Monday, January 27, 2014

One Year Update: Recovery from A Trimalleolar Fracture

It's been a year since my husband and I went ice-skating and I ended up with a trimalleolar fracture of my left ankle. I wrote a detailed entry about my recovery timeline back in June of 2013, about five and a half months post injury, and many people have ready my post and commented that it helped them as they dealt with their own injury. So I decided to post a one year update.

The biggest thing I would say is that I'm doing very well. I don't have a limp when I walk and I am able to do yoga and walk briskly on a regular basis. I haven't returned to running fully but i have to be honest and confess that's more laziness than injury. I am building back up to running this year. I still wear all my old shoes, although I don't generally wear heels so I'm not sure how that would feel. Most importantly to me, I am able to play with and care for my three year old, chasing her around playground equipment, walking in the snow, sledding, and carrying her up and down steps when she is sleeping. For me, the biggest moment of realization that I have recovered came this past December when I was on vacation with my family. My husband wanted to hike up a waterfall and I was able to complete the slippery and somewhat tiring climb without any problems from my ankle.

There are still some post-injury differences that I notice. I still get pain in my ankle when it's cold or rainy. For me, the pain isn't severe; it doesn't limit my activity and I don't need to take over the counter pain medication for it. I do notice it. My left ankle is still not as flexible as my right ankle and still looks thicker and a little puffier. This hasn't affected my shoe sizes or level of comfort and activity. The scars over my left ankle are still prominent. I don't think they look awful but they are clearly noticeable if I am wearing sandals and capris. Emotionally, I am still very, very nervous about icy or potentially slippery surfaces. I live near Washington D.C. so most of the time that is not limiting, but this winter has been cold. I did buy Yax Trax to slip on over my shoes but I haven't had a chance to try them out. I don't plan to try ice skating again; if my family wants to go I will bundle up and man the camera from the sidelines.

I still have my screws and plate in. I can definitely feel them under my skin, although they are not bothersome unless I try to sit cross-legged on a hard surface. Which, sometimes I do since I am playing with a three year old. I don't think I will have them taken out unless they become much more bothersome. I am not at all interested in another surgery and then going through another recovery period. I don't have any problems getting through airports, which is something I worried about initially. I haven't set off a metal detector once.

After reading many of the comments on my original blog post I realize that there are clearly variations on this injury. Any trimalleolar fracture is severe but I've heard from others whose breaks were worse or who injured their other leg in addition. Obviously the severity of the injury or additional injuries would affect the recovery process. I broke my fibula higher up on my ankle; it was broken through and displaced. That was the worst break. The tibia was broken in two places but the displaced fragments were both essentially tips of the bone. And my right ankle was completely healthy, which helped greatly in mobility and recovery, as it gave me a stable and strong place to work from.

I continue to feel that the major factors in my recovery were following my doctor's instructions faithfully in regards to not bearing weight, good nutrition, many prayers from family and friends, and religiously following the physical therapy regimen I was assigned. My physical therapist was a huge player in my later recovery. He took me through progressive stretches and strengthening exercises so that I gained back all my functional ability. Even more importantly, he was incredibly positive and encouraging. He made me believe that I could recover, which made me willing to work at it. If your insurance doesn't cover physical therapy I would recommend paying for at least one visit if there is any way at all you can manage it - credit card, borrow the money from someone, any way at all - so that an expert can outline a progressive regimen for you to follow on your own.

I hope that my record of my injury and recovery continues to help others. I hope that you having hope that you will get back to normal will help you get through. I will continue to keep everyone in my thoughts and prayers as you heal.

See my original Post here: Timeline of Recovery from a Trimalleolar Fracture