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Foot & Ankle Problems Message Board

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I think the recovery for this surgery is in three stages. Stage one is the initial post surgery recovery and non weight bearing, stage two is the partial weight bearing and learning to walk, and stage three is the weight bearing and continuing with physio and the final healing. I can just comment on the first stage so far. It has been difficult, but not more than I thought as I have been through a version of this before when I had my original accident, and it was much worse.

There is no doubt that it is difficult. However, I am now at 5 weeks, one day, and I am finally up a bit on crutches around the house and have been out for a dinner, a lunch, and a coffee. I am also attending physio 3x week. That's all I have the energy for.

I, too was afraid of the pain - it didn't really become more tolerable for me until the fourth week. Right now I am having more good pain tolerable days than bad. It gets worse in the evenings because of fatigue, low energy levels, and swelling. At first it was even difficult to sit up or move in bed because I had bone taken from my iliac crest to add to the outside of my foot. Also, I didn't factor in just how tired the body is from such an extensive surgery. At night the incisions hurt more and feel tight. Also, there are all sorts of burning and tingling pains as the foot wakes up in the first 3-4 weeks. That all being said, the pain was adequately controlled with medication most of the time. Now, I am only on 2 Tylenol 325's a few times a day, and something a little stronger at night. I am able to enjoy company and have stopped worrying that every pain is indicative of a failed surgery. I am learming that the pain of the body healing is okay. The point is that although everyday may not be better than the previous one, every week has been. I am progressing and you will too!

With regard to the boredom of non weight bearing, I am finding that the first 3-4 weeks almost flew by because I was so fatigued and weak. I spent a lot of time resting and propped up on my computer. My days were pretty well taken up with eating three meals, washing, chatting on the phone, and resting. I have 2 more weeks to go and if I "pass' my xrays, I can begin partial weight bearing. Those 2 weeks will be a bit harder in terms of boredom, but I will just invite friends over. There's snow here too and it's difficult to crutch safely to the car.

These are the things that helped me with the first 5 weeks:
- a wonderfully supportive and caring husband
-friends' calls, emails, and visits
-meals and treats from friends
-first night in hospital with IV narcotics and a bed pan
-a second hospital night without IV narcotics
-ice packs behind my knee and anywhere else to help with pain in the first 2 weeks
-keeping up with pain medications - don't let pain get ahead of you
-a walker to get to bathroom and about upstairs and in hospital
-hospital staff to show me how to use a walker and crutches - very important to know -perhaps learn before surgery
-crutches to get in and out of the car
-pillows for the car ride home - I lay in the back seat- and for my 2 week post op visit to the doctor
-a wheelchair to get to the car to get to the doctor's clinic in the hospital, and for outings when ready
-didn't come downstairs (bedroom & bathroom on second floor) for 5 days
-had all my meals sitting in a chair in bedroom
-a hospital table for the bedroom is great
-stitches out and new removable air cast after two weeks that was only to be removed for physio which I started at end of third week
-a walker to get to the bathroom
- a shower chair and bench in my large shower - one could use a hand held shower in a tub
-my first sitting shower with my cast wrapped in two layers of garbage bags in week 3. Up till then I sponged with help and kneeled on a chair over the sink to have my hair washed
-always the continuing help of my husband
-trying not to be too demanding and trying to understand that this was hard on my husband too
-T.V at night with my husband to distract me till I fell asleep
-starting physio early because of my prior injury and the need to get my foot moving slightly to prevent scar tissue build up along my PTT
-a fabulous supportive physio therapist - now going to physio 3x week
-grandchild sitting on my bed and reading with me
-communicating a bit on Health Boards
-my laptop at my bedside
-my IPhone
-plugging in to my music on my IPhone to relax me even in the hospital
-at 4 weeks being allowed to take the steri strips off of the incisions and getting everything wet in the shower - I can now take my boot air cast off to shower. I still sit on a bench, with my foot propped on another bench The bottom of my heel is sore so I rest my leg on a large plastic bottle filled with water to elevate my heel off of the bench.
-3 pillows at my feet in bed -2 for my foot and 1 for a "ramp" to the 2 my foot is propped up on
-a cold therapy unit (ice machine) for swelling and pain after first 2 weeks if you get put in a removable cast (with doctor's permission)
-patience and trying to understand that pain and fatigue are part of the healing process
-light hand weights and a workout bench in my bedroom to use for a light exercise program - if doctor okays it.

I realize that this is a rather long reply, but I wanted to give you quite a bit of detail and tips for the first 5 weeks based upon my experience. Remember though, everybody is different and so are their experiences with the initial recovery and pain. The thing to remember is that each week will be better than the last and that recovery takes an enormous amount of patience and understanding of your fears as they pop up.

Also, I would suggest trying to set up your hotel room like a hospital room - you might need a bed pan, and a bowl to throw up in. You will certainly need a walker. Ice packs and extra pillows and crutches would be good to have also in the hotel room. I also recommend some sort of earbuds and music

Don't be afraid to "baby" yourself for the first little while. Recovery is not a race - you are in this for the long term gain.

Good luck to you and feel welcome to keep in touch.

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