2 weeks post op ankle surgery, could use advice, commiseration, anything.

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I'm 32 year old female and crying as I type this. I fell down the stairs on Dec 23 and broke my ankle on both sides. The ER put it in a splint and referred me to a good orthopedic surgeon. Because of the holidays and my insurance denying and being stupid to where I ultimately had to pay cash after my first surgery was cancelled, I finally got surgery on Jan 8th. 

I was pretty miserable those 17 days before surgery, but only my foot hurt and I stayed on my pain meds and laid on the recliner with my foot propped up all day long. I was able to put myself into a wheelchair and take myself to the bathroom, using a walker to pivot onto the toilet. Wasn't fun, but It was doable. 

2 days before surgery, I felt pretty good, could wheel myself around the house to get a snack or take a bath by sitting on a bathtub bench with my foot propped up and pouring water over myself. 

Obviously surgery sucked and I was in extreme foot pain for a few days afterwards, but I still was able to sit in my wheelchair and go to the bathroom. My splint came off 4 days ago, and 2 days before that was probably my best day. I could go longer between the pain meds and I was feeling good, with only a little soreness under my calf where it met the end of the splint. 

The day before getting my splint off, my leg started swelling and hurting. My calf, back of knee, thigh, and hip with especially pain in the inner hip joint area almost like a groin pain. I was in so much pain, it was horrible going to the bathroom. The next day, I got the splint off, got a nice comfortable boot, and I told my doctor about my concerns about the swelling and pain. He basically brushed it off, saying I'll be having swelling all the time for months to come and I should just elevate it. He did order an ultrasound to check for blood clots but I don't really have the symptoms of a red swollen painful area-- it's basically just extreme muscle type pain all down my leg, with most pain in my hip and behind my knee. 

It's Sunday now so I'm guessing they'll call me to schedule the ultrasound tomorrow maybe but for now, it's been 4 days since this mysterious swelling (I should add, I didn't notice ANY swelling from the time i broke my leg until now, and I had NO leg pain at all). I keep my leg propped up all day and it doesn't relieve the swelling. I have basically spent the last 4 days laying here crying all day and night. It hurts so bad. And the ironic thing is that my foot doesn't really hurt at all. Sometimes I get firey nerve pain but that doesn't last long. They said I could take off the boot and take a bath but I haven't bathed yet out of pain from my leg and fear that I'm too weak and tired (from the pain) to take a bath, even though I want to. 

I'm laying here now with the boot off and my leg resting on pillows. The worst pain is my hip. I try heating pads and a massager, which helps a little while I'm doing it, but it has no lasting affect. The only slight relief is laying back in the recliner and pulling my hurt leg up to my chest, holding onto my knee. It stretches my hip in a way that feels better but still hurts. I can try to straighten my knee and that's not happening, the back of it hurts too bad. 

I am in so much pain I had my husband buy me diapers because I literally can't even stomach the idea of going to the bathroom again. The swelling on my thigh hurt insanely bad when I sat on the toilet seat. While my ankle is getting better, the rest of me is regressing. 

the back of my knee is VERY sore, but if I keep it still it's fine, but if I lift and move my leg it hurts really bad and I can't straighten it at all. Are the muscles too weak now? Do I need strength exercises? Have I unintentionally messed up my leg by keeping it elevated all day long? Did I pull a muscle without realizing it?

I've spent these 4 days crying and googling trying to find someone with my problem and I haven't so please if anyone went through the same thing, I'd love some insight. I'm losing all hope at ever feeling okay again, walking, sitting up, or even just being alive without being in pain. I am terrified of my ultirasound appointment because it means I have to get up and be put in the car and sitting in the wheelchair hurts like hell because of my thigh and knee. I am completely lost and miserable, 

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  • Posted

    Oh Chey12002 I feel for you, I really do. Deep breath and you are going to get some great advice from the lovely people on here. 

    Firstly does you foot feel warm? What colour is it? I ask this because if you have a dvt it could compromise the femoral and popliteal artery in your leg. If you foot is warm, pink and not too hot then that is good. 

    It’s just a case of getting on top of the pain, what pain meds have you got? 

    Claire. Xx

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    • Posted

      Thank you. I'm trying to breathe but it's so stressful and exhausting being in pain all day. My foot feels good.. It's a normal color and not hot or too warm. The rest of my leg isn't too warm either. I've been taking my temperature a few times a day and it's normally either normal or 99 degrees, once it was 99.6 but then went down after a few hours.

