A Guide to Spraining Both Ankles at Once

How a casual day in autumn became the day I almost never walked again


An abandoned building stands below the bridge on Novi Road, no more than ten feet tall.

Everyone makes stupid decisions as a teenager. It’s inevitable – childhood is when you discover the world, but your teen years are when you discover its boundaries. 

You discover where you fit in the spaces that life curates and how the world itself works. It’s a coming-of-age ritual we all go through in different ways – and, in my case, mine was the reckoning of spraining two ankles. 

Now that it’s all said and done, I can laugh. In the moment, and during the healing weeks after, I felt miserable. I could barely move, and when I did attempt to walk, I did so in extreme pain. 

To walk without crutches (because I was a stubborn, prideful piece of work who didn’t want to use them), I had to bend one knee while only keeping pressure on the ball of my foot, all while keeping my weight on the outside of my other foot. 

After everything was mostly healed, I noticed I had developed a discrepancy in the pattern of my footsteps. I worked to correct it, but even now, it’s not fully right. 

One could wonder – what could I have possibly done to injure my feet in such a way that had left me unable to walk properly for months? The answer is simple. 

I jumped off a building. 

Originally, I fibbed and said I jumped out of a tree. This was incorrect. 

I much preferred my parents to think I had messed up the landing on soil and knobbly tree roots rather than admit I misjudged the distance off the side of the building and somehow overlooked the fact that I would be landing on hard concrete. 

The exact event went as follows – my friend and I (who will go by the alias Vince for privacy’s sake) headed up to an abandoned paint factory. We climbed the building and took pictures and videos. 

It was a wonderful October day, and we enjoyed the biting chill of the wind as night approached. We started the descent from the building as it began to get dark. 

I was recording a video at the time. This is the only reason I can recall what events happened next. 

Vince successfully climbed down from the building. I, being my adrenaline-seeking self, decided I would jump down. 

I cannot recall this building being more than ten feet tall. 

I spent seven excruciating minutes, sitting on the ledge, building up courage to jump down. I took one last final picture of my friend from my vantage point – it was clear how high up I was. 

I pushed myself off, and halfway down, I felt myself start to lean back.

I landed on the heel of my left foot and the outside of my right foot. I knew something was wrong immediately – pain shot through my legs, both a dull ache and a sharpness that instantly screamed “wrong.” I landed in a crouched position, but I had never felt weaker in my life. 

I immediately asked myself – “am I in shock? Are my feet broken?” Which would have answered the question – I was not in shock. I was stunned, and instantly knew I had messed up. 

The walk back to the car was excruciating – I couldn’t call an ambulance, because no car or stretcher would have been able to reach where we were. We had crossed a river, railroad tracks, and walked a fair bit before arriving at the building. The only choice I had was to walk back. 

Taking into consideration the amount of bad luck I’d had that day, it couldn’t get any worse – right?

While Vince and I were doing our best to get over the river, we heard a whistle, and rumbling. 

The train, mocking in its approach, pulled right in front of us, and stopped. Our path was completely blocked. 

This was also the day I learned how to completely duck under the connecting cable in between the cars of a train while having two sprained ankles. My backpack caught briefly on the metal, and my heart seemed to slam against my ribcage as I wrenched the bag free.

But then, we were out. I was home free. 

The adrenaline that had kept me going rushed out of me and I began to really panic. I texted my mom, and we drove to a local urgent care.

At some point during the drive, it had become apparent to me that we were stopped at the train tracks that I had frantically pushed myself over less than thirty minutes prior. The very same train that had played a part in my eventful day was now causing more problems. I found that incredibly coincidental. 

Now, I am mostly healed – my right foot still hurts on occasion, when I stand for too long – but I can walk normally. I can run and play sports. I am lucky that I didn’t destroy my joints. 

And now, I can look back on this story, and truly call it the rite of passage of my teenage years. I only wish the rite had been concerning something more practical, such as understanding how to file taxes, instead of a refresher in the physics of gravity and impacts on concrete.