I made a faux pas — ouch!! (and d’ohhh!!)


Written on February 18, 2010 – 12:38 am | by normofthenorth

Today I took my second trip outside in real shoes. I know, I love my hinged boot, I plan to stay in it until I can stride properly, and I’m not quite there yet! But I’ve been padding around pretty well in Crocs in the house, and putting on the boot is a nuisance — and I can ALMOST walk properly in shoes.

Anyway, I drove to a consulting meeting at a local hotel, then stopped at Costco to check some stuff out. Heading back to the car afterwards, I was trying hard to walk “perfectly”, but my left leg isn’t strong enough yet. So my center-of-gravity kept dropping down every time I rolled over my left leg.

So I got a bright idea, worthy of Homer Simpson: If I just dropped my c-o-g for the REST of my pace, I’d be walking straight! Dumb like post, in reality. What it REALLY did, was it bent my left=bad ankle a lot more as I was rolling over that foot. And it gave out and hurt like a #$%^& as I did it!

It only lasted about a second, until my other foot took all my weight (and I straightened up). I didn’t fall, and it didn’t hurt afterwards, including now, ~8 hours afterwards, so I don’t think I did any real damage to my poor ankle.

But it’s reminded me to be smart and careful, and that there are worse fates than relying on that hinged boot until I can REALLY walk straight.

  1. 14 Responses to “I made a faux pas — ouch!! (and d’ohhh!!)”

  2. By dave02 on Feb 18, 2010 | Reply

    I remember when I has a slip and took my full body weight on my bad foot, like you I felt a sharp pain for about a second, probably amplified by the dread that I felt thinking I had re-ruptured. Luckily it was nothing, no swelling or bruising.

    Guess we all need a reminder at some stage to get us to slow down.

  3. By "Frouchie" or "Grouchie", or just "Chris" on Feb 18, 2010 | Reply

    Okay…I understand that! I’m 13 wks and 1 day from post op, so I know I have a lame foot.

    But today at work I was heading for the elevator (not wanting to push stairs just yet) and I noticed the door just starting to close. What did I do? I took 4 quick, semi jogging leaps to catch the button to reopen the door.

    TALK ABOUT STUPID!!! My foot and repaired AT let me know right away that I CAN NOT do that yet.

    Glad to hear you’re feeling ok! Good luck and try to be careful. I know it is hard…we all know its hard.

  4. By normofthenorth on Feb 18, 2010 | Reply

    I’ve spent most of these 10 weeks amazed at my progress (especially without the surgery I was expecting to get!). Since I did this before (8 yrs ago) WITH surgery, and I’m going much faster this time, I haven’t really been impatient.

    But this “wean off boot” period — alternating among Crocs and outdoor shoes and a hinged boot and having almost NO IDEA when I’ll be able to stride and “push off” normally — is remarkably frustrating. It’s like an optical illusion, where you can see the table base OR the two faces, but not both! Sometimes I’m amazed at my progress, and sometimes I’m grumbling because I’m still limping!!

  5. By normofthenorth on Feb 22, 2010 | Reply

    I pushed the scale down around 130 pounds yesterday — way more than the previous times — and I can feel the difference, too, at week 10.

    I can now do a straight, balanced, double-heel lift, even while half on a stair step (dropping down below neutral).

    My walking in shoes is now occasionally perfect, but only when I concentrate. Now it’s partly strength, partly comfort (the “bad” ankle still feels not-normal), and partly habit. When I first stand up, I always seem to limp for a few steps.

    Surprisingly, when I checked out my ROM, my two ankles came out exactly even in both directions! Mind you, I lost some dorsiflexion on the “good” ankle from ATR surgery 8 years ago (maybe 1cm on the floor, with knees to the wall and feet flat), but still. . .

    Other signs of progress: I took the padded step-stool out the shower! And I’m ready to ditch the footstool in front of the bathroom sink, too! Heck, I could even move the wheeled office chair out of the kitchen, except that it’s still handy for putting my leg up, which still feels good.

    Today I spent over an hour standing at my work bench, and afterwards I was REALLY ready to put my leg up!

    I did wear the boot for one outing yesterday evening, but I’m getting close to quitting that, too. Onwards and upwards, at week 10!

