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Lessons Learned From Breaking My Big Right Toe: 11 Ways A Painful Injury Made My Life Better + 7 Tips on Caring for a Bone Injury Holistically

Lessons-Learned-Broken-Toe_copy

 

The Story

 

On Tuesday, November 21, 2017, I broke my right big toe at home by accidentally stubbing it very hard. Everything happened very fast, but I am almost positive I stubbed it on our utility door, which is a metal door (ouch). The amount of initial pain was unreal, causing me to drop to the ground. At that point, I really didn't think it was broken. I had a client phone session at 6 pm, so I attended to that. I iced it and tried to get on with my night after that. I was not able to sleep that night at all.

 

The amount of pain was unreal and not going away. I scheduled a doctor's appointment for the next day. When the next day came, I contemplated not going because I had to drive myself and even getting a shoe on was a big project. I mustered up the ability to go and I am glad I did because I wouldn't have known how serious it was. It was told that it would take 6-8 weeks to heal and that I have to use a walking boot and limit my activity tremendously.

 

That was not an easy task because *I love being on the go*. I accepted my fate and invited this time to recharge and reflect. I was also really grateful that I designed a life where I work at home, alhamdulilah. I was also grateful to not need surgery.

 

Two nights after the initial break, Kyle accidentally stepped on the broken toe and it was the most terrible pain. That was a tough night. Thankfully, it wasn't all of his body weight. Alhamdulilah. When I spoke to my doctor the next morning, she said it should be okay.

 

I chose not to use any pain meds. I share why below. I am grateful for my knowledge of how to use Nutrition and Holistic Health to heal.

 

Fun facts:

1) The break is a shape of a Y, like my name.

2) The Puma logo on the X-ray is the photo reflection of the nurse's sweater.

 

Here's a photo of the X-ray:

 

24130177_10108959865050499_2124600854433615345_o

 

Initially, I experienced a whirlwind of emotion. Pain. Sadness. Fear. I also experienced lots of faith, alhamdulilah. I tried to laugh as much as I could. I am very grateful for the support from family and friends. I told myself that this injury is going to make my life better. I kept asking myself "how can I use this experience to make my life better?". I trust Allah SWT and even when things I don't like happen, I know there is a reason.

 

While I will not glorify or sugarcoat how difficult this injury was on me, I had many benefits working in my favor, alhamdulilah. It got me out of my comfort zone and reminded me how amazing life is.

 

I want to be clear that these benefits were not handed to me on a silver platter. With that being said, their equivalent is available to anyone willing to be intentional about their life. A core reason why I am writing this post is to illustrate that perspective and mindset is everything, mashaAllah.

 

11 Ways My Life Improved, alhamdulilah, and mashaAllah:

 

Here are some of the awesome things that happened when I focused on turning this injury into something positive, alhamdulilah and mashaAllah.

 

1. I gained respect for myself

 

Overall, I am very pleased with how I carried myself through this injury, all praise is due to Allah SWT. I had my shortcomings for sure. I was not always graceful. I was patient though, alhamdulilah and overall, pretty positive. Experiencing this helped me respect and appreciate myself more. I tend to be hard on myself at times. For years now, I’ve been working on being more gentle with myself. I do regularly practice that, but this was also a nice boost in that direction, alhamdulilah.

 

2. I gained empathy for others

 

I’d like to think that I always had empathy for injured and disabled people. Through this experience, that empathy became more tangible. I started viewing individuals in wheelchairs, etc. differently. Not better or worse. Just differently. More eye to eye, I suppose. I’ll never claim to know what anyone else goes through. At the same time, I felt a new connection to them. For example, there’s a man in a wheelchair that goes to the same gym as I do. He is there regularly doing his thing. Does that mean he’s better than other individuals in wheelchairs who don’t do that? No. I do however admire the tenacity and grit. On occasion, I found myself feeling self-conscious when in public with my walking boot because I knew I stood out. It made me think that no matter how mindful we are, we all get self-conscious and we all fall into judging others based on appearances sometimes. How often do we look at someone in a wheelchair or a prosthetic leg and create this whole identity for them based on that little sliver of evident truth we see? This experience made me thirsty to get to know and share more about the behind the scenes stories of others, injured or not. More on that in the “I decreased my need for safety” part of this post, inshaAllah.

