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Me and My Trimalleolar: A Healing Ankle

Me and My Trimalleolar: A Healing Ankle

August 17, 2011:  Precisely 5 Weeks Post-Op

shaving - nope
Yeah, shaving becomes much less of a priority in times of crisis…

Admittedly, I was nervous about my OS appointment today.  I’ve been working so diligently to heal my ankle and follow PT. I’ve been visualizing several times a day.  Subpar news would have been a massive disappointment.

We walked to the OS office and there were no other patients in the waiting room.  Surely this was a good omen.  Mary Ann (who I’ve repeatedly called Gail for some reason) took me back for x-rays.  She asked, “How are you doing?”  I responded with, “Great!  I think my bones have healed!”

We were then promptly sent to a patient room.  Boot off.  Brace Off.  Sweating.  Nervous.  My list of questions and a pen in hand.  Elevated foot to give it that more normal skin tone.  In comes the Doctor with my x-rays.

Frankly, I don’t remember the first several seconds of our discussion, because I was terribly ungrounded.  My consciousness came to light when I heard her say, “Your ankle looks really good.  It’s doing really well“.  She showed me the x-rays from four weeks ago and today’s x-rays pointing out how the fracture lines were barely visible and how everything looked in place.  She pointed out two more times how good it looks and how well it’s doing.  She seemed very very pleased with how little swelling I had.  This felt incredibly rewarding because I could see through her that things were very good – better than she expected I assume by her near enthusiastic response.

If it weren’t for the syndesmosis screw that has to stay in place for 12 weeks (and then surgically removed), I would have been able to start the process of walking (increasing weight-bearing for four weeks) straight away.  But unfortunately, the syndesmosis screw is also holding a ligament in place, and the ligament has to heal properly before I walk.  Turns out ligaments take longer than bones to heal.  If I walk, the screw could break in my foot, and they will not be able to remove it.  Supposedly this is common and there are thousands of people out in the world getting by with a broken screw in their foot.  Not for me.  That appeals to me about 0%.

While I was bummed to learn that I must wait despite my well-healed bones, I am STILL overjoyed that my bones are doing so well.  Only five weeks post-op and if it weren’t for the ligament, I would be on my way to walking.  This puts my healing bones way ahead of schedule.  And I can begin to bear weight!  I can also replace the big ole’ boot with a hiking boot if I choose.  I think for safety’s sake, I will continue to wear Betty (that’s my boot) when in the car.   I still feel kinda vulnerable.  Tho I no longer have to sleep with Betty!  Hooray!  Dr. Siegler gave me the okay to remove the bandages that were supposed to have fallen off two weeks ago, and I can get my foot wet (not soaking wet, but I can bring it into the shower with me if I keep the spray off of it).  If I wanted to, I could also start driving.  Again, I don’t feel ready for that.  I’m still wearing the brace on the right ankle and…well, I’m just not ready.

All in all, I’m keeping my chin up, because I am well on the mend.  Who knows?  Perhaps at my next follow-up in four weeks, she will tell me that the screw is coming out sooner than expected.  I’ll start visualizing that now.

More photos coming next post!

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
This is 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
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


    1. Kenda

      You are so welcome!

      DeeDee has graciously shared her experience, which I really appreciate. I think having someone on a similar trajectory helps.

      I’d also like to share something about food intake and nutrients. There are a number of whole foods that contain calcium that are not dairy if this is something you’re interested in. As a nearly 17-year vegan who has fabulous calcium intake (my OS thought my bones were strong and was surprised at how quickly they healed), I have to throw the vegan option out there. And as an animal advocate, I’d be remiss if I didn’t. Not to dismiss anyone else’s ideas or plans.

      Some food for thought: The amount and kinds of other nutrients you eat will determine the absorption of calcium.

      Cheers to healing!

