Alley” to recognize their ominous blare, and long enough to reflexively check my smartphone to be sure it wasn’t just the system test they ran at noon on Wednesdays. It was Sunday. I must have hit my head on the curb and lost track of the time. The gray sky was morphing into a bilious green, and the sound of a freight train bearing down on us caused the penguins to squack and squirm and try to bite me. One got away, and was swept up by the swirling air currents overhead. I heard, later, that wildlife rehabbers had found an odd, nearly wingless chick resting happily in a hawk’s nest near the Dallas Arboretum, and it laid my guilt to rest. She would be reunited with her siblings at the Dallas zoo, once the storms had passed.

curious-catI hobbled to my sister in law’s house, where I had to protect the penguins from her two inquisitive kitties. Fortunately, the penguins were quite happy to be stuffed in the freezer until we could get them to the zoo, at which point the cats lost all interest and turned back to being hand-fed from a can of tuna.

How Did You Do It #2: Hardcore Soccer Match

In my family, we’re into extreme sports. Not to be outdone by my Roller Derby daughter, I suggested we play soccer – with a bowling ball. I went for an outside bend, scored, and then realized I couldn’t move. I was rooted to the spot like a football goal post. I shrugged my shoulders, raised my arms, and shouted to my teammates that the game had changed. My son turned, and without missing a beat, lobbed the bowling ball over my head. He yelled, “GOAAAAAAL!” and did a little victory dance before realizing I’d gone white as snow and was in danger of toppling over.

A few hours later, I came home from the ER sporting padded snakeskin boots and titanium crutches. We strung some spider webbing on the crutches and played cricket. With real crickets.

How Did I Do It #3: Somnambulist Ballet

That’s almost self-explanatory, isn’t it? I don’t sleepwalk. I sleep dance. Tap, Jazz, Hip-Hop, Interpretive… but last weekend, I dreamed I was dancing the lead in the ballet, “Giselle.” I had to simultaneously dance my lover to death while propping him up and keeping him from actually dying until sunrise. I woke up standing on my bare toe knuckles while trying to drag my husband out of bed. He said that I was muttering something like, “Dance, dammit” and he just chalked it up to a bad dream. HIS bad dream. Until I had him in a fireman carry and had headed down the stairwell at the hotel’s emergency exit. I guess our combined weight and the angle of the stairs proved too much, and I missed a step.

He’s bruised and confused, but I’m the one sporting the purple cast and trying to figure out how to go en pointe in crutches without pirouetting a hole in the floor.

How I Did It #4: Doing a Flying Dismount from a Pratty

Marian Allen came up with the BEST explanation, yet – and such a touching and heroic finale to her Story a Day in May adventures! I love it when Marian tells of the exploits of my Llannonninn counterpart, my alter ego from the Meadow of Flowers, Head Librarian Holly Jahangiri, housemother to a bunch of Living Books who tell the old earth tales we all love so much… Without further ado: The Lone Librarian.


Holly Jahangiri is the author of Trockle; A Puppy, Not a Guppy; Innocents & Demons; and A New Leaf for Lyle. You can find her books on Amazon at For more information on her children's books, please visit
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19 thoughts on “How Did You Do It?”

  1. Holly, we have so much in common–both of my babies were over ten pounds.

    But we more differences and they’re huge. My cast was bright pink, I’ve never rescued penguins in a tornado, don’t play soccer ever, and do not walk or dance in my sleep.

    Now try taking it easy on dragging that cast around. It’s not the end of the world if you sit down, elevate the foot the way I’m sure you were told to do, and read a book.
    Patricia Stoltey recently posted…The Saturday ReportMy Profile

    1. That’s about all I’m able to do with it today. I’m going to have to go get the thing looked at – I don’t think it’s supposed to be rubbing my ankle and big toe raw or battering the top of my foot with each step. It also feels like I’m rolling my ankle inward (it’d be funny if I’ve just trained myself to overcompensate for that natural tendency and this is how it’s supposed to be!) Much as I hate to say it, I think the thing’s too loose. Or needs a LOT more padding in a few spots. (C’mon, surely we’ve invented better materials that can be both firmly supporting AND cushioning at the same time?)

  2. Are you sure you even have a walking cast, Holly? I had to rent a wheelchair for a while because I wasn’t allowed to put any weight on my casted foot at all. When I had a little bit of rubbing at the top of the cast, I just stuffed a tissue or sock in there as a cushion. Those pretty casts are fiberglass, so they’re not very skin friendly.
    Patricia Stoltey recently posted…The new site — it’s a work in processMy Profile

    1. Oh, yeah, I’m sure. It’s fiberglass, but there’s a boot that goes over it that I have to wear any time I might put weight on it. That’s the “walking” part of the “walking cast.”

      It’s a stable fracture, fairly small. The rubbing is on top of my big toe (it’s really cutting into that – making a blister and/or rubbing a hole there when I walk, but I stuffed some fiberfill in there and that helps); also, it feels like it’s wearing a hole in the skin over both the inner and outer ankle bones, and the weight of it kind of bangs against the outer ankle bone – the broken one – and the top of my foot each time I lift or reposition it). I’m going to call tomorrow and have it looked at as soon as I’m able to get an appointment and find a ride. I’m thinking this just can’t be quite right.
      HollyJahangiri recently posted…In a Parallel Universe…My Profile

      1. Got it replaced. It’s much more tolerable. Still rubbing a hole in my toe (I guess the word “tenderfoot” has my picture next to it in the dictionary?) but not so bad everywhere else as it was. 6 more days…

        Who am I kidding? Time off for good behavior, Doc? Think she’ll let me out of this thing in six more days? Oh, it’s good to have hope, but not good to get your hopes up so high they can be dashed bloody on the rocks below.

  3. I know what you mean, Holly. With the broken foot, I thought I’d go directly from the walking boot to my new shoes and be back to my normal walking/driving life after that May 27th appt. Turns out it’s a transition, a process, a freaking journey. I wear the shoes a little more each day, trying to stand up straight while I walk. Ha! Thank goodness I get some physical therapy starting next week so maybe I can stop the Tim Conway shuffle soon. I send you tons of sympathy because I know where you’re at.

    By the way, have you read Wild by Cheryl Strayed yet? If not, the way she describes the pain and agony of her foot problems while hiking the Pacific Crest Trail makes both of us sound like wimps. I do not know how she did what she did with her damaged feet. Puts things into perspective, that’s for sure!
    Patricia Stoltey recently posted…The new site — it’s a work in processMy Profile

    1. Oh, yes. I’ve learned about this miserably journey-process through a torn MCL and breaking my left foot four years ago (I’d have said two, but the doctor’s records don’t lie – so apparently it was four!) It’s a special kind of trauma, isn’t it? Nothing so dramatic as brain surgery – it makes you feel like SUCH a wimp to whine – but I have seriously discovered a third thing, now, that triggers my weird version of claustrophobia. You could seriously lock me in a closet and I’d be okay if I had books and food. (Really, even, just food. I’d sleep a lot. I’d be bored to death, but not terrified or panicky.) But this? OMG. I may need Xanax before I’m sprung from this cast. I’m trying meditation along the lines of “I don’t have a foot. That’s not my foot. My foot is freeeee. Don’t look at it, don’t look… oh, damn, you looked. Well, nice and purple. Okay, okay, breathe… OH HOLY MOTHER OF GOD GET ME A SAW AND A SLEDGEHAMMER NOW!!!”

      I go through that cycle over and over and over and over about every 30 minutes all the live-long day.
      Holly Jahangiri recently posted…In a Parallel Universe…My Profile

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