The Tragic Story of a Teacher and Her Heels

I love wearing high heels. Don’t you? The chic-ness, the sexiness, the authority, the power. High heels are amazing! I own about 9 pair of them…that is just about half of my shoe collection!
But, I am a teacher. Should teachers wear heels? I know quite a few of my readers are teachers–do you wear heels to school? Because I certainly do! (Given, I also always bring a pair of flats in my tote to switch into during lunch and prep periods and right after school.)
Well, this is a long-overdue story. Then again, it’s been 6 months in the making. 
Here are the two villains in the story: 
Left: The villain everyone hates, the villain that only wants to take over the world: industrial sized entry way mats. Strategically placed at the entrance I used at Springville Jr. 
Right: The villain everyone loves and tries to make excuses for. The villain that can be empathized. Has an innocent, professional look about them.
The story takes place on a cold winter day at the end of January. It was a peaceful day outside, the armory next to my trailer classroom was silent. The computers in the computer lab were working perfectly for my seventh graders to finish up their Utah Indian tribe brochures. The bell rings. I need to hurry back to my classroom for my next period. I grab my papers and walk through the halls, trying my hardest to go as fast as I can on the linoleum floors, dodging preteens. I had made it to the door that led out to my trailer, when all of a sudden, I felt a tug at my right leg. One of the 4 industrial sized entry way mats was raised up and bit, and lo and behold, my heel got caught in the bump. I start falling forward, sprawling, my leg stretching as the momentum continued to carry me. Papers fell, my heel came almost off. I almost ended up doing the splits. I looked around, only one of my students (a good boy) had seen. He helped pick up my papers and asked if I was alright. I was.
I continued into the classroom, my right leg a little stiff, still feeling like I was stretching it. But, I started my lecture, weaving in and out of the rows of desks. By the next period, my right leg, especially my right knee, was very sore. I could barely stand. And so it continued through the rest of the day. I switched to my flats, sat on my desk as I taught as much as I could, and tried to stay off my knee. I could feel it swelling, and I could barely walk.
When I got home, I iced it, and put on my knee brace. I’ve had weak knees and terrible growing pains, as well as just athlete’s knee for most of my teen life. Even as a college student, my knees would sometimes give me pain after running or playing soccer. So, I was used to it. But, the next morning, I could barely put any weight on it. I spent another day mostly sitting on my desk as I taught. I talked to the secretaries at the front office and they gave me the number for the school district’s Worker’s Comp. I called, they made a case file, and told me to watch it one more day. If my pain was still above a 5 the next day, they would send me to a Worker’s Comp doctor. 
The next day I went after school (a third day of sitting on my desk, not walking, wearing my knee brace). We talked, I told him of my past with my knees. He told me to continue wearing my brace and icing. Oh, and not to do intense physical activities for a couple of weeks. All of February, I did as he said. I wore flats to school, walked around the classroom less, iced it when I got home, and did not run. The other history teachers came to my classroom for weekly collaboration because I couldn’t go up stairs. Finally, March came. After a month of being uber careful, and with the weather taking an upturn, I wanted to start working out again. I started speed walking on treadmills with my brace. 10 minutes turned to 15, turned to 20, to 30. I could run on a treadmill with low resistance. I started venturing outside–I could start running again with my knee brace. I would have to ice it when I got back, and not go running the next day, but every other day was still better than none.  I still didn’t wear heels to work.
Wear my knee brace to go work out, then come home, take it off and ice my knee anywhere from 10-30 minutes, depending on how bad it hurts (if it hurts at all).
Then, came Spring Break during the first week of April. We visited my family and my marathon-running dad wanted to run with me. I lasted 5 minutes, then we limped back home. My knee swelled and it was hot and in pain. I didn’t go running for a couple of weeks. But, my knee continued to get worse again and some days, the pain was definitely over 5 again. Throughout this entire time, I couldn’t squat, kneel, or go up or down stairs without pain and popping. So, I went back to the Worker’s Comp doctor and he gave me a referral to a sports medicine doctor. By this time it was mid-May. We had an appointment, and talked about my knee and my athletic history. He felt my knee and took an X-Ray. According to my X-Ray, my knee was healthy and perfect. So, he gave me a referral for physical therapy and an MRI.
The beginning of June, I started physical therapy. For those of you who are runners and athletes, you can understand my anguish at not wanting to run for fear of injuring my knee further, but wanting to run because I love doing it and the weather was so nice. But, at least I got a work out with my knee at physical therapy. I had my MRI. The results: internal de-alignment and internal swelling with internal liquids. Basically, the cartilage under my knee cap was injured during the fall and thus was wearing away. Now, I already had very small knee caps and a small amount of cartilage to begin with (I have a family history of knee replacements), which explains all the pain I’ve had in my life. But, because it was wearing away, my body was taking precautionary measures by pouring liquid in it, which caused my knee to swell and hurt even more. This cartilage that protects the knee cap from rubbing against the femur cannot grow back once gone. If it wears away completely, that is what causes osteo-athritis and I am pretty darn close to that on my right knee. Thus, the physical therapy was to work out the muscles around my knee to build scar tissue to protect that precious cartilage. 
I continued physical therapy throughout June, going about twice a week. But, I have completed all the sessions Workers Comp would pay for. Thankfully, all the exercises I completed there, I can do at home or at a local gym. 
I decided to tell this story because I already ran this morning. It was a nice run, but when I got home and started stretching, my knee popped and pain suddenly came rushing in on it. So badly, I could barely stand on it. It hasn’t hurt this much since before physical therapy. It has been almost 6 months since I was first injured, but it still affects me. I can’t run as much or as fast as I used to, nor as often. Sometimes that depresses me seeing my relatives and friends be able to run 10ks and half marathons. I would love to, my able is able to (except for my right knee), but I don’t know if I’d be able to do it. I have always been sure I’d end up with arthritis in my knees (I’ve predicted this since like 8th grade), but the reality may be far closer than I think. It’s a shock to know that such a small trip could cause such a long-lasting injury and have such detrimental effects.
What was the lesson I learned from this? Not to wear heels at work? False–I still do and I still will. Watch out for industrial sized entry way mats? Correct! I am very careful around loose mats and carpentry now when I wear heels. So, learn from my mistake–watch out for those villainous mats and carpets. They love grabbing onto high heels and causing pain and annoyance to their wearers! Take heed!
Tayler is a work at home mom. She does free lance articles and dabbles in graphic design and virtual assisting for bloggers. She spent 3 years as a history and English teacher. Her passions are her husband, two children, history, reading, nature, and her Savior, Jesus Christ.
  • dude girl that SUCKS! I pretty much never wear heels anymore because heels plus me equals dangerous. on another note my husband is starting a study in a couple months at byu that is testing specific exercises as pain management and correction for people with chronic knee pain. its supposed to realign your joints so that your cartilage can heal and stuff. I dont know too much about it but you should be part of it when it starts.

