Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Pretty Freaky Ankle Update, for Those Who Want it

Photo here is my ankle (taken 1/12/10. Notice that it still gets swollen, as evidenced by the sock lines! You can't see the scar on the other side, but it's shorter. This photo makes my leg look wider than it really is...).

Today, as I looked at an old (and oddly blank) date book from 2009, I was reminded of how my life last year was basically on hold.

The entire year was a blur.

From my perspective, it was the last year in (as TIME magazine so aptly put it) a Hell Decade.

At least it went by fast.

You see (and many of my readers will know this, as the Gory Ankle Pix and injury story is why they found and read my blog!), I was recovering from a devastating leg injury and I could barely walk last year at this time.

I had a tri-malleolar ankle fracture, and after it healed, I still had trouble walking for months.

I endured countless hours of PT. I probably spent just as much time icing my leg. If only I had those hours of my life back (the icing hours)...it's not a good way to live.

It wasn't until my second surgery (where I had the orthopaedic hardware removed)--well, it wasn't for a month or two after that surgery--that I started to feel like my old self again.

But I still can't run. I can't dance. I can't ice skate.

I probably will never do any of those things again.

Well, I hate to say never, so I won't say never. The pain, though, that I experience when I try makes those sports and activities seem very unlikely.

I was told I should swim now, but I don't enjoy swimming the way I used to because it stings the scars, and my ankle is still so inflexible and weird, despite all the exercise (mostly bike riding) that I do.

Anyway--I hate to even talk about my ankle. It's boring to me now. But I get asked about it, and I get many e-mails from people who recently fractured their ankles and want to know about recovery and whether hardware removal surgery is worth it.

What can I say? Recovery is long. Recovery is ongoing. The work you do (as is true for much of life) is never really over.

It takes discipline, and it takes time every day, but you have to do it so you can function to your best ability.

Still, you will feel grateful later (and yes, I recommend getting the hardware removed. It made a huge difference for me in terms of decreased pain and increased range of motion--once you recover from the surgery itself and rebuild your muscles).

After this type of injury, you will be grateful that you can walk, for one thing. Grateful that you can pedal a bike, even if you may not ever again experience the exhilaration of running a shady, soft trail through the woods.

I used to love that.

I worry now that I will break some other bone(s).

My daughter broke both arms this past fall, but even that (which was bad, and I felt awful for her, though she coped and adjusted amazingly) would be preferable, I think, to breaking a leg.

Not that I want to find out.

My daughter can't breakdance now, which bothers her.

It's always something.

I sort of wish I had taken photos of my atrophied leg--just to compare last year to this year. I might feel better about my recovery process then.

Still, I've come a long way. And so will you.

As someone else told me in an e-mail: Broken Ankles Unite!

Feel free to write to me with questions about ankle fractures and ankle surgery. I am always happy to help if I can.


  1. Hey Elizabeth!

    Yep, 4.5 years later and I am STILL dealing with post TRI MAL issues. Still afraid to inline skate, ski, and I know I can't run. Have tried it a few times. The rubbing from the hardware/plates too painful. (they don't want to remove them due to extent of my injuries)

    I am heading to a NEW PT person as my back goes out, my hips still hurt, I get pain in the foot etc. and I want to be pain free.

    Yet, like you said, I am thrilled that I can walk. Period. If I have to get my butt back to the gym for whatever exercise I can muster up in preparation for the inevitable bone density loss that I will experience for the rest of my life as I go through menopause..I will.

    PS I finally have away the beautiful little shoes that I fell in, hopeing that they weren't cursed, lol. Patti

  2. Hey there Patti!

    You bring up good points about other body parts that end up getting the bad end of it after ankle fractures. I, too, am having foot and hip issues. I think it was from the long-term limping.

    Another problem for me now is the cold. I can't stand it. It is downright excruciating.

    I was trying to sit in a rink while my kids skated and I am sorry to report that I almost started to cry. Can't go back there!

    What we have to think about now, I suppose, is what we can do. Weight lifting helps. I love the leg press machines and noticed a real difference when I started to use Cybex machines again.

    I also started taking Glucosamine/Chondroitin, and it seriously has made a difference with achiness.

    I couldn't deal with my hardware pain, so I feel for you.

    As always, hang in there--and keep moving!

    Thanks for writing,