Ankle Ankle Injury Recovery encouragement

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Stephplum

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Hi @benne68. Thanks for checking in.

I am doing fine. It was a tough Sunday. Since it was the weekend, I got off my routine. I tried walking in just socks in the morning. I realized I still need the shoes and they went back on. I am just tired of shoes all the time! My ankle was very tight in the evening and I realized I didn't do my 4 icings like I normally do on a weekday. I paid for that. I got a lot done with some vacuuming, laundry and cooking but should have spent more time with my leg up and ice.
 
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Stephplum

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Normal Wednesday update on Thursday.

So this was the busy week. As I mentioned to @benne68 above. I was part of the ODIC on the weekend. I got off my normal icing routine and tried walking without shoes one day. Yowsers!

Monday - first outing to the hair salon since the accident. I've just been letting the hair grow and go untouched for about 3 months. I had to do an emergency coloring myself (I normally do that as I am cheap) before letting my stylist see my hair. All went well. Husband drove me and shopped at the shopping mall while waiting on me. I was able to walk in and move from sink to chair fine. I am using the cane outside the home as 1) I want to signal that I have issues, stay back and 2) just not comfortable in new surroundings without it.

Tuesday - PT. Some new exercises. I am realizing just how weak my left leg is from the NWBing phase. As I am doing some of the stretches, I am relying much heavier on my right leg. Got a cramp in my right calf Ouch. I need to focus on trying to stand and stretch using both legs and not more on the right. I also tried something like a leg press (just my body weight) with just my left leg and just lifting my foot with my toes. That was tough. It didn't cause pain, just that my leg is so weak. I know if I want to hike again, I have to work on it. Of course being impatient, I am a bit depressed by seeing how long it might take.

Wednesday - Regular dr visit. So three outings in one week! Again Husband drove and waited on me so no real hardship. I am getting used to be dropped by the door! I didn't convince her to do a bone density test. She wasn't overly concerned with my ankle fracture being due to a bone issue vs just bad luck. She said the recommendation was age 65 or older. I was reading and kidney disease can cause bone issues. I may try my kidney dr. I was just trying to time the test with the health insurance benefits since my deductible is paid up for this year.

Today - a bit more pain in the outside of my ankle. I was walking in socks and twisted or turned odd and sharp stabbing pain on the outside. Very discouraging. I know elevate, ice and take it easy. I don't need to be better all at once.

Next week - I am contemplating cancelling PT. My PT is going to FL today through Sunday. Then I would have PT on Tuesday. I am just a bit leery of being close to someone who traveled that recently.
 

Jaycey

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@Stephplum Sorry this recovery is a bit of a roller coaster ride for you. Patience prescribed in large doses!

Please don't worry - you will hike again. It's just not going to happen overnight. Keep you eye on the prize. Maybe start making a short list of where you would like to hike in the future.
I am just a bit leery of being close to someone who traveled that recently.
Probably a very good consideration. These days you still need to be careful. Can you get test kits in the US? Would your PT test before returning to work? My sister and her husband just visited us after traveling from Washington DC. We all tested before meeting up.
 
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Stephplum

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I decided to cancel PT this week (today was the appointment). @Jaycey, we do have test kits available in the US and even can get free ones from the government. I don't mind requesting family to test - I ask the adult kids and grandkids when they come over - but I just do not feel comfortable asking a non-family member to do so. Easier to just skip and go next week.

Probably a good thing to skip as the ankle is a bit more sore this week. I am trying to find the right shoes. The ones I was wearing in the house were rubbing the bottom of the plate and the bottom screw. I tried some slip ons with straight lower sides for a few days. They didn't rub the plate/screw but they have very little support in the arch and my knee was hurting from those. So back to some running shoes (definitely not running). Already knee pain is gone. I am taking them off if I sit for awhile, that might help.

I do have a bit more pain on the top of my foot near my ankle and back of the calf very close to the foot is tight. Not sure if that is the achilles tendon or not. I am doing the stretches they gave me at PT once a day. I might try to up that to twice. I think it gets tighter the longer I sit so I need to get up more often and just walk or find something to do stretching while I sit. The top of the foot pain is odd. I am not sure if that is due to the shoes I tried or something else.

If anyone has any good toe exercises, let me know. I am still struggling to fully bend my big toe. I can bend all the others and I can do the toe yoga (where move the big toe up and down independent of the other toes) but I can't bend the big toe like it should. I am trying some stretches I found on-line. Maybe it just needs time.

I feel like I am just complaining today (all the time). So in the spirit of some progress.... I did drive myself over the weekend. First solo trip to Kohl's to do an Amazon return. I didn't have to wait long so that was good. That is the one thing I would worry about - standing a long time in line. Even with my knees, walking is fine, standing is the killer.

