Earlier this month, I completed the Insanity workout and was in great shape as I prepared for a martial-arts tournament. My world came crashing down a bit, however, when I dislocated and broke my right ankle. I cannot bear weight on it for eight weeks and will have only limited chances to exercise. I cannot resume my martial-arts training for another four months.

This is the first in series of articles discussing my broken-ankle recovery process.

My Ankle: Not for the Faint of Heart

dislocated ankle

I entered a high-profile sport-karate tournament because it offered the chance to compete in continuous fighting. Other tournaments focus more heavily either on Olympic-style sparring (mostly kicks) or point sparring (the action stops each time one fighter makes contact). Continuous fighting has a feel more like boxing or kickboxing because the action is mostly non-stop.

We had five fighters in the 40-49 year-old division. Given how few people compete after the age of 30, this was a good turnout. I drew a fighter from England. He was slightly smaller than me but seemed very serious. The winner of our match would face a sixth-degree black belt who had to be the favorite to win our division.

I dominated the fight with the Englishman. I was aggressive. He could not handle my hand speed and versatility. For three months I had envisioned the best fight I could imagine, and the best fight was happening. Nothing went wrong.

That is, until the final five seconds.

I threw a defensive kick near the end of the match, expecting the referee to call time. At that moment, my opponent lunged at me and caught me with a good shot. I stumbled backward and tripped on the toe of my right foot. I fell over, slightly angry that he knocked me down. I immediately tried to stand up, but something was wrong. I could not plant my right foot. I picked up my foot to glance down, and it appeared as if my shoe had come off at an odd angle because my foot was pointing to the right.

My shoe was just fine. I had dislocated my ankle, and my right foot was turned at a 90-degree angle. I fell back to the floor, and the referee asked if my head was okay. When I pointed to my ankle, he motioned frantically for the medical staff to come immediately.

Oddly, the pain was bearable. My thoughts raced, as I had my young son with me and no way to get home. The medics were taking me to a hospital, and I did not know where that hospital was. My wife was nearly two hours away. We worked everything out so that my wife could pick up my son later that evening, but I was living through a short nightmare and just wanted to wake up.

Not Enjoying My Time in the Emergency Room

Emergency Room

The doctors put the ankle back in place, but the damage was extensive. I completely broke my fibula, so I had to have surgery. This took place two days after I suffered the injury. The surgeon was fortunately an ankle specialist, and he inserted a metal plate and seven screws to hold my ankle together.

I had not been in a hospital as a patient in over 30 years. My mindset for the three previous months had been on extreme cardio workouts along with training for martial-arts matches. For three days, though, I could only hop around the hospital room trying to stay active. The first time I smiled since the day of the accident was when the nurse brought me crutches so that I could move around more on my own.

Next post in this series: The First Week