 

3. I gained a new perspective

If you’ve never broken a bone, I hope things stay like that for you, inshaAllah. It is hands down one of the most excruciating types of pain I’ve ever felt. I gained a new perspective on pain. I am no stranger to pain. Anyone who knows the story behind my Holistic Health Coaching Practice, Wellness with Yasmin, knows that a key catalyst was getting diagnosed with idiopathic scoliosis at age 22 after being undiagnosed during my teen years. Over the years, I’ve worked to decrease scoliosis induced pain. Through strengthening, lengthening, and nourishing, it’s improved drastically, alhamdulilah and MashaAllah. Breaking my toe gave me a new perspective. No two pains are alike. It made me realize how we can never truly appreciate something until we’ve gone through it. I now have a new perspective, alhamdulilah and MashaAllah.

 

4. It reignited my passion for sharing health and fitness

 

I got really serious about nutrition almost 12 years ago, back in 2006, at the end of my senior year of high school. I started cooking for myself and eating balanced meals. Prior to that, I was an extremely unhealthy eater, to say the least. This is also the time I started to get into lifting weights. Exercise has been a staple for me since then, alhamdulilah. Before I broke my toe, I was very much passionate about health. On most weeks, I exercise 5x a week and stretch daily. I can talk about nutrition all day long.

 

Over the last couple of years, my passion towards sharing health has been shifting from nutrition to emotional and mental health. While I still have clients who come to me strictly for physical health ailments, I have been attracting more and more clients who are looking to work on deeper emotional issues related to their work, spirituality, overall life, relationships, etc. It’s what makes me very grateful to have been trained by a Nutrition school that also focuses on these issues. If you'd like a 3 free chapters of an ebook from my Alma Mater, the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, you can download that here, inshaAllah. 

 

With that being said, experiencing a health ailment helped me remember how many people need help with these issues and how I should talk about it more. It's not shocking because health ailments are what motivated me to work in this field. That doesn't mean I am going to stop talking about emotional and mental health. I do however plan to focus more on sharing on the physical elements, inshaAllah.

 

5. My submission towards my Qadr increased

 

The injury forced me to submit to certain things. I had to accept things for what they were. I found myself wanting to improve my relationship with Qadr. Us humans can sometimes resist what happens to us. That never seems to play in our favor. The things that happen to us in life are perfectly calculated by Allah SWT. During my healing time, my right foot got stepped on 3 different times by 2 different people. What are the chances right? Clearly, there is a message to be learned here.

 

In His Qur'an, Allah SWT says:

 

“But they plan, and Allah plans. And Allah is the best of planners.”
Surah Al-Anfal (8:30)

 

6. I connected with my mom more often

 

Alhamdulilah, I am blessed to have a positive relationship with my mother. It wasn’t always this way, especially in my late teens (when I was an ungrateful daughter, to say the least). Anyway, it’s been a good relationship for many years now, alhamdulilah. We speak regularly on the phone and are blessed to live close. After I broke my toe, we have spoken on the phone every single day. When I moved out after marriage, we used to speak daily on the phone, but over the years that decreased to several times a week. While we were already speaking regularly before my broken toe, it’s back to daily. Now it’s the sort of thing where I want to keep this chain going. We haven’t missed a day yet. As I write this, it’s been 114 days, mashaAllah and alhamdulilah. Will this go on forever? Allahu Alam. We’ve almost missed catching each other a few times so far. Some days it’s about calling just to say hi, but most days we have a decent conversation averaging maybe 20-40 mins, alhamdulilah, and mashaAllah. Something that really struck a chord with me was reading a blog post that estimated how most adult children have already spent the bulk of time they’ll ever spend with their parents.

 

7. My relationship with my husband improved

 

If there’s one thing an injury like this does, it shakes you out of your comfort zone. Any married couple knows that as the years go on, it’s easy to get complacent in a relationship, allowing the day to day stuff to dictate what comes next. I am proud to say that Kyle and I work to improve our marriage all the time. We are very close and talk everything through, even when it’s hard. At the same time, this injury helped me get honest about a few things. Choosing to use that awareness to make changes has created improvements in our relationship, alhamdulilah.

