Broken tib/fib. 4 weeks post op.

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Below I wrote my story of my broken ankle. For those going through the same experience, your not alone! I am currently 6 weeks post injury but 4 weeks post surgery (I explain below) Thank you for reading! Please comment below your experience. I also have questions for those who are further along on the road to recovery. How long until you were baring weight? When did you start physical therapy?

I broke my lower fib/tib on 3/31/17 due to slipping and falling in the mud. I have what is called a pilon fracture. The doc was blown away, he said you typically only see this type of fracture in very high energy accidents, (car crash or falling from a height) but no, just my luck for me to only slip in the mud and get such a complex injury.

I met with the doctor on the 31st after my X-rays and he explained to me that my swelling was so severe they couldnt preform the surgery until it goes down. So instead of fixing the bones right away they would need to put on what is called and exterior fixator. I have never heard of such a thing! So basically they're rods that go through your bones and hold them in place until the swelling goes down. I had a rod going completely through my heal, and two little rods in my shin bone a few inches below my knee. It was intense and I hated that dang thing so much.

I wore the exterior fixator for two weeks and it was the worst two weeks of my life. Not because of pain. The doctor prescribed pain pills but there was no need, I felt fine physically, but emotionally I was going through a really hard time. The thought of not being able to do anything on my own was very difficult for me. I know that things could always be worse and I know that I will walk on my own again soon but I cried everyday for those two weeks.

I had my second surgery on 4/13/17 and the ex fix was removed and pins and a plate was placed. The nurse told me That before surgery I would get a nerve block. That scared me because I'm totally afraid of needles and she said that I would have to lay on my stomach and get two needles in the back of my knee (I also hate the back of my knees being touched, I know weird right?) she said that it would block the pain for 24 hours after my surgery. I told her I didnt want the nerve block. The surgeon then came to my room and suggested that I go through with the nerve block and let me tell you I'm so thankful I did! He said he doesn't suggest the block for a lot of surgeries but since mine was a very intense fracture, he highly recommend it. I thought it was very cool that he came and talked to me. His exact words were "If I was having this surgery, I would get the block for sure."

After my surgery the doctor put me in cast that went up to my knee but only the back of it was a hard plaster (bottom of my foot and up the back of my cast) the rest was wrapped up with an ace bandage. After the nerve block for off the pain was excruciating, especially at night. I counted down the hours until it was time for another pain pill. Physically I was doing horrible, but emotionally I was doing a lot better. My fiancé reminded me daily that I will get better. Which of course I know but it felt better to be told that by someone else. He's been such a big help during this process.

I pain went away about 2-3 weeks after my surgery and I no longer needed the pain pills. During these 2-3 weeks I would wake up every night crying because of how bad the pain was.

On 4/28/17 I went to my first post op apt. since the second surgery and the nurse removed my half hard plaster/bandage and I did not want to look. I was scared to see the incision as I am so bad with that stuff. I was looking at the wall while she was taking it off and all I heard was a gasp. I instantly felt light headed and asked her what was wrong. Just my luck a good chunck of my stitches had burst open. The physicians assistant came in and took some swabs to see if any bacteria was growing inside. He put me on antibiotics for 10 days and instructed me to buy mesalt dressing for the wound and told me to change it everyday. My incision is about 12 inches long and I would guess and say about 3-4 inches had burst. At this point I'm freaking out thinking my leg is going to fall off. Thankfully I was reassured that we can get this thing under control. I was then sent home with an air cast and was beyond happy. However sleeping with the air cast was horrible. I was so tired of being on my back 24/7 so I started sleeping my side with lots of pillows between my legs that way my leg was still very much elevated.

My next post op apt was 5/3 and had my stitches removed (which was very painful) This was my first apt. meeting with my surgeon. He took a look at my wound which was still very much open but looking much better and told me that it looks like it's healing! THANK GOD. I was devastated that I was going through a set back. He then told me that I need to start moving my ankle to start gaining some mobility back. At this time I was only able to move it just a tiny bit but it felt amazing that I could move it again for the first time in what felt like forever. He also told me that I didn't need to sleep with the boot on was felt even more amazing.

And here I am today, my wound is still open however it has closed just a tiny bit. I have another apt tomorrow and I'm hoping for good news! I'm scheduled for my first X-ray since my accident and I'm praying he tells me the bones are mending. I'm still NWB and have no idea when I can start PWB. Hopefully soon!!! As far as how I'm doing emotionally, of course I have bad days but overall I'm doing pretty good! I just keep telling myself that everyday I'm one step closer to a full recovery!

Throughout with entire process I have found it very hard to keep up hygiene especially in the beginning. Showering is still very hard for me however over the weeks my finance and I have developed a routine. I have a shower chair in the tub then have my leg sticking out of the shower onto another chair. I also wrap my leg in a trash bag to be extra safe. Most patients after surgery can wash their injured leg at this time since the stitches have been removed but due to my open wound I cannot get it wet, which is a total bummer because my leg is disgusting. I also have a new love for night gowns. To all the ladies that are going through this, night gowns will be your best friend. I've gotten better at walking with crutches, I still don't trust myself to do much walking with them so I try to do as little as possible because I'm injury prone. Thankfully the bathroom is right next to my bedroom.

