Me and My Trimalleolar: A Week of Firsts

Shaving a numb leg is like brushing a tongue after Novocain.  Very weird.

A Week of Firsts

  1. August 29, 2011:  Eric is totally kicking my butt in PT.  He had me walking without crutches while holding my hands in front of me.  I took about 7 steps and then he walked away to take care of another matter.  I was left out there in the middle of the floor without my crutches.  It was like my ‘abandoned without crutches’ dreams only I was surrounded by people.  Okay, so it really wasn’t like my dreams.
  2. I took my first step into the grocery store since before my accident.  Scott and I did a big shopping and while I was worn out by the time it was over, I was also invigorated and liberated to be around all that food!
  3. I can now wiggle my big toe!
  4. If I really focus, I can wiggle my little toe separately from all the others (this was something I mastered pre-Trimalleolar fracture).
  5. I drove myself to PT – three times!  It was hardly scary at all!
  6. I’ve had a realization about pain:  I don’t like it, but I can totally tolerate it.
  7. I’ve had a second realization about pain:  It keeps me present.  It’s the latest and greatest trend in meditation.
  8. August 30, 2011:  Received my new recumbent bike and took my ankle for a spin in Scott’s office.  My favorite potted palm is in that room, and it was hanging directly in front of my face.  I pretended I was biking on a tropical island.  I ride for 30 minutes/day on my nonPT days.  Every few minutes on the bike, I push with only my left ankle.
  9. I have moved up from 1 cord to 3 cords using my left ankle on the shuttle, AND I can place my foot past neutral on the shuttle with minimal pain.
  10. August 31, 2011:  I can bear up to 56.5 pounds on my left ankle according to my scale.
  11. As of September 2, 2011, I am the 1-crutch wonder!  YES!  I can “walk” for short stints using just one crutch!  Hooray!  Now my task is to bear very very little weight on the crutch.
  12. I can do the wobble board with a whole lot more ease than two weeks ago – standing straight and tall for the first time.
  13. September 3, 2011:  I was able to volunteer 5 hours at Natural Bridges.  I was at an art table for most of that time – encouraging children to join the annual art contest.  So, very little walking, which is probably a good thing given the uneven ground out there. But gosh – it was so beautiful and great to be outdoors!
  14. I wore jeans for the first time since July 3.
  15. September 5, 2011:  I can bear 87 pounds on my left ankle!  Woot!  That’s 77.7% of my body weight!  Granted, I could only hold it there for about 10 seconds.  But hey, that’s darn good!
  16. I prepared Stella’s food for the first time.   Today (outside of first thing this morning), I spent all day just using the one crutch.  Oh the freedom!  I can actually carry things with minimal effort.  I envision that by next week at this time, I will have a bit more flexibility in my talus (fingers crossed, bring on the fairy dust) and will be able to walk instead of hobble on the one crutch.
  17. I made a salad – washed the lettuce n’ everything – balancing on my two legs UPRIGHT!  I’ve been so lucky, because Scott has been taking such great care of me.  Outside of getting my morning meal (cereal) and washing just a few dishes, I am doing very little in the kitchen.
  18. Did some laundry!  Again, Scott has been taking care of that stuff.  A couple weeks ago, I went to the washer down the stairs to our basement on my butt.  It was unpleasant and then I was kind of stuck down there b/c it was hard to get vertical.  I figured it all out, but then back away from doing it again until today.
  19. I realized that PT does NOT stand for Physical Therapy.  It stands for Pain and Torture.

Here’s a shout-out to my virtual PT angel, Dan Vold.  Thank you, Dan, for your continued support and for answering my many questions.  I’m grateful for your time and knowledge!

But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.
~C.S. Lewis

Adversity introduces a man to himself.
~Unknown

To see all the  posts in the trimalleolar series, click away!  Things DO get better!

