A good day after a discouraging week..

Such a discouraging week I’ve had. I had a huge spike in pain last Friday, for reasons unknown, and I’ve been struggling to kind of get back on top of things since then. I’m still using crutches, but my surgeon and PT say to continue using them (both or one) until I can walk without a limp. I’ve had to modify some of my PT exercises because I just can’t do them, but at my PT appointment today, she said that’s OK, and exactly what I should do.
I have this overwhelming fear hanging over me that this is just going to be my ankle.  Forever.   I see so many people here doing so much walking so early on, and I just couldn’t imagine doing that.  I’m just trying to get through the day, doing regular things around the house.  It only adds to my fear that things are not going as they should be.  I know I shouldn’t compare my recovery to other’s.  I am not them, and they are not me.  With my ankle never really getting better after my surgery last April, I sometimes wonder if it even knows how to not be in pain.  But I keep trying to convince myself that that is not the case, and it WILL get better.

Yesterday was my first day of starting to wean out of the boot.  I was out of it for about an hour and a half, and felt OK.  Not great, but not horrible, either.  I was out of it at my PT appointment today trying out some new exercises.  She had me trying some balancing on a piece of dense foam and shifting my weight back and forth from foot to foot, with my eyes closed, but keeping both feet on the foamy cushion.  She looked over and I was standing there, completely on my right foot, left foot in the air, balancing away, completely zoned out, and she got so excited that I was doing that.  Then she realized my right foot is my good foot!!….I was just resting my rehabbing foot, cuz that s#*t is hard!!!  My left foot has exactly ZERO stability, but she did remind me it’s been injured, and not doing it’s thing for 2 years, AND operated on twice, AND NWB for 5 weeks, AND  in a boot for 9…

I went 4 km on the stationary bike, and got some new dorsiflexion stretches to do, and a couple of new balancing exercises to try.  So, I feel like today was a better day.  I’ll take ‘em when I can get ‘em!  My ankle definitely knows it did some things today, so I’m hoping it will be OK tomorrow.

Stay well everyone!

Slow progress is better than no progress.

I’m now 7.5 weeks post op, and I’ve just started dallying with walking without crutches. I started yesterday and lasted about half an hour, and today for a couple of hours. Then I have to go back to one crutch, and even 2 by the end of the day. But that’s improved from using 2 during the day and having to go back to NWB by the evening.  The hardest part is stopping when the pain level increases, and accepting my limits.  But it is so much easier to get things done with 2 free hands!  And not dragging around that perpetual dance partner!

I started physiotherapy a couple of weeks ago and have had 3 sessions so far. We started with measuring my ROM, which was pretty good. I could dorsiflex to neutral and plantarflex to 35 degrees. I have a way to go on both, but as a starting point they’re pretty good. I got some basic ROM exercises to do first, then we added some isometric exercises, and today we added some (almost) one legged balance, and gastroc  and soleus stretches out of the boot. So for the first time in 52 days, I put a regular running shoe on my foot. It felt weird. And wrong! All lumpy in the wrong places, and too tight on my ankle. And flimsy!

I’ve been wondering lately exactly what the purpose is of this boot that has become part of me. I know it’s for stability, but why?  How bad could my ankle be all on it’s own?  Well yesterday I absent mindedly went to the shower with only one crutch. When I got out of the shower, I one crutch walked without my boot, to the bedroom (literally 5 steps) and then back to hurry up and put that boot back on. Boy, did I feel that. Now I know the reason for the boot! My foot is as good as useless all by itself!  At my next physio session I’ll be getting some more out of the boot exercises to hopefully get a little more strength up before I start weaning out of the boot next week.

I feel like I’ve made some great progress, but at the same time feel like I’m still doing so little.  I know it’s a long process.  My surgeon did tell me that.  More than once.  He was right…imagine that?!

Promising 4.5 week follow up with the surgeon

Today was my 4.5 week (almost 5 week) follow up with my surgeon. He said my ankle looks great, and my ROM is already not too bad. Being in a boot for the past 2.5 weeks, instead of a cast, and being allowed to take it off and move my foot a bit, has helped.   His idea of “not too bad” and mine are apparently different!  It feels pretty stiff and tight to me. Compared to my other (and previously this one was too) super hyper-mobile foot, it’s not great, but compared to normal people, it’s probably not too bad!!

