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Tag Archives: recovery

The purpose of this post is two-fold: an update on the
ankle and a lead-in to the next two posts I have planned.
First off, the ankle is finally starting to heal in ways that I can
see and rejoice over. For about two weeks, I was sinking into
a depressed state and was growing quite bitter, especially toward
those around me. OK, toward people in general. I’ve
lost my sense of humor about not being able to walk – quite
honestly, not being able to walk for 2 months is no laughing
matter. It’s challenging, painful, and embarrassing.
Coworkers and even complete strangers will act like they’re going
to kick or trip me, or make some kind of comment that just isn’t
necessary. Even though I know it wasn’t out of malice, it
started bothering me so much that I really couldn’t keep it
together at all. Lots and lots of tears. If you’re any
kind of decent person, don’t stare at or tease someone who’s
injured, help them. So, I’ve started physical
therapy. Three times a week (I pushed it to 4 last week) for
an hour after work. Immediately after I have to get home and
ice my foot (by then it’s 8:00), eat dinner, take a shower, and
then it’s straight to bed. Not much room for a social
life! Still no weight allowed on the foot without the boot
on, so it’s all working on getting the fluid out of my foot,
rebuilding muscle with electronic stimulus, range of motion, and
flexibility. The progress is slow, but the physical therapist
did show me how to “walk” with one crutch, and I have even been
able to get around at home without crutches. I can only put
weight on my foot with the boot on though, and only indoors where
the floor is nice and flat. I don’t have any stability at all
and the tendon that does most of that work is still reattaching
itself apparently. Still, it’s progress. I can carry
things!!! I think the worst part of crutches is that you
can’t carry ANYTHING. I’ve been using a small backpack as a
purse (oh how I miss my cute purses), and if it doesn’t fit in
there, it doesn’t go. It’s also extremely tiring. Just
going across a parking lot has me out of breath – I’m not very
athletic anyway, but hauling your lower body weight around on my
scrawny arms has been truly exhausting. I know grown men who
are in great shape that say the same thing, so I think I’ve done
pretty good to do as much as I have. But being able to just
use one crutch at the office has made my life a lot easier
already. I also have to watch that I don’t hyper-extend my
right knee. It is very weak and taking a full stride is quite
painful if I don’t watch how much I am extending it.

Day
48

The
result of 2+ months of being on crutches.

Today was
day 53. I see an end in sight, and things are looking
up. I certainly learned a lot about myself and what I
can/can’t deal with. I also learned that when I injure
myself, I should take care of it! Blasted high threshold for
pain….I always have to learn things the hard way. So, moving
on…I made a list of goals last year and I did complete a lot of
them. You can read that list here
and my follow-up here.
I’m ready to update my list and add some new ones. Most will
obviously be short-term goals concerning the foot, but I’m
considering some longer-term goals as well. Before I can
update my list though, I need to finally write my “This I Believe”
essay (that was one of my goals). If you don’t know what that
is, you should check it
out
. I just love the concept and being a person
with very strong beliefs and ideals, I think I’ll have a lengthy
entry! I’m looking forward to getting my convictions and
beliefs into written format and sharing them with others, and
looking forward to setting and achieving new goals for a new year
that is already looking to be full of possibilities.

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.