Accidents happen. And in America, they bankrupt you.

I had an accident on Sunday. Totally predictable, run of the mill accident. Running at top speed, in a padded gymnastics facility, I pulled off a long kong (diving jump with my feet behind me) over a 5-foot tall vault. The landing was not glamorous; I turned my ankle, whimpered in pain, and went into a 48 hour process of elevation and icing.

Now I lay here trying to determine, in the most non-technologically way possible, whether my ankle is broken or sprained. Here’s the difference:

Broken Ankle

You cannot put any pressure on it. It is completely immobile and any attempts to move it are met with great pain. Not as painful, because numbness occurs. Often a surgery and a pin is required to set it in place properly and maintain good function of the foot through the rest of your life.

Medical bills: up to $30,000.

Sprained Ankle

More painful than a break. A ligament is torn, and takes 6 weeks to fully heal. weight can be applied to the foot, although it is painful, and it can be moved, although with discomfort due to the swelling.

Medical bills: up to $2500.

By these symptomatic definitions, I have a sprained ankle. Thats what I’m really hoping for. But bruises and sensitivities on the other side of my foot, as well as an odd crunch sound sixty seconds after the accident, leave me wondering which injury it is.

Ideally, I would go into a medical facility, have a quick X-ray taken of my foot, and find out, one way or the other. Then I could plan. Then I would know. But that sort of foreknowledge costs a lot of money, which I don’t have.

So I am lying at home, and hoping for the best.

I went bankrupt years ago because my wife had a baby in a hospital, and I couldn’t pay for the medical bills. Now, I’ve fallen into what has become a cliche American trap, yet again: do I wipe myself out financially, to take care of my injury? Or do I compromise my body’s health on the hope that I’ll really be okay?

America was founded on a sense of optimism and belief in the rights of capital. But these have been taken to extremes, so that now I am excessively optimistic in order to preserve the meager capital that I have. If my optimism proves to be unfounded, then I could suffer a lifelong debilitation in my ankle, the joint that allows for slow, easy movement; the difference, indeed, between a hobble and a stroll.

Why are so many of my countrymen faced with this dastardly choice? Why are our medical costs double and triple what citizens of other countries pay, yet so many of us still find ourselves straddling the line between poverty and optimism, in order to keep breathing the foreclosure-saturated air of America?

I tire of making these choices.