Keeping my eye on the future. Planning a trip in March 2023 to New Mexico. Not quite a year past surgery but close. I am thinking I'll plan in more scenic drives, sitting and watching nature vs hiking in case the ankle isn't back to normal by then.
 

Jaycey

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@Stephplum Sounds like you are doing really well. Trying new approaches and listening to that ankle is all that is needed. A tricky recovery!
So back to some running shoes (definitely not running). Already knee pain is gone.
Yes, I imagine getting that balance of support and cushioning is key.
I feel like I am just complaining today (all the time).
BoneSmart is a safe place to complain. This recovery business is not for sissies. Rant all you want!
Keeping my eye on the future.
As I alway say - eye on the prize. It's great if you can plan something as a goal. Your trip sounds perfect!
 

benne68

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I am trying to find the right shoes. The ones I was wearing in the house were rubbing the bottom of the plate and the bottom screw. I tried some slip ons with straight lower sides for a few days. They didn't rub the plate/screw but they have very little support in the arch and my knee was hurting from those. So back to some running shoes
After my ankle surgery, I found that shoes with a slight "wedge" or elevation in the heel were the easiest to walk in. It took some trial and error, but I ended up with a pair of Merrells that seemed to work. You'll want to shop around to find what works best for you.
 
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Stephplum

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Update:
I'll start with good news or improvements:
  • much more strength in my left leg. I was able to handle the one-leg toe press that I tried two weeks ago and my leg shook and wasn't good at moving anything.
  • balance exercises went well.
  • I can bend my big toe!! I have been agonizing over this one. It wasn't bending at the knuckle joint. I've been massaging and stretching and finally some bend in the knuckle. I'll keep working it.
  • no more cane. I haven't used at all in the house and only selectively outside the house. I like it at the store to just keep people at their distance and help explain why I am so sloooow.
  • my mood is greatly improved ie can see the light at the end of the very long tunnel.
  • Costco visit went well. I was able to do it all on my own
  • sensitivity over my incisions is gone.
Still working on
  • still searching for the ultimate shoe that doesn't irritate where the plate and screw end. I have some on order that I'll try this weekend when they arrive.
  • still have irritation when I put pressure on the plate. It is hard to lay my leg on its side on anything.
  • work on walking on inclines and grass. This is low on my list right now. I know it will be necessary for hiking but also realize that it is still early and I don't need to conquer that yet.
  • Gaining stamina
All in all, I'm pretty happy. I just booked my flights for my spring break 2023 trip. Something to look forward to. I may be a bit bummed on Saturday since that would have been the day I left for a 1.5 week trip to Oregon/California. Pretty soon I'll be able to start booking the replacement trip. That will be good.
 

benne68

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Sounds like you are making great progress, @Stephplum.

I did the same thing with the cane -- used it long after I really needed to following each of my surgeries so people would give me a wide berth! It works really well, doesn't it?

Being able to walk up and down a hill (like my own driveway!) was one of the last milestones for me. It takes a lot of flexion. Be patient; you will get there!

:flwrysmile:
 
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Stephplum

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Update this week. I am a few days behind since PT was on Wednesday and not the normal Tuesday.

All in all, progress is slowly improving. I don't feel like anything big happened this week, just more little incremental improvements.

My next Dr appointment is on Tuesday (9/20). Anything that would be good to ask about? So far I have these questions.
  • Sharp stabbing pain. Sometimes I get this when my foot is at rest. Doesn't really happen when I am moving about. Not sure what that is.
  • I want to get copies of my recent x-ray and the one from the accident. I never saw the before picture.
  • How far along in healing am I? My PT asked me if the Dr told me the % I am healed. I never heard of this so I'll see if they have an answer.
  • How to know if the hardware is failing? I see in the clinical notes that they always say no hardware failures. I am wondering what they look for.
  • Next steps. I feel like I get told 6 weeks at a time what is coming. I would like to know a general long term plan realizing that things change - I could heal faster/slower than the general plan.
 
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Stephplum

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Update.
Last week I had my FINAL Dr appointment. I didn't realize that it was the last one until I met with the Dr but unless I have problems, he doesn't need to see me again. My questions:
  • Sharp stabbing pain. Sometimes I get this when my foot is at rest. Doesn't really happen when I am moving about. Not sure what that is. Dr thought this was nerve pain. Good news is I haven't experienced this in over a week.
  • How far along in healing am I? 100% healed. Since I am 100% healed, no need for any follow up appointments. I'll give this hardware some more time and then see if it is still painful.
PT this week was fine as well. I am still having significant pain when I do the standing heel raises. It is on the outside right at the bottom where the screw/plate meet my shoe. Still looking for the perfect shoe or some type of padding to assist there. A new pair arrived today so I have something new to try this week.