      1. DeeDee

        I absolutely agree. There are so many good options for protein and dairy if you are vegan. Broccoli is very good for calcium. I was almost on a totally plant based diet before my fracture. I do eat fish and I do eat grass fed organic milk and yogurt (still not all the way there yet). Kendra I am in awe of the fact that you have been vegan for 17 years. I have been slowly dropping certain foods as I get closer. I’ll be interested in your progress as the weeks go by. Today is hard day for me because my physical therapist really worked me over yesterday. I think we all see our recovery going in a straight line upward but in truth it’s a squiggly line going up and down and all over finally pointing upward. LOL

        1. Kenda

          Rock on, sista! It is a process moving toward veganism. Every little bit helps, IMO, and I think it’s super important to be kind to yourself during that process.

          OMG. You’re so right about the squiggly line of recovery. I think that’s one of the reasons this injury is so difficult – the seemingly endless ups and downs. I appreciate your upbeat attitude about how recovery then points upward and the hardships become part of the past. That was my experience, too. I know you’re working hard, DeeDee. I hope you let yourself have a respite today after the strenuous PT.

          To your healing!?

      2. Becky

        Well, I had my X-ray today. That was interesting- I had to get up on a wooden platform step to have the Xrays done. I put pressure on my injured foot and got up the second step on there. That was painful. Doc said everything looked good on X-ray and gave me a prescription for PT, so I could find one closer to home. I can start weight bearing in boot and can sleep with it off, YAY! He gave me a pic of the xrays and I have 11 screws in there-very interesting looking. Y’all take care and have a great holiday!

        1. Kenda

          Becky! You’ve transcended a major hurdle! Eleven screws…that’s a lot of metal. Aren’t those pics interesting.

          Each day you’re closer to walking. Let us know, if you get a chance, how PT goes.

          You have a great holiday, too!

          1. Becky

            Hi, well have been to PT a couple times. They pretty much get me to do a sequence of exercises, ice my foot and massage it. The last couple of times, I walked some. Yesterday at home, I was able to take steps without holding onto walker, and then today, I walked across my living room with no assistance and no walker, but with boot on. I was pleased. I go back to ortho on 22. Will see what they say then. Have a great day!

  1. Becky

    Hi, DeeDee, thank you for responding. I go back on the 18th for my X-ray. I hope everything is ok with the healing :). Did you use a compression hose? I have been wearing it most of the day and taking off at night. I still sleep with my boot at night. Are you weight bearing now? Since you’re a week ahead of me, what are you experiencing now? Thanks

    1. DeeDee

      Hi Becky. No I didn’t use compression hose but I know if you have a blood clot they are great for not getting another one (my mom used them and also people on long haul flights use them to prevent DVT blood clots). This week my new physical therapist suggested using them to control swelling (so I’m going to get some). I’m partial weight bearing (25% weight with boot and walker). I don’t transfer to real shoes for quite awhile. Next week I go to 50% weight bearing (scary thought). I’m just 50+ years old so they told me I had to use a walker in the hospital. The physical therapist is getting me to rub my foot (like really massage it and bend my toes). She calls it desensitizing because our foot is not use to being touched (she’s right because when I gently touch the carpet with the bottom of my foot it feels super weird). I also pick up marbles with my toes. She puts me on the bike for 10 minutes. My good leg does pretty much all the work (the bad leg just goes back and forth). I do non weight bearing excercises to build my thighs and calves lying on my back. If you read my comments above you can see about my progress. Yesterday I was so sore after physical therapy (I could barely walk with the walker late at night so I wheelchaired it to bed) and then I took a pain pill before bed. I strongly feel my healing was due in part because of my diet. I got at least 1200mg of calcium (I ate milk, fortified orange juice, yogurt, cheese, broccoli) per day and 1000iu of vitamin D3, 75 grams of protein and plenty of vegetables and fruits. They say to stay away from sugar, alcohol, caffeine and smoking. Google bone healing diet lots of good info comes up. Hope this helps.

  2. Becky

    Hi Kenda, thank you for responding. Yes, this has truly been an experience for me and my family.

    Not sure how blood clot started-probably from all the sitting down and not using leg. I follow up with a hematologist on the 20th to make sure it is not genetic and to determine how long to be on blood thinner. My grandmother had several clots over the years.

