Monday, November 05, 2012

The Journey to Recovery

During times like this you become to realize how much of an amazing support network one has through family, friends and neighbors. Our parents sent us cooked meals so all we had to do was re-heat them in the microwave. A few friends have stopped by here and there to help Ginger off-load the burden of me and also help with some wedding preparations. Our next door neighbors volunteered to walk our dog and also left meals with us.  I could not believe the help we were getting and never asked for any of it. This support certainly made our days go by much easier. We are eternally thankful for the tremendous support!

The first few days back from the hospital were difficult. My leg was very sore and our house as-is was difficult to navigate with crutches.  It was critical that I also keep my foot/leg elevated so sleeping was difficult. With everything healing, and having two six-inch long incisions in my leg, I struggled to sleep through the night.

As the days ticked along I found a rhythm I set into. Since I was not sleeping through the night I would sleep-in in the morning. Normally up around 5:30/6AM I was now up around 9AM. Ginger would make me some breakfast before she left for work and I would carefully find my way down the steps onto the couch in the living room. This couch would become my ‘home’ for more than a month.

By late morning I would find my work laptop and log into work to get some stuf done. Somewhere around noon I’d hobble into the kitchen with my crutches and reheat some chicken parmesan for lunch. Then back onto the couch with my right leg elevated ontop of a few pillows.

As the week progressed things got better.  The most difficult part of the first week was the blood thinning medication I was on. This required me to give myself a shot in the abdomen every morning. The medicine also made me nauseous at times.  Not one to like needles, I cringed every morning when I had to shoot myself in the stomach. All I could do was look at the supply and keep counting down as to when I had the last dosage.

The most significant achievement in the first 12 days post-surgery was the ability to lift my toes up without any pain. This was the first thing the doctors had me try before I left the hospital and I could not do it. I had a lot of pain in my foot/ankle and did not see my toes move. The doctors said they moved and were pleased with what they saw. It was not until almost a week later when I was able to do this and physically see my toes move and not feel any pain. That was an exciting day.

10 days post-surgery, a Sunday, Ginger was heading out on a mountain bike ride. We spoke about this and did not have any concerns about her riding her bike given I am hurt from riding my bike and our wedding was less than three weeks away.  Within half an hour to forty five minutes after she left the front door swung open and she was standing in the doorway still in her kit and in hysterics. While I somehow rushed over to here I also noticed she was not placing any weight on her right leg. First thing I thought of was broken bones. She said she thinks she tore her ACL (through an awkward dismount of her bike). My heart sank.

“This can not be happening.”

We had to go to the ER but she wanted to change into street clothes first.  She was okay enough to get upstairs and change without any assistance. While doing that I went next door to see if my neighbors were home to take us to the hospital. Figured I’d try this first before having to figure out how to drive a car with my left foot (I haven’t driven since before the accident). Neighbors were home and took us to the ER, where we spent the next four hours.

X-rays showed no broken bones and we were discharged with the request we call our orthopedic doctor and have him look at it. Monday morning we did such and were able to get an appointment on Tuesday. An appointment about an hour before my first post-surgery doctor’s visit. Luckily our doctors are in the same practice so the following day (now 12 days post-surgery for me) we did not have to travel far between doctor’s visits (20 feet?).

There was a really good chance Ginger tore her ACL and an MRI a few days later would confirm this. She was instructed to start physical therapy to strengthen her leg, which would help the recovery post-surgery. We also pondered the best time for surgery (sometime after I was recovered).

After visiting Ginger’s doctor we hobbled the 20 or so feet over to Dr. Burton’s office. By now my cast was so loose that I could move it around an inch in either direction. The itching of my leg was also very difficult at times so I was excited to hear they would be removing my cast. With the cast removed I went over for x-rays to see how the bones are aligned and healing. Dr. Burton was very pleased with what he saw. 
Without a cast my leg was much lighter. It was still quite swollen and I was now able to see the long incisions on either side of my leg. Moving my ankle was tricky. I could point and flex my foot without pain (another great achievement) but my movement was extremely limited. Dr. Burton liked what he saw and told me I can continue working this range of motion whilst laying on the couch. Before I left I was fitted with a walking boot to keep my ankle and lower leg stable but was informed to continue using the crutches and keep weight off my right leg.
With no more cast and a lightweight boot it certainly was a bit easier to get around the house. This also meant I could take showers now and not have to put my leg in a trash bag and take a bath with my leg elevated out of the bathtub. Great news all around.

A week later (around 3 weeks post-surgery) I was back in Dr. Burton’s office for another follow-up visit. More x-rays to check up on things. The bones are still holding alignment and it was actually quite difficult to find the bone fracture surface. The sutures in my leg were removed and Dr. Burton checked the range of motion of my foot. The discoloring of my skin from surgery was also starting to disappear. He was very pleased with how the swelling has come down thus far and was impressed with the range of motion I have. The news was very positive. This meant I would be able to weight my leg and learn how to walk again sometime soon.

I left Dr. Burton’s office with another appointment in three weeks. That would make six weeks post-surgery and he said if things look as good then as they did at this appointment then I will be given the green light to start weighting my leg, learning how to walk, and begin physical therapy.

Today marks 8 days until that appointment. The swelling goes up and down depending on whether or not I have my leg elevated or down in the boot while walking around with my crutches. The only medicine I am taking is aspirin to help with the feelings I get from the nerves in my ankle rebuilding (along with thinning my blood some to prevent blood clots). I have been taking vitamin C and D supplements to help my bones rebuild themselves and continuing my healthy eating habits. Still ordered to stay off my leg and keep it elevated. This means I am still at home on the couch working via a laptop and getting around with crutches.

I did also have another achievement shortly after that last doctor’s appointment. I figured out how to rotate my ankle in circles. The rolling ability is still very slim but the rotation gives me a giant smile. I can not point and flex my foot and rotate my ankle without pain. Imagine that! Less than four weeks from breaking my lower leg and dislocating my ankle and I can now move it without pain! It brings a huge smile onto my face.

Other good news, the pain Ginger was feeling in her knee was due to a bone bruise as a result of her torn ACL injury. This pain has pretty much subsided and so has the swelling of her knee. She purchased a knee brace that motorcross racers use and it has allowed her to walk without any crutches. She is also making significant strides in the range of motion of her knee. Surgery is scheduled for early January, after I am recovered and mobile again.

We also found a way to hobble through our wedding and had such a wonderful day with family and close friends. This also occurred a day or two before Hurricane Sandy hit the northeast.

Things are looking up for us!


Anonymous Tracey Millsap said...

The situation couldn’t have been more inconvenient, with both of you getting injured. It’s a good thing both of you were still mobile, despite hobbling along to do so, and that you are surrounded by wonderful people who helped you get through this situation.

11/12/2013 7:31 AM  
Anonymous Emily said...

I can so relate to your story. I'm also in a cast. Broke my shin bone in a motorbike accident. Couch and bed are my two homes. I have two weeks left till my next visit and hopefully I'll get a boot then. It is so difficult trying to get to different places without being able to drive, and I don't like being dependant on others, but it is true that you do find out then how many loving and caring people there are around you! No matter when the accident happens, it will always be an inconvenient time as there is always something happening and something to do, not allowing us to just sit idle for a few weeks. Wish you a quick recovery and I'm glad everything went well on your wedding day, congratulations!

8/21/2015 12:21 PM  

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