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Chris_O : Chris breaks his ankle
Diary entry posted Tue 12:52am 18 February 2003

Thanks to all you broken-leg-story posters! Reading them was great therapy for me during recovery, so I'll add my story to the list.

On 12-8-02 I crashed my dirt bike and suffered a bimalleolar fracture (tib & fib down at bottom) of the right ankle. I knew it was broken when I saw it pointing about 60 degrees off to the right when it should have been pointing straight ahead. I immediately jerked my leg so the foot flopped into a more straight ahead position, and feeling the bones grind reconfirmed that it was broken. Ouch! I don't think I've ever done so much swearing in such a short period of time.

After a ride on the back of my buddy's bike, a ride to my truck from a friendly tourist at the ranger station (in a car), and then a ride in my truck, we finally made it to the emergency room almost 4 hours after my crash. And then of course I had to wait 30 minutes more. After x-rays & morphine they told me I would have to spend the night in the hospital before going to see the OS the next day. I asked if I really had to stay over night, he said yes and then left the P.A. to put me in a splint. The doctor then reappeared and said I could go home.

I saw the OS the next day and had surgery three days after that (12-12). When I woke up from the surgery, I had the shivers for a couple minutes, then felt fine except for the BURNING PAIN in my leg. The next 24 hours was a Demoral haze, shots in alternating cheeks every 3 hours (I was even the guinea pig for a first time needle sticker, I guess they knew I had the cheapo insurance!) but that Demoral really works. I got the morphine button (PCA) after that, and it was weak in comparison, but the pain was managable by then, as long as my foot was elevated. I was in the hospital for a total of about 36 hours and only got out of bed twice - when they forced me to do phys therapy. The pain was excruciating when I had to stand up. Any time my foot was not elevated it felt like it was going to explode! This continued for about a week before I started to notice gradual improvement. Honestly, ten minutes on crutches was out of the question until about 2 weeks after surgery.

By the way, I got two screws in the tibia and a plate with 4 screws in the fibula. I am a 38 year old male, non-smoker, medium fitness level.

I had my staples removed and a fiberglass cast installed 8 days after surgery. I was in the cast from 12-20 until 1-13. Foot was still prone to swelling during this time, if it was not elevated. I had to sleep with my lower leg propped up on two pillows the whole time I was in the cast, to minimize pain and swelling. This was probably the worst part of the recovery. The cast was miserable. The vicodin was a big help at night, but I did not take it during the daytime.

January 13th I got more x-rays and the OS said my fractures were "healing but not healed" and fitted me with the Moon Boot which I was allowed to take off for sleeping and bathing. Partial weight bearing was permitted. He also prescribed PT 3 times a week and told me to come back and see him February 17th - that's today! Since my insurance does not pay for PT I only went twice, but the therapist gave me a list of exercises to do and some rubber resistance bands. My incisions were still healing during this time so I wore the boot less than I should have (because it irritated the incisions), but was super careful not to fall, trip, bump leg, etc... During this time I improved steadily with dramatic improvements daily for about the first 3 weeks, and slower thereafter. I think I tried to walk w/o crutches too soon and had a minor setback, but by the time I was 9 weeks out from surgery I could limp around the house without crutches, and was down to 1 crutch for out of house excursions.

Today (2-17-03), 9 weeks and 4 days after surgery, I went to see the OS. I was really stressed out about this visit because I hadn't been wearing the boot very much and I wanted so badly to be healed. But I was still feeling a lot of pain when I put my weight on the foot. On my last visit he had sent me off with something like "we'll get you off these crutches in a few weeks." So there I was today, waiting for what seemed like forever in the room with the diagram of "The Amazing Hand," fighting back dread-thoughts like "I'm afraid you've got a tibial non-union, you're going back in a cast for 4 weeks!" Or, "Why didn't you wear the boot? Now you've ruined the soft tissue, we're going to have to operate!" As it turned out, my fractures had healed and I was cleared to put all my weight on the leg. Yippee! Still lots of PT work ahead, as ankle is weak and foot hurts with full weight but the worst seems to be over. Doc wants to see me again in 6 weeks. I'll update soon with my progress.

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 Tue 12:52am 18 February 2003
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