Heidi Isern

writer. thinker. whiskey drinker.

Healing a Sports Injury Without Turning into an Alkie

“Heidi, You are not 25 years old anymore.  You can’t just do the same things.”


My body, foot now in a cast, apparently hadn’t gotten the message.


Last year after my birthday I wrote an article called “F*ck the birthday pressure, I’m taking my time…” However this year I cannot help feel the pressure of aging as it is literally breaking me.


My right foot is in a cast due to a stress fracture.  Last time I was injured it, it was clearly due to overuse –hardcore skiing, kickboxing, running, double dutch jump roping, you name it.  My foot deserved to be broken.  However, this time it was different.  My summer had been one of a sloth.  Due to another injury (sea urchin spine-long story) I barely exercised, selecting outings to the wineries over ones to the gym.  My sports physician was perplexed.  “I have no idea why it broke.  Did you get drunk and fall over?  If not, it must be a vitamin deficiency coupled with the fact that your bones are getting old.”


Old bones!?!  Moi?  And deficient?  Deficient didn’t exist in the Isern vocabulary.  The words hovered in the air like a radioactive cloud, threatening to destroy my spirit.


According to multitude the sports experts (I had consulted 3 plus a check on WebMB which diagnosed me as a near quadriplegic), not only did I need to wear a cast but I also needed to make permanent life modifications.  I needed to:


1.  Alter my exercise routine (less leg things)

2.  Add more to my diet (hello milk, goodbye soy)

3.  Modify my dress code (ballet flats over Manolos)

4.  And worst of all….“Cut back on alcohol” (sigh)


This couldn’t be happening.  I was the girl that finished top in races, climbed kili, wore shoes high enough for strippers, and drank whisky like it was going out of style. I didn’t want to create a new identity as ‘Heidi Old Bones’. I always thought I could be the same person into my 90s.  I coveted the words of Eddie Veder, “I change by not changing…”


“Heidi,” said my doctor.  “You have to make some changes….or you will end up a quadriplegic.”


I had a choice.  I could either moan my predicament, hoping that other people would sympathize with my inability to run a marathon through wine country in heels, or I could accept it and fun the positives in my new lifestyle.


Part of me wanted to host a pity party with my friends Debbie Downer and Negative Nancy but the goody goody in me decided against it.  Fine.  I would change and make lemon aide out of lemons. Positives of my new stress fracture lifestyle listed below:


  1. Swimming.  It’s the only allowable exercise right now.  I do walk around with a faint hint of “eau de chlorine” but I my back and shoulders are already stronger…and perhaps sexier?
  2. Cute flats.  Old Heidi would have considered this phrase an oxymoron.  New Heidi has discovered new adorable shoes at ground level.  Added bonus: I can now date shorter guys.
  3. Cheese.  Very good source of bone healing calcium. No more guilt pangs after eating an entire cheese wheel from Cowgirl Creamery.
  4. Sobriety. It’s not like I was a raging drunk before…or a pious water drinker now, but I have drastically cut back on my wine and whisky intake.  While everyone else is groggily nursing their hangover Monday morning, I am singing “Stayin’ Alive” while headed off to the pool at 7am.
  5. Handicap pass.  Yup you got it–I now have the same amazing parking typically only reserved for our grandmothers. I also get preferential seating in restaurants, bars, and have a great icebreaker topic for new conversations.


I probably will never be able to run another marathon, but hopefully I’ll be able to run some distance in the future. In the meantime I’m discovering all sorts of new things that I can do, determined to only view my cup as half full.  So perhaps, even though my body has slightly altered, my soul really hasn’t changed after all-I still feel rather 25 (even if I no longer drink like I am)!

1 Discussion on “Healing a Sports Injury Without Turning into an Alkie”
  • Heidi, thanks for the light-hearted optimism this post has given me. I’ve got a few less years than you but frequently feel like an old bag of bones myself with major back problems and a busted up achilles tendon. So important to expand on the activities we love, with ones that are good for us.

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