Friday, December 31, 2010

Week Twelve

Wednesday, December 22nd, was twelve weeks post-surgery. That afternoon I came home from work and spent some time sitting at the computer, and noticed my ankle was a little stiff when I finally stood up. Immediately I thought of my arthritis days, and the stiffness was familiar. But... there was no more arthritis so I wasn't sure what the stiffness was from. When I asked my physical therapist about it on Thursday, he said the muscles were sore and stiff, not the joint, and that sensation was perfectly normal after surgery.

On Friday morning I woke up not feeling so well but went to physical therapy anyway. The two hours there exhausted me and when I got home I spent most of the day resting and sleeping. My husband had been sick and I knew I was fighting off a sinus infection of my own.

The next day I woke up still not feeling 100% but feeling a little better, and I was having company over so I had to push myself through the day. My ankle was sore but amazingly I did well, standing up and walking around, cooking and cleaning and hosting. The year before there was no way I would have been able to do all that. The pain I was experiencing was not anywhere near as bad as it had been in before the surgery. I was happy to be able to enjoy my holiday!

Over the weekend we had a huge snowstorm and I did not go into work or to physical therapy. The snow was just too deep and there was no way I'd be able to navigate through it. Could have been just as well, since I still was fighting a sinus infection and not feeling 100%. I would have to make sure I did my exercises that day, but not push myself too hard.

On Tuesday I saw my doctor for a follow-up exam and he was very happy with my progress. The incisions were healing well, there was no swelling, and he could see that my ankle was getting stronger. He felt I was progressing better than average; I thought maybe it was because I was younger than average replacement patients and he said that was only part of it. He said he chooses his patients very carefully; he only chooses patients who are motivated, and that I was! Although my full range of motion would never return, it would get better and I was determined to live a "normal" life again. Just being able to do things I hadn't been able to do in over a year were very inspiring to me.

That day I hadn't been using my air cast at work, I used a cane instead. I had been worried about walking longer distances but I seemed to be doing fine. My doctor wanted me to push myself more and use the cane less, if at all. He felt my ankle was strong enough to handle more walking without assistance. He also wanted me to continue working on my stretching exercises to help loosen up my Achilles tendon, which he had stretched during the surgery.

I asked my doctor what I should do if I twisted my ankle. Of course I wasn't planning on doing this, but the thought did occur to me, especially with all the snow and ice outside. Plus I knew once I was ready, I'd be hiking again. My doctor told me to see him immediately if I should twist my ankle; he would take x-rays and make sure everything was okay.

At the end of the follow-up I received clearance to go back to work full-time. I was ready, although I knew I would be tired at the end of the day!


  1. Hi Christine,

    Thanks for writing an excellent blog. I am considering this surgery at the age of 35 years as i see that there are significant advantages of it comparing with an ankle fusion.
    Right now, I am mostly concerned about my work, I am hoping to go back to office from the beginning of third week after surgery(using both crutches). Do you think if it would be feasible? I know it can sound crazy but can't get away without it. I am highly determined to go back to work and can bear some amount of pain. I am a software developer and i don't have to walk too much. Do you have any advise?

    Thanks in advance for replying,

  2. Hi Alok, thank you for reading and good luck with your decision. I would definitely recommend this surgery to anyone who is active and has exhausted any other feasible options. As for going back to work after three weeks, I still remember being in some considerable pain at that time and altough I have a high tolerance for pain, I also remember being very tired from the medication and from my body healing itself. This is a very major surgery and I wouldn't rush back to work if I could help it. My surgeon has been very cautious with me and there is no way he would have sent me back to work, even though I work in an office and also don't walk much during the day. Remember that at three weeks post-surgery you may also be on pain killers and probably should not drive if that is the case. This is a major surgery and you don't want to risk any setbacks or further injury to your ankle by returning to work or any other daily activities too soon. Your body will need time to heal and your doctor will probably want to make sure everything is going well. Definitely speak with your doctor. :)