      I am on Norco tab 10-325, one every four hours. I worry that my body has become tolerant to them a bit because I've been on them 29 days now, but the last few days, I don't take them every 4 hours anymore because besides getting a little sleepy, I don't feel much, if any, difference in my leg pain when I take them, and I know they're bad for you. 

      I asked my doctor if I should be on Ibuprofen or anything for the swelling and he said no, just elevate it. Of course elevating it doesn't seem to do anything either. sad

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    • Posted

      I’m not 100% sure what Norco 10/325 is as I’m in the UK but I’ve googled it and I have an idea. 

      Do you have paracetamol in the US? If you do it’s so worth taking if you have any, it’s a fantastic underated pain killer.

      In the UK we work on something called a pain ladder, adding different meds as needed.

      Maybe start back on the Norco 10/325 and as long as you haven’t any kidney problems add a 1gram of paracetamol every 4-6hrs. Then you can add ibuprofen in as well just make sure you take it after eating as it can upset your stomach lining, 400mg 3 times a day is the standard dose.

      The paracetamol and Ibuprofen won’t make you drowsy as they aren’t opioids so do not depress the respiratory system. As always I would urge you to check out all the meds I have mentioned with a Dr or at least a Pharmacist/Chemist prior to taking them. 

      Tomorrow call your Dr and explain what is happening and if you get upset pass the phone to your husband and get him to do it for you.

      It’s all very well for a Dr to say you do not need certain meds but they haven’t been through what you are going though.

      In the UK we have a saying that pain is what the patient says it is. Therefore the pain needs treating to enable you to begin to mobilise and reduce post op complications. 

      Just to add I have been a qualified Registered General Adult Nurse in the UK for 15yrs now and I, ironically, work on a Ortho Trauma Unit! Plus I have had 7 ankle surgeries up to know so I have a far bit of knowledge when it comes to pain meds etc. I just wanted you to know that I do know what I’m talking about! 

      I really hope the above helps 🙂

      Claire. Xx

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  • Posted

    Oh Chey, I am so sorry for your pain. Did you have hip and knee XRays as well as ankle ones ?, perhaps you have damaged your hip or knee as well.

    An ankle injury takes a long long time to heal, I am still having pain and swelling and other problems 11 1/2 months later, and other joints 'compensate' for it, but I really think you should have more XRays, soon. Take care hun, and I hope you feel better soon.

     

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  • Posted

    Chey I am so sorry you are having this horrid experience!  I am no doctor, but if I were you I think I would go to urgent care and try and get some answers or at least relief now.  I had lots of swelling in the ankle, but none anywhere else in the leg- perhaps a bit in the calf but not at all what you describe.  The lying around elevating your leg definitely would not have caused it- that is to alleviate swelling and your muscles will atrophy a bit but I did not walk for 6 weeks and after 2 weeks of walking am almost back to normal.  Maybe you will hear from others who did experience some of what you describe, but if I were you I would want to rule out clots or an infection right away.  If they determine you are fine, then you need better meds to control swelling and pain because what you describe is too much.  

    Good luck and hang in there- each day should be better!!!!!!

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    • Posted

      Yes I like what Rusky said- it sounds like there could be an injury higher in your leg, or perhaps a nerve has been damaged that runs up the leg.  
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  • Posted

    Is it possible to see another doctor for a second opinion?

    When elevating your leg, make sure your knee is supported. I use several pillows. 2 for my leg and one that goes under my thigh and behind my knee. I also started using another pillow to prop my good leg up on so my hips on either side are a bit more even, minimizing any hip discomfort. Are you icing the areas that are swollen?

    Swelling around the injury is normal. My foot and ankle are still swollen some, and I expect them to be for awhile. I wouldn't expect my knee or thigh to be swollen from an ankle injury, unless I had injured then too in the process.

    Just because he said the ibuprofen isn't necessary for the swelling doesn't mean he won't help, especially for the additional pain. Call your pharmacist and ask if you can take an over the counter medicine with your prescription medicine in order to help you get control of and ahead of the pain.

