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If you don’t already know, I had reconstructive surgery on my ankle on October 28, 2010.

Small ankle joint effusion, peroneal tenosynovitis, partial tearing of the anterior and posterior talofibular ligaments and calcaneofibular ligament, and posterior tibial tendinitis with tenosynovitis.

That’s what the MRI said, but when the doctor actually got in there to see the damage, it was apparently a lot worse.  He said the damage looked older than the injury I suspected had caused the problem.  One of my tendons was shredded into three strands, and most was unattached.  So he reattached things and tightened things and sewed things up.  I had never had surgery before, and I was really scared during the weeks leading up to it.

I was initially told two weeks non-weight-bearing recovery.  After surgery, he told me that it would be 6-8 weeks.  At the time, I was so out of it and in so much pain that I didn’t care.  I had already planned on staying with my mom and step dad, so it didn’t change much in my mind.  I would still take a week or two off of work and just figure out how to get back and forth.  Little did I know…

Strength-wise, I was very unprepared for being reliant on crutches.  I couldn’t get up or down from a sitting position (read: the toilet), and I couldn’t even swing between steps – I had to go one crutch at a time.  Three days after surgery, I had to go to the emergency room because I couldn’t keep my medication down.  After 4 hours without pain medication, I needed professional help.  Without being too descriptive, just so you know – throwing up while you’re in the worst pain of your life while riding in a car is no picnic.

So that was the worst of it.  I’m at 5 1/2 weeks now, out of the bright pink cast and back in the boot (just when I leave the house, my foot is naked every possible chance I get), back home and back to some semblance of a social life.  I still can’t drive, and I still can’t put an ounce of weight on my foot.  I can’t feel my 4th and 5th toes, and I’m hoping it’s just from nerve damage during the surgery and they will repair themselves.  I have a nice 5-6 inch scar up the edge of my foot and over my ankle bone.  I finally got to wash my foot yesterday and even was able to shave my leg.  Things are looking better, but it’s going to be a while before life gets back to normal.

I guess my point in writing this is educational.  If you’ve ever known someone who’s injured, or sick for a long period of time…be a good friend.  I went from doing something several times a week with friends and driving whenever I wanted, I could stand over the stove to cook my favorite dinner, I could go on a date, I could clean up after myself, change directions quickly, go for a jog, do my laundry, take a shower, wear anything I wanted, etc etc etc.  The realization that I was stuck like this for at least a month made me feel sorry for myself on more than one occasion.  Living with your parents is never easy, but I couldn’t even hop in the car to get away.  Even when I did leave the house, my foot swelled so bad that it almost wasn’t worth it.

So all these things that seem like no big deal to you – picking up your dirty glass, unloading the dishwasher, driving to work, standing(!)…imagine all that is taken away.  Imagine being reliant on other people for EVERYTHING.  Imagine not getting to do what you want when you want to do it EVER.  Imagine strangers staring at you when you go out in public.  Imagine your friends telling you that they’re out at parties, dinner, movies, while you’re stuck in bed with no choice for weeks to come.  Imagine your friends just not contacting you at all.  I realized that I have a few friendships that were only being held together by me – the two weeks that I wasn’t up for talking on the phone and initiating conversation kind of showed me who truly cared about me, or at least who understood that I needed some serious support.  Then again, people I barely knew were texting every day to cheer me up.  I got some lovely cards also.  So while I apparently needed to reassess a few friendships, I gained a few as well.  Let me re-iterate – be a friend.  Be an over-the-top friend for a few weeks.  You don’t even have to visit, just call.  Don’t just text, pick up the stupid phone and make it personal.  One day you’ll be in those shoes, and you’ll see what I mean.

Anyway, things are going better – I was able to come back to my apartment with the help of a friend who stayed with me for a few days.  Now I’m on my own – it’s difficult to do ordinary things, but I’ve learned to live with less and deal with a little clutter since I can’t clean up very much.  My wonderful mother comes by once a week to do the major cleaning and laundry and I look forward to her visits and the subsequent clean home.  I do miss being able to hop in the car and grab a bite to eat or go to the store, and shopping.  I really miss shopping.  I still have to burden a few coworkers and friends to get me to and from work, and I’m very tired of having to ask for help.

If you’re still reading, I’ll take that as a sign that you care about what I’ve been going through.  I’m a generally positive person – only two meltdown pity parties in 6 weeks is pretty damn good if you ask me.  I’m lucky to have such a wonderful and helpful family, and to have lots of friends who have bent over backwards to help me – everything from uplifting phone calls to taking out the trash.  I don’t think I’ll ever take my health, friends, and family for granted after this experience.

The boot I was in for about 6 weeks before the surgery and will probably be in for 4-6 weeks after. It's no picnic either.

At home right after the surgery. The tube coming out is attached to a machine that circulated ice water around my foot.

During surgery prep, the nurse blew a vein in my left hand. It doesn't look that bad here, but it was black and blue for about 3 weeks and was quite painful.

The doctor wrote "NO" on my left foot, and "YES" on my right foot. There can't be enough fail-safes!

The incision one week after surgery.

The first layers of the cast.

The first of the three casts. It was more comfortable than the post-op dressings, but very heavy. No, my favorite color is not pink - there aren't a lot of choices of colors.

The incision at 3 weeks, after sutures were removed. The brown/black stuff isn't blood, it's just an iodide solution that dried on.

Cutting off the third and final cast.

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