It's about 6 1/2 months since my break, so for those of you coming behind me, I thought I would do a thorough recap of my recovery.
Jan 7 - At about 6:30 am I slipped and fell on ice and ended up with a trimalleolar fx on my right ankle. I ended up in surgery at about 5:30 pm, and came out with 2 large titanium screws on my tibia, and a titanium plate with 6 screws on my fibula. I was put in a large Jones cast (looks like an overgrown ace bandage clam-shell like thing).
Jan 9 - I was released from the hospital, NWB, on crutches, still in Jones cast.
Jan 13 - My first OS appt, post break. My stitches were taken out, the Jones cast removed, and I was put in the Darth boot. I was told NWB for one month.
Feb 8 - My second OS appt. My tibia had filled in, my fibula had started, and the posterior tibia had started as well. I was told to begin WB and by the next appt in a month I could be FWB.
Mar 11 - My third OS appt. I walked in to the appt without crutches, cane or anything. All fracture sites were filled in. The Darth boot was removed and I was put in an Air Cast for the next month.
Mar 15 - My first PT session. Lots of measurements were taken, and I was shown at-home exercises to do three times a day.
May 15 - My first hike all the way up my little "mountain". The steep climb really worked my ROM and stretched everthing.
May 29-June 2 - My first camping trip. I was able to do some simple hiking and geocaching, and felt fairly stable, but a little tenuous. I took things very slowly and carefully.
June 3 - My last PT session. By this point in PT, I had been doing the BAPS board every session, and had moved up in levels. I was jumping rope somewhat, and hopping in all sorts of ways, on the mini-tramp and on the floor. I was also doing the BOSU every time, and always ended with single-leg presses. My ROM was almost back to pre-break status. I still felt stiffness, and had donut swelling around the ankle, but I was able to walk barefoot fairly well, and could "jog" for a couple minutes at a time.
Jun 29-July 4 - My second camping trip to Mt. Lassen. By now I could do simple hiking fairly well. My foot seemed much more tolerable to tweeks and jarring motions, although it was still rather painful if it was pushed too far. I had more endurance on my foot, and was able to be on it for hours at a time, although I would still experience the donut swelling and the achy/breakies. I found that I need to flex my foot in bed in the morning before I start walking to loosen it up. My ROM had continued to improve as well.
July 16 - Present -
Walking - For the most part I walk pretty normally, unless my foot is tired and achy. Then, I still limp somewhat, although I try to force myself to do it right. I can walk up stairs with no problem at all; down stairs are still a work in progress. I think it is because that relies heavily on calf muscles, which are still in the process of redeveloping, and FULL ROM which is still lacking a bit. The amount of weight put on the foot when going down stairs seems to really stress it unlike anything else, so I am still working on getting that normal. I can walk barefoot quite well, although that too becomes difficult any time my foot is swollen or sore. I also find wearing my Tevas or off-road running shoes the most comfortable, as they both have some cushioning to the soles. Shoes with little softness to the soles can be painful in short order to my foot.
Running/Jogging - That is still quite a work in progress. I can jog for very short periods, and I will sometimes do that a couple times a walk. Trying to run any major length of time yet seems to really stress my ankle, so I am trying to add teeny bits of time to each little jog. The next day my ankle is pretty sore, but I seem to be able to tolerate it.
Hiking - I can hike pretty well now. The jarring and tweeking as I stumble on little rocks and uneven parts of the trail do not seem to bother my foot as much, although I am still doing fairly simple hikes, and I do find myself still fairly tenuous and really watch the trail ahead much more than I used to.
Normal daily activities - I can do pretty much what I used to do, and fairly well. I have climbed ladders, mowed very uneven lawns, painted, done house-hold projects, and pretty much anything else that has come along with little problems. I still find fully squatting a bit of a problem, as my knees still feel a bit stiff and tight. I'm not sure how the break affected my knees as I never had problems before, but it did. Slowly they have gotten more limber and less stiff, but still are a bit.
Pain level - For the most part now, I deal with the achy/breakies. I quite often feel it right across the ankle bones, but I also will literally feel it throughout my foot. Some days all the little bones from my ankle and down throughout my foot will ache. I have never figured out what makes that happen, as there does not always appear a "cause/effect" thing happening. Sometimes the aching just shows up. It is always frustrating as it inhibits what I want to do, but usually I am able to push through it and do what I want. Some days I will have no pain whatsoever and they are wonderful. I still have tweeking pain around my tibia which I have a sinking feeling is somehow related to the 2 big screws there. I also have a discomfort type of pain when I really rotate my foot a certain way right over where the plate is on my fibula. Again, I have a sinking feeling that is related to the HW. I have thin bony ankles, and wonder if I just don't have enough room for all that extra stuff in there where I won't feel it. The HW issue is still the MOST confusing part of my continued recovery.
Swelling - I am STILL dealing with the donut of swelling off and on. Sometimes I can literally have days with virtually no swelling at all, and my foot feels free and pretty darn normal. Then the swelling will appear out of no-where, and the foot feels tight again. I almost always have a blob of swelling around my tibia, which feels mushy and can be moved. It is the text-book example of pitting edema. Not much really helps my swelling go away any more, I just kind of live with whatever shows up, and look forward to the days when I have none.
Mentally - This is an interesting item. At the time of the break, I had no idea it was anything but a physical injury. However, over time I realized it had a major impact on me mentally. I felt totally incapacitated, totally dependent, very helpless, very lonely, and truly mourned the loss of so many things I loved to do. As time went on, I regained my ability to take care of myself, which helped return my self esteem. However, I still will find myself on tough days, mourning the loss of my physical freedom. It is on those days, that I work very hard to remember how far I have come and what I have regained in my life, and not what I have lost. Still, it can be difficult. These breaks are every bit as much an emotional journey as a physical journey of recovery. For the most part now though, I am my pre-break very optimistic, upbeat, happy, energetic self. A big YEA there!
As you can see, at the 6 month point in this recovery, I have come a long way. I have regained most of my ability to do what I used to, and am able to enjoy most of what I loved to do. I remain optimistic that with enough time and work, I will regain the other endeavors I loved to do. Most people who do not know of the fractures would not be able to tell, except perhaps on a day when my foot is sore or achy. So, I hope that for those of you just at the beginning of this journey, or for those of you a bit behind, you can realize it does get better. Each new day is a new one, and with time, everything slowly improves. With these breaks though, that is truly the operative word. SLOWLY ...