Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Total Ankle Replacement (Mostly Splat-Free)

 I once was a very fast walker.  And proud of it.

This was my right ankle in November 2016.  The pronounced bulge caused much pain, but only if I walked. Or stood.  The beach was the worst.  I could walk in one direction, with the bad ankle down slope, closest to the water,  The return trip, with the ankle on higher ground was misery.  Cortisone shots temporarily eased the pain for years, but relief time was shorter with each shot.

So I opted for a Total Ankle Replacement.  Unlike knee and hip replacements, ankle replacement is relatively rare.  Google TAR and you get manufacturer and hospital promos.  There was little information from the patient's point of view.  I didn't know what to expect.

The pain after the surgery was not bad, until the nerve block wore off.  This happened literally as Medical Transport was wheeling me out of my hospital room.  The nurse ran to get me an oxycodone.   I was in agony.  The transporters used a Rube Goldberg type contraption, to get me up the spiral staircase to my bed.  I promptly threw up.  The pain, which the doctor said would be about a '7' for three days, was unbearable.  I could not imagine enduring three days of it.  Soon I was dehydrated, writhing and frightened by the pain.  My husband called the night nurse.  