Preparing for triple arthrodesis / surgery on ankle

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Hi everyone

I'm usually over on the hip replacement board, but I thought I'd come over here for a change!

Last April/May, I broke my ankle. I didn't know I had, so I proceeded to walk around on it for four weeks or so. Turns out that the erratic ankle pain I was getting wasn't gout, it was the tibial ligament getting damaged, and this led to a stress fracture. Hence the reason I didn't know it was broken - hurt like hell but had pain before and I actually could walk. 

I spent six weeks in a cast (this is the point in time where I am rushed into hospital and diagnosed with osteonecrosis in the left hip, requiring, ideally, an immediate hip replacement, which the surgeon  cannot do because I am in a cast on the opposite side and the bone needs to be strong enough for weight bearing confused). That was done in November last year.

And now I am on the opposite side of waiting. Despite a very good recovery from the hip replacement, the surgeon can't risk my hip for the ankle surgery, so I have to wait for that! sad

So it looks like I have another 7 months to wait they are guessing - and my mobility is exceptionally limited. So I'm thinking - how do I best use my time preparing? Any advice? I'm interested in two things:

1) I live in a four storey house, but can manage on just two. I live alone, and although I have friends who will help out a lot, but I do need to be able to cope being on my own too. Any advice on this, and on equipment that will help? 

2) I believe that a big party of my good recovery from the hip surgery was physical preparation  - I kept my muscles in good shape so they copied atl with the trauma. I'm trying to do the same for my ankle surgery. I know the ankle is going to be a lot harder and more painful - but any advice on physically preparing would be great.

And obviously, advice on the things I haven't thought of!

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  • Posted

    Sounds like you have been through the mill a bit lately! Have you spoken to your doctor regarding your concerns? Maybe even ask for a referal to an occupational therapist, and they'll be able to help you with equipment and long term goals and targets?! Think the ankle vs hip is quite contradictory..(may just be me) jusy thinking in terms of recovery! Would definitely be working the upper body strength as that would come in handy with those crutches. There are some knee trolleys I've seen people on here talk about but not personally used. Suggestion would be simplify everything, do you need to cook that roast when you can just microwave a meal in the meantime? do you need to hop up and down the stairs when you have a perfectly cushion bum to bump down?! Sounds like yourl be in for a long recovery, having to wait til your ankle heels before even touching the hip! Keep on top of exercises laid out by physio, talk to an ot - quite possibly see one after your op? If not request one! You can do it!

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    • Posted

      I'm fortunate that my husband won the argument about private health care. So I actually have my very own private physiotherapy. I've been on crutches for a year now, and she's been the one making sure that I prepare well. But it's been my experience, and she agrees, that sometimes the people who have actually been through it have loads of good  advice that the professionals never think of! For example, try as I might, I couldn't sleep on my back, and it was me who tracked down a tool that allows you to safely sleep on your side - necessity is a great motivator! 

      I'm also fortunate that my friend next door and my friend in the next street are great cooks - after the hip replacement I had dinner cooked and delivered every day, and had to fight them off when I was well enough to manage my own! 

      Yes I have to admit the stairs are a challenge and I was wondering the same as you suggest - I am not at all keen on hopping down them is a Victorian house, and if you have ever  stood at the top of a set of their stairs - it's a long way down! 

      Someone else suggested an iWalk, but I'm not sure how well I would be able to use one. My balance has been quite bad as the ankle has deteriorated, and I'm not sure that it is only a result of the ankle. They're a very expensive mistake to make if you can't use one!

      Thanks for the suggestions. If anyone has used a knee walker I'd be interested in knowing how they did. In principle they seem a good idea, so any experience of them would be helpful.

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    • Posted

      Hi Beth

      I bought the iwalker because someone named Richard highly recommended it. He found it extremely helpful. For me, it was dangerous and a waste of $$$ and not that easy to assemble. I could not get my balance using it. It has remained in my garage collecting dust.

