Two years ago tonight, I fell on the ice outside my house and broke my ankle and leg.
Much has happened since then, both good and far too much bad.
Here's to more of the good in the year ahead!
Good news on the leg front. Sugery back on August 31 went extremely well. I went from this:
The surgery took about 90 minutes. My surgeon took a little piece of bone from my heel to help fill in the gap in the fibula. I was home by 10:30 the morning of the surgery.
My sisters and friends took care of my those first few days. They kept my spirits up, kept me fed, and made sure I didn't overdose on narcotics. The pain was never very bad, thankfully, and now all that's left is annoying nerve shocks that may last a few more weeks.
Today was my two week post-op visit. The surgical cast came off, and I was sent home in an Aircast boot. I only need to wear it when I leave the house. I can start driving now, but it's still too soon to doign any walking, even with crutches.
As the surgeon said, I have "the mother of all incisions."
They took out 25 staples, including four in my heel, at the site where the bone was harvested.
I guess I have to give up my dream of being a leg and calf model, huh?
Hi. Going to keep this short today, because I'm up to my ears in alligators at work and elsewhere.
Today is the seventh anniversary of my mom's death. It's always a sad day for my family and me, and this year I miss her more than ever. Since Darren left me, I've so often wished I could talk to my mom, have her say something to comfort me, help me feel that that things will be all right again some day. I know, despite how bleak things look right now, that I'm going to be okay. But I'd like to hear it from her.
In other news, tomorrow morning I have my third ankle reconstruction. I'm dreading the surgery itself, but I'm so eager to put this whole nightmare behind me. My friends and family will be tremendous help these next few weeks, and I'm grateful to have so much love and support.
I've also had encouraging news regarding my post-op schedule. I'll be in a surgical cast for two weeks, but then I'll be switched to the Aircast boot. This time there won't be 6 weeks in a nasty, scratchy fiberglass cast. Better still, I can start driving once the surgical cast comes off. I'll be glad to be less dependent than I was after the first two ankle surgeries.
So onwards. First we heal the ankle. The heart is a work in progress. Bones mend faster. (Well, at least they're supposed to.)
Once I'm off the good drugs, I'll post an update. Or maybe I'll post one while I'm high as a kite. Can't really vouch for what narco-WG will do.
Work has been crazy. Not fun crazy, either. More like Michelle Bachman on LSD crazy. (Actually, that might actually be pretty cool to watch, especially when her husband's circuit party boys joined the melee.)
By my reckoning I'm working three or four jobs right now. As you can imagine, I'm not really feeling on top of things. But everyone else at work is more or less in the same boat, so we aren't pointing any fingers at each other.
I do have occasional contact with Darren, who is still on his road-trip for a few more weeks. Sometimes our emails are neutral, sometimes we clash in unpleasant ways, but no matter what kind of contact we have with each other, I'm always very sad afterward. I may see him later this month, but that's not certain, and I'm not sure if it's wise.
In news from the social pages, in the last month I've gone out on a few dates, or as I prefer to call them "proof of concept" dates. I know I'm in no shape to be in a relationship right now, but it's very encouraging that I've found a few cools guys who are charming, handsome, intelligent and think I am, too. It's a good ego boost after being so thoroughly dumped.
In just under three weeks I have my third (and final dammit!) leg surgery. I dread it, but I'm also looking forward to the time off from work, and I'm even more eager to have this whole 18 month nightmare behind me and be physically well again.
My awesome family and friends have been kind enough to start signing up for times to drop by the house and help me out during the very difficult first two weeks of recovery. I'm so glad to have such great people to support me at what is a pretty damn sucky time.
I'll be off work for three weeks after my surgery on August 31. I've got tons of movies and TV series lined up to watch on Netflix, and I probably have 15 books on my iPad that I should have read ages ago. I'll learn from last summer's mistake, though, and only read fun/funny stuff during my narco-week. (Wow, did I have some messed up hallucinations!) I will also do no knitting. That was messy.
