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Me and My Trimalleolar: 9 1/2 weeks…

Me and My Trimalleolar: 9 1/2 weeks…

9 1/2 weeks post-op I took my first standing shower!  This has nothing to do with Kim Basinger and Mickey Rourke. ewwwwww he has not aged well.

Plates Screws Trimalleolar Fracture
Plates and Screws and bones oh my!

Nine Week Post-op Follow-up (try saying that 10 times fast)- Wednesday, September 14, 2011

My nine week follow-up appt with the OS went very well.  Very well indeed.  My bones are completely healed.  Hooray! And regarding my ROM (range of motion) which is locked in (no pun intended, or is it?) at 7 degrees past neutral (and that’s really really pushing it), Dr. Siegler’s expectations for me were to at least be at neutral.  Ahead of the game, and I didn’t even know it!  Or did I.

We discussed my next surgery, and she reviewed the risks with me:  Death, my foot could ‘splay’ (with a fan-like hand motion) when the screw comes out, and infection.  I shared with her the painful story of Michael Scribner, an acquaintance of mine yet a very dear friend of my dear friend, Colleen, who only six weeks ago died on a hospital bed prior to a fairly simple shoulder surgery.  I shared some of the story with her and asked for assurance that I was going to be monitored.  She told me, yes, that I would be monitored. RIP Michael.

While I am now able to walk (relatively speaking), the OS told me to cut it out otherwise I could break the screw.  I’ve received so many mixed messages on this potentially breaking screw that it’s difficult for me to know what’s real. I will err on the side of caution and refrain from walking practice.  I am SO ready!  I feel like I could just take off.  This baby bird is ready to fly the nest.

Looks like my scars are doing well too.  This is all very good news. I was given permission to immerse my foot in water.   No more once a week, two-chairs, 1 bag, duct tape, extra towels to sop up water on the floor, sitting inside the shower with my leg propped outside the shower, showers.  I get to take a real shower standing tall n’all, at least until my next surgery on October 11.  At that point, I’m back to Betty Boot, no weight bearing, and sit-down showers – oy oy oy.

So, why then, did I put this shower off until Saturday, September 17?  If I was so excited about taking a real shower, why was I lollygagging?  Dillydallying.  Procrastinating.  Lagging.  Loitering.  Lingering.

I’ll tell ya why.  Gosh darn it.  Fear.  I was afraid of the shower.  Well, actually, it was of the dark story in my head about the shower that brought on the fear.  Why does my head do that?!  It went something like this:  I’m standing there in the shower, and it’s a delight.  I’m singing, “I believe I can flyyyyy…I believe I can touch the skyyyyy….” and then in my mindlessness, I quickly turn to rinse my hair, my almost good (right) foot slips, I catch myself for one instant grabbing onto the shower door only to let it slip out of my hands (we never did fix the runner on that thing).  Down I go, bones crumbling as I hit the bathtub.

Yes, my story may not be realistic, after all, I have no recollection of ever before slipping in the shower.  I WOmanned up and took the plunge.  There’s some unidentifiable purposed metal bar in the shower.  I held onto it for dear life.  This made single-handedly washing my hair difficult, but I cared not.  I managed to shave the left leg just fine but couldn’t really figure out how to do the right one with balancing all my weight on the healing ankle.  This might be hard to picture, and you might not even want to conjure up this image, but I managed by 1) holding onto the metal bar thing, 2) leaning my body into the wall for support, 3) lathering up before I lifted my right (almost good) foot off the floor, 4), lathering up again, because the shower water washed away the first lather since I was angled into the water, 5) grabbing the razor, 6) dropping the razor, 7) picking up the razor without looking down for worry of my vertigo knocking me on the ground, 8) re-lathering since the picking-up-the-razor- action angled my leg into the shower spray and washed away the lather, and 9) very very quickly shaving the right leg while attempting to balance on the left.

