Today is November 20, 2011 nearly one month after my last post. So much to share and so little time!
On October 26, 2011, I had a post-surgery follow-up appointment with my OS. It was exactly two weeks from the day of my second surgery and two weeks of nonweightbearing on that left foot. This 2-week mention is important, because the surgeon previously told me it could take up to six weeks for the hole (which once housed my syndesmosis screw between two bones) to fill in. I was delighted to see the surgeon’s enthusiasm when the x-ray revealed no trace of a hole. My body, with a lot of help from my (high-calcium, high Vit K, high vit C) plant-based diet and the Frequency Specific Microcurrent machine (I think this played the most major role) expedited my recovery. No hole.
I knew something was very good when the surgeon remarked (with enthusiasm) about how great my recovery was on more than one occasion. She looked at me and said, “Your bones are healed.” I was told to bear weight as tolerated, stay in the hiking boots for support, be off of my crutches in a week, and to call her if I had any questions. She gave me a permission slip for freedom, and I began to tear up. Life was so good. So very good.
My dream-like state was quickly ripped back to reality (envision that sliding record player needle-on-a-record sound you hear on TV or in the movies) when I shared a concern about my left knee that was buckling/sticking popping. I really didn’t think much of it and simply wanted an opinion. I mean, the pain was tolerable, and the only real issue was that my knee got stuck and in order to unstick it, I had to move it in a certain way to make it crack. I didn’t think much of it, that is, until they whisked me back to x-rays and gave me a script for an MRI. An MMT, turns out, is something (Medial?) Meniscal tear. That was the presumed diagnosis (presumably brought on by the initial injury and unnoticed due to my only recently bearing full weight), and would require another surgery for repair. I could not believe what I was hearing, and actually, did not. I called up my denial mechanism, and it came immediately to my rescue. I could not and would not believe there was another surgery in my near future. Sure, next year (July or so), I was okay about getting the rest of my hardware removed, but that’s considered noninvasive and another move toward normalcy.
I left the office with nary a care in the world, because I was healed and blissfully relishing in the joys of denial – my all-time favorite defense mechanism. And THAT is exactly where I planned to place my focus, on healing. Walking did not initially come to me as easily as I envisioned. It actually hurt like hell. I thought I’d be dumping Starsky and Crutch in a day or two, but alas, I held onto Starsky for nearly two weeks (after 1 week only in the morning and at night when I really needed him).
On Friday, October 28, I was back in PT and given the goal of walking 1 mile on an uneven surface without assists (crutches, etc). Two days later I took my first walk on the beach since July 2! I was so elated! While I brought Starsky for company, I didn’t use him. I did, however, hold tightly onto Scott’s arm for about 85% of that walk. It was intimidating, even with my hiking boots. My foot bobbing all around in the sand. Still, I was so thrilled to be back on the beach.
On Thursday, November 3, exactly 4 months from the date of injury, I walked 1 mile on the beach (an uneven surface) without assists. I went back to PT the next day and told her I reached my 4-6 week goal in less than a week, and she upped the ante. Walk 1 mile on the beach without shoes in 3-5 weeks. I told her that I could walk that shoeless mile in 3 weeks or less! Walk that mile!
On or about November 6, Scott took me and Stella out for a walk. We went to the park where I used to walk Stella every morning. I’ve been holding off on going there, because it’s very bumpy, rocky, muddy and has steep parts. I managed to walk another mile or so without help except on the steepest parts. My feet simply don’t bend that well still. I was so happy to be back out there. Happy! I’m aware that I can tolerate the pain because it’s so exciting to walk again. I hope the pain wears off before the excitement does!
On November 17, my MRI (Did you ever have one of those? WEIRD! I felt like I was on stage with some heavy metal band – peculiar, obnoxiously blaring, distorted, sounds) revealed a “fold” in my meniscus, but the OS does not think it’s a tear. She thinks that the months of nonweightbearing lead to weak knee muscles and that my knee cap is moving off of its ridge (the locking/sticking), and when I walk and kick out my knee is gets back into place. She prescribed even more PT for my knee to strengthen that muscle. If the problem does not correct itself, she will go in with a scope (didn’t ask, didn’t want to know). As I was walking away from her after our meeting, she enthusiastically noted how well I was walking. I smiled. Funny thing. Walking does not come without pain, which usually leads to a limp. Here’s what I do to overcome the limp: I pretend I’m an actor who is acting like someone who doesn’t have an injury. With that, I focus on my even steps and limpless walk. It’s quite validating to have the surgeon (and also the PT later that same day) comment on my limpless gait. Turns out, this whole acting thing works.
Today is November 20. I am up to 2 miles walking on uneven surfaces in sneakers. I would try walking shoeless, but it’s too darn cold. I can now balance on my left leg for up to 2 minutes before I start to feel the burn of those underused muscles. I: can take steps with more ease, can stand and turn in the shower without the fear of falling, can walk to the bathroom in the middle of the night without excruciating pain, can carry things in two hands without the worry of toppling over, can sometimes look up while walking, can sleep without elevating on three stacks of pillows, can be on the floor and get to a standing position in two movements (and without holding onto the table, the sofa or any other solid piece of furniture) instead of about seven. I am beginning to feel like my old self.
Here’s the stuff I need to work on:
1. Building up/strengthening the muscles in my left leg/foot
2. Breaking down scar tissue (myofascial crap) which is preventing me from gaining range of motion, causing (or perhaps is the cause of) inflammation, and leading to some of the pain. My muscles are all caught up in the scar tissue. This lends itself to some of the pain. I need to continue building strength. The other day, I was walking and pretended like I was going to run. I took the first running step and clearly my foot was not ready for it. The muscle screamed at me and threatened to crumble under pressure. I backed off.
3. General range of motion stuff (in all ways, left, right, up, and down)
4. Focusing on my gait as not to throw the rest of my body out of whack.
5. My confidence, which has been badly shaken by this whole experience.
Last I checked at PT, I was at 10 degrees dorsiflexion and 34 plantar-flexion. My right foot goes 25 degrees dorsi and 64 plantar. I have a way to go even though I was told that 15 degrees dorsi is where most people are. I want my left to be exactly where my right is. I want them to be equal. And equal they shall be!
And you, too, can walk a mile in my screws. Check out all my Trimalleolar Posts here. Things DO get better!
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
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
This is 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