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Melissa V: My Ankle Injury / Day Twelve

 
(1) From: Melissa V
Sent: Tuesday, May 10, 2005 1:19 PM
Subject: My Ankle Injury

I don't know how I happened upon your web-diary but I couldn't believe my eyes. How is your wife's ankle? I'm a 32 (31 at the time), stay-at-home mom of a 3 year old. On January 14, 2005 we had a lot of ice on the ground here in Iowa. I was putting ice melt onto the driveway of our elderly neighbors. I came back to get the second bag of ice melt when I fell and broke my ankle in almost the exact way your wife broke hers! I saw the x-ray that you had posted and had to pull out mine to make sure that wasn't my own x-ray!

Well, I got my cast off on Feb. 28, 2005 and went to physical therapy for a month. Please tell your wife to go to physical therapy. I don't know where I would be right now if I didn't. I can walk pretty good (without a limp finally) but getting up and down off the ground is difficult sometimes. Wearing shoes is difficult right now. My foot is still a little swollen but not too bad. The only problem is that I can only wear old worn out tennis shoes right now. My doctor told me that it will take a few more months before the swelling goes away!

Tell your wife to hang in there and let me know how she is doing. If she has any questions please tell her to write me back.

Sincerely,

Melissa V

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(2) Sent: Wednesday, May 11, 2005 12:06 PM
Subject: Re: My Ankle Injury

It's nice to communicate with someone who has, or is experiencing, the same ankle problem. My wife was given a somewhat adjustable cast to wear for the first two weeks after the hardware was put in her ankle to hold it together, then that was removed along with the stitches and she was given a humungous, rigid, removable boot to wear instead of the cast. (The hardware, of course, is not capable of supporting full body weight.) She's been in the boot for six weeks now, and is scheduled to check back with the doctor this Friday. She's been on crutches all this time, and is anxiously anticipating permission to throw them away. Meanwhile, the doctor gave her orders to start using her leg to walk with the crutches without putting a -lot- of weight on it (minor amounts desirable). She still gets some swelling, but not a lot anymore although it's pretty obvious she won't be ready for anything but tennis shoes once she gets back in two shoes. So, hopefully, she's been getting a certain amount of therapy along the way; but we'll find out more about that this Friday. Thanks to you, she intends to ask about it. She also hopes to get permission to continue to use a minor version of the boot that she picked up at a drugstore recently. You may well be hearing from her as time goes along.

Sincerely,

L Fox

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(3) From: MelissaV
Sent: Monday, May 16, 2005 7:18 AM
Subject: It'll Get Better

Let your wife know that she will be back to good health soon but it does take time! My husband & I just got back from Las Vegas where we spent 4 days walking all over the place. I was really sore but it was in my hips & feet, not my ankle. I thought that was weird but I was glad my ankle was okay.

Tell your wife to send me any questions that she has. It's depressing for awhile because you feel helpless. You just have to realize that you will be okay soon!

Melissa V

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(4) Sent: Monday, May 23, 2005 10:16 AM
Subject: Re: It'll Get Better

Thanks for the continued support. My wife was given permission to throw away the crutches a week ago Friday, as anticipated; but the doctor told her she probably wouldn't want to go too far too fast. He was right. She's been using one crutch for the last week, and just this weekend tried for the second time to throw it away. She took a cane with her to work this morning, and I think she might be ready this time; we'll see. Like you, she's got soreness everywhere except in her ankle (although she has had regular minor shooting pains in her ankle ever since the healing really set in, but they don't seem to be related to how much she uses it. They're somewhat random and a little sharp. We continue to suspect they're from the screws put into the bone, but the doctor says that's not so -- the hardware is supposed to be completely inert. He says they're related to the normal healing of the ankle and will eventually go away.) He didn't recommend any therapy, but he did recommend a gradual transition from the crutches to regular walking, like using one crutch to effect a 50% load on her leg initially rather than 100%. Overall, I'd say she's progressing pretty well.

L Fox

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(5) From: MelissaV
Sent: Monday, May 23, 2005 4:50 PM
Subject: Therapy

My doctor also said that I would not need therapy but then finally gave me the go-ahead. It was the best thing that I ever did! When I still had my cast on I heard from someone who also broke their ankle and they told me that it was the best thing that they ever did too! I know I'm not a doctor but watch your wife. I think that therapy (only a month) helped me get to where I am today.

I understand being sore. I understand what she means with the pain. I had pains frequently but they are less all the time. Is your wife using a "Walking Boot" or is she trying to go without? I did the walking boot for about 3 weeks when I was outside my home but took it off at the door. I think that my confidence went up with the boot so I was able to get out of the house on my own again! When it was time to go without, I had been in therapy and it was a very easy transition!