Milestones this week
  • I am able to walk up the stairs normally (foot over foot). Still going down one step at a time.
  • Worked in the garden outside
  • Walked around the neighborhood. I didn't make it all the way like I used to but it is nice to get back to walking outside.
 

benne68

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Yes, I remember that nerve pain continuing for a quite a while. I don't remember when it stopped, because it gradually became less frequent and I stopped worrying about it once I realized that it was a good thing -- a sign that the nerves were waking up!

You are doing well, @Stephplum. I'll bet in another month or two, you will be able to make it all the way around the neighborhood.
Keep sharing your milestones! It inspires others. :goodpost:
 
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Stephplum

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Update:
Well I fell into overdoing it. Since July, I've been back at work. I am able to work from home so I've been fully remote. Before the injury, I was going into the office 3 days a week. I tried going in one day. Unfortunately, it was a bad day with long meetings and then dinner with colleagues. So 2-3 hours at a time where I couldn't really elevate my foot or ice properly. I paid for it for a few days as my foot was swollen and my PT exercises were painful so I cut way back. At my normal PT visit. My therapist noticed I was limping and swollen so she took it easy on me and started the session with massaging my foot. That helped and I think I am close to back where I was 2 weeks ago. Lesson learned and take it slower.

I've been able to able to keep walking outside and increasing the distance. I still haven't tackled the incline areas in the neighborhood but I am happy that I can keep increasing the distance.

My new shoes seem to be working well. On top of that I can walk more barefoot in the house now. At the beginning, I couldn't do that. It was shoes all the time.

The mantra for this week is recovery is not a straight line, there are ups and downs. I need to appreciate the incremental improvements and not focus only on the end goal that I want (full recovery).
 

Jaycey

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The mantra for this week is recovery is not a straight line
I like this illustration:

Recovery chart drawn.jpg
 
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Stephplum

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It is weird but I guess I can now measure my recovery in months, not weeks. I am 5.5 months out from my ORIF surgery on my left ankle. While not back to normal, I can see marked improvements in the last month.

Positive update
  • Grocery trips - my first grocery trip was a partial trip through the store to get some essentials and no looking around. I am now able to go through all the aisles and make a normal trip without much pain.
  • Returning home from grocery store - I still remember the first trip and I had to only bring in the perishables and put them away and then sit for 20 mins with ice before attempting to bring in anything else from the car or put it away! Now I can do it normally and take a break after everything is in and put away.
  • Walking distances - I've gone from walking 1/4 of the way around my neighborhood to the entire loop (up and down a slope!).
  • Meds - I've pretty much stopped taking the Tylenol. I was down to twice a day but I haven't had the need for about 2 weeks.
  • Socks and shoes -
    • I found some shoes that I love - a pair of Sketchers but I don't remember the type. Wide fit, don't aggravate the plate/screw on the side of my foot and comfy. I just wore them for a Costco trip and no tired feet.
    • I also just ditched the compression sock - that stylish white calf high one that I wore in my boot :heehee:. I am back in regular socks and no excessive swelling.
    • In addition, I am now able to walk a lot in the house in just socks. I still wear shoes to do my PT exercises and when I am standing and cooking. But it is not 24x7 like before.
Still to come
  • Strengthening the left calf. I am still weak in my left leg. Working on balance and heel raises.
  • Stairs. To be honest if I have to do stairs down one at a time, it isn't the end of the world but still working on getting that to be back to normal.
  • I've walked on my grass/lawn but haven't ventured to the metro park. I have a national park trip coming up in March. I want to practice some trails before then. I hope the snow stays away as I don't want my first time hiking to be with snow and ice.
  • I now have pain in other joints. I am sure it is due to the injury and compensating with my right leg and right shoulder.
    • I have arthritis in both knees and both shoulders. Before the injury I was doing ok with home exercises, topical cream, icing and tylenol.
    • My right knee has flared up. It started when I first started weight bearing. I am sure I was compensating by placing more weight on the right side when I was standing and walking. I had some success with icing, compression sleeves. But recently, I've had more trouble with the stairs. Going down I am still one step at a time due to the left ankle and calf just not strong enough. But I also need to go down sideways as bending the right knee was painful And coming up the stairs I sometimes felt a pain in that knee.
    • My right shoulder also flared up in the last month. I really could not understand it as I had some pain when I was using the walker (NWB) but it would not last. Now the pain is almost constant. I also do a lot of crafts and crocheting. I was noticing after crocheting it was in more pain the next day. I finally realized that I when I was going up the stairs, I was using my right arm to "pull" myself up the stairs. Also my crocheting shifted to using cotton yarn (less give, more tension). I think both of these led to my current flare up. I am making a conscious effort to touch the railing but not grab/pull. I've put my crocheting down for a while. All to see if it will heal over time with less use.
    • I just visited my regular orthopedic doctor to get his read on all my new issues. X-Rays show the arthritis in the right knee is now worse. So not just my over use/compensating. I did get a cortisone shot in the right knee. Last one in the right knee was in 2020. Usually I can go about 2-3 years on a cortisone shot. I've had 2 in the left knee and now 2 in the right knee. I am hoping I am good to go for at least 2 years.
The summarized version - recovery is happening. Now able to take longer walks and standing for longer times. Having some adverse side effects to other joints. The hardware is not as problematic as before. With physical improvements, I am also feeling mentally better.
 