If you can afford a wheelchair, I highly recommend it. I however cannot afford one. I find it impossible to do something as simple as go to the store because no stores (expect grocery stores) provide wheelchairs or motorized carts for customers.

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5 Replies

  • Posted

    Oh poor you. Your really going through it. It had my stitches out 2weeks ago and also found it very very painful, had to have gas n air think it was to shut me up a bit as I was screaming the clinic dwn. In NWb cast till 2june where I'm hoping to go into a boot? The one thing that really gets me down is when I can feel the plates in the ankle. This doesn't always happen every minute of the day. But when I do feel it it turns my stomach. It's horrid feeling. Don't know if this is right. But when they took stitches out my consultant said everything was healing great and I did not mention to him about being able to feel them sometimes. . Hum... Naughty me. This has been the longest 6weeks of my life... And have long way to go yet by the sound of things. Hope you wound heals soon and yr up and on yr feet.

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    • Posted

      Helo Sandra, my name is Caroline and i live in Aus. In June 2016 i had an accident and broke tib and fib. I still have 2 plates and six screws n ankle. I understand completely what you mean about feeling the plates! I asked my consultant at the time, but she did not even comment on it! Now i have just got used to the feeling. I am just letting you know my own experiences as some kind of positive comfort fot yourself. Now, almost 12 months since my accident I am pretty much back to normal. Just a bit of stiffness in ankle. All the best, message iif you would like to keep in touch.
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    • Posted

      I just seen the doctor today. He says I'll be NWB for 6 more weeks. Then PWB for an additional 6 weeks. I won't be FWB for 12 weeks which is a bit of a bummer to me. However I got to see my X-rays for the first time since my accident and oh my lord I had no idea how many screws I have until today! 13 screws and 2 plates, on the tib and one on the fib. A few days ago i started to feel some pain on my back of leg right under the calf. I assume it's because all the hardware that's in. I hope you have a speedy recovery!!!

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  • Posted

    Hello there, I read your story with much interest. How are you getting on now? My name is Caroline, and i live in Australia. In June 2016 i had an accident and broke my tib and fib. I have two plates and six screws in my ankle.It was so hard at the beginning after the surgery, and rehab with the physiotherapist. A very long haul indeed. Now, I am getting along prety well, I still have stiffness in my ankle, and I still do my exercises. All the best, reply if you would like any more info. Oh, I was on crutches for about 3 months after the surgery. Keep up your spirits.
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  • Posted

    I am very similar to you. Broke the three bones on April 7. A small unlit step outside my son's house. The light had broken. I have been careful to lay no blame especially towards myself which I did at first. I also had the external fixator, which as you said was the worst thing ever. Just seeing it. The pain after the fixator was so bad... they put in a nerve block. I was 11 days in hospital before they sent me home to wait for the swelling to go down and the break blister to maybe heal a bit as it was in the way of where they wanted to cut. I had the surgery done and I think all went well. Pain, I don't need to tell you. Now at 3 weeks I have some stitches opening and have to see the doctor on Monday. The wound care nurse looked a bit worried, so that made me worried. I am 73 and I live on my own with two dogs and a cat and thus have to have a 24/7 nurse/caregiver. I have a wonderful person and my marvellous ex (a bad husband, but turned out a good ex and thankfully has money ... not when I was married to him) is paying for all of this. Our family, including ex planned a big trip to israel for an event ... meant to leave on June 14 and my doctor knows this and has done what he can to facilitate this leaving, but I have my unspoken fears about this. I am trying crutches and my long time trainer comes and is teaching me how to use them, but I am scared and though I used them  about 8 years ago when I had a bad foot break(4 metatarsals .. I thought that was bad, but this is much much worse) And did great, I am older and less steady on my feet. I am not at the point when I even want to go our or do anything as I am only really comfortable in my left chair, which I hired or my bed with loads of pillows. Yesterday I crutched to the shower (special sliding chair now which helps a lot) and the effort, my trainer with me, was so great I had waves of fainting sweatiing spells which were just awful. All I wanted to do was crumple on the shower floor and held on for dear life. I have had some really awful experiences with this, which I know you can appreciate. Constipation. The first after the surgery was like giving birth for two days to bricks. Now I take stuff and am fine. But those two days of pushing etc. Even with meds to make it work were just horrible. But that's past and the external fixator has passed. I am just hoping this stitch thing is managable. My family, son and daughter, and friends have been wonderful. My pets are wonderful. My nurse care giver is wonderful and in fact everyone who has helped is great. My wound care nurse, my PT, and the nurse who helped with my first two showers (now I can have one person help as I have a better chair). I can't concerntrate on reading though I am an avid reader. I can watch a bit of TV now at night, but not much. I am eating things I read are good for bones, like sardines and broccoli. luckiy I like sardines and have them mashed up with a bit of mayo and worsteshire sauce on toast for lumch almost every day. I look up stuff to help on the internet. Order shoes that I think will be OK when I can wear them and send them back so far ... Zappos is good for this. I have also found a good FB page. ankle/foot/leg break. A quest for normal. 

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