So, there it is. More news when I have it.
This x-ray of my bum leg, taken this morning, really doesn't look that good to me.
In fact, I might go as far as to say the the fibula, unhealed after more than a year, is a bit alarming.
My surgeon declared that my x-rays look "awesome," as my ankle is now fully healed, and things are snug and tidy. The fibula is a non-issue, I'm told, because it's held together by scar tissue. I'm cleared to go tromping around Europe for two weeks this spring, and for that matter, the doctor says I'm good to play tennis, do "whatever I want."
Um, really? Because those sharp bone ends look a bit spooky.
It's not just me--you think it's spooky, too, right? (And what's up with that little skull in the picture??)
There's still a one centimeter gap in the bone, just above the Big Screw. The surgeon (who, by the way is extremely handsome, though this is neither here nor there) would like to put a bone graft in there this summer.
That would be my third surgery on the leg. This one would be "minor" with me being off my feet just a week. Sort of hard to imagine that the recovery would be so quick.
Yes, I have an appointment with another surgeon for a second opinion. I made the appointment 3 months ago. Just 6 more weeks until I can get in.
Again, my advice is this: Don't break your ankle.
Hi, all. Well, after eight lonely weeks on disability, I started back to work last Tuesday, and it has been great to see my friends and start to feel like a productive member of society again. (Or at least as productive as I ever was.)
At work I'm walking in the Aircast with the help of crutches at this point. (I still use the scooter when I'm home, though.) I'm far from the lithe beast I was before the accident, but I'm not chair-bound, either.
I'm on a big project that required me to attend full-day meetings last Wednesday-Friday. My ankle wasn't at all pleased by 30 hours of sitting around a conference table. I spent most of my evenings icing to bring the swelling back down. This week I'll be working from home much of the time, pampering the bum leg as much as I can.
I saw the surgeon a week ago, and he told me that I'm making progress growing that crucial centimeter of bone in my tibia. It's not all there yet, so I have to be careful. I'm quite tired of being careful. I go back in three weeks for more x-rays.
That's all for now. Many thanks to all who've left comments wishing me well! I really appreciate your kindness.
Well, actually, no steps forward.
Yesterday I went to see my orthopedic surgeon for my six week post-op appointment, after which I was hoping I'd get the green light to start putting weigh on the repaired ankle.
While the ankle has a normal shape again, and x-rays showed all the bones are in exactly the right spots, the portion of my tibia that was lengthened in the surgery (cut in two, then seeded with stem cells from my hip and plated back together) hasn't yet sufficiently healed to allow walking.
So, instead of graduating from the scooter to walking in a boot, I have to stay non-weight-bearing for another four weeks while more bone grows. It was frustrating and discouraging news, but I'm doing my best to take the long view. I've also re-focused attention on my nutrition to add more foods that promote bone growth and eliminate things like soda, chocolate, and booze (sigh) that can hamper bone production.
The one marked improvement in my quality of life is that my cast was removed yesterday. As you can see, this second surgery added a major new scars. I guess I'll never make it as a big-time ankle model...
When I leave the house (still an infrequent treat) I'm to wear the boot to protect the healing bone, but the surgeon said if I'm just lounging at home, I can have the leg bare. That's a huge relief. It's great to be rid of the hot itchy cast--I slept much better last night than I have in six weeks.
All in all, it's slow going. The summer of blah continues.
An update from the orthopedics ward..
The surgery Friday morning came off without a hitch. I checked into the outpatient surgery center around 6:45, and by 2:30pm I was home sleeping in my comfy recliner. The dreaded nerve block went really smoothly, and I barely felt a thing. My leg was totally numb from knee to toes for over 14 hours.
This time around, the surgeon made damn sure that my ankle bones won't be shifting to suit themselves:
Sort of hard to believe that's my ankle with so much hardware attached. Now let's all hope that the second time is the charm...