So I’ve now been given permission to start weight bearing (SCARY!!) with the boot, which I’m to wear for 4 more weeks. I don’t need to wear it while I’m sleeping if I don’t want to. He said at this point I can’t do any damage even if I roll over on it wrong.

Then after the 4 weeks I can start weaning out of the boot, or he said even sooner if I’m comfortable, until I’m back in 2 shoes again. I follow up again in 6 weeks, so we’ll see if I can accomplish all of this by then!

I also got the go ahead to start physiotherapy, and I have my first appointment next Wednesday (1 week from today). I’m going back to the same PT who I’ve been seeing since last April after my first ankle surgery. She is fantastic, I love her!! I’m excited to get started with PT - is that weird?!

He showed me my x-rays before and after so I could see the part of the bone he removed from the back of my heel, and where he put the anchor in to re-secure my Achilles’ tendon.  He said the tendon itself looked pretty good.  All good news.

I’ve tried to start weight bearing today, but basically right now I’m kind of just going through the motion of rolling my foot in the boot on the floor as I step. So basically, I’m touching the floor, but is there actually any weight there? I’m not sure. I find it kind of terrifying. I also get wicked needles jabbing through my heel when I put any weight on it. Hopefully that will go away soon. I’m sure I’ll get braver as the days go on.

I feel like I’ve made it out of the starting gate!

3.5 weeks and officially tired of NWB

So, I’m 3.5 weeks out from Haglund’s Deformity removal and the Achilles repair that goes along with it.  I’m officially tired of being NWB. Tired of not being able to carry things from one room to another. Tired of crutching my way up and down the 3 sets of stairs in our house. Tired of sitting on the couch watching crappy TV. Tired of all the movies in our DVD collection. Tired of the room I’ve come to call “the dungeon”, otherwise known as our family room. And really, just plain tired. It turns out not eating or sleeping for a week does a number on your immune system and I’ve managed to pick up a rotten cold. That coupled with post surgical fatigue has left me feeling, well, tired.  Too tired to do much of anything for any period of time.  And I’m bored.
I’m allowed to take off my boot and move my foot a little, and boy is it stiff. In every direction. I tried resting my foot on the floor (no weight, I promise!), in hopeful anticipation of being allowed to start bearing weight a week from now, and can’t even get it to the right angle to be able to stand on it. The dorsiflexion to neutral is just not there.

And I’m really bored.  Did I mention I’m bored?

Cast Claustrophobia is real…and it’s Terrifying.

I lasted 6 days in my full cast. Six of the most harrowing days of my life.  This is a difficult story for me to tell.

I never considered myself claustrophobic. Sure, I don’t care for the tiny tunnel that is the MRI machine, and you’ll never catch me caving in those damp, dark, narrow tunnels of West Virginia.  But generally, I always considered myself fairly well adjusted.

And then they put a cast on my leg. Not a splint, not just plaster on the back with a friendly elastic ace bandage holding everything together. But a hard, formed, never ending, all encompassing cast, that you can’t get off.  Can’t get away from.  Can’t get out of.  Ever. It started with nausea, then dizziness, then uncontrollable shaking and crying. And sleeplessness. Long, dark, lonely nights trying to figure out what was happening and how to stop it, how to busy my mind, how to focus on something else.  And failing.  Then panic. Frantic panic.  A racing heart, and such heaviness in my chest I felt like someone was standing on me, until I couldn’t breath. I could not physically suck in air.  Never have I felt so trapped.  So terrified.  So horribly wrong.   Finally, after 6 days of not eating, not sleeping, intense anxiety, fear, and a torturous wait for the weekend to be over, I made yet another call to my surgeon’s office, and with a little begging and pleading, and help from the most wonderful nurse, I am now in an air cast boot.  And with permission, yes, actual permission from my surgeon, to take it off whenever I want. Whenever. I. Want. I sobbed when that cast came off. Laid there on their bed, like a child, and sobbed. It was such an overwhelming relief.

So here I am, sanity intact, 18 days post op from Haglund’s Deformity removal and Achilles’ tendon reconstruction. Still NWB for 2.5 more weeks, but that, I can do.

For anyone who has never experienced this, you’ll think I’m grossly exaggerating. For anyone who has, you’ll know that I’m not. And I’m sorry. Sorry for the torment you endured.