 

8. My attachment to safety and anxiety decreased

 

For as long as I can remember, I’ve hated and have been afraid of snakes. There is something about them that irks me. So much so, that I’ve given up opportunities to visit some really beautiful hiking spots here in NJ, simply because I’ve seen pictures from friends who have spotted a snake on their hike. There was a time when I wouldn’t even type the word ‘snake’ out because even that freaked me out. I’d get irritated with my husband if he said the word. I’ve unfollowed people on social media if they’ve posted pictures of snakes. Not joking. Are you familiar with the ‘Don’t Tread on Me” flag? It has a snake on it. Kyle is a high school history teacher. Back in the fall, I helped him decorate his classroom and we put up various flags on his classroom windows. I really didn’t want him to get a ‘Don’t Tread on Me” flag. Lol. He didn’t out of respect for me, but he’d bring it up often. It clearly meant something to him. Now you have a good idea of how much I really dislike snakes. Now that I was summoned to restrictive movement after breaking my toe, I realized this Dunya life is way too short to let things like that get in the way of your living. I decided I’ll be hitting up some hiking spots this spring/summer/fall, inshaAllah. I hope I don’t see a snake. If I do, it’s okay. Gotta face your fears, right? Oh, I also bought Kyle the ‘Don’t Tread on Me’ flag as a surprise, in case you were wondering. I recorded his reaction on video. It was priceless. For now, I’d like to keep that as a special memory between us, but who knows, maybe I’ll share it in the future, inshaAllah.

 

The experience has also motivated me to take more risks and put myself out there more. I’ve been working on a podcast since December that will launch this spring inshaAllah. I have already interviewed some awesome guests, alhamdulilah and MashaAllah. I am excited to share it with you all, inshaAllah.

 

9. I recognized how much my body image and self-love has improved + it improved some more

 

Over the years, I’ve learned how to love myself more. I have a good relationship with myself, alhamdulilah. Loving yourself can be so darn hard to do as a woman in today’s society. I’d like to think that I already had a pretty good body image before my injury. With that said, I actually learned that I had so much room for improvement. Over the few months, I’ve found myself appreciating my body and self so much more. I think it’s really important for women to know exactly how beautiful every single inch of her body is. This injury gave me a reality check of how much I appreciate my body, both visually and functionally, alhamdulilah and mashaAllah.

 

10. I realized how far I’ve come with my relationship with food

 

I have a good relationship with food, alhamdulilah. This was proven to me when I maintained a healthy mindset and attitude regarding food during my healing time. As someone who used to have an eating disorder, that says a lot. My physical activity decreased tremendously during my recovery time. I was pleasantly surprised how at ease I was with this. If this is something you struggle with, check out my online school, Glow Academy, for my upcoming “Cultivating a Healthy Relationship with Food and Nutrition” class.

 

11. I got even better at the art of delegation

 

I am a pretty independent person. I’ve been working since I was 14 (even younger than that, if you consider working for my dad). I am the eldest sibling of three daughters, so I’ve always felt the need to be the ‘responsible one’. I graduated high school at 17 and worked all throughout college. Over the years, I’ve learned how to relax more and yes, I know how to kick back and relax alhamdulillah. Kyle and I divide a lot of the housework and errands because I have a firm belief that men should contribute to the homes they occupy and live in. WIth that same note, there are some things that up until my injury, I primarily did. Those were things I needed to now depend on Kyle to do. Delegation is an art that is usually hard for us women. In my years of working with women all over the globe, I’ve found that a lot of us tend to choose to do things for ourselves than delegating that. Rightfully so. Sometimes it’s easier to do it yourself. Others may not do it right. They may not care as much. With all that said, it’s extremely important for us to remember to delegate and get help from others. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Communication also goes a long way to guide the person we are asking help from.

 

7 Tips to Manage a Bone Injury Holistically

 

In terms of handling my injury holistically, here are some things I did. Please note that what works for me may not work for you. Every individual is unique. It’s important that you consult a doctor regarding your injuries.

