I’ve come to the conclusion I have been living in denial. (I actually live in Canada, where due to my restricted ability to leave the house on my own, I have been able to watch out my window as spring is unfolding. Each day more green leaves are appearing, and the grass is getting greener. Today I have seen butterflies, a rabbit, squirrels, Blue Jays, and many chickadees. Not bad for being in the middle of a large city!)
But back to the denial part . . . I had my 2nd post-op visit 2 days ago, where they removed my fiberglass cast, removed my sutures (stung a bit, but wasn’t too bad), then fit me in an “Aircast”, in which I now appear to have become part Stormtrooper. My ortho Doc told me I can now start to weight bear, with crutches of course. My foot looked great, bruising is still going down, and the swelling was down too. Other than a 4 inch long, thick healing scar, and a hairy dry limp looking lower leg, things looked good. When my Doc squeezed my calf muscle, my toes actually moved again! 2 days later I am now realizing that I didn’t just sprain an ankle - it is slowly starting to sink in that I am in for 4 - 6 months or more of recovery!
I am finding that I am really really bad at laying around. I have spent the last few days taking a really long time to do things like a few loads of laundry, unloading the dishwasher, making breakfast and lunches with my kids, cooking easy suppers, and picking up things being left around the house, placing them in a bag around my neck, then taking them to where they belong. Not much in the scheme of things, as I normally work, exercise, help raise 2 kids, look after the house, and care for a Beagle, a cat, a hamster and 2 goldfish. I realized today that when I lay down after having my foot down for 5 hours, and took my airboot off to look at my foot, that my ankle and foot are now almost as swollen as before my surgery. It probably doesn’t help that I slipped on a bit of water on the floor from when I hopped around to put water in my dog’s dish, and ended up putting my bad foot down harder than I should have, and felt a pull and a deep ache in my calf muscle (oops!). Not trying to do stuff is harder than I thought. And I’ve managed to mentally let go of the fact that I can’t vacuum, wash floors, or carry anything around that won’t fit in the bag around my neck! I guess I thought that once the swelling was down, and that I was told I could start to weight bear, that the healing would keep moving along fairly quickly. Instead I am finding that the swelling is back up, that I can barely put any weight on my foot in my boot, and that it was a lot easier to navigate around with my old small fiberglass cast, than it is with my new larger, bulkier, heavier aircast. (I feel like I am doing a lot of complaining . . . I shouldn’t, especially since I am lucky enough to have a wonderful supportive family, lots of great friends, and no post-op complications, but it feels good to vent!)
I think I am feeling insecure in this new aircast. The cast clinic staff placed wedges of foam in the heel to keep my toes pointed down. I am supposed to remove one wedge per week for the next 3 weeks, and see my Ortho Doc again in 4 weeks. The plan is to gradually move my foot into a 90 degree angle again. The aircast is great because I can take it off to give my leg some air, and now that I am back on the couch this afternoon with my foot elevated, I can ice it again. Eventually I will take the aircast off in the tub too. For now though, I am finding that if I try to put weight down on my foot, that I either feel a pull at top of my heel where my achilles was re-attached, or a deep ache in my calf. Is this normal? I gather that over the next 4 weeks I will need to stretch my calf muscle and tendon out to be able to get my foot flat again, and that by using the aircast/boot, it will allow me to get this stretch that I need, while providing protection and stability. Did everyone else’s tendon and calf muscle feel really short and tight at first? I won’t start physio for another 4 weeks or so, so is it OK for me to keep pushing my weight bearing to stretch out my tendon and calf? I would think that I can’t re-rupture the tendon by trying to weight bear, but at only 2 and a bit weeks after surgery, I am nervous about that. Should I expect the deep calf ache and pulling sensation through much of my recovery? Is it normal for the swelling to keep going up and down for a long time? And lastly, did everyone try to keep their foot elevated many hours a day 2 weeks post-op? Many of you had gone back to work at this point - did you elevate your foot at your desk during the day?
Thanks so much for your feedback. I have a stack of unopened books and magazines that I guess I should open, then lay back and relax!
Your blog friend,