  6. By marina on Feb 22, 2010 | Reply

    Glad to see you’re doing great day by day,Norm.
    I used to take a shower sitting down and it’s now over a week that I can finally wash myself while standing, although I feel a bit disoriented when closing my eyes to rinse out my hair.
    I still use a pillow when I sleep, a smaller one, but I think I just get used to it :-D

  7. By doug53 on Feb 22, 2010 | Reply

    Hi Norm,

    The scale doesn’t lie, you are getting there, even if it still feels like progress is slow. In my long 4/29/09 note, I wrote a little section called “The frustrating plateau” about this very stage.

    Once I could hold up my weight with my injured leg’s calf, I took the scale idea a step further a couple of times. I would hold the scale in my hands, overhead and upside-down, and lift my body’s weight with one calf and also press the scale into a strong overhead beam as hard as I could. My calf was then holding up my weight plus whatever was on the scale.

    I also remember, just after getting to the point of being able to hold my weight, going back to the “weak calf walk” out of habit. For a week or so, I remember making a point of walking fast, which forced me to use my recovering calf more. Soon, I was walking normally without having to think about it.

    Despite being immobilized a little longer than I was, with your nonsurgical treatment, that three week gap we have talked about seems to be holding pretty steady.

    Excellent!

    Doug

  8. By normofthenorth on Feb 22, 2010 | Reply

    Thanks, Marina. (How did you enter that Smiley? My browser doesn’t show any to click on.)

    Doug, I just happened to be re-reading a bunch of your blogs this morning, including that long one from April 29th. And I thought I invented all of that! Nope, stole it from you — though I’ve been experiencing that “plateau” just as you described it.

    But I think I’m only about 1.5 weeks into that three-week gap you predicted, and I’m almost, virtually, sort of. . . . there. Maybe.

    Meanwhile, Toronto is just now receiving its first serious snow-storm of a season the meteorologists have ’til now described as a “snow drought”. The last “snow drought” was in 2001-02, the last winter when I was on crutches — so I was just starting to take my good luck for granted, and then WHAM! Let’s hope I can avoid going WHAM in the snow and slush and ice. . .

  9. By obsessivec on Feb 23, 2010 | Reply

    Doug, would you say you would be up for something dynamic like beach volleyball at the 6 month point in your recovery?

  10. By normofthenorth on Feb 23, 2010 | Reply

    obsessivec, you shouldn’t obsess about the calendar, just about your condition. I’ll repeat what my Achilles surgeon said, which worked great for me and makes sense, too: you can return to aggressive sports (mine was mostly court volleyball, but now I also play beach, including some 2-on-2) when you can do a bunch of single-leg heel raises without grunting or sweating.

    If that’s 4 months after surgery, great! If it takes two years, keep working at it. It’s not as if you have a warranty that’s going to expire! :-D

    My impression is that beach is a BIT more AT-friendly than court, because the sand “gives” and “slips”, so it’s hard to get good enough footing to push (and load the AT) quite as hard as you can on a floor in clean volleyball shoes. And both my tears [that's TENDON tears, not the sobbing kind! :-D ] were on the court, not the beach. But I wouldn’t bet my AT on that.

  11. By doug53 on Feb 23, 2010 | Reply

    What Norm said. I was good to go at six months, strength fully recovered, but it was my condition, and not so much the time, that mattered.

    Doug

  12. By normofthenorth on Feb 24, 2010 | Reply

    I’m learning that measuring my calf-and-AT strength with a bathroom scale is a bit trickier than I thought. I’ve done it a few times now, and it’s easy to get contradictory results.

    Sometimes, I just plant the front half of my foot flat on the scale and shift my weight to it until it feels like time to stop. That reading is starting to get extremely close to my whole body weight, just North of 180 lbs.

    Other times, I plant the ball of my foot in the middle of the scale and push down with my heel actively raised off the scale. THAT way, I can still barely hit 100.

    Both readings are climbing, much higher than a week or 10 days ago. But the difference between them confused me a few times, until I figured out that I was doing it inconsistently.

    The first way is comparable to climbing stairs slowly, and the second (harder) way is probably more comparable to pushing off at the end of a good fast long walking stride.

    People who are trying to lose weight are often advised NOT to weigh themselves every day, because it’s easy to be frustrated by the natural variation or “noise” in the micro-data. This measurement may be similar, and once every 2 or 3 days may be enough. It also looks worse just after I’ve been inactive for a long time, AND just after I’ve been doing 2-legged heel raises hanging over a stairway step!

