Running to Stand Still

By Briana Westmacott   |   September 9, 2021
For months I had to sit with my leg in this torture device

About a year ago, I fell. Hard. I tripped on a run a few blocks from my house, and unfortunately, I hyperextended my knee so badly that I crushed bones and ripped my LCL. Running and hiking and walking and everything else you do on two legs has been my church for as long as I can remember. But just like that, my foot caught on a tree root popping up out of the pavement, and I found myself broken in the middle of a global pandemic.

I haven’t been able to write about my leg fracture until now. While the shatter rocked my soul, I felt a heightened awareness for the other humans experiencing life-changing moments throughout COVID. The whole world came to a halt, so why does my leg trauma need a story? People are suffering racial injustice, job loss, mental illness, and homelessness. All I had endured was a stupid fall that stole my normal leg and life. But damn, it hurt.

Cry Without Weeping

So, why pen it now? The past year has pained all of us in uncountable ways, and my leg speaks to some universal truths. 

Who didn’t spend a great deal of extra time in bed the past year? While we were all hulled up in the house, I was immobile, on my back, without being able to shift for six weeks. My tibial plateau fracture, torn LCL, and fibula fracture made me overly grateful for Netflix and Apple TV. Funny thing, I grew up without television; I had a belly-dancing-hippy-midwife mom and a lot of open land that served as entertainment. Prior to 2020, I was an anti-TV person. Now, a TV has moved into my bedroom. (This is not a good thing, but it is necessary during a leg-break or a global pandemic.) Bring on the binge-watching.

Being planted provides you with an entirely different perspective. For one, you can’t leave an uncomfortable situation if you are committed (or confined) to the sit-and-stay position. I realized that my whole life I have been running: In high school, I ran cross country to avoid my family issues; in college, I ran away from commitments; in adulthood, running and hiking were my sanity – my headspace. Can you imagine losing your headspace during COVID? But we were all forced to sit and stay, and we should all take time to recognize the afflictions we have endured during this pandemic.

Gotta Do Something About Where We’re Going

I had to take some awful medications after my surgery due to the destruction I had done to my leg. Before 2020, I had never undergone surgery, in fact, I rarely took an Aspirin. When I took those leg meds, it dimmed my light. I didn’t take them for long, because I can’t stand being in the dark. I think that all of us are dealing with getting through this awful time in history and all I can say is substances only lead to more darkness.

I had many moments of regret, wishing I had never gone on a run that morning. Then I realized this is what life is all about, accepting the things you can’t change. We can’t change COVID. I can’t alter my decision to have gone out running the morning that broke my leg. Really, we can’t modify many aspects of life. Regret only makes the pain sear more.

As we continue to move forward into unknown (Delta variant) territory, I am creating a place of preparation in my heart and mind for accidents, death, divorce, cancer, and tragedy. We all know someone who is experiencing one of these life punches, and they could use a hand to stand back up. Now more than ever.

I can’t do a lot of legwork just yet, but I can lend a nonjudgmental hand. Because aren’t we all a little bit broken right now? One thing is for certain – this pandemic hurts. I can no longer run away from my pain, in fact, I can’t run at all. I did come to realize that sometimes running gets you nowhere.

Briana’s Best Bet

I hope you don’t find yourself in need of an emergency appointment with an orthopedic surgeon, but if you do, Dr. Jervis Yau is the person to call. Yau works at the Ryu Hurvitz Orthopedic Clinic. He took care of me with kindness, and he got me back on my feet. I am very grateful to Yau for his work.

My injury required a great deal of physical therapy. For seven months, I saw Jenny Bienstock and her team at Elite Performance & Rehabilitation Center. Jenny knew how to push me just the right amount to build my body back while also making my sessions fun. I miss her and the Elite crew. (Although I don’t miss that psoas release exercise!)  


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