 

1. Icing the injury

 

Icing my toe was crucial to reducing inflammation and promoting healing. At first, I was using ice cubes, but then I started using an ice pack. That was definitely much better. I could tell that it helped the swelling and inflammation go down.

 

2. Time

 

Time really heals all. Of course, not all injuries can heal based on time alone. I am grateful that my break did not require surgery, walhamdulilah, and mashaAllah. Self-care really helps amplify the healing power of time. If you need some help in this area, check out my 5 class course "Self-Care and Rejuvenation for Women", inshaAllah.

 

3. Supplementation

 

I was already consistently taking several supplements for maintenance of overall health prior to my injury. The key ones that I would recommend to someone with a broken bone would be vitamin D, vitamin C, magnesium, probiotics, and a food-based multivitamin.

 

I recommend high-quality vitamins that are food based and ethically sourced. I will speak in depth about Vitamin D here, inshaAllah.

 

Vitamin D has been proven time and time again to be positively correlated with bone health. In the February 2018 Journal of Periodontal Implant Science, a study titled “Effects of 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 on the differentiation of MC3T3-E1 osteoblast-like cells”. The study concluded that Vitamin D3 “positively affects cell differentiation and matrix mineralization. Therefore, it may function as a stimulating factor in osteoblastic bone formation and can be used as an additive in bone regeneration treatment.”

 

Over the last 6 years, I’ve reviewed the bloodwork of many of my 1:1 clients. Almost every single woman I’ve worked with has been in deficient in vitamin D at the beginning of our work. I can’t emphasize how important vitamin D is. It’s beneficial for immune health, thyroid health, bone health, breast health, to name a few. If you have broken a bone, make sure your levels are good. Deficiencies in vitamin D can be linked to osteoporosis, especially in individuals over 50. A 2004 survey conducted by the Canadian Community Health Survey found that 54% to 66% of 10,879 survey respondents aged 50 or older “had inadequate intake of vitamin D”.

 

I used to be deficient in vitamin D back in 2011. For me, I knew low vitamin D was not linked to my broken bone. I get yearly bloodwork done and I have had very good levels of vitamin D for several years now, alhamdulilah and mashaAllah. For me, the impact of injury was extremely intense. Low vitamin D levels can cause fractures without a high impact injury.

 

At a later date, I’ll be posting some of my favorite products and brands. Please know that supplementation is unique to an individual. It should be monitored by a doctor, with regular yearly blood work monitoring. As a Holistic Health Coach, I design supplementation plans for individuals based on their bloodwork. If this is something you are interested in, feel free to contact me, inshaAllah.

 

4. Immobilization

 

The best way to heal a broken bone (assuming surgery isn’t required) is to immobilize it. My doctor gave me a walking boot. Here's what it looks like:

 

Premium_Short_Air_Cam_Fracture_Ankle_Boot_by_Mars_Wellness_large

Image Credit: https://www.vivehealth.com/blogs/resources/boot-for-broken-foot

I was also given a surgical boot. I really did not like the surgical boot. I stuck to using the walking boot. I ordered a second walking boot for inside the house. Like many Muslims, we don’t wear shoes inside the house. I wasn’t about to change this due to breaking my toe. I used one boot for inside the home and one for going out. The reason many of us Muslims don’t wear shoes in our home is to keep the floors we pray on clean. Even if you aren’t Muslim, you may want to consider this. Shoes tend to carry a host of harmful bacteria. This practice is also common amongst Eastern and Asian countries.

 

A study at the University of Houston detected the harmful bacteria C. diff (Clostridium difficile) on 39% of shoes.

 

Dr. Charles Gerba, a microbiologist and professor from the University of Arizona “found large numbers of bacteria both on the bottom and inside of shoes; averaging 421,000 units of bacteria on the outside of the shoe and 2,887 on the inside. Some of the bacteria found on the shoes included: Escherichia coli, known to cause intestinal and urinary tract infections, meningitis and diarrheal disease; Klebsiella pneumonia, a common source for wound and bloodstream infections as well as pneumonia; and Serratia ficaria, a rare cause of infections in the respiratory tract and wounds.” (Cleaning Industry Research Institute).