  13. By chocolata on Feb 25, 2010 | Reply

    Hi normofthenorth,
    It took me a while to learn how to create my blog and how to find other members’ blogs, but here I am! A slow learner. :)

    You are also on the conservative treatment and what you’ve written here is helpful to see what’s waiting for me. (I’m now 2 weeks & 3 days from my ATR.) I’m sorry you’ve had the ‘ouch’ experience, but I’m glad to know that you’re making good progress day by day!

    I’m now between jobs and can stay at home, but should start commuting again from April (probably from Week 10 or 11) - long one (60-minute train ride with 1 change and 10- & 20-minute walk at each end (with healthy feet). After reading your latest posting, I’m now not sure if I can manage that. I’ll be working 4 days a week, teaching three 90-minutes classes a day. I can sit down while teaching, but commuting can be tricky. I can easily picture myself suffering from pains in my feet, hands and everywhere… I may need a wheelchair for commuting so that I won’t get too tired before standing in front of my students. :(

  14. By normofthenorth on Feb 25, 2010 | Reply

    Welcome to this site and my blog, as a commenter and a blogger, chocolata!

    First: Anybody know why I had to “approve” of chocolata’s post before it appeared? First time I’ve been asked to do that. Is it just because she’s new here, or what?

    Second: I’ve been thinking about editing the title of this post, since that “faux pas” and “ouch” turned out to have no lingering consequences, as far as I can see, so it’s a bit misleading. I might leave the Homer Simpson “d’ohhh!!” though, since it really was a dumb move, and it COULD have set me back!

    Third, to respond to chocolata:
    When you say “April (probably from Week 10 or 11)” I’m assuming you mean in late April, 10 or 11 (or maybe 9 or 10) weeks since you were first immobilized. And it sounds like you’ll be walking 10 minutes to the train, sitting on two trains for an hour, then walking 20 minutes to school. Then teaching and then doing the same commute in the opposite direction. And repeating the whole thing 3 more times, i.e., for 4 days per week.

    It sounds like a total of 60 minutes walk, at your pre-ATR walking speed.

    Nobody can confidently predict exactly how your leg is going to react, but if you can follow the protocol I’m on (linked from my first post), you’ll be FWB from shortly after 4 weeks, in neutral position at 6 weeks (no heel lift, boot at 90 degrees), and “weaning off boot” starting at 8 weeks.

    By 9 weeks (end of week 9), I think I was spending most of the day (at home) in Crocs, but putting my (hinged) boot back on when I went out. I don’t think I ever walked QUITE that far in a day back then, but I came pretty close on Feb. 8, at about 8.5 weeks. (5 min walk, 15 minute train, 20 min walk, 2 hour meeting, then reverse with the 20 min walk extended to about 25 mins, to a different station.)

    I was in my hinged boot, I walked faster than most of my able-bodied (and younger) friends, and I felt pretty good — though I was tired afterwards, and putting my foot up felt Very Good.

    Your “bad” foot may feel uncomfortable if you’re unable to elevate it a bit on the train and while you teach. I wouldn’t expect any pains in your hands, or anywhere else, assuming you can follow a protocol like mine (from the Univ. of Western Ontario study I linked from my first post) and you’ve said goodbye to crutches and canes by then.

    If your “conservative” treatment is really “conservative” (= SLOW), then you may still be in a “walking cast” by then, and maybe still using crutches. I’d fight for a faster protocol, and a walking boot instead of a series of casts. I’m guessing that these government NHS systems reward “squeaky wheels”, but I’ve never dealt with the British system.

    My AirCast boot cost me Cdn$150 full price, and my (better) Donjoy MC Walker hinged boot is closer to Cdn$250. I bet the NHS is paying more than that for EACH cast you get (and you’re on #2 out of 3 or 4!), once you factor in the professional time and materials. So it’s far from an extravagant waste of public funds!

    If your Physio is right — telling you to take a shoe to your next appointment — and you’re tossed straight from a cast and crutches into “two shoes with heel lifts”, you may be in a vulnerable state when you start commuting. Again, I’d fight for a walking boot, preferably a hinged one. If NHS won’t buy you one, you may be able to find one on Craigslist or Kijiji or eBay. (There’s a blog here where people are discussing using their old ones as flower planters!)

  15. By normofthenorth on Feb 25, 2010 | Reply

    The other thing you’ll want to do, chocolata, is to somehow elevate your “good” foot to match your “bad” foot, as soon as you start being WB. Especially when you’re FWB, if you walk more than an hour a day with one foot lifted farther off the ground than the other, you’ll probably hurt all over, and do damage to something, like your knees and back.

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