    I will try and update after my appt. I am a bit worried about X-ray. They told me in office that if I was sitting, I could have the boot off. Yesterday, when I spoke with nurse, they said it needs to be on most of the day. So, I hope I have not messed up the healing process by having it off.

    I am using wheelchair and walker to get around. The crutches and I were not a good mix. I am not the most coordinated person. My living room is now my makeshift bedroom, as all of our bedrooms are up a steep flight of stairs. Anyway, just going one day at a time.

    1. Kenda

      Hi Becky,

      My guess is that if you weren’t moving around, you’ll be okay having had that boot off. I know how it seems that each little decision could impact the healing outcome given the severity of this injury. I remember for myself that I suddenly felt incredibly vulnerable. I mean, I had no idea I could break so badly, so why wouldn’t other terrible things happen too? Every single day posed new obstacles and questions and worries that I was doing something wrong that could delay or ruin my healing time.

      I’m certain I had a touch of PTSD that waned over time. I am, however, (on most days) still very aware of where I put my feet now! All of that said, follow docs orders to the best of your ability and also trust your gut.

      Taking it one day at a time is a good plan. I have a sense you’ve created a calm environment for yourself. I can almost feel it through your comments.

    2. DeeDee

      Hey Becky. Your accident was a week after my accident. After my stitches came out my OS said I could have my boot off when watching TV with my leg elevated and laying in bed flat sleeping with leg elevated (I don’t move around in my sleep). Boot had to be on when up and moving about. I broke all four bones (2 were shattered) and my ankle was dislocated. I had a Weber B SER (as bad as it gets). I healed just fine. I was super careful when sitting upright with it off and I always had my husband move my pillows and put my boot on before I sat upright or put my legs over the couch or bed. I think you will be okay. I could kind of gauge my progress by lack of pain (or lessening of pain). Hope that helps!

  3. Becky

    Hi, my trimalleolar occurred on Oct 30, as we were on on way out the door for a mini vacation. I was taking out the trash and slid across the floor on the trash can lid and fell. The pain was horrible and the swelling was instantaneous. So, instead of going on our trip, off to the ER we went.
    They put me in a splint and told me that I had three breaks and would need surgery. My surgery was scheduled for Nov. 6, and I went to have a scan of ankle. Well, I got a call on the Friday before surgery saying that my injury was worse than expected and they were referring me to an Ortho surgeon. They said my tibia was almost broken in half. I met with new surgeon on Tuesday and had surgery on Wednesday, Nov 7.
    Things were coming along and we went to my in-laws for Thanksgiving. I thought I had overdone it at Thanksgiving because I started having pain in my injured legs calf muscle. Felt like a pulled muscle. Anyway, long story-short, I had my sutures taken out on the 27th. They were originally going to put me in a fiberglass cast, but gave me a boot instead. They sent me over for an ultrasound on my calf and I ended up having a blood clot. So, I am now on my third week of Xarelto.
    I go back on the 18th for my x-ray. Am hoping everything is healing properly.

    1. Kenda

      Hello Becky, and welcome to the blog. I’m sorry for the circumstances that brought you here yet glad you came.

      Thanks for sharing your story. That’s a helluva way to start a vacation. Oy. Tibia almost broken in half and a blood clot. I’m having sympathy pains for you. I’m relieved they discovered the clot. Did the OS mention how it started? I’m curious.

      If you think about it, will you update us after your appointment on the 18th? It sounds like you’re hanging in there. Let me know how I can support you.

      Keep the hope alive and cheers to your healing!

  4. I am in week five of this horrible ordeal. Fell down my foyer stairs on October 22nd. Trimalleolar fracture with dislocated ( foot was facing left). Surgery was 2 days later. On November 6th I got my staples out and went to a boot NWB. I get to sleep with it off and when on the couch elevated.
    My biggest concern is how numb my foot feels. Not numb but not like my foot. Almost like it’s waking up from a deep sleep ( like when I was a kid and my foot fell asleep and it tingles). Is this normal? I can wiggle my toes and can feel touch all over but have such a stiff and weird sensation. Thanks for your blog. My husband and I are also relocating abroad when we retire. Your story gives me hope.