My left leg is nice and smooth, yet the right one looks something of a splotchy mess.  Picture Steve Carell’s wax scene in the 40-year old virgin.  Okay, my legs don’t look as bad as his chest did.  Add to the shower time fun, my right (almost good) leg began shaking.  Was it nerves?  Fatigue?  What?  It was like all the bones and muscles and fascia (this is my new fancy PT term) had been replaced with jello.  Yellow jello.  At one point I stared at it and was trying to ‘will’ it to steadiness.  And then, there’s the vertigo which, at that point, had been with me for 8 days.  I’m okay as long as I don’t turn my head left, right, up, or down, and as long as I’m not lying down.  So, there I was in the shower unable to turn my head or else I kaleidoscope spin out of control, holding onto whatever I could find as I feared for my limbs, and trying to negotiate my new freedom, which wasn’t feeling so free.

I need to state this again assuming I’ve already done so.  There’s something grossly unjust about having vertigo in my current situation.  Already, I’m not very steady, and while the impromptu dizzy spells add to the risk and adventure of it all, I need things to get easier not more challenging.  Universe!  C’mon!  Wassupwid dat?

I quickly overcame my woes and enjoyed an afternoon with my neighbors Cooper and Irene at Cooper’s book launch for The Waterhauler:  A Desert Story.  It was great fun, and Cooper’s book is fabulous and chock full of engaging and curious characters.  I even joined them afterward at a pub called the Patriot and Poet.  I drank nonalcoholic beer.  Surely, adding alcohol to the crutches and vertigo combo is not a wise idea.

Saturday was the first night Scott and I spent apart since this Trimalleolar incident.  His brother was in San Francisco, and he wanted to hang with him. Stella and I roughed it alone together.  Somehow I was totally okay with my new independence and being by myself at night yet shaken over the notion of a shower.

Stella and I watched The Verdict last night.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

I rode my recumbent exercise bike for an hour – 15+ miles.  I think, unconsciously, I wanted to get very sweaty which would then force me into the shower again, which would force shower habit and shower tolerance.  I was super brave, because Scott wasn’t even around to help.  I did it.  Quickly, but I did it.  I suppose it was easier.  At least my right leg was steady this time around.  I tried to sing.  I have a new jingle for my Well Earth Well Me book.  I wanted to hear how it sounded in the shower.  Y’know, with the good acoustics n’all.  I was unable to multitask to that degree.  My vertical position commanded all but a small portion of my concentration.  A shining light in this Trimalleolar situation is the monumental leap in mindfulness that has been encouraged upon me.

A realization:  Trimalleolar Fracture Day was July 3, 2011.  That was the 40th anniversary of Jim Morrison’s death.  I know this, because Marie and I were in Paris on that very day in 1991, and we thought it would be ‘cool’ to see Jim Morrison’s tombstone on the 20th anniversary of this death.  He is buried at Pere Lachaise Cemetery.  Loooong story short…flashing back…

We arrive there and are caught in a crowd of tens of thousands.  People from all over Europe congregated to celebrate Jim Morrison.  Marie was getting claustrophobic, and little did I know at the time, but she was also getting the flu or food poisoning or something.  A riot starts. Bottles, rocks, stones, anything that can be thrown was thrown.  I grabbed her and we darted between and behind parked cars barely escaping the French police, their riot shields, and tear gas.  With slightly red and teary eyes and a few nicks and cuts, we managed to find our way back to the train station only to discover that the paper housing the locker combination (the locker that was holding our backpacks) in Marie’s pocket was illegible due to the sweat caused by Marie’s fever.  With only minutes before our reserved sleeper car was to pull away with the rest of the train, we found help, grabbed our bags, and away we went never having seen Jim Morrison’s tomb.  Marie was very ill when we arrived in Biarritz.  This is the place I met my ex-husband, which is a totally different story for a different time.

Next blog will host various photos of my scars!  Buckle your seatbelt, it’s going to be a bumpy ride!

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
This is 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. Emily Dixon

    2022 and am 7 and a half weeks since breaking mine. The left. My right only sprain and ligament damage because I lack coordination. I have hypermobility so prone to injury. I started physiotherapy this week. I also started wearing shoes which normally are too big for me but with compression bandages and swelling they fit me comfortably.

    1. Emily, thank you for writing in! We always welcome new members to the T-team!

      It looks like you’re still in the early healing stages. But hey, you’re wearing shoes. That’s great! I was in a boot long past 7.5 weeks.