 

5. Strategic Mobilization

 

Upon seeing me the day after my injury, my podiatrist told me I couldn’t exercise. A week later, I called her to ask if training my upper body was okay. She cleared it. While I didn’t have intense workouts, I did keep movement part of my regular routine. This was helpful in keeping my body active. I got clearance to workout lower body again at 8 weeks. I was told I could not jump or run until 12 weeks. Once I was allowed to move my toe, I realized it had gotten really stiff. This is no shock at all. When a joint doesn't move, it stiffens up. It's no shock why so many individuals are very stiff, as a result of sedentary lifestyles. Movement is life! Please know I do not come from a place of judgment or shame. I come from a place of sharing knowledge. You gotta do you. Please take what works for you and leave what does not, inshaAllah.

 

I was told early on that it's possible for me to develop arthritis in the joint since the break happened at the joint. I hope this won't happen. It's still a little stiff and it doesn't feel the same when I bend it. As time passes, it loosens up. I am continuing to move and stretch it. I know it will take time to truly loosen up. It was immobilized for a long time! I am also going to experiment with flax seed oil and black seed oil to help inshaAllah. Both have been studied for nourishing joint health. I started taking the flax seed oil yesterday. I ordered the black seed oil today. I truly believe I can avoid any sort of arthritis in the joint holistically. Please make dua for me. At the same time, I trust my journey. Allah SWT knows what's best. That's comforting to me.

 

6. Why I didn’t take a single painkiller (neither prescriptive or over the counter).

 

Whether it be mental pain, physical pain, emotional pain, or spiritual pain, pain hurts. No one likes it. It's normal to want to make it go away. There's nothing wrong with that. How we make it go away makes all the difference. Silencing or numbing pain compounds pain and makes matters worse. On the other hand, listening to pain and playing detective to find the root cause of the issue opens the door to allow pain to do its job and leave. Pain tells us what's wrong. Pain is on our side. If we listen to the pain and address the root cause, we end up much better off.

 

I didn’t take any painkillers or medication during my injury. No Advil. No Aleve. No Generic Ibuprofen. You get the point. I don’t share that to brag. I share that to let others know it’s possible. I didn’t do this to be superwoman. I did this for a few key reasons, as follows:

 

I wanted to feel the pain. Okay, no, not like that. I do not enjoy pain whatsoever. What I mean here is that I didn’t want to numb the pain. The body feels pain for a reason. Even though we may not like it, it's a gift from Allah SWT to feel pain. Pain helps us know what’s wrong. I didn’t want to numb it because I wanted to stay connected to my body. Her bone broke and I wasn’t going to mentally abandon her. I also wanted to be able to properly gauge my healing. This is not fully possible if you aren’t feeling things.
I have two copies of the MTHFR gene. This is a genetic variation found in approximately 30% of the population. I recommend the work of Dr. Ben Lynch if you want to learn more on MTHFR. Individuals with this genetic variation have decreased methylation abilities over those without the variant. This makes us more sensitive to chemicals, medications, etc. I did not want to put unnecessary strain on my body, particularly my liver. I also already knew that my body had radiation to release from the 3 x-rays I had to have done. Please note that I do not advocate this for everyone. You have to do you. This is what works for me.

 

The tradeoff I had to make was losing sleep. It was extremely difficult to sleep in the beginning due to pain. Sure, I could have taken something to help with that. However, the short-term benefit was not worth the long-term price for me. Here’s a record of how sleep went down for me in the beginning.

 

  • First night: I couldn’t sleep at night at all.  I was finally able to fall asleep in the morning, for no longer than 1 hour at a time. 1 hr + 1 hr + 1 hr = 3 hrs total
  • Second night: 2 hr + 1 hr = 3 hrs total
  • Third night: 3 hrs + 2 hrs = 5 hrs total 
  • Fourth night: 1.5 hrs + 6 hrs = 7 hrs total

 

As you can see, I couldn’t sleep for more than 1 hour straight the first night. After a few nights, I was able to sleep normally, alhamdulilah.