Post #1 Me and My Trimalleolar:  A Life-Changing Tripulation
Post #2 Me and My Trimalleolar:  Transcending the Funk
Post #3 Me and My Trimalleolar:  Tiny Bubbles of Progress
Post #4 Me and My Trimalleolar:  A Healing Ankle
Post #5 Me and My Trimalleolar:  Talus All About It
This is Post #6 Me and My Trimalleolar:  A Week of Firsts
Post #7 Me and My Trimalleolar:  Cast of Characters
Post #8 Me and My Trimalleolar:  9 1/2 weeks…
Post #9 Me and My Trimalleolar:  The Screw, Some Scars, and a Busted Uvula
Post #10  Me and M Trimalleolar:  Walk a Mile in My Screws
Post #11 Me and My Trimalleolar:  11 Months and Moving Right Along
Post #12:  Me and My Trimalleolar Go to Mexico…with my husband and our pooch

16 Comments:

  1. I’m so happy to hear that you’re healing and progressing. That has to feel good to know that there’s forward momentum. When you referred to your pain as meditation, it reminded me of Gretchen Rubin’s book “The Happiness Project.” In it she suggests calling trying things meditation to make them more bearable and make them feel like there’s more purpose behind them. Keep taking care of yourself! 🙂

  2. Thank you Cadry! You are now the third person (Col being one of them) to refer to Rubin’s book. Perhaps I need to pick that up! I hope all is well with you. I’m grateful for your message of support and inspiration! xo

  3. I have also suffered with a tri mal with disclocation and had surgery. We are very close in dates as mine happened on July 7th I have been non weight bearing since and am in pt but it is strictly range of motion. You seem to be progressing much much quicker than I am. The news that the therapists tells me is that I should expect to be walking by Christmas! That is horrific to me and I am going to try as hard as I can to change it. Maybe I need to try what you are doing and start visualizing myself walking again. I get very depressed and like you think of the what if’s. I was hiking on a trail in Colorado and was less than two feet of actually falling off the mountain rather than just falling “on” it! So I am extremely thankful for that and constantly remind myself it could be much worse. Anyway, I just wanted to say Hi and let you know we are only a few days apart in our injury. I look forward to reading your blog as a form of encouragement.

  4. Hello Karen, and thank you for reaching out! I think it’s so important to feel connected with others who understand such a challenging time. It really is one of those situations: you have to have the experience to fully understand the breadth of it. You may have even heard people ask you why it will take so long to heal – like there’s something wrong with you. Some simply don’t understand the importance of those bones that connect your leg to your foot and because they regularly bear up to 50% of your body weight, they take a loooong time to heal!

    I also think each person progresses at her own pace. I was originally told by my surgeon that I would not even begin to take steps until 4 months. I cried and cried (sobbed, really) and then determined this was not going to be my situation. Surgeons probably have to tell their patients the more conservative estimate to prevent liability issues.

    On one hand, my surgeon is fairly aggressive with the healing process and wanted me to start bearing weight as soon as my bones could handle it (it’s described as ‘bear weight as tolerated’). On the other hand, she is taking a fairly conservative approach about when to remove my syndesmosis screw. Do you happen to have that one? I speculate you do, and mine will be removed at 12 weeks.

    Yes! Visualize! It has empowered me at times of total discouragement. Also, to the best of your ability, I highly encourage you to take some other healing actions into your control including your diet. It’s very important you eat a high alkaline/bone healing diet (nuts, legumes, apples, green veggies – broccoli rocks). I’m also taking a special buffered powered form of vitamin C (it’s very highly alkaline) and an enzyme called Wobenzym N (great for inflammation and joints but not to be taken before surgery).

    I ask my PT folks and the surgeon lots of questions, and I let them know I’m highly motivated to heal yet I won’t take unhealthy risks. I think, as a result, they have given me some freedoms with the weight bearing knowing that I will push myself to heal yet won’t push myself to re-injure.

    Hopefully your surgeon is taking regular x-rays, so with each visit you can also see your fractures healing. My fractures were not totally healed before I began bearing weight, but they were healed enough. And supposedly, a little weight bearing helps them heal better.