    1. Kenda

      Hello DeeDee! Welcome to the T-Team. I’m just sorry for the circumstances that brought you here, yet I’m glad you’ve arrived.

      Horrible ordeal, indeed. Most can hardly understand how a simple fall can end up in such a severe injury. As one of my docs said, the trimalleolar is more an injury of torque than of impact. Ah yes, the left-facing foot. Scary. I, too, had the dislocation. Do you happen to have a syndesmosis screw?

      I think the sensation you’re feeling is normal. Your nerves have been impacted by this injury, and the healing takes time. I still have a very small (roughly the size of a nickel) spot on the top of my foot by the big toe that is semi-numb – that to the touch has that tingly, foot-sleeping sensation. In the beginning, the whole top of my foot felt that way. I would touch it and feel like it didn’t even belong to me. Super strange sensation. Kind of creepy. Then at night, it felt like electrical currents; the nerves were working diligently to heal.

      You have a journey ahead of you, but you’re not alone. Everyone here understands the difficulties of this injury. Hopefully you have some support there to help you through this. Curious to know where abroad you and your hubby plan to relocate. Exciting!

      Please, if you get a moment, keep us posted on your progress.

      Cheers to you and your healing,


      1. DeeDee

        Dear Kenda

        Hi again. Well I wanted to update you and anyone else that maybe reading comments as they mend. I had my 6 week xrays today. First interesting tid bit was that they took them standing up. All I can say was OMG that was painful. The good news is the bones are healed. I actually asked him twice and asked him if he was sure. LOL. First, because I am just over 50 with a little osteopenia and second because the pain I had when I stood up with my walker and had both feet flat on the ground was indescribable. He said yes twice! LOL! I feel that my diet high in calcium (1200 mg) and vitamin D3 supplements (1000 iu) plus vitam C and B12 and B6 were instrumental plus protein, veggies and fruit were a huge part of my healing. No sugar and no soda and no caffeine (the last two were easy because I only drink water and GNC shakes). Also Stoneyfield yogurt green shakes I made with pineapple, banana, broccoli or kale, milk and ice might have helped. I believe because it is liquid your body gets all those vitamins and minerals without a lot of energy to digest (so that your body doesn’t divert energy away from the fracture) plus it was a tasty dessert at night. There is a great study out on probiotics and bone growth so that’s why I had insisted on Stoneyfield yogurt throughout my day. Who knows.
        I do not have the screw. I asked if I had a Weber B or Weber C injury because it tells you a bit about how your recovery is going to be (I have a Weber B but he added some other letters to it). He said it was as bad as it gets. He liked my ROM but said I could work on the flexing the foot back towards me more with a towel or scarf. Start PT next week. Meanwhile I’m stuck with a walker but want to get crutches (if you are 50 years or older they like the walker idea better. Oh well.
        You were right about the nerve it should go away in about 3 months to 6 months (longer if I could not feel my big toe). I think I’m going to invest in a cold water machine for icing. I hobbled out of my appointment with Betty Boot and my wheelchair. The little bit I hobbled (about 50 feet) made my foot and ankle swell up like an elephant. I spent the rest of the evening icing, elevating and took a half of pain pill (pain level went back up to a solid 5/6 after that jaunt.
        Oh and my husband and I are moving to Europe. I really like your blogs (we travel internationally, I also care a lot about animals and the environment and had a golden retriever). You have my email if you want to converse more about those things. Stay positive everyone and happy healing! DeeDee

        1. Kenda

          Great news DeeDee! I hear you with the incredulity and needing to ask twice. It’s as if we acclimate to the harshness of this injury and come to not expecting good news. But I think you’ll be hearing more and more good news from here on out!

          I didn’t even know about the Weber B or Weber C injury. This is new news to me, and I’m curious about it now.