  • Oh man, that's awful! That's so frustrating when an accident that happens in one moment can cause, and continue to cause, so much trouble! I bet the exercises from physical therapy really help, though. I've had trouble with my left wrist since I injured it 5 years ago, and physical therapy and continuing to maintain it with those exercises has really been the only thing that's helped it in the long run!

    • And that's the only thing you can do about it…continue to work on it…sigh.

  • Oh that's awful!!! I've had two heels related injuries at work, but I will never give in! (except that I quit teaching so . . . ) Luckily they were both just skin injuries. You can read about my second one here: http://probablycrazykimberly.blogspot.com/2012/02/one-year-ago-today.html My students would always comment that they're moms couldn't believe I wore heels while pregnant. Heels for life!

    • After about a month or so being uber careful, I started wearing heels again to work. I will definitely wear heels next school year as well. I love them too much.

  • This makes me so sad for you! As a runner I hate injuries, not because they hurt, but because they prevent me from running.
    I hope and pray you heal so you are able to run how ever many miles you want!

    • It's the one I always complain about, Desiree. Some days it's just fine, some days, not so much. It's honestly more annoying than any pain that I have.

  • Ahhh I feel your pain. I completely busted my knee from stepping up onto a step. Yup. Doctors kept asking me what I did and I would say, I don't know I just stepped up on this step and then everything hurt and I could barely walk. I've had knee problems my whole life from dancing and acrobatics and I think it finally just said ENOUGH! Glad you're feeling better!

    • I'm glad somebody understands and has had a weird injury themselves due to clumsiness! I am not alone!