At 6:00am I'll be checking in for Round 2 of The 2010 Great Ankle Repair Project. My orthopedic surgery is schedule to take place 7:30. Screws, plates and will be inserted into my poor leg, and a bit of bone from my hip will move to a new home in my tibia.
Even though I'm glad that the month of waiting is over, I'm extremely anxious about the surgery (especially the nasty nerve block that precedes it). I know my ankle is totally crooked and jacked-up with bones moving about as they list, but still, saws and screws scare me down to, well, down to my very marrow.
The house is ready for my impending disability, even if I'm not. I have my two trusty scooters ready. The sporty red one will start me out. It has better brakes.
Later, once I'm off the hard drugs and start venturing out of the house, I'll move to the zippier black model.
It has already proved a most excellent place to nap, even without the aid of poppies, poppies... [See how neatly I worked my way back to a Wizard of Oz reference?]
I've got five books I want to read downloaded to my iPad, my Netflix queue is all neatly arranged (front-loaded with mindless action films and comedies), and I've ordered yarn for three entertaining yet rather simple knitting projects. (Those will have to wait until I'm off the strong painkillers--I've learned that the hard way.)
I have just one more frantic day at work tying up projects before I'm out for eight weeks, back in full convalescent mode. I'm looking forward to visits from many friends over these next weeks. I'll need them.
More when I resurface,
Today I went in for a check-up with my orthopedic surgeon.
Things aren't good.
I'd been suspicious of the fact that my ankle bone had started protruding an extra 20% in the last week. But I was hoping it was just my imagination.
In fact, my ankle bones are separating, gradually being pushed apart by each step I take. That's what's made the ankle bone stick out more. It's sort of like a slowly growing lava dome, except in my case, bones would eventually reach the surface, not lava.
Oh, also my tibia healed too short.
So what does this mean?
It means a complete re-do of my surgery, and then some. The plan is to:
I'm looking at another six weeks of non-weight-bearing, casts, scooters, narcotics, and knitting. (The last two sound okay.)
Surgery is on Friday, June 4.
Now, where's my gin and tonic??
Oh, right here.
Et voila! My messed up right leg, blissfully free of fiberglass, gauze, and Ace bandages.
Am I back to normal?
However, I can walk without a crutch, and I can wear normal shoes.
[Full disclosure: I do still have to wear an elaborate S&M Velcro-nightmare brace when I walk, and I have just one pair of tennis shoes that will fit over it. Still, I can wear shoes. No more cast-cozy.]
Last Friday I saw my surgeon and had my cast removed, and the doctor declared that he was proud of the work he had done to rebuild my ankle.
I have to say, I found the word "rebuild" a bit disconcerting. I'd been thinking more along the lines of "repair." But tomato, tomahto.
I'm soaking and moisturizing like crazy to transform my leg and foot from alligator to human skin. I've got some nasty scars on both sides of the ankle. Two 4-inchers on the right side, a 2 inch incision on the left. Very Frankenstein-y. I also have a nasty spot on my ankle where the sidewalk sheared off a good chunk of me when I fell. (That's an injury I never felt at all--too much pain from underneath to notice surface damage.)
On Tuesday I had my first physical therapy session and was given a set of not very fun exercises to do each day. However, my therapist is a stone cold hunk, and I'll do pretty much anything he tells me to do. He told me that I'm ahead of where most patients with my severe injuries are at this point, so I'm taking heart in that.
So, things continue to improve. Thanks to all of you who have sent kind notes wishing me well. It's a real boost!
PS. Okay, here's the brace. Sexy, no...?
In the land of the dislocated ankle and spiral tib/fib fracture, things continue apace. That pace is s l o w, but at least I appear to be moving in the right direction.
I'm not in very much pain--mostly it's just dull aching that sometimes keeps me from sleeping well. The other annoyance is that my cast is now way too loose, because my swelling as receded so much. I'm not sure, but I think I can feel stitches or staples rubbing at times, and that's icky, especially at 2:30 in the morning.