      How do you feel overall?

      Cheers to your healing,

      1. Emily Dixon

        Thank you so much. I feel frustrated that I can’t do all the things I want to do especially driving my car. I miss that freedom. With petrol at crazy prices atm it’s a blessing probably as I would be broke. My kids miss going places and have cabin fever. My 70 year old mother has had to come stay to help me out. I was not given a boot. Initially was told I would get a boot after the cast so that was freaking me out because I was worried my youngest would bump it or jump on me. I had nightmares about it.

        1. I think everyone on this thread can relate to the frustration you’re feeling right now. I know it’s difficult to give up that freedom and also to have to rely on other people. Maybe in your situation, it’s best you didn’t get the boot given your concerns about it. And you’re right–if there’s a good time to NOT be driving, it’s right now!

          Has your pain been manageable? Are the kids adapting to this current situation? It’s hard, sometimes, to explain to them that it’s temporary because a few months might seem like a lifetime. I can tell you from my experience, that it does pass, and you can get back to your regularly scheduled programming – aka life!

  2. Kim

    Hello! Thank you so much for writing this series. I got a trimalleolar fracture on 5/30/21. I was horrified when I learned how serious it was and how long it would take to recover. I appreciate you detailing the many difficulties while still being positive and funny. You sound like a fun person to hang around with. Your husband sounds like a wonderful guy. What a blessing! I have five teenagers at home and have been devastated at what this did to our summer. I can really relate to your feelings. I taped a plastic bag on my cast and I sit on the floor in the shower. This too shall pass, like a kidney stone, but it will pass. Thanks again! 🙂

    1. Hello Kim! I’m glad you found us. As always, I’m just so sorry for the reason that brought you here. I’m beaming at your kind words. Thank you. My husband is a wonderful guy. I lucked out big time.

      How in the world are you managing this with five teens at home? I hope some of them are helping you out. I hear you about the devastation and your summer. I chuckled at your kidney stone analogy. Yes, one day this shall pass! I think you’ll find you and your family will grow from this difficult experience, but you may not realize it until that kidney stone passes! One day…you’ll look back. For now, I know it’s a day-to-day struggle.

      You are just over 3 weeks into this experience. When did you have your ORIF? Have you started PT?

      If you get a chance, send updates. I really do appreciate it when folks let me know they’ve started walking and feeling good again.

      Cheers to you and your healing,

  3. H

    Hi how did you get a photo of your xray?, iv had the se op and I’m at 6 weeks of the healing process on antibiotics right now due to an infection… Did you just ask your Dr for a copy or if you could take a photo of your xray?

    1. Hi H,

      Thanks for writing in! I’m sorry to hear about the infection and hope the antibiotics are helping. I got the pics of my x-rays with my camera phone while they were hanging in the doc’s office on the light board. I asked the OS first and she had no problem with it. In retrospect, I wish I had gotten a copy of the x-rays to keep with my other records. I think you should be able to get a copy if you ask or just snap some pics while you’re at your next appt.

      If you get a chance, let us know how you’re doing!

    1. Ciao! I like your new name/tagline. How true that is!

      My suggestion: Get some comfy sweats that don’t have elastic around the ankles. Loose yoga pants with wide legs would probably work. My injury happened in July, so I wore mostly gym shorts and sweats. I didn’t try the roll. I was thinking about it but our home was small’ish and had carpeting. I also had to stay off both feet for quite a while as I sprained my right ankle. I was in a wheelchair and then graduated to a walker then crutches. I didn’t like the crutches.

      Maybe some others will chime in?


      1. Estelle

        Thanks Kenda…
        Did not realize you had a sprained ankle as well. What a challenging journey you had. Thanks for being there for all of us tri-mallers! My inner sense of humor is finding its way out.

        1. Prego, Estelle. Yeah, unfortunately, I’ve had a lifetime of turned ankles. The good news is that my tri-mal might’ve saved my life. I twisted the right ankle and instead of tumbling over a cliff, my body corrected in a way that broke a bunch of bones forcing me to fall in place. That’s my silver lining!