 

7. Nutrition

 

I did not change anything in my nutrition. However, my regular way of eating was helpful in my healing. Making sure each meal has a healthy fat, a protein source, a carbohydrate source, fiber, and green leafy veggies is very helpful for healing and remineralizing bone. I personally have been gluten and dairy free for almost 6 years now. For me, both are inflammatory to my body, as someone with scoliosis and MTHFR. I have the lactose intolerant gene. Cutting dairy out reduced my allergies tremendously. Cutting gluten reduced inflammation in my spine and joints. Do I think every individual needs to be gluten and/or dairy free? No. It's a confusing world out there. It's also important to note that being gluten and/or dairy free does not automatically equal healthy. You can be very unhealthy under that label. I plan to record future videos on the topic to help shed some light.

 

You definitely want to be drinking a lot of water. Hydration is always important. It is even more important when nursing an injury. it will help keep your digestion running smoothly. Lack of movement negatively impacts digestion.

 

Focus on eating whole foods, aka things that Allah SWT has created for us to eat. If you need some help, check out my Glow From The Inside Out Cookbook.

 

Greens are very important, as they alkalize the body, reduce acid, promote digestion, cleanse the body, and more.

 

In terms of animal products, aim for high quality, antibiotic free, humanely raised, tayyib and halal products, if you can. I know it's not always easy. When there is a will, there is always a way. Personally, I'd rather cut that out than eat conventional animal products. In fact, I did cut out animal products for almost 2 years several years ago, before I found high-quality halal sources. The difference is night and day. As always, take what works for you and leave what does not.

 

Sugar tends to slow down immune function and also creates inflammation in the body. You can satisfy your sweet cravings with fruit. If you like to bake, check out coconut sugar. It's loaded with minerals and vitamins and has a much lower glycemic index.

 

I don't believe in deprivation. Personally, when I want something that is not the healthiest thing in the world, I find the best ingredients and make it at home. You can do this for just about anything, inshaAllah.

 

Food should live at the crossroads of what makes you feel best, look best, and tastes best, inshaAllah.

 

A Message To Anyone Currently Injured (Especially if you are struggling)

 

I also want to mention something for anyone who is currently injured or who has been in the past. This is my experience. You have your right to handle yours whatever you see fit. One is not necessarily better than the other. This can also apply to other health ailments, whether acute or chronic, physical or mental. I ask Allah SWT to ease you in your affairs and to guide you to what's best, inshaAllah.

 

Staying positive is not always easy. I have certainly had my own struggles with it. As someone who has struggled with anxiety and depression, I know first hand how difficult it can be sometimes. It's why I am so passionate about teaching classes to help those in such situations, such as my 18 class course on Holistically Managing Anxiety, Trauma, and Depression, inshaAllah.

 

If you are new to the personal development arena, awareness is a good starting point. My downloadable free daily wellness checklist can help you with that, inshaAllah. 

 

I also want to note that I've been working on my own personal development and mindset for many years now. I know that undoubtedly contributes to how I carried myself through this injury, alhamdulilah, and mashaAllah.

 

Closing Thoughts

 

Now, I definitely do not recommend you go out and break a bone or anything. I do hope that you can find some way to relate this to your life, especially when it comes to your own trials and tribulations.

 

We all have tests in our life, as we are reminded by Allah SWT in Surah Al-’Ankaboot:

 

“Do the people think that they will be left to say, "We believe" and they will not be tried?” (Qur’an 29:2)

 

I can honestly say my life is better due to this experience. Did I have moments of lost hope? Yeah, of course. I am human and we all have our moments of despair. At those times, I reminded myself that this is what Allah SWT wrote for me.

 

As He tells us in Surat al Baqarah:

 

“But perhaps you hate a thing and it is good for you, and perhaps you love a thing and it is bad for you. And Allah Knows, while you know not.” (Qur’an 2:216)

 

 

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this. I am struggling to end this post because I keep thinking of things to share. I hope this brought you some benefit, inshaAllah. Please keep my family and me in your dua, inshaAllah.

 

What about you?

 

I'd love to hear from you. Have you ever broken a bone? Leave a comment and share your story. Even if you've never broken a bone (and I hope you never do, inshaAllah!), feel free to say hello below. I'd love to hear your thoughts on my post.

 

Sending you lots of love, dua, and good vibes from NJ,

Yasmin