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  • Posted

    Oh Chey hunni I really feel for you, and I'm not a medical person my experience is a triple ankle fusion on October 4th. I'm still recovering there is a long way to go to recover from ankle surgery so I'm told. I had a lot of hip pain simply because I was using a frame which allowed me to move by hopping and the pressure was too much for all of the leg. It doesn't sound like your pain though, especially as you are immobile. The best advice I can give is that whatever part of the world you are in, if you are constantly crying with pain you need some help. Even if it's words of consolation, if they come from someone in the ER you will at least have that. I would ask your husband to speak out on your behalf as well, it must be distressing for him. The medication advice sounds good to me. It's your pain and it shouldn't be dismissed, if you can get a second opinion I would do that. Elevation with your feet above the heart was drilled into me and I often still do it as I get bad swelling if I overdo things. I'm rambling on and you are in pain I'm so sorry! Please take my good wishes and will you come back and let us know what's happening with you as I'm sure a good few will be thinking of you. Be strong and assertive at the hospital.🤒

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  • Posted

    Chey, I'm so sorry for you. Yes, I've experienced a little bit of knee and a little bit of bottom pain, but nothing to your extreme. And I do think it's because of the way I'm sitting constantly with my leg up. Broke the ankle August 20th. Monday they took the plate out. Just after I finished physical therapy and was walking again now I cannot walk. This is the longest saddest Road I've been on and I have a feeling it will be for you too. Wish I could be of some comfort.

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  • Posted

    aww. I feel for you, this is only temporary, but seems like forever at the moment, I am sure!

    suggestions that helped me: #1 I had to practically cut out salt, when swelling in my cast. and take potassium, 2 x a day at first, then whenever I DO eat a little salt.  Other #1 is 2 baby aspirin, and if it was bad, 2 in a.m. and p.m. as there was a point I was concerned with swelling and blood clots. and ICE ICE ICE wherever swollen. I have a cast from broken ankle & foot bones, and icing abov the cast (both sides of knee) and over the toes (froz. bag of rice or veggies works well). 

    ?IMPORTANT: I googled foods that increase inflammation, and foods that decrease. It makes a difference! and its only temporary.  and no sugar sure reduced my pain level. and can google foods that promote bone healing too, if not too overwhelming. 

    ?those were my "firsts".

    Then I upped my other minerals; calcium, magnesium, boron, trace minerals. those are more important than vitamins. 

    ?Also, I use pure plant oils for swelling, blood thinner, inflammation.

    ?sounds like a lot, started with low salt, more ice, and aspirin.

    ?but I saw a big turnaround right away!

    ?I wish the Dr.'s woul provide info like this; I had to call my resources and use y own knowledge in the natural world (I am a health psychologist an Certified Natural Health Professional).

    ?3 days after getting my suppliments, finally could have my leg hang down longer, with a lot less swelling.

     

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    • Posted

      and last but NOT least, reading, watching , finding God's comfort in all this, and inspirational videos.

       

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  • Posted

    So sorry. It's a long, frustrating, and at times depressing recovery. It sounds like you have an injury elsewhere. Have you tried icing? I'm glad your having an ultrasound, hopefully it will give you some answers, I did have back pain from laying around and elevating all the time while in a cast. It will get better, you can do this. I had a few good cries too, but your life will slowly get back to normal.

    Let us know how your doing and what the ultrasound turns up.

    Good luck!

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  • Posted

    UPDATE thank you all for the replies. I am currently in the hospital replying from my phone. My ultrasound yesterday revealed 2 blood clots in my leg. They are DVT. I was admitted and put on an IV of heparin and they said after a day or two I should go home and continue on blood thinner pills. They monitored my blood after 6 hours and it wasn't at the level they wanted so they upped my dose and are about to check it again. I am very scared. 2 doctors in the ER said it's fine if I move my leg, but one last night said moving could potentially make the blood clot dislodge. So I'm here in the hospital scared, afraid to move, uncomfortable, with 2 IVs in my arms and needing help to use the restroom because I can't put weight on my broken ankle. If anyone has experience with this please let me know. I'm scared I'm going to die.

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    • Posted

      You need to communicate how you're feeling with your doctor and nurses. They are there to help. You or your ins. Are paying them.to serve you. Ask the doctor how much you can move. Tell him your concerns what your posting here.

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    • Posted

      Thank God you went in for an ultrasound. You are where you need to be. Make sure you get all your questions answered before they release you. I hope you have all the support you need from friends and family when you return home.

       

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    • Posted

       I’ve had 3 DVTs (while I was pregnant) and it sounded like that. Glad you’re in the hospital and getting the care you need. You should be just fine once they get your blood properly thinned. Make sure you let the nurse know if you suddenly have chest pain or short of breath, but most people do just fine.  Sorry you are going through all this!
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