Returning to work post ankle ORIF

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Dislocation, ORIF of tib/fib fractures in Nov 2017. Finally returned to work 4 weeks ago. Nothing in my life (not even my children) has ever required so much patience and at the same time been so frustrating. For anyone who may be just starting this journey, first of all prayers to you. Second, get ready to have to exercise extreme patience. For anyone who is able to tolerate looking at it, ask your doc to show you your xrays. I have been an ortho nurse for 12 years but never understood just how complex the ankle is. My ortho docs at work say it is one of the most difficult joints to heal because the entire weight of the body is on it. Give your body time, take it slow and easy, and be patient.

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  • Posted

    I can totally relate! I am 6 1/2 months postop orif for bimalleolar fx, plate and screws. I went back to work after 13 weeks, full time. Bad move, 12 hour shifts in the ER.  I was physically healed enough to do it, but at the end of the shift my ankle up to the knee was swollen and painful. Limping, oh yeah. By morning, after ice and elevation, leg and ankle normal size.  Kept going to physical therapy twice a week which saved me.

    I highly recommend easing back into your schedule if you can afford it. I still had plenty of sick time left, could have done it. I was just in too big of a hurry to get my life back to normal.  I’ve done fine but think I would have done better not hurrying things.  Still a bit of soreness and swelling at the end of working 12 hours but it’s sooooo much better. This takes time. Frustrating at every turn.

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    • Posted

      I feel the same way about getting my life back.  I’m 5 Weeks post op for 2 broken ankles.  Not weight bearing yet but I’m a teacher and school starts in 3 Weeks.  I want to but I’m not sure if they will let me or if I should.
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  • Posted

    Glad to hear your back at work. I was an orhopaedic nurse and agree seeing the Xrays will help you understand why it all takes so long!! Good luck at work x
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  • Posted

    Any hints for going back to work?  I’m a teacher, no sitting down.  It scares me to go back because I can’t be up an hour without lots of swelling.
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    • Posted

      The black ankle support braces with the crisscross Velcro straps will give you some support and keep the swelling down. During your breaks put those feet up and ice the ankle If you can. Anti inflammatories help also. The swelling at the end of the day will horrify you at first, ice dnd elevatevwhen you get home. Should be much better in the morning, and this goes away with time. 
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    • Posted

      I must admit that although I thought everyone was crazy for suggesting I wear compression stockings at work (I find them to be very uncomfortable) they really do make a huge difference with swelling. I still start to really ache about 10 hrs into my 12 hr shifts, but much less when I wear the stockings. Also, any chance I get to sit down I make sure to elevate my foot. I bring my ice packs to work with me as well.
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  • Posted

    Thank you for coming to share! Wow, just returned four weeks ago? You give me hope. 3 1/2 months in and I am returning to the couch after using the bathroom. Or returning to the couch after twenty minutes of balancing on one foot cleaning because it's exhausting. And my door it still looking rather creepy and violet when placed down to the floor. 

    So so it is awesome to get the encouragement from those who traveled this very unhappy road before us!!

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  • Posted

    Lisa,

    I commend you for facing your challenging future with a severe ankle recovery ahead of you. You need a lot of fortitude and I suspect you have it.

    I honestly don't know how patients fighting a long ankle recovery battle are able to return so soon to occupations that demand a lot of busy walking and standing. I believe those situations prolong complete recovery in many cases, or even abort it. However, it seems many folks do fine in the long run, albeit with a lot of grief along the way.

    I was lucky I had a sedentary occupation when I suffered my bimalleolar fracture/severe grade sprain. I even telecommuted for about a month after I was walking without boot. But I returned to workplace for only about a month before I decided on early retirement to devote more time to physiotherapy and health restoration. I was about ready for retirement even without the injury.

    But many can not do that and I feel sympathy for those in the struggle between recovery and physically demanding jobs.

    By the way, unless the broken ankle bones in joints heal out of alignment the main issue in ankle recovery is soft tissue damage. The ankle is a delicately constructed marvel just chock full of all kinds of moving soft parts that can sustain severe, life altering damage in the more serious injuries.

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