          I have a sense that your inner sense of humor is going to be a very good friend to you these next few months. ?

  4. Wren

    You’re hardware looks nearly identical to mine! Did you dislocate too? Do you have nerve damage that scare tissue is blocking from healing?! I’m in month 11 since breaking it, month 10 since surgery, and still can’t jog, ride a bike, or walk more than 2.000 steps without being in terrible pain for the next two days and swelling badly. I’m getting better and better at stairs and my showers! C-19 delated 12 PT appointments and now I can only do 1 session a week instead of 3! And no pools are open to swim and use aqua therapy!

    1. Hi Wren,

      Thanks for writing in! Oh man! That totally sucks about all those PT sessions being delayed. To answer your questions: Yes, I had a dislocation. I have some nerve damage at the top of my foot but I hardly notice it. It’s mostly around my big toe. Over the years, it’s actually improved.

      Have you checked with your OS or PT about the pain you’re having? I think some swelling at this stage is still fairly normal and some discomfort too. But it sounds like your swelling and pain should be discussed with a professional. At one point after my 1-year mark, I went to a chiropractor who adjusted my talus. I guess it was still kind of “locked up” (my words) from the dislocation, so the adjustment really gave me some relief. If you ever decide to do it, make sure the chiropractor has experience with people who have had ankle breaks!

      I’m so sorry you have to deal with all of this during a pandemic. That adds another layer of burden to a stressful situation. How are you holding up?

      To your healing,


  5. Hello Mary! Thank you for checking back in. I appreciate hearing from you. I hope you’re feeling some of the freedom of ‘getting out’ with your crutches! The pain may be a result of pushing it too much. I find that with myself as well. My PT yesterday reminded me that this healing process takes time and even though we may think we can be upright as much as we had in the past, this is simply not the case.

    I have the same feeling with my two biggest toes, too. They’re both ‘numb’ and feel very odd. The pins and needles feeling is very common and probably a good thing. I understand it has to do with the nerves repairing themselves. Absolutely get Physical Therapy! This is a must!

    I’ve been told that it’s so important I listen to my body. If it’s tolerable pain, then it’s okay. If my foot is screaming at me, I need to get off of it. This injury is over-the-top. I thought there was something wrong with me until I found out that everything I (you too) am experiencing is a ‘normal’ part of the healing process, and most importantly, it takes time. I’ve been told at least a dozen times by my surgeon and the physical therapists that I can expect to have issues for a full year – swelling, pain, etc. I can also relate to your feeling discouraged. The days drag on when I don’t notice instant improvements. It will pass. I really do believe that, and I try to keep track of the positive changes. They do happen. They do! Please stay focused on your healing so that you can look back on this one day and know you overcame a great hardship. It will happen! I’ll send special thoughts your way, and I highly encourage you to get that PT script. You can even call your OS and request it right away.

    Hang in there, Mary! And please keep me posted. I’ll be thinking about you.

  6. Anonymous

    Hi Kenda,
    Mary here, just hoping you are doing good, I know you are waiting for your surgery, so I guess you’re kind of stuck. I have been using my crutches more and more, going out for errands and such, but still using my wheelchair at home, I just can’t get anything done using crutches since I still need both of them. I am having alot of pain again, maybe I am trying to push it too much, I am almost at 9 weeks. After my day, my foot at night is the size of a monsters foot! I am also at night having to take a half of a pain pill. I get these nervy pains, its like my foot is hyper sensitive, it almost hurts to lay my foot on the sheets of my bed! I also feel like my toes are not mine, all pins and needles feeling, they hurt! I hope all this is normal. I go back to the Doc on the 10th. I may ask him to write me a script for physical therapy if Im not progressing anymore than I am now. I’m kind of afraid that the pain is telling me I’m putting too much weight too soon?? I don’t know, this injury is really more than we bargained for, isn’t it, I know when I fractured my leg years ago the day I got my cast taken off I was walking without any assistance, this is not like that at all. Sometimes I get so discouraged I feel like this boot will be on forever. Don’t be so hard on yourself for using a shower chair, personally I would be fine with using that for a long time if I could just walk!!!!! I know this is rambling on, I hope your doing well. Take Care, Mary

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