It was really hard to start walking upright. You want to lean to one side because of the pain. Oh, does your wife have a lot of pain in her heal? That's where I noticed a lot of my pain when I first started to walk. It does go away but that was terrible for awhile! Now I have trouble walking without a limp when I have been sitting for a while or getting up off the ground. I talked to the doctor and he said that this was normal and should subside with time. Oh, I was released from my surgeon's care this week. He said that everything is healed just fine! Yeah!!!

Tell her that I'm thinking about her and I know it's hard but a month from now it won't be as bad!

Melissa V

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(6) Sent: Thursday, May 26, 2005 11:03 AM
Subject: Re: Therapy

This is quite interesting; it's changing almost daily. The one thing that my wife's doctor emphasized is that a transition would be necessary. First, over the last four weeks (or whatever it was) before her last visit, he said that she could start putting "a little weight" on it, but not to do anything that was painful. Toward the end of that period she got where she was walking with both feet and both crutches -- and I would guess from her description that she was putting only about ten to fifteen percent of her weight on the ankle. Then when he gave her permission to throw the crutches away he reminded her that it was a serious injury and that a transitional period, "maybe two weeks or so", would still be necessary. He suggested she use one crutch during that period. So she used a cane for one day and it got to be too much. Then she went back to one crutch like the doctor recommended and used it for about a week. Suddenly one day, she realized that she was leaving the crutch behind when she stepped from her desk to the file cabinet at work. But she continued to use the crutch through the weekend and into this week. Then on Monday evening she was walking around the house with only the cane and it seemed fine, so on Tuesday she took the cane to work instead of the crutch, and found it quite manageable. Last night we visited our daughter and she left the cane in the car. This morning she was running around the house without it, and I had to reminder to take it with her when she left for work. At the rate she's going, I expect she'll be doing cartwheels when she gets home after work. So, she's doing so well now that I'm beginning to think the doctor knew what he was doing!

We'll see. She really enjoys having both hands free again. But she's still a bit teetery, and I'd hate for her to have some kind of accident. She does still have the small irritating shooting pains that seem to emanate from the hardware, but they're gradually decreasing and I'm gaining a lot of confidence that she's really on the fast road to full recovery now. What do you think?

L Fox

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(7) From: MelissaV
Sent: Thursday, May 26, 2005 9:35 AM
Subject: Cast

That's great. She is really doing well. When did she get the cast off? I was 4 weeks with is off when I started walking a couple of miles.

I understand about being able to use both your hands, etc. That is the best feeling in the world. I told you that I'm a stay-at-home mom and my 3 year old was the greatest helper I could ever ask for but I really wanted to be able to do everything myself! Just being able to vaccum or cook supper was fun again!

Melissa V

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(8) Sent: Thursday, May 26, 2005 12:00 PM
Subject: Re: Cast

Thank you for the great comments; her cast situation was apparently quite different than yours. She had what I would call a temporary cast for ten days after the hardware was put in to hold the bones in place. It was somewhat adjustable in that you could unwrap the outer wrapping and pull it open from the sides, then rewrap it looser - which we did twice during that first ten days. Then the doctor removed that cast and put her in that humungous boot. I wasn't a walking boot, and it had about a three-inch sole on it. She wore the boot for about 8 weeks; but during that time she was allowed to take it off for periods -- sitting or lying down only; she was told never to use the crutches without the boot, in case she should fall. So she was about nine weeks with no weight on it except for the last two or so weeks of 10-15% weight; but technically, she only had a cast for ten days. The doctor said that with the metal plate and screws holding the bone together there was no real need to have a hard, rigid cast for a long time. But she was also told that although the plate and screws would hold the bones in place so they could net, they could not hold her weight.

So she got the ten-day cast off back on March 25th (actually it was nine days); she wore the boot and was not allowed to put any weight on it until April 29th; and then she was given permission to start getting off the crutches on May 13.

L Fox

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(9) From: MelissaV
Sent: Thursday, May 26, 2005 2:24 PM
Subject: Staples

That is a lot different that mine. My accident occurred on Jan 14 (the day before my husband's birthday). They put me in a splint that day and then I had surgery on Jan 18. They said that I broke the tip of where two bones come together on the inside of my ankle. That's why I was in a rigid casting for 6 weeks. They were concerned about it healing properly (it did!). I was in another splint for a week after my surgery and then spent 5 more week in a rigid RED cast. My 3 yr old picked the color! I got that cast off on Feb. 28th and was into the walking boot & on my own for two weeks. After the two weeks off & on in that walking boot I was on my own two feet. I'm just thankful that I am at the point I am today because when they took that cast off I thought it would be forever before I can walk "Normal" again!