    In the meantime, do what you can. Keep the rest of your body strong (leg lifts, core exercises like crunches), keep your arms and shoulders loose (bearing all your weight on one leg and crutches can put a lot of pressure on the rest of your body), and wiggle wiggle wiggle your toes! When I’m not doing my PT exercises, I wiggle my toes as often as possible to keep the muscles working and loose. I also maintain a record of positive changes, because they are so slow and so incremental, they’re easy to miss. It’s important that you realize all the work you’re doing IS accomplishing something important. This healing business is like having another job. Also, I made a huge mistake of reading every blog entry I could find. I found myself getting very depressed because of all the horrific stories out there. Granted, you will see on my blog that I discuss pain and my feelings (and that’s to keep it ‘real’), yet I am working very hard to not dwell in those places. A positive attitude goes a long way.

    Yes, things are progressing well with my weight bearing, yet my talus is not cooperating very well. My range of motion is only 5 degrees past neutral with dorsiflexion – not great at all. I see the surgeon next week and hope to get some clarification on that matter.

    Hang in there! You are not alone! One day we will look back on this and realize how much better and stronger we are from this experience!

    Sending many healing thoughts your way!

  5. I have the same injury, trimalleolar orif surgery. July 27 was the date I tripped stepping up one step!! A total shock to me how horrible this injury is. I fractured my leg years ago and that was nothing compared to this. I have some glimmer of hope after reading your blog. I hope my healing is progressing. My last Dr. appt wasn’t very promising,there was some separation that did not look good I go back next week for more xrays. I so hope my bones have knitted together! I really don’t think I could stand another surgery right now. I am so tired of everything, I would just love a good nights sleep, something I have not had since the accident!I am looking forward to the day when I can remove this god awful boot. My best to you and I hope you continue your awesome healing! 🙂

  6. Hello Anonymous!

    Looks like you, Karen, and I share a number of parallels including a traumatic July and the funky outcome of a ‘misstep’. Fortunately we’re all still alive to talk about it! My surgeon told me the majority of ankle breaks that she sees are from this very thing: Someone missteps and down they go. I’ve also learned that Trimalleolar fractures are considered to be ‘low energy’ fractures meaning they are the result of a torque (body twists in a weird way) instead of an impact (jumping for instance).

    I feel your pain – literally! That darn boot! I was so excited when the surgeon gave me permission to remove it. Unfortunately, my first night of ‘sleep’ without it was just as bad as all those that lead up to it. I was in total panic mode not realizing how protected I felt by that boot! But that got better. I still have sleepless nights, but less and less and the night time discomfort has virtually disappeared these past couple of weeks. I’m about 3.5 weeks ahead of you in the healing process due to the timing of our injuries, so I can tell you that it does get better. I know. It’s exhausting. I wish I had the best words of comfort for you…visualizing helped me most at night.

    Please report back about your healing bones and what the doctor says. I don’t know if you have access or the means to receive alternative therapies. If you do, I highly encourage you to check out Frequency Specific Microcurrent. There may be a practitioner in your area. It’s supposedly works miracles on nonunion bone healing and scar tissue breakdown. I am getting a custom care unit from a friend of mine with the high hopes it will help break down my scar tissue and help my poor stuck talus.

    Have you started PT? How is that going? PT has helped me tremendously with my confidence. I realize some insurance companies have very limited PT sessions. If you have not started, please ask your surgeon what you can be doing at home. Gentle flexing using a bathrobe tie to gentle pull back on your foot. Gentle massage to get those muscles sensitized. At night while watching a movie with my hubby, I am working that foot for up to 2 hours. Flexing, stretching, massaging. This thing has absolutely consumed my life. I am spending more working hours on healing than on my actual work. I do believe the situation calls for it especially at such a critical time in the healing process.

    I am sending you many many wishes for bone connection and healing! Keep the courage, trust the process, and believe in your ultimate ability to heal!

