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Like many of you, I suffered a broken ankle. Up until now it has been one of the toughest experiences to overcome. The mental recovery has been far greater than the physical one!
When I broke my ankle, had surgery, and started my recovery process, I did was most people do; I googled "broken ankle" and must have read through every forum, diary, website, blog out there looking for positive words to keep me thinking positively. However, most often than not, I found stories about unsuccessful recoveries, infections, problems walking, additional surgeries, etc. and I broke down. I felt like walking and my life would never be the same. I combed through so many sites looking for a successful story so I could stay motivated, but a lot of times I came up empty.
Now, 8 weeks after my injury, I'm here to post encouraging words!
Here is my timeline:
4/20/16 - I was walking down the stairs of my apartment and I've yet to figure out how I missed the last step. I hit the floor full force with my right foot. I immediately felt my foot roll inward, fell against the wall and hit the floor butt first. My first instinct was to grab my excrutiatingly painful foot, squeeze it and take some deep breaths. I told myself it was probably just a bad sprain and that I should be tough and just get up and walk. When I let go of my foot, it sort of just dangled there and my ankle was already swelling up. I knew it was broken. I sat on the last step of my stairs for 20 minutes, waiting for a ride to go to the emergency room. Long story short, I had a right fibula fracture with an unstable ankle joint and needed surgery. Being a nurse, I realized the next 6 to 8 weeks were going to be tough. What I didnt realize, was how tough they would actually be! I was given a CAM boot and sent home. My surgery was scheduled for 4/25/16. 5 days of waiting.
4/25/16 Surgery day! I was excited to finally get this over with. I was given a nerve block before surgery to help with the pain after the procedure. I was taken into the operating room, told to start deep breathing into a mask, and the next time I woke up I was in the recovery room. I was now the proud (or unproud) owner of a metal plate and screws. My foot felt awesome. Actually, I couldn't even feel it and I was okay with that. Nerve blocks are great, but it was difficult for a control freak like me. I was telling my toes to move but they wouldnt. But there was zero pain for the first 24 hours. I was in the hospital so sleep was on and off.
4/26/16 The day after surgery was by far the most painful thing I have ever felt. The nerve block wore off, I didnt anticipate the pain and refused pain medications the first 24 hours. Huge mistake. That day and night I was in excruciating pain, almost overdosed on Morphine, and was scared. I somehow made it through and the next morning I just wanted to be discharged and go home. So I did. Once home, reality started to set in. I realized I couldn't do anything by myself. Showering seemed impossible. Sleeping comfortably was out of the question. The pain was so bad. The swelling was awful. Around the clock narcotic pain medication gave me incredible constipation so I stopped taking anything after the first week. I was miserable.
Part of what I read was correct. The first 2 weeks are by far the most difficult ones. If you are as independent as I am, you have to learn to ask for help. Using the crutches was a challenge. Arms were sore. The boot felt heavy. I wasn't even hungry and I started to feel depressed. Every awkward sensation would send me researching Google and then get even more depressed about what I would read. At the end of the day, I would tell myself that there were people out there who had it WAY worse and that I just needed to be patient; something I am definitely not.
5/10/16 My first follow up appointment. 2 weeks after my surgery. Stitches were taken out at this time. That was a milestone for me. A small one, but at least I could start showering without having to cover my boot/foot with a plastic bag. Also, the doctor cleared me to start doing range of motion so I religiously did exercises two to three times a day. Still no pain meds since the first week and my foot started to feel more stable. I could finally somewhat reposition in bed at night. Being the stubborn woman I am, I decided to return to my apartment at this time. I needed to have some sort of independence to help my mood. Again, a very difficult 2 weeks. I felt lonely, I couldn't drive, and it was like I was on house arrest. But I told myself that I had made progress.
I finally felt comfortable enough to go out to eat at a restaurant around this time. I felt I was handling the crutches a bit better, my foot still hurt but it wasn't anywhere near the day after surgery. Range of motion kept improving the next several weeks.
6/14/16 One of the best days of my life. I had my 7 week post op appointment. They took xrays. I was scared about the healing of my bone. A million different scenarios were running through my head. I was so nervous that my heart rate was in the 120's when they took my vital signs. Then the doctor walked in and said, "Congratulations, your x-rays look perfect. Your bone has healed. You can start walking now with the CAM boot for 2 weeks. Use your crutches until you feel safe and ditch them whenever you feel comfortable." He told me to return in 2 and a half weeks, gave me 3 more weeks off work and left the room. I sat there stunned. I didn't know if to laugh, scream, cry, or ask him to come back and repeat what he just said. I could now start WALKING. Although I knew it was still a long road ahead, thinking of setting my foot on the ground after 8 weeks was exhilarating. So I tried it.
The feeling was so awkward. It felt like a foreign foot to my body. There wasnt exactly pain, just a tight feeling in the ankle area and discomfort. Still with the use of two crutches, I walked out of the office. It took me about 15 minutes to get to the parking lot but I didn't care. As soon as I got home I told myself that the next time I had an appointment, I was going to walk into the doctor's office without the use of crutches. I also drove for the first time in 8 weeks. I change my boot for a slipper everytime I get in and out of the truck but thats a very small price to pay for now. I had freedom once again.
6/17/16 Today. I am down to ONE crutch. 3 days after I was cleared to walk. Swelling still remains, especially if I've been walking. The foot still looks discolored. Incision is healing. I continue to do my range of motion. I finally used the stairs normally instead of on my butt going down or doing tricep dips all the way up. My goal is no crutches by next week.
Don't give up! If I've learned anything about this experience so far is that your body and your mind is amazing. If you are patient and push through it, you will get there. I've reached important milestones and still have a few to attain. But I know I'll eventually get there and maybe even sooner than I expected.
Hopefully my story helps bring a little encouragement for those of you going through the same thing. I could probably write a novel about my experience so I'm definitely here for support. Chances are, I felt that, thought that, and feared that as well.
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