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Six weeks broken

This entry was posted on Sunday, September 4th, 2016 by Frances Ryan.
Tags: walking, stubborn, sports, running, health, broken ankle

It has now been six weeks since I broke by ankle, meaning I am about half-way through the initial recovery phase. It also means that tomorrow, I will take my fist steps without the walking boot. I expect it to be a bit sore, but after two weeks of flexibility exercises, at least my ankle shouldn’t be too stiff.

Overall, the last two weeks have been fairly easy to manage. However, I am very bored of the whole thing now! But then, I was bored of it within 24 hours! It’s just so very frustrating not being able to be as active as I’m used to. (Which means I’m getting frustrated with my weight!) I know it’s only temporary, but I’ve missed out on so many of my lovely summer plans already!

But, I will survive. Apparently.

Again, the nitty-gritty of the healing process is detailed below.  Hopefully it can be of help to the next person Googling information!

Sleeping:
For the most part, sleeping has been painless over the past two weeks. However, the site of the actual injury is still sore and there have been a couple of times when I’ve had to re-position myself in bed to take the pressure off the injury. This might have something to do with the stretching exercises I’ve been doing. I’ve also noticed that I can lie on my stomach with my foot stretched out—without making me want to scream! It is still too painful to sleep that way, but at least it’s a great way to help stretch a bit.

Washing:
As I mentioned two weeks ago, bathing is certainly getting easier! I am able to keep washed and groomed with relative ease, however I have not really been able to fully enjoy my home spa days. That doesn’t impact my cleanliness, but it does impact my skin exfoliation and moisturising routines. (Don’t worry: I’m not turning into a scaled dragon—yet!)

Daily living/chores:
I am moving more easily (and less painfully!) these days, so most things are now fairly easy to accomplish. Kneeling is a challenge because of the physical limitations of the walking boot, which means that grabbing things from bottom shelves—at home or in the shops—is a little awkward. (Awkward, but not impossible.)

Balancing rest and life/work:
As my mobility has improved, so has my ability to work! I am still not working at full productivity levels, but I am certainly more productive now than I was even two weeks ago. I don’t need to keep my leg elevated as much now, which is certainly helping with that! I’ve also been able to enjoy my social life a bit more now, without feeling pain at the end of the day. The walking boot does slow me down though, so I have to calculate extra time into everything I do and everywhere I go.

The biggest challenge I face in achieving a balance right now isn’t because of my ankle, but rather it’s because of the overly helpful nature of others. People want to help me, which is nice. However, I don’t need as much help as some people are trying to give. My desire to do things for myself isn’t completely out of stubbornness—it’s out of ability! And, to an extent, it’s because I need to keep my body strong by moving. (Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the offers. And I happily accept offers of help when I am unable to do something on my own.)

Pain, swelling, and bruising:
I am no longer in immediate pain. However, there is still pain when I walk too much and during my stretching exercises. There is also pain when direct contact to the injury site is made, for example if I accidently knock it when bathing. I expect that there will be a bit of pain over the next few weeks as I continue with my stretching and strengthening exercises, but hopefully it is fairly manageable.

I have noticed a bit of pain in my calf the last couple of days, too. I think this is because I’ve lost so much muscle mass in the leg, and my increased activity levels have made the remaining muscle mad. I suppose that I’ll experience a bit more pain as I work to re-build the muscle. Again, I’m hopeful that it will be a manageable amount of pain.

My ankle is still swollen, but you would only notice if you were comparing it with my good ankle. I understand that it could take a year (or more) before the swelling completely dissipates, mostly because of the callus formation and remodelling stages of bone healing. (Or something like that.)

And the bruising is all gone now, which is great!

Up next:
As I said, tomorrow will be my first attempt at walking without the boot. And over the next 2-6 weeks I will be slowly decreasing my use of the boot until I am able to manage on my own. To start with, my hope is that I can work up to walking without the boot around the house, but I’ll wear it when I go to the office or into town. Eventually, I will build up to spending a full day walking without the boot. Or I might find that after a full day of walking bootless, I need to wear the boot for a bit the following day. Or maybe I’ll find that as soon as I can go a full day without it, I will never need it again. I don’t know, but I will be sure to let you know how I’m progressing in another two weeks.

If all goes well, I will be able to attempt running in about six weeks’ time. Whilst I really want to do that as soon as possible, I will delay running until I feel that my ankle is strong enough. And even then, my first attempt might simply be a 30-second jaunt to test the waters. (Better safe than sorry!)

To read more about my progress, follow the links below:
I am broken
Two weeks broken
Four weeks broken
Six weeks broken
Broken ankle, Phase II: Learning to walk again
Eight weeks broken
Ten weeks broken
Twelve weeks broken
Broken ankle, Phase III: Getting back to normal

Comments

I broke my fibula on July 3, 2017 it was non displaced fracture, the doctor decided that I should get a hard cast on, the whole ordeal was excruciating, the cast was removed at week 6 and my foot was weak, stiff and swollen, the xrays showed the fracture line was still visible, so I had to wear the walking boot, it has been almost a month and even tough the exercises helped regain movility I cant bend it, i try to make a squat but my foot can’t bend, Im freaking out and i think i wont be able to walk normally or run ever again. I’ve been walking with one crutch and putting weight on my foot but only when using the boot. Im scared honestly, I will have my next appointment next week. I really need advice from someone like you because i feel hopeless and i dont want to give up, im still young Im 37 and i really wish to go back to my activities. Thanks.

by Alicia Zamorano at 4:29am (GMT) on September 13th, 2017

Hi, Alicia. I’m sorry it took so long to reply; I’ve been a bit scattered with my PhD work and have been neglecting my blog.

I am sorry to hear about your ankle. Breaking bones is really miserable! It took me quite a bit longer than I had expected to heal, but I did get there in the end. I found that I didn’t get a full range of motion back for several months and even then, my ankle felt tender for a couple more months.

As I am a runner, I was very keen to heal as quickly as possible. To help with this, I did flexing and stretching exercises every morning, afternoon, and evening. I tried not to push too hard too fast, and instead, I just worked to increase my ability day by day.

What has your doctor said about putting weight on your foot/ankle/leg? I was told to put as much weight on as I could so that I could strengthen my entire leg. Because I had a bit of muscle wasting, this was hard at first. But as my range of motion improved, so did my muscle tone.

One thing that helped me was walking barefoot around the house taking very deliberate steps that forced my foot and ankle through the full range of motion. I exaggerated the motion from heel to toe as that helped to stretch everything out a bit.

Find out from your doctor how much weight you should be bearing right now and start doing as much as you can. It might hurt a bit as your muscles and tendons stretch, but it will be good in the long run. But be careful of overdoing it. A little bit of stretching pain is one thing, but a lot of sharp shooting pain is another!

Don’t give up. But also don’t get frustrated with slow progress. It will take several months to get back to normal. But you will get there!

Good luck!!
Frances

by Just Frances at 1:36pm (GMT) on September 16th, 2017

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