Melissa V

P.S. Did she have to have staples to hold her wound close? I think I had 14 staples on the outside and about 7 on the inside. The grossest thing that I saw was the staples in my leg just before they took them out!

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(10) Sent: Thursday, May 26, 2005 7:07 PM
Subject: Re: Staples

She had staples, but only on the outside. She broke it on March 13th and then had the surgery on March 16th. She had a temporary cast during that time, and then the next cast for ten days after the surgery. She broke the tip of bone you broke, and then she broke the tip of bone on the other side as well. I don't know which was which, but she had several fragmented breaks on one side going up two or three inches. They opened up her leg about five inches vertically and put a plate on that side with eight screws into the bone to hold it all in place; then covered it back up with skin and put staples in the outside. I think she had about 11 or 12 staples on that side. Then they put a single screw up into the bone on the other side to hold the little broken-off part in place. They just put it through a tiny hole in the skin and then covered it up and closed it with one staple to keep it from breaking open. The heads of two or three screws stick out just enough to irritate the skin on top when she gets in too tight a shoe, but that's getting better. There isn't a lot of tissue to deal with on the ankle. I don't know if you caught it, but some of the pictures on the website have a thin colored line around them and some don't. In each of those cases you can click on the pictures with the colored line around in order to bring up another picture. In these, the fracture lines are emphasized in black.

I get the impression that a lot of the different treatment comes simply from the doctor's choice. The doctor said my wife didn't have to have a cast on very long because the hardware would hold the bones in place so they could net -- as long as she didn't try to use it, because that would have loosened up the hardware and separated the bones again. I think it's a good thing she didn't have to have the cast on long because it drove her nuts. Her ankle swelled up in the cast, and she got intense pain, so the doctor authorized her loosening it simply by unwrapping and spreading the two sides, then wrapping it looser. After it was off she was able to easily readjust the boot any time she had discomfort from the fit - and with the hardware in place she didn't need to worry about keeping it tight on the outside.

She plans on having the hardware out later, but the doctor says she has to wait at least a year. I think that'll be pretty painful; but to her point, I guessed it won't be anything like the break was.

You haven't really mentioned it, but I gather they put hardware in your leg, too; otherwise I guess you wouldn't have had so many staples. Is that right?

L Fox

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(11) From: MelissaV
Sent: Friday, May 27, 2005 6:30 AM
Subject: Weird

This is so weird to hear about someone else that had almost the same accident as I did at about the same time. I have about the same hardware as your wife. She has two more screws that I do on the plate side & I have two screw on the opposite side (I think she has one). My hardware is really deep inside my leg so I really don't feel anything at all. I was also told that I could have it removed in a year but there was really no need. The other problem was that I would have to go though that surgery/cost again. I think that this has cost more personally $1000 and that does not include what the insurance has paid out.

I just put one of those things into my search engine and your website was included. You should have seen my face when I figured out what your wife had done. I felt so bad for her because of my situation. I don't wish that on anyone!!!

Melissa V

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(12) Sent: Friday, July 01, 2005 12:47 PM
Subject: Ups and Downs

Just wanted to let you know that my wife continues her recovery. She said to tell you that she has had a few ups and downs, but recently a lot of the little sharp pains are going away, and she is getting back into most of her shoes! She does have one spot on her leg where the pigment went completely away in about a half-inch area over a screw head that still irritates her a little, and around that spot her skin got much darker for another half inch or so, but I guess that's a small price to pay for having an ankle that works so well!

L Fox

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(13) From: MelissaV
Sent: Friday, July 01, 2005 8:14 PM
Subject: Re: Ups and Downs

I was wondering how she had been feeling but I didn't want to bother you. I'm glad that you wrote. The only real problems that I'm having right now are getting up & down off the ground and jumping. I can't hold all my weight on my toes when just standing on my bad leg. I think that it will come with time though. I'm finally getting back into all my shoes and that's thrilling!

Melissa V

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(14) Sent: Friday, September 09, 2005 10:18 AM
Subject: Ankle Update

Just wanted to let you know that my wife's little shooting pains are finally almost gone. The doctor released her in the middle of August, and last night she received a pair of mail-order high-topped fashion boots that she had been wanting forever and finally got up the nerve to order. Anyway, they fit both of her feet perfectly, and she's riding high!

L Fox

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(15) From: MelissaV
Sent: Sunday, September 11, 2005 7:29 AM
Subject: Re: Ankle Update

I'm still having problems with my ankle being little swollen. I feel like I have to wear almost a 1/2 -1 size larger shoe on my bad foot. I have been putting my regular shoes on but they sometimes get tight after being on all day. I have been kind of sloppy all summer and wearing my flip-flops. They are so much easier to get on & off but I just started my new job last week and had to wear more professional shoes. I had a pair of shoes that have an open back and they worked really well!

Melissa V

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