          It looks like you’re on on a program that’s working well for yourself. Well done! And yes, the ginormous swelling will become a regular part of your life as you bear weight. It shocked me often at first and then it just slowly.went.away. Now I’m curious about your move to Europe. I’ll shoot you an email in a couple days as I’m on the road.

          Happy healing to you and thanks for sharing!

  5. Jane Bembia

    OMG! I feel like I am reading about myself here. Well, except the fit and vegan part (I wish I were!) I too have a trimalleolar fracture. I too initially twisted my right ankle then tried to compensate with left and CRACK!
    I thought a quick cast and out but no, I didn’t leave the hospital until four days, two plates and numerous screws and pins later!
    Anyhoo, thank you for posting your recovery as I have no one to talk to who has experienced this.
    Thank you!

    1. Kenda

      Hi Jane and welcome to the community! Oh, I SO remember the day I thought “just a quick cast and I’ll be on my feet again in no time!” Unfortunately not with this break and definitely not with a twisted right angle to boot. What a parallel process. Oh how I understand.

      Where are you on this journey? Are you in a wheelchair still unable to bear weight on the twisted ankle? OMG in the hospital for FOUR days? Oy. That’s sounds intense.

      Write in anytime you feel like it. It’s hard to face this thing without the support of others who understand it. I hope you’re getting a ton of help at home. It seems like you’re in good spirits. That’s a major plus.

      I hope to hear how things are progressing!

      Cheers to you and your healing,


      1. Jane Bembia

        Thank you for your reply! Yes, a day I will never forget. I have to say it was up to this point THE worst pain I have ever felt and I have had many surgeries, survived breast cancer and a serious blood clotting disorder.
        I am one week and one day out from the injury. I am still in quite a bit of pain but it is certainly better each day.
        I remember laying in that hospital bed for two nights before they put my ankle back together. Probably what hell is like! If I so much as blinked my ankle hurt! Once the surgery took place I had immediate difference. Still much pain but at least I knew I wasn’t grinding my bones at every move!
        I am still stuck in the house. I get around fine with the little knee scooter. I also have the shower bench and higher commode. So inside, no problem but I need to get out soon!!
        Therapy for crutch skills is helping me to manage my three measly steps to get out of the house. I have an issue though. Due to blood clots I have no functioning superior vena cava, subclavian and left jugular veins. I live on small collateral veins to get the blood from my head, neck and arms. So every time I try crutches. Blood rushes to my head and because it cannot drain quickly enough I feel like my head will explode!
        But…I just ordered that knee crutch, I will keep you posted with how that works out!

        1. Kenda

          Well, that is very telling when the trimalleolar was the worst pain you ever felt, and you’ve dealt with some very serious health-related issues. My heart goes out to you in a big way, Jane, seeing what’s on your plate. Seriously, breast cancer survivor and a blood clotting disorder. You’ve got it going on GF!

          I remember that hell of waiting to see the OS for two days with my dislocated talus and the breaks. It made me very grateful for western medicine and the availability of health care despite my alternative bent.

          I cannot even begin to imagine what you’re experiencing because of those blood clots and the issues with having no functioning superior vena cava, subclavian and left jugular veins. I don’t even know what all of those are!

          I also don’t know about the knee crutch, but it sounds like you don’t have to stand up quickly nor the whole way with it.

          Please, keep us posted. How is your back with all of this? I found myself needing chiropractic after getting on my feet again. The weird positions and postures did a number on my body. But hey, that was minor compared to everything else. Walking again…unassisted…just you wait. It is a joy like no other I’ve ever felt. I still appreciate it very much.

          Cheers to you and your healing,


      1. Kenda

        I wonder if there’s a way to post photos on the comments. Would love to see those cute painted toes! 🙂 I clearly remember looking at my toes and feeling happy they were in such good shape despite my feeling like a total wreck.

