November 20, 2015

The Road to Recovery

After two weeks in the splint it was time to upgrade to a cast and have the stitches removed. I didn't know what to expect, but the incisions were cleaner than I imagined. I had two small ones along the top of my ankle from the arthroscopy, and of course the large one pictured below from the Brostrom-Gould procedure and peroneal tendon repair. It sort of looked like a freaky smiley face. It probably would have been better had I not stopped pain medication days prior. I had healed so nicely, the stitches were a bit stubborn to remove. The burning and stinging was tolerable, but definitely uncomfortable. I was relieved when it was done.

Then, my frankenfoot was prepped for a hard cast. I was given my choice of colors, but I let Nick make the selection. He chose blue. And so, the next two weeks went by at a snails pace. I much preferred the splint. It wasn't as heavy and it allowed for swelling. It also didn't snag my bedding. I fought claustrophobia a few times, I know how silly it seems, since the cast only covers the foot and all, but when my foot would swell, it would really freak me out. It was difficult to find comfortable positions, my heel would routinely go numb. My toes remained numb since the surgery too, so overall it was really uncomfortable. I was relieved when I found a pocket in pillows that allowed me to rest - at least for a bit. I lusted over sleep, but it so rarely came.

Finally, on the 22nd of October it was time to remove the cast. Showering without a garbage bag taped to my leg seemed like such a luxury. I was so hopeful that sleep would come easier, it took time, but it eventually did. My incision was healing nicely. I transitioned into the boot, though, I was still unable to bear weight it came as great relief. I no longer fought the claustrophobic episodes. It's amazing how being in control can reduce anxiety.

I anxiously awaited the next two weeks to fly by. My next appointment was at 6 weeks post-op, I was eager to get cleared to walk. I was also excited to be able to use the hot tub again. I did receive the doctor's blessing to begin walking, but when I tried I realized I didn't know how. I was crushed. It might have been foolish of me, but I really thought I'd just be able to walk. I thought it would be like all the times I sprained it before - it would hurt, but I could muster steps, and they'd gradually improve. No such luck, my foot was lame. So much so, I'd swear my foot didn't exist; it felt like I was standing on a stick. The numbness and pain was too much to bear. It was simply too weak and stiff. My range of motion was so little I couldn't walk, no matter how badly I wanted to. I wanted to start physical therapy immediately and be aggressive with the schedule. I thought since my deductible was met, I'd only be responsible for co-insurance. However, I was mistaken. Visits would run $75 each visit. Paying $900/mo was out of the question. Who could afford that?

It took an hour and more than a dozen phone calls, but I found a facility that was covered and could see me a few days later rather than weeks. I'm opting to go only once a week, for now, my therapist gives me lots of homework in between sessions. I've only gone twice, but after the first week I was able to take my first steps since having the surgery. I can only do so in the boot, but I'll take it. He pointed out that my heel was not touching the ground & you must if you'd like to walk. It seems like the simplest task to sit flat footed with your heel to the ground, but let me tell you, I had to work at it for five days before it began to feel somewhat normal. The pins and needles sensation remains, unfortunately. It may be a long time before it improves. It's possible, I'll never regain full feeling. I certainly hope it's not the case, but at least I can prepare for it, if it happens to be.

At seven weeks, I started walking extremely short distances in the boot. By the eight week mark, I'm weening from the knee scooter and building my endurance walking. I cannot wait to take a step without the aid of the boot. I keep trying with the help of the walker at home, but I tire easily. In the meantime, I'll keep at my exercises, building strength and improving range of motion.

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