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!