benne68

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What a great detailed report, @Stephplum! It sounds like your recovery is on track and you'll be ready for hiking by March.

I had a similar flare-up in my knee after my ankle repair. I hope the cortisone helps your knee and you can put off further surgery for a long time.
 
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Stephplum

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Major (to me) milestone this week. I stepped down a step with my right leg (good one) and then left (recovering) one. My PT last week focused on stepping. Some gentle bending/stretching and then the therapist encouraged me to go down a step. I had been practicing on my own but wasn’t very successful. I think for me, PT has been beneficial as it has given me encouragement and confidence that I can do this. Some corrections by the therapist and I was able to step down mostly normally. Still a little stiff or haltingly but it was a step. I found it easier to not look at it as I was doing it. when I was looking I got nervous or something and tensed up. Not looking down as I stepped, reverted to more muscle memory.

My planning for a March trip is progressing. I am wondering if I should get some compression socks for the flight. I have the white socks that I wore with my boot and for a while with shoes. Will that work, or something better for flying? I’ve never needed anything flying but thinking it might be better to prevent swelling if I can. I have an ankle compression sleeve that I am going to test out hiking. Maybe that will work for flying as well? Open to any recommendations on what to do on flights and hikes. With my knee, I’m used to icing at the end of every day so I’ll be doing that for the ankle as well.

Thanks
 

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I found compression socks quite helpful for air travel. The change in pressure was enough to cause my ankle to swell for almost 2 years when flying, so I always wore long compression socks (knee high) when flying and they helped a lot. I would also wear one to bed when I had an active day and noticed any swelling at night, it would completely resolve the swelling while I slept so I could start the next day without any swelling. After a couple of years I really had to be quite active to cause swelling.
 
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Stephplum

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Mostly updating to keep my full log of my recovery here.

Another month gone by, now 6 months post surgery.

I won't say I don't feel the hardware in my ankle but it doesn't bother me very much. I do know it is there and feel it every day.

Steps have been conquered and can do them normally both up and down. In my at home PT exercises I am supposed to step up backward on my exercise step. That is still hard to do with the injured foot.

Formal PT ended just before Thanksgiving. I was able to hit my goals and the PT goals. Finally can do heel raises without pain and almost able to go up on one foot (injured one). But can do up on two and down on one. Now I just need to keep it up through the winter. I am one of those who need the social pressure of someone else pushing me! But I have my own travel goal - March in New Mexico - to push me.

I still have good days and bad days. Just last week I went in the office to work vs my normal from home. That night I had extra swelling and some throbbing. On bad days, I've taken to wearing compression socks to bed and by morning, the swelling is gone. Last week I needed the compression sock and some tylenol for the pain. But it is not every day.

All ADLs are going well. I was able to cook Thanksgiving and do all my Christmas baking. I was worried early on that I would not be able to handle that. But worry was for nothing.

Other joints - the cortisone shot fixed my knee right up. Had my follow up last week and no problems. Another benefit with all the $$ for my ankle surgery, it was all covered 100% by insurance (updated x-rays, shot, Dr visit).
My shoulder is getting better. I am just using some Voltarin type cream and inflammation is decreasing. If it is still painful next week, my orthopedic Dr said he'd do a cortisone shot.
 

benne68

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I still have good days and bad days.
That's not uncommon. This is a long, slow recovery. I think it took me almost a year to feel "normal" again.

It's sounds like your recovery is progressing well and you have a great handle on it. Here's wishing you more of those good days in the coming new year!
 

FCBayern

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Sounds like you recovery is going well, it just never goes fast enough for us. I used compression socks at night for the first couple of years, after that my ankle only swelled when I had a really active day (rough terrain hiking, etc.) but only swelling, no pain. On those days I wear a compression sock to bed still.
 

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