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    • Posted

      Wow, what an ordeal you are going through! I broke my ankle on 11/13, two surgeries I'm now at almost 6 months. It's a long haul, but thanks to this forum & my PT I'm doing well now. Still stiff and sore but can walk with out a cane.

      Regarding the scooter - I LOVED it. It was a lifesaver. It is so worth it!

      A warning tho, being non weight bearing for 3 months in a cast/boot, makes it a longer recovery. There are exercises while you're that way but my dr didn't allow that! 🙁

      Patience is the key!

      Good luck to you!

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  • Posted

    Hi Beth,

    While reading your problems, it reminded me of mine. Except, most of them happened in reverse order. A few years ago I had avascular onecrosis of the left hip. It was quite painful. I had a procedure where they drilled out the dead bone and then I had to be completely off of it while it healed. So I had to either be in bed or wheelchair. No weight bearing at all. It took about a year for it to be completely healed. I was entirely dependent on help, friends and family. Then, two years ago I broke both heels. Seems they did not grow back just right and in December I had to have a calcaneal osteotomy on the worst one. They removed the heel, moved it over and screwed it back on. Seems I had blown a tendon too so they did a tendon transfer of my peritoneal to the brevis. It has taken me 4 months to start to walk again. 5 months now and I can walk a few hundred feet before experiencing pain and having to take a break. I decided in January after

    being stuck in bed or in the wheelchair to get out of the house one way or another. I could not cook, make the bed or do much of anything. So when I progressed to wearing a boot but still in the wheelchair I flew to New Zealand/Austrailia andwent on a 2 week cruise.  What a great idea. I had all my meals prepared and served to me, room service, laundry, swam everyday, around all the people I cared to meet, saw new sites everyday. I flew home for a week and then went on another cruise. 19 days from Dubai to Venice with stops in the Mediterranean and all along the Suez Canal. I went on the second cruise by MYSELF. Some of the best trips I ever had. Anyway, by the time I got home I saw my doctor, finally able to start weightbearing/walking. Swimming several hours a day is what helped me the most physically. But, on the flight to Auckland I dropped my eyeglasses in the ailse by my seat. I leaned over the armrest to pick them up and broke my ribs. HORRIBLE  pain. So in between trips I saw the orthopedic surgeon. He said this was impossible. I finally convinced him that was how easy I broke them. Just like how easy my heels were fractured two years ago. A light bulb went off in him. He picked up the phone and got me an appt that hour with a endocrinologist across town. He ran a multitude of tests. So when I got home from the Middle East I had the follow-up. They are putting me on drugs for severe osteoporosis and from my blood work/24hour urinalysis it looks like I have multiple myeloma so I see the oncologist today to find out what my options are. A bone marrow biopsy will be the next tests. I was a little anxious when he told me but was not surprised. I knew that breaking bones so easy was not normal and suspected this may be the case all along. Luckily, my house is all on one level. Several years ago when I remodeled the bath, I made a roll in shower just in case I ever needed it. Best forethought I ever had. I cannot imagine living in a 4 story house like you with our problems. But, surely you will find a way to get around. I suggestion to you is to go on a cruise and enjoy yourself between/after surgeries.

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  • Posted

    Hi Beth,

    I had a walker on one floor and then the crutches on the other, or some liked the scooter. Get a little bag to carry stuff around in the can go around your neck or across your body. My hubby used to pack me a little cooler with drinks and snacks so when I was left alone I had easy access to some food, it is hard to carry and prepare food nwb on crutches. Maybe see a Pt person for specific excersise to strengthen. I liked the excercise bike and use with my cast on now that I can wb. Good luck and yes I think ankles are the most difficult to heal from what I have heard and gone through myself. Also I loved my cold therapy machine, gives constant icy water to your ankle through these pads- love it. It is on Amazon- the knee and shoulder pads work in n the ankle.

    Margie

    Margie

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