Have You Thanked Your Ankles Lately?

April 1, 2017  by Dr. Suki Munsell

Coincidences amaze me. I was moved to write this thank you note several days before a diagnosis of skin melanoma near my right ankle. The subsequent surgery and recovery demanded being off my feet for a few weeks and threatened a long anticipated vacation with my granddaughter. I healed sufficiently to show up but I’m still hobbling around and sorely miss having full range in my ankle.
When we stop to appreciate a body part, we often think of the heart, brain, or the lungs. But where would we be without our ankles? Just where we’re seated right now!

Dear Ankles,

Our whole life, you’ve been doing a great job. Remember ice skating as a kid – tricky, slippery, and cold; so glad we figured it out fast. When I was teaching roller skating – you navigated the spins and never embarrassed me.

Snowboarding – ouch – but that was not your fault, the boots kept you bound too tight. The time we were water skiing when I caught that wave wrong and we skipped like a stone – not your fault. All those years sailing, we never fell once, even when the waves tried to wash us overboard.

You’re flexible, Ankles, negotiating bumpy patches and guiding us safely over slippery slopes, even when hiking at night. We’ve survived some falls this lifetime, and we’ve grown smarter.
Our legs and butt love you, too. You keep them looking trim and sharp. You work well together. Legs have a crazy job really, either holding our body stable as a ladder, or prancing like a pony. You do your part well, balancing the hundred plus pounds above you.

The older I get, the more I need you. You keep me rolling through life, pumping fluids up my legs so they don’t get swollen, flushing my system with every one of those 8,000 steps we take each day. I see seniors walking flat footed, waddling side to side, needing a cane. I’d hate that.

I pay more attention now. I keep you tracking under my knees and hips to protect those joints. If we fall and something breaks, I could lose my ability to walk. All our systems would begin to wind down.
I want lifelong legs. Life in a wheel chair, people having to care for me, losing my independence, not a pretty picture. Jacqueline Kennedy was walking in Central Park the day before she died. That’s an image to shoot for.

Let’s keep making beautiful memories together, Ankles, on our 250,000-mile lifetime trip on the earth. A fitting close to our healthy, long term relationship.
Thanks, I love you.