Last Saturday I made my first foray out into the world since the surgery. Darren and I ate a brewpub near our house. We were only out for an hour, but I was totally exhausted when we got home.
This coming Friday morning I'll visit my surgeon's office to have the surgical cast removed, and be fitted with a snugger (and I hope lighter) cast. I'm curious to see the x-rays of my repaired leg.
While the time away from work has been good for me, I'm a bit lonely spending my days here on the couch. But I'm watching a lot of movies, working my way through some of the unread novels I have stashed about the house, and spending quality time with Hudson. And let's not forget the fun the fun paperwork for my medical leave as well as getting refunds for two canceled trips.
Over the past weekend, I decided that I should have a cast-cozy for dressy occasions, and Sunday afternoon I dreamed up a new design. I constructed it sort of like my felted bag, minus the felting. I started with a tidy garter stitch rectangle, picked up stitches around the edge, and knitted six inches of 2x2 ribbing.
The "dress-cozy" will make its debut out of the town tomorrow night. We're going to see Mavis Staples perform live at the Dakota jazz club in Minneapolis. I'm nervous about looking like a dork on my scooter, but once I'm seated I'm sure I'll have a great time.
That's all for now!
So about that trip to sunny Mexico... Not gonna happen.
Here's the scoop.
On Saturday, Jan 16, during a fun visit from my sister and her family, I took a moment to let Hudson out before dinner. I set one foot off the front step, slipped on glare ice that had developed over the last hour, and took a bad fall.
"Bad" as in really bad--like an ambulance ride, x-rays, and fun like that. Turns out I had dislocated my ankle (obvious on first glance, as my right foot had never pointed in that particular unnatural angle before), and a spiral fracture of the tibia.
My icky ankle (note the extra bend)
After being sedated so the ankle could be put back in place and a temporary cast put on, I spent that night in the hospital. Around 11:00pm I was visited by an orthopedic surgeon who explained that after a few days to let the swelling subside, I would need surgery to repair the fractures.
I was sent home the following afternoon, feeling extremely depressed and having a lot of pain.
The surgery went well, and things are nailed/screwed/chicken-wired together in there now. Another night in the hospital.
Since getting home a week ago today, I've spent most of my time on the living room couch, high for days on the Percoset I popped every four hours day and night. Now the pain is manageable with Advil and Tylenol, so I'm feeling much less foggy.
I'm getting around on two different scooters. My pain has steadily decreased and now that I've learned how to hoist myself up from the couch without putting weight on my right foot, life is much less stressful.
This is "Zippy," the scooter I like best for ease of motion and steering. The other one has wheels that lock more easily, and it has a handy basket for carrying things around.
Zippy is definitely the way to go for most things, and when I return to work, I'll be whooshing down the halls on that one.
I've taken a several week medical leave of absence to give myself time to heal before dealing with the leg and the pressures of work. I miss my coworkers, but several of them have come to visit me, and that has lifted my spirits enormously.
On Feb 5 I have my first post-op appointment, at which time I believe I'll be fiitted with another cast and have stitches or staples removed. (Icky.) It will be four more weeks from that point before I can put any weight on the foot. I also can't drive, which makes me quite the shut-in.
Darren has been incredibly kind and has taken great care of me through all this. He reminds me each day that he can see me making progress, and that's a great boost.
Hudson has been extra snuggly with me too, and he's rarely been off my lap since this whole thing started. He particularly likes to rest his head on my cast for some reason.
To help occupy myself and keep my toes warm, I knitted a little cast-cozy. I'm not entirely happy with the decreases at the top, but then I don't plan to use it that long, either. I used some leftover Noro Kuryeon.
I'm sure I'll be the envy of any cast-wearer I meet...
So that's the latest and not-so-greatest. Watch out for icy sidewalks!
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