Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Week Twenty-Six

Wednesday, March 30th, was twenty-six weeks post-surgery. That day my ankle felt fine and that evening I used the elliptical for 20 minutes without any pain afterward. I still iced my ankle though, as recommended by my physical therapist. I was so happy to be able to use my elliptical and not have any pain or discomfort!

On Thursday, my therapist told me to come in just once the following week and then we'd see what we'd do after that. I would go to the gym that Saturday and then again on Monday to supplement the physical therapy visits. I knew if I kept up with my strength-training and stretching that I would be able to get my ankle stronger and more flexible over time. I started a routine of stretching each morning and stretching each evening, knowing that little by little I would be able to hold the stretches longer.

On Saturday, I volunteered at the animal shelter and then went to the gym. My ankle was sore but held up great! I put ice on it after both outings.

On Sunday, I ran several errands for most of the day and again, my ankle held up just fine. I iced and elevated it after returning home. There were times I wished I had no pain at all and it became a little discouraging, but I had to remind myself that my ankle was still healing and even the discomfort I was feeling now was 100 times better than the pain I was feeling before the surgery. The discomfort was something I could live with and I knew it would subside as my ankle became stronger and healed.

One thing I noticed that I had started to gain a little weight; this was probably due to not eating the right things and not exercising enough. That definitely had to change! I planned to change my diet for the better and use my elliptical for 20-30 minutes in between physical therapy and gym visits. Also, once my physical therapy was over I decided I would supplement that third visit with swimming. I needed to make sure I didn't gain weight and put too much stress on my new ankle!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Week Twenty-Five

Wednesday, March 23rd, was twenty-five weeks post-surgery. I was still feeling pretty good, until I went to physical therapy that Friday and had my tendon stetched by the therapist! That was one thing I hadn't been doing consistently... although my arthritis was gone I still needed to stretch and keep my muscles flexible.

The next day my ankle was still sore but I finally went to the gym. Using the equipment felt great... after "running" on the elliptical for 10 minutes, I used the leg-strengthening machines. Felt wonderful! I tried the treadmill but didn't like it; I think I may have been trying to walk to fast and it seemed like my ankle was very sore afterward. At physical therapy I walk backwards on the treadmill but I couldn't bring myself to do it at the gym. I felt like everyone would be looking at me! When I saw my therapist that following Tuesday, I was told that walking heel-to-toe does put more impact on my ankle and since I may have been walking fast that could explain the discomfort.

I also saw my orthopedic surgeon for a follow-up that Tuesday, and he said everything was healing nicely and I didn't have to see him again for another six months. He also gave me the green light to go hiking and biking (on pavement only, of course). With hiking he told me to make sure I wore boots that covered my ankle to provide additional support. I knew this wouldn't be a problem since I already had hiking boots, and walking sticks too. He reminded me to start off with easy terrain and when I started to feel tired I should turn around and head back. With biking he told me to be careful not to fall on my left side. I asked him about my pedals; my biking shoes clipped into them and I had to twist my ankle to get my foot off the pedal. He said that was fine, my ankle would be able to tolerate it. The news that I could start enjoying the outdoors more was so exciting to me! I couldn't wait to get out there.

Another thing my surgeon warned me about was being pre-medicated before any invasive procedures, which meant taking antibiotics before-hand. I had tried to get my teeth cleaned a few weeks earlier and the dentist would not do it unless he had clearance from my surgeon. Although it was a simple procedure, there was a possibility that I could bleed and then bacteria could get into my blood stream and infect my ankle joint. So my surgeon gave me a prescription  for antibiotics and I planned to make another appointment for my cleaning. I would strongly suggest anyone planning to have joint replacement surgery or any other type of surgery check with their doctor about needing to be pre-medicated before any invasive procedures done after the surgery.

On Thursday, my physical therapist told me my visits were winding down. He was happy about my surgeon's report and didn't think there was much more my therapy visits could do for me. I was feeling the same, like the therapy was starting to plateau. He told me to come in twice the following week and go to the gym again on Saturday to supplement the third therapy visit, and then the following week after that we would see what we'd do next.

Week Twenty-Four

Wednesday, March 16th, was twenty-four weeks post-surgery. The dizziness from my sinus infection lingered but subsided little by little each day. By Friday it was just about gone.

Unfortunately the dizziness kept me from going to the gym at the YMCA but I knew I'd get there once I felt up to it. In the meantime I tried to continue my home exercises but that was not always easy since I was busy with many things. I figured the more I walked around and kept mobile, the better the strength-training for my ankle. I knew it would never be 100% again, but knowing I could walk around pain-free was worth giving up a little range-of-motion. I also kept up with the elliptical and the Wii Fit to help maintain my strenth.

On Sunday we went out to a nature preserve and I was on my feet walking the grounds for a few hours... about four total. There were times I needed to sit and rest my ankle but otherwise I did very well. At one point my husband and son walked on the beach but I stayed behind and rested on a bench; I knew my ankle could handle the uneven terrain of the sand but I also knew that walking in the sand would tire my ankle out and I wanted to continue walking and enjoy the day without pain. When I got home I did ice my ankle but overall it felt great!