For anyone who may ever stumble across this who is trying to figure out what the heck it is that’s happening to you, tell someone. Tell your family. Tell your friends. TELL YOUR DOCTOR. No matter how many times you’ve already called them, how many other complaints you’ve already made, no matter how much of a bother you feel you’re being, tell them. They can help you. They are health care providers. They went into this field to help people. They will help you.

First Follow-up; Cast #3

I had my first follow-up with my surgeon today, day 12, a week earlier than originally planned due to cast issues. The first thing they did when I arrived was take my cast off! Hooray! That thing was making my whole leg sting/burn, giving me pain in my ankle, the back of my heel and across the Achilles, and muscle spasms (not blood clots, thankfully) in my calf. So I was glad to have it off.
Next, I went for x-rays where they tried to gingerly move my foot around into various contorted positions, but it ended up hurting quite a bit.
Next was stitches removal time. My surgeon said my incision looks great, I agreed, and the stitches came out quickly and easily.
Then for the application of a new full, short leg cast, rather than the back plaster I’d had previously. I had the choice between waterproof or fibreglass, and they said the waterproof was lighter, so I chose that one. It had to be rolled on over my foot and heel and up my leg (like a giant leg condom!!) then I had my foot pressed into a fairly dorsiflexed position while it set. Not fun. Not fun at all. My foot is still slightly plantarflexed, but much closer to neutral than where it had been. So far this cast feels so much better. It’s lighter, thinner, and a lovely light green! Very stylish!  I’m in this one for 3 more weeks. Three more weeks of NWB. I’m fairly certain my surgeon left out this step when he was describing the road to recovery. Oh well, what can ya do?! It’s a snippet in the big picture of life. Right?
Today is also my one year anniversary of my ankle arthroscopy that started this mess. Honestly not where I thought I’d be one year out.

Where to begin? My story…

It all began for me in June 2015, with a simple step off of a sidewalk when I felt a painful pulling in what I thought was my Achilles’ tendon. I walked it off and forgot about it until it happened again that day, and then again and again. My ankle was sore and kept getting worse. I was finally troubled enough to go to the doctor and was eventually referred to a sport medicine physician who diagnosed me with posterior ankle impingement caused by an os trigonum - an accessory bone just behind the talus. The tendon pull I had initially felt was actually my FHL tendon, being impinged by this tiny useless bone. After much unsuccessful treatment, I was referred to a fantastic orthopaedic surgeon specializing in foot and ankle (he’s actually the lead author of the UWO study of surgical vs. non- surgical treatment of ATR) About 10 months after the initial incident, in April 2016, I had a posterior ankle arthroscopy to remove the os trigonum and release the FHL tendon. I was promised all would be well.
Healing was extremely slow. Slower than it should have been. The pain refused to subside, and instead of getting better, continued to get worse. I had physiotherapy, I exercised, I iced, I rested, I took anti-inflammatories, and finally in July 2016 had my first cortisone shot. I was terrified, but it turned out to be quick and quite tolerable. And what a relief. For 4 weeks, I could walk, do my physio, and felt I was finally progressing. Then it was like someone had flipped a switch and turned it off. The pain returned and continued to worsen.
September 2016 brought cortisone shot #2 and a diagnosis of insertional Achilles tendinitis caused by irritation from my arthroscopy. This cortisone shot was fantastic for 2 weeks, then gave me moderate relief for another 4. October 2016 things started spiralling downhill again. More pain, and now swelling. Finally my physiotherapist put me on strict rest for 4 weeks, but I made no improvement.
December 2016 my surgeon changed my diagnosis to insertional Achilles tendinosis, and told me I also had a Haglund’s Deformity which was exacerbating the problem. I thought, really? How many defective, useless, unnecessary bones can one person have in one ankle? After much discussion, we decided the best course of action would be a calcaneal osteotomy and Achilles’ tendon reconstruction to remove the Haglund’s and debride the tendon. I had this procedure on March 24, 2017, so I’m currently 10 days post op. I’m already on my second cast as my first one was too tight and cutting off circulation in my calf.  This one is causing generalized stinging and burning and an increase in pain in my ankle, so I’m hoping to have it changed again.  It has been a long 10 days. I’m glad to have found this group.

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