  6. I’m so glad I found your blog. We’re very similar in the sense that I too eat a mostly plant-based vegetarian diet (almost vegan, but I cheat with butter here and there), and taking a bit of a holistic spin on things.
    I’m a 29 year old girl living in LA, and I broke my ankle in September. Your blog was the first one that I found that didn’t sound like…. I don’t know…the world was going to end because of this injury.
    I needed to hear some positivity, and I’m so glad you had some to give:).

    1. Kenda

      I’m so glad you found my blog too, Kimi. Thank you for your awesome words. Sooooo…how’s the healing coming along? One of my posts I list a bunch of bone-healing/inflammation reducing foods. I’ll send them to you if you don’t find it.

      And no, thank god, the world is not coming to an end. Quite the opposite (tho it may not feel like that at this very moment), actually. My Trimalleolar was one of the most mind-expanding, character-building events of my life.

      I’m guessing you’re about 6-8 weeks out? It’s a fine line between being authentic and being kick-ass optimistic. There were times I just had to let myself feel like shit so that I could free up the energy to heal and feel better. I felt a lot better (emotionally and physically) after I stopped taking heavy-duty pain meds. Let me know how I can support you.

      Keep on healing!

      1. Thank you so much. My surgery was on October 7th, but I broke my ankle September 14th. They initially did a reduction, and then had me on a waiting list to operate (took forever, but hey it’s free healthcare). So I’m about a month post surgery. Two weeks after surgery, my soft cast got removed, and they were about to put me in a cast. I asked them if I could have a boot instead, and because I was showing such good progress they agreed.
        No weight-bearing yet, but I have my next appointment in two weeks, and I’m hoping they’ll let me start weight bearing.
        I have read all of your trimalleolar related blog posts (and then some), and have already taken to eating super anti-inflammatory foods. Lucky for me I was already a bit of a health nut pre-break, so it’s easy for me to stay in that lifestyle.

        It’s just so good to hear that you made such great strides in your recovery. I’m a performer, and when i first started looking on the internet, all I could find was people talking about how they still walked with a limp years later.
        I just stopped taking me narcotic pain meds last week, and the withdrawal was horrible. I’m still in a crazy funk, and have this super low lows.
        I have so much to be grateful though- such a supportive boyfriend (who much like your husband does everything in his power to take care of me) and a great group of friends. I just have to keep my head up. Whenever I get down or scared that I’m not going to get better, I always read your blog.
        Thank you!!!

        1. Kenda

          You’re doing great, Kimi, especially having had to wait THREE weeks for surgery! And yeah, it’s an expensive surgery, so woot to affordable healthcare!

          It sounds like you were already in a good place – physically, emotionally, nutritionally – to take this thing on. My husband, who never tells me to do anything, told me to get off the internet after my fracture (s). I was spiraling down into negativity hell. I’m so happy to know my blog has helped you. And I love the fact that you have a blog too, and I just read your post. It’s fabulous and you’ll help people too. There’s something incredibly healing about getting it all out our heads and into the world. The super low lows will pass once you get all that pharma $hit through your system. And tell your supportive boyfriend (from me) that he rocks. We are both so fortunate especially since most people have no clue the seriousness of this fracture (s). It took a few times hearing my OS tell me, “this is a very severe injury” before I finally got it. But given all that, everything turned out great! And sure, sometimes my talus still gets a little stiff (I’m guessing b/c it was left in a dislocated state for 48 hours). But it’s nothing that interferes with my life in any way and there is no pain at all and certainly no limping. My PT didn’t let me limp once I could bear full weight. And I can run, skip and jump with the best of them! You’ll see that once you can start bearing weight, the healing speeds up. Just please listen to your PT but also, your own body.

          Do you have a syndesmosis screw in there?

          Feel free to keep sharing your blog posts as I get a lot of Trimalleolar hits on this blog, so hopefully some of my readers will check out your blog as well. And I’d love it if you could share my link too. There are a lot of folks out there to reach who need a dose of realistic optimism!

          Thank you so much for writing. I think most folks don’t write, for whatever reason, so I really appreciate hearing from you.

          Keep up the good work!

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