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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