Monday marked six weeks post op, and I was an absolute wreck about my appointment. Of course I wasn’t scheduled until 2:00PM, which meant I had the whole morning to agonize and obsess. Yay!
My 10 day post-op visit was fairly textbook and uneventful, so there was no reason not to expect the same for six weeks post op. Me being me, however, meant that my stomach was in complete knots. I hadn’t been feeling badly, exactly, but I also hadn’t been feeling good, and that was frustrating. For the two weeks leading up to the appointment, I was sinking deeper into discouragement and it affected me very negatively.
The Morning Of
I spent the morning of my appointment alone. The boys went to my parents house for breakfast, but I didn’t feel comfortable making the drive and still having energy for the appointment. From our last conversation, I knew the surgeon planned to clear me from the boot and I needed all my strength if I was going to walk out of that office on two feet.
Of course, that also meant I was alone with my increasingly negative thoughts. By the time they got back, I had worked myself into quite the anxious state.
Since it was a holiday, the office was pretty packed. The group has an affiliated rehab and my particular location hosts both on the same floor, so the waiting room can be busy. Mr PugRunner has quite the rapport with one of the front desk assistants, so they chatted it up, while I checked in. Every patient has to answer a four question survey each time they visit, regarding the body part for which you are there, as well as pain levels. I hate it: pain scales are so difficult for me and I don’t feel they cover the range of what I’m experiencing. Blah.
For the first time in my experience with this office, they ran late. It was only about 20 minutes but it was still enough time for work myself up a little further.
Isn’t anxiety fun?
Behind Closed Doors
The intake nurse finally called me back and off we went. She didn’t make much small talk and wasn’t quite as cheery as some of the other staff, which was a little disconcerting. We got into the exam room and situated and then she asked me how I was feeling.
Cue the waterworks.
I absolutely let it all out: the full range of emotions I’ve been holding in. I explained I didn’t know how to answer her question because I just didn’t know if I was getting better. That my ankle around the breaks and the surgery sites felt ok, but I was in so much discomfort everywhere else. I unleashed about how I couldn’t sleep or get comfortable, and that my skin felt like it was burning, freezing or peeling off all the time.
She sat there with me, trying to get a fair reading of my blood pressure (we started with 28/20 so you can see what we were dealing with) and shared about her own ankle surgery. Her empathy was very clear as she talked to me about the nerves and the recovery process, that everything I was feeling was absolutely normal but there were ways they could help. I was so grateful for her kindness in those moments and was able to get a small grip before Dr. S. came on the scene.
Conversations With My Ortho
So Dr. S. is a good surgeon and a good doctor. He’s never struck me as particularly friendly, chatty, or conversational, but he’s a busy man and as long as his work is quality I haven’t cared too much.
When he came in the room and shook my hand, I started tearing up all over again. He dug right into my notes as I began to tell him everything I shared with the nurse, and my heart about exploded when he put down his files, turned around, made eye contact and let me get it out. Very calmly, he looked at the areas of my foot and ankle where I was feeling the most sensations, felt around my incision sites and just listened.
I finished and Dr. S told me it was going to be ok. He explained that what I’m feeling is most definitely nerve pain and he would prescribe a medication to help and make a note to the PT team to start me on a Tens machine in therapy. Additionally, he said he would write a scrip for us to get one for the house. It would help with the desensitization. He warned that it could take six months to get back to normal, but the meds should start helping right away.
I cannot define the level of relief. To be honest, I really thought I was being a baby about the feelings I was having. I thought I wasn’t strong enough, and it’s been a contributing factor to my low moods over the past two weeks.
XRays and Clearances
The radiologist tech escorted me to the Xray room, and we got a variety of shots. It’s amazing how far technology has come: she sent the digital scans directly to his computer, and by the time I made it back to the office, they were ready to go!
Dr. S reviewed them and said everything looked perfect. The hardware is placed and the bones are healing. You can still see part of the fracture on the inside of my ankle, but apparently, that’s normal and the screw is doing its job.
The verdict? I could switch out my boot for the lace up brace. Dr. S recommended using one crutch until I could tolerate walking without its support.
From there, I can use the brace until I don’t feel I need it anymore. I can return to PT and will continue there until I feel they are no longer helping me. Dr. S also made me one more appointment for six weeks from now, just in case, but he said that A) call him if I feel anything at all is wrong and B) feel free to cancel the appointment if everything is going smoothly.
I am cleared for the bike, elliptical (when I feel up to it), and swimming in a heated pool. He said no walks for exercise quite yet, but that will come. I can do anything else upper body related to stay active.
And so, validated and comforted, I put on the new brace and TWO shoes and walked out of the office with one crutch.
We stopped on the way home for fancy coffee and I even got a cake pop. It had been a long day.
I am so very grateful for a physician who took the time to listen to my concerns and to offer solutions to the problems. This has been a bit of a learning curve for me: obviously, I don’t break my leg every day so figuring out what’s normal versus what’s of concern has been challenging. I also tend to gut things out, and hate to admit defeat. In the future, I won’t be quite so stubborn and will reach out sooner, even if I think it’s something I should just deal with.
Since Monday, I’ve been feeling much better. I’m off the crutches except for when I get up in the night and first thing in the morning. The meds are taking the edge off my anxiety, as well as calming down the sensations in the rest of my foot. It’s not perfect, but it’s something. I restart PT on Monday, and we will check with them about the appropriate Tens unit to purchase and see how to properly use it.
With that, we move forward to this next phase of recovery. Running is still a ways off, but it’s closer than it was, and I still have my eye on that April 5K and December half marathon!
We are joining in with Fridays with Fairytales and Fitness, so check out that link up and share with the group!
Do you tend to try to manage things on your own or do you ask immediately for help?
What fun goals are your sights set on?