One Broken Ankle, and Two Lives Grind to a Halt. Or, Why You Should Definitely Stop and Tie That Loose Shoelace

A 75-year-old man with his broken ankle in a cast in a hospital bed in his den with TV. Photo by Barbara Newhall

I rented a hospital bed to set up in the den, the room with the biggest TV. It’s not far from bathroom and kitchen. Jon’s non-injured leg was weakened by polio, so he needs that wheelchair and knee walker to get around. Photo by Barbara Newhall

By Barbara Falconer Newhall

Jon’s got a broken ankle — and a torn deltoid ligament. Life has ground to a halt for him. And for me. The orthopedic surgeon who stitched the ligament back in place says absolutely no weight is to be put on that foot for at least four weeks, maybe six — well into and past the holiday season.

Jon gets around with a wheelchair and a knee walker. But he doesn’t go very far. That means I’ve been doing a lot of running around since that fateful evening when — we think — Jon stepped on his own shoelace at a family dinner and yanked his foot so hard trying to get it loose that he broke one bone and displaced another.

Big life lesson: if you notice that your shoelace is untied, stop and tie it.

My Life With His Broken Ankle

I’m not spending much time at my computer these days. Hardly any writing. Not much emailing. I’m doing more important things. Like fetching a bottle of cabernet and a wine glass for Jon. Taking him stamps and envelopes so he can pay bills. Helping him search for his cell phone, which keeps disappearing under the covers of the hospital bed I’ve rigged up for him in the den. Doing the chores that Jon normally does. The grocery shopping. The cooking.

Soooo. If you experience radio silence on this blog over the next few weeks, it’s because I’m doing my wifey thing. I’m taking care of my husband. That means I’m exhausted. And grumpy. I shout at my husband a lot. Sometimes he just thanks me for doing stuff for him. Sometimes he shouts back. That’s how it works when one person is laid up and the other is frazzled. Just so you know.

Meanwhile, keep your shoelaces tied.

More Jon stories at “Would My Husband Like to Add My Name to His?” And, “Will Our Kids Grow Up to Be Cheaters?”

A periwinkle blue fiberglass cast on a man with a broken ankle and a torn ligament. Photo by Barbara Newhall

Jon chose a periwinkle blue cast for his broken ankle. Photo by Barbara Newhall




  1. P. Jaeger says:

    Jon, I would have thought that someone with your stratospheric IQ would have designed / executed a scenario that focused on the other leg.

    I am really sorry you injured any part of your bad self. We need all systems go at our age. I’m not on a walker yet; but I am on 3 legs. The good news is that my cane is hollow and holds 5 vials of ….whatever you’d like. Highly recommended. (Saves trips for Barbara with the Cab).

    Take care, listen to your doctor (and your wife) and I wish the both of you a very Merry Christmas and an improving New Year.


  2. Will Philipp says:

    Sending my well wishes to Jon—very sorry to hear about his ‘shoelace accident’! I do know he is an active guy, so this long recouperation is frustrating>>>& making him ever so grateful for your care! 🙂

    Happy Holidays to our fellow travelers, Will & Katherine

  3. Read and write a lot, Jon.

  4. Bill Mann says:

    P.S. I got hit by Post Polio Syndrome eight years ago. Does Jon have that too?

    • Whoa! I didn’t know about your polio. Hope it’s not too serious. So far Jon has had no signs of post-polio. In fact, I’m seeing that particular leg doing more and more in the past few days, now that it has to. It’s gotten off easy, maybe, for the past 3/4 century.

  5. Bill Mann says:

    Barbara: my wonderful wife has been doing more or less the same thing for me for two years. Good thing she retired at the same time I became ill. I often wonder how people who live alone manage.

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