Friday, February 22, 2013

Ankle Fracture Progress - An Up and Down Day

It’s been an up and down kind of day. I woke up feeling good and excited – this morning was my orthopedic appointment with the promise of a new, lighter splint that can be removed for showering (without a plastic bag on my leg. Hey, it’s the little things!) and also clearance to return to work. Hooray! Then around 8:30 the doctor’s office called and said my appointment was cancelled because my doctor was sick and could I come in on Tuesday. I veered into immediate distress and panic. I had told people I was coming back on Monday, I was so looking forward to getting that bulky splint off, what to do, what to do. I managed to pull my thoughts together in a coherent way and ask if someone else could see me, please. The nurse didn’t know but said she’d ask and call me back. I then sat on the couch in an agony of hope and impatience. Fortunately she called back fairly quickly and said another doctor would fit me in this afternoon. The appointment time wasn’t great for us as a family but I took it gratefully.

So this afternoon we trundled off to the orthopedic surgeon’s office, with no nap for my two-year old daughter. We checked in and they said to wait, and I asked the receptionist about X-rays, since the nurse had said earlier to come early for x-rays. She said I didn’t need X-rays. I asked if she were sure, since the nurse had told me to come early for them. She said, okay, then go to radiology. I said, don’t I need to have the splint taken off first? She said, oh yeah! So they brought me back and took the splint off my leg. It looked awful. Still orange from the betadine they used pre-surgery to clean the skin, bruised all over, and with two fairly raw looking scars on either side of my leg. I know it can only improve from here but it was a bit of a shock. X-rays were completed without a problem and without pain, which was nice since the first two sets of X-rays were pretty awful, and then back to the orthopedic office for a 60 minute wait. I couldn’t really complain, since they fit me in, after all. Fortunately we had the kindle for our daughter and she happily watched Sesame Street and Elmo while we sat. My husband and I chatted with a very nice couple who admired the knee walker I’ve been using to get around. The woman had shattered her ankle in early December and had required much more extensive surgery than I needed. I felt much less sorry for myself after speaking with her.

The orthopedic surgeon came in and she was very nice. She showed me the x-rays and told me everything is lined up well, although it’s too early to see bone healing yet. She checked the surgical incisions and said they look good. She reminded me not to bear weight. She asked if my original doctor had planned to have me in a cast for 5 more weeks? I gulped and said no, she had mentioned a CAM walker so I could do range of motion exercises. I was praying she wouldn’t overrule that and put me back in a cast, particularly not for 5 weeks, since I was hoping to be cleared for walking in another 3-4 weeks. I also really wanted to be able to wiggle a little bit now and then and especially to wash my leg (gently!) after seeing it. She told me she thought that was fine, cautioned me not to force anything on the range of motion, and sent the technician in with a CAM walker. He very kindly showed me how to put it on and away we went.

I called my boss and confirmed that I will be back to work on Monday, and was pleased that my job seems happy at the idea of my return. The CAM walker is lighter and smaller than the large, bulky splint so I think it will be easier and less tiring to get around. It fits a bit more tightly too, so my ankle actually feels a little more protected. I still have to sleep in it, so I will have to work out details of pillows and getting comfortable with a new immobilization device. But overall this feels like progress and I am ending the day as it began, on an up note.