Friday, April 26, 2013

Good-bye CAM Walker!


I am back in shoes today! Today the orthopedic surgeon cleared me to walk without the CAM walker (a hard plastic walking cast I have been using for the past 6 weeks). She looked at my X-Rays and all the bones in my ankle are healing well. I expected that, because I have been completely pain free for the past 4 weeks, and I’ve been able to walk over a mile at a time in my walking cast. Physical therapy is going well and my range of motion and strength are improving. So I anticipated being released from the CAM walker but it feels great to have it really happen!

It has been 3 months to the day since I broke my ankle, close to 13 weeks since I have been able to wear shoes on both feet. It feels a little strange today, walking and having my ankle actually be able to move. I expect that I may be a little sore by the end of the day, since my ankle joint isn’t actually used to moving that much anymore. My physical therapist suggested wearing a lace-up brace for a few weeks for support and to control swelling, so I will be doing that. I can move up in physical therapy now and really focus on regaining my balance and strength. I've already done my first set of standing exercise. I expect my range of motion will also improve without the restriction of the CAM Walker. I still have a long way to go before I can run and jump but I am definitely on the right track.

My doctor was teasing me, saying that she’s never seen a doctor be so compliant as a patient. Which I know is true, since I have also had fellow physicians as patients, and it is often somewhat challenging. There is such as thing as knowing too much at times. I told her I had obtained a solid dose of common sense before going to medical school which still stands me in good stead. Really, I mostly was focused on healing completely and regaining good function. I had read too many stories on line of people not healing well from severe ankle fractures, and I didn’t want that to be me. I have to much to do in my life to deal with a painful, stiff ankle for years to come. I want to be able to play with my daughter, work, exercise and travel, and I want to be able to enjoy what I’m doing instead of thinking about a bum ankle.

The best advice I could give anyone with a trimalleolar fracture would be to follow your doctor's instructions. I understand the temptation to ignore them, but please don't. Respect the limitations faithfully, and once your start physical therapy do your exercises at least twice a day and more if possible. Trust that your orthopedic surgeon and physical therapist really do know what they are talking about and will steer you in the right direction. Focus on good nutrition; cut back on sweets and caffeine, avoid alcohol and tobacco and make sure you get plenty of protein. I also took calcium, vitamin D, multivitamin and omega-3 fatty acid supplements. Have your family and friends pray for you; I know that made a huge difference to me in my recovery. I would also encourage you to believe that you can get better. The internet is full of discouraging stories about severe ankle fractures, but I am writing to tell you that you absolutely can have a great outcome and a full recovery. I am most of the way there and I know I will get the rest of my functioning back with continued therapy. I'm standing here in shoes today to tell you that this injury will heal!