  7. Hi, Anonymous here,(Mary)!
    Had a good Doc appt. today, my bones are healing nicely!! No 2nd surgery! He told me I can sleep without the boot, but must wear it when I am up and about. I can start to slowly put weight on my ankle, 20 pounds to start, which I did today. OWWWWWWW, that hurts. I have been using the wheel chair mostly and to change over to my walker is a pain, I can’t carry anything and it takes forever to get from one room to the next. My house is very spread out. Plus I have 3 dogs that need to go out, to be fed, the wheelchair is much faster, so I don’t think I can give that up totally yet. I go back to the Doc on Oct 10. I guess we will see how I progess. Me thinks this is gonna be a looooong process! How are things going for you?

    • kendaswartz@gmail.com

      I’m sifting through my blog and cleaning things up. I know it’s been a very long time since your injury, but I’m curious to know how you’re doing, Mary. Hope all is well.

  8. It’s so nice to hear from you again No-Longer- Anonymous-Mary! Congrats and well done on the bone healing and now you can bear weight! It’s exciting and yes, unfortunately, painful.

    I hear ya about the wheelchair, too, it was so much easier to transport things using the wheelchair. I tried a couple different things with crutches like a fanny pack and a back pack. I also heard another suggestion to wear an apron. But who wants to wear an apron all day?! Eventually, the crutches became faster for me than the wheelchair, and I didn’t bang up all the corners of my house with them! I’m now on one crutch and can carry things with my other hand – hooray! Never before did I realize how much stuff I carry around during the day!

    How in the world you care for three dogs with a trimalleolar is beyond me. You’re a super hero. Your next OS appt is the day before my next surgery! I can hardly wait, because I’m so ready to begin walking. I started taking steps, but my OS told me today (I had my 9 week follow-up) in no uncertain terms that I am to only take a few steps around the house. Otherwise, I could risk breaking my syndesmosis screw. I’ve received many mixed messages about that screw, yet I don’t want to risk it. I just need to hold on another 4 weeks. Fortunately, my bones are totally healed, so at least there was some good news!

    Thank you for following up, Mary. I was wondering how you’ve been doing. Please do stay in touch and know that I’m cheering for you! You are right on – it’s a long haul. We will both get through this and be the better for it! Cheers to you and your healing!

  9. Kenda, I was wondering how you are doing walking? Pain wise? I am doing great but I find it is defintely much more painful than physical therapy. I am walking in the boot when I am out, then at home in a pair of slippers. There is just so much pain on the inside where the 2 screws are. Other than that I feel great. Just wondering.

    • kendaswartz@gmail.com

      How is your ankle doing, Karen? I’ve been cleaning up my blog and came upon these comments. I was reminded to follow-up with some folks to see how everything’s going. Hope all is well!

  10. Hello Karen,

    The pain comes and goes. It definitely hurt worse at the beginning of weight bearing than it does now.

    My pain wraps around my ankle, and I suspect it’s the syndesmosis screw that is adding to it. At least I hope so, because that screw gets removed in 3 weeks. I envision when it’s removed, my pain will dissolve. I have screws on both sides, and by far the two on the inside are more bothersome.

    Something else I’ve noticed is that it hurts a lot more to bear weight when I’m in my stocking feet rather than in my hiking boots. My PT says this is because the muscles are not supported and have to work harder to stay in place…something like that.

    Does this help? Please keep me posted. I imagine that in a couple of weeks it will be a lot better for you.

    Keep on keeping on! My surgeon and PT continue to remind me this is a long healing process, and while I want to walk NOW and want the pain to be gone NOW, I (we) have several more months (possibly a year or longer) before we get what we want. Granted, I am optimistic it will be sooner than that, but at least we know we’re on the right track!

  11. On August 27,2011 I slipped on the stairs resulting in a trimallaelar fracture of my left ankle. I am 6 weeks post op and have come a long way but have a much longer path ahead. I am still in a cast and am looking forward to getting into a boot and starting PT. I still am uncomfortable, sometimes outright pain, but feel optimistic reading the progress others have made.
    kKathy

  12. Hello Kathy,

    My apologies for such a delayed response. Somehow I’m not getting alerts about comments, and yours definitely slipped through the cracks. Nearly 1 year later, how are you doing now? Hopefully you are feeling like your self again.

  13. Pingback: Me and My Trimalleolar: Transcending the Funk - Travels and Tripulations

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