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Me and My Trimalleolar: A Week of Firsts

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.

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


  1. Deb

    I just was given the go ahead to start weight bearing on crutches 10 weeks after tri mal surgery: plate, 10 screws and 2 pins. At 6 weeks when I started to walk with the boot, the boot rubbed and immediately my incisions got infected. Thus walking with sneakers using crutches for the first time 11 weeks from break and 10 weeks from surgery. My question is how long did it take before the feeling of having a ‘bear trap’ around your ankle and heel goes away and how long before you could use crutches to walk barefooted. I can do it pretty well In my sneakers, but almost not at all barefooted.
    One other question how long before you could bear full weight on your broken leg. I cannot lift my good leg and stand on my broken leg even while using crutches.

    Thank you in advance!

    1. Hi Deb,

      Thanks for writing in. As always, I’m sorry for the reason that brought you here but glad you came!

      Infected incisions on top of all of this must’ve been a massive bummer. Has the infection healed?

      The fact that you’re in sneakers and walking with crutches 10 weeks post-op seems like some good progress to me. That feeling of a bear trap around your ankle and heel starts to go away the more you use your foot. At least it did for me, but it was probably just before my 2nd surgery at 16 weeks. Then it basically dissipated as I could walk more and get the blood circulating. I was full weight-bearing by 12 weeks and then had to backtrack after the syndesmosis screw surgery.

      Here’s my info (keeping in mind we all heal differently and that I had to have a 2nd surgery at 12 weeks):

      Injury July 3
      ORIF surgery July 13
      25% weight bearing August 18 (36 days post-op) in boot
      Switched to hiking boots August 23 (41 days post-op)
      50% weight bearing August 31 (49 days post-op)
      Transitioned to 1 crutch September 2 (51 days post-op)
      77% weight-bearing (for only brief moments) September 5 (54 days post-op)
      1st unassisted steps September 11 (60 days/8 weeks post-op) – still wearing hiking boots for stability and not taking very many steps
      1st standing shower – 9.5 weeks
      1st steps without limping October 1 (about 11 weeks post-op) BUT still felt like there was cement around my ankle (the bear trap)
      2nd surgery: October 12 (the healing from this went quickly because I had a screw removed as opposed to invasive surgery)
      I could bear weight as tolerated on October 26 (about 14 weeks) – still wearing hiking boots
      No crutches/walking completely unassisted October 31 (about 14 weeks post-op 1st surgery and 19 days post-op 2nd surgery).
      Walked 1 mile 4 months post-op 1st surgery.
      Walked 2 miles on uneven surfaces and shoeless at home on November 20 (17 weeks post-op 1st surgery)

      I’m not sure if this will help or not, but it may provide some idea of what to expect. Tho, again, we all heal differently and it’s so important you listen to your body and the medical professionals.

      Are you in PT? If so, how often per week? I found that after 12 weeks, things seemed to progress more rapidly.

      If you get a chance, please keep us posted on your progress.

      Cheers to you and your healing,


  2. Jane

    Hello, are you still checking this blog? I literally thought I was reading my own writing when I read your first writings! Thank you for writing this. I wish I found it sooner. I was unable to write anything for almost three weeks, and even at that point was extremely emotional…. I especially related to all of your emotional comments – PTSD (MY PT said I do have this), fear, going to the potty, drinking so much water, eating for bone healing, vitamins for bone healing, the battle of the pillows at night, along in the first floor bedroom… All of it! I am almost 13 weeks out from my injury. Working on my walking now. Trying to heal in every way I can – physically and emotionally.

    1. Hi Jane,

      So very sorry! Your comments ended up in my spam folder. It should be okay now, because they’ve been approved which means your future comments should post without incident.

      Looks like you’re having a parallel situation to what I experienced. The emotionality is totally normal, and it looks like you’re working on it! Well done on focusing on both the physical and emotional healing aspects of this injury. That’s no easy task during this exhausting time, yet it’s also a top priority.

      What kind of support do you have at home? Hopefully you have folks around you to help out.

      Cheers to your healing and thank you for writing in. Would appreciate updates if/when you feel like it!


  3. Michelle Wojack

    Ummmm. This has made my day! I suffered a VERY traumatic break in my right ankle (trimall fracture) and am 5 weeks post op (2 plates and 23 screws). Soooo have enjoyed your humor and blogging of your story! While everyone heals differently and on their own timeline….it is sooo refreshing to see other people’s journey! I have said the exact same things that you have… it’s so hard to slow down and get used to this new balance and life. (I also live in the bay area).

    Can’t wait to read more as I heal! Thank you for being so transparent and sharing your adventure!

    Also I love that almost 6 years later you are still connected and responded!

    1. Kenda

      Hello Michelle and welcome to the blog! I can imagine you’d rather be visiting for different reasons. Looks like you had your own tripulation in March. Five weeks post op – have your started PT?

      Oh yes, well, there’s nothing like a trimalleolar to force us to slow down! Slowing down can be hard, this I know.

      How’s your pain? Are you getting support? You’re in a good area for excellent medical care…I mean, if one can call that a silver lining?

      Feel free to share your journey. These Tri-posts get hundreds of hits a week. So while not everyone is writing in, a lot of people are reading.

      Glad we could be here for you, and thanks for your kind words. Writing helps me process and heal.

      Cheers to you and your healing (it does get better!),


  4. Jo

    I am so encouraged when I read your blog, but have to remember each of us heals at our own pace.
    I am 7 weeks post surgery today. Had my six week follow up appt last Tuesday and learned all bones and hardware are where they are supposed to be. Good news! The steri-strips are off and the incisions look good. I still have a lot of swelling – foot and ankle. The skin is so tight and hurts when I try to flex to 90 degrees. I keep my ankle ace wrapped and booted, “R2Boot2”, whenever I am up and around. But I live to elevate and remove the boot and wrap. I’m able to shower and wash the incision areas which feels wonderful. Still dislike the dependency on others, particularly needing to ask for drivers to go anywhere.
    You seemed to be much further along at 6-7 weeks. I can begin toe touches with crutches in a week.
    Thanks for sharing your journey and tips to make things easier.

    1. Kenda

      Hi Jo,

      So glad you checked back in. I worry about you all and wonder how you’re doing!

      You’re so right. We all heal at our own pace, and sometimes comparing notes could add unintended anxiety. Looking at your message, I see great news! All bones and hardware are where they are supposed to be. That’s fabulous!

      Glad you have R3Boot2 to support you on this process. 🙂 I had a lot of swelling as well. I think that’s par for the course. You’re doing the right thing with elevating. Have you tried turmeric for inflammation? There’s a tea now, and it has added black pepper, which helps for bioabsorption.

      Keep on healing on, Jo. You have made significant progress, and you will continue to do so. I welcome your update whenever you feel like it!

      Cheers to you,


      I know. The dependency on others is tough. There were so many lessons I learned on that journey including how to rely on other people. It also really highlighted the real troopers in my circle of friends who would show up to help out even when it was inconvenient for them. I will always hold gratitude in my heart for those folks – especially my husband who emerged as a superstar.

  5. 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.

  6. 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!

  7. 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.


      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!

  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. Anonymous

    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?


      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.

  10. 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!

  11. Anonymous

    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! 🙂

  12. 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!

  13. 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.

  14. 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! 🙂

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