My Diabetes Dislikes Broken Bones


Showing Off My Broken Toe and Snazzy SocksFour weeks ago, I broke the sesamoid bone in my left foot’s big toe. In the x-ray, you can clearly see two cracks running down the minuscule bone, which itself is no larger than a kernel of corn. Sesamoid bones aren’t connected to other bones; rather, they connect to tendons and act as pulleys when exerting force in the forefoot. According to my research (and experience), they also assist with weight-bearing.

I wish I had some interesting or thrilling tale that explains how and why I broke my bone, but I don’t. The fact of the matter is that I woke up one Tuesday morning in quite a bit of pain. When I tried to walk normally, I felt nothing but agony in the entire ball of my foot. It was alarming, but I went about my day as usual, albeit slowed down by my apparent injury.

When the pain didn’t subside by the end of the day, I decided to get my foot checked out at a non-emergency medical facility that evening. One hour later, I walked out with no further knowledge of my injury, other than that there was “no obvious fracture detected” in the x-ray. I was told a radiologist would take a closer look in the morning, and all I could do in the interim was rest, elevate, ice, and take anti-inflammatories for the pain.

Wednesday went by with no improvements and no additional communication from the medical facility. As a result, I made an appointment with my primary care doctor on Thursday to get my foot checked out by a nurse practitioner. I didn’t feel particularly reassured when she told me she was “stumped” by my pain and wanted me to go to a sports medicine doctor to get another opinion. It was at this doctor’s office, though, where I found out the extent of my injury and how it would need to heal.

The sports medicine doctor showed me the sesamoid fracture from the first x-ray that was taken at the non-emergency facility. He magnified the image so it became large enough to identify the two indisputable cracks in the bone.

Within minutes, the doctor fitted me with a flat-soled boot and told me he would see me again in 5 weeks to see how the bone was healing. I’m one week away from my follow-up appointment, and let me tell you, I’m quite eager for it. I’ve missed my mobility, and my diabetes does, too.

How do I know? Well, for starters, I’m a person who thrives on being active. Lately, I’ve been trying to be healthier and exercise for at least 45 minutes each day. My injury has made accomplishing this goal virtually impossible, seeing as I can only do non-weight-bearing exercises. I didn’t even bother working out the first week of my injury (because the pain was intense), and my blood sugars paid the price. I was higher than usual as a result of my forced sedentariness. Plus, lounging around all day meant that I got bored more quickly, which spells out trouble for someone who likes to snack when she gets bored. I’ve tried to minimize my snacking as much as possible, but I must admit I’ve slipped up more than once.

In Week 2, I started to incorporate more movement into my day by using the stationary bike at the gym. This exercise is considered non-weight-bearing, so it hasn’t strained my foot at all. But it has put me to the test in terms of my blood sugars. I don’t normally do such a strenuous workout during the day, so my blood sugar reacts to the more intense exercise by plummeting 20 minutes or so after I started cycling. It was super annoying during that second week, but between now and then, I think I’ve figured out a solution that works well enough: Eat a larger snack (15-20 grams of carbohydrates, depending on current bg) before exercising and suspend insulin for an hour. It may seem like an extreme measure to some, but it’s what works for me and my diabetes.

Needless to say, it will be a relief when I get the all-clear from my doctor to resume my normal exercise habits that I’d established prior to my injury. My diabetes and I are ready to get back on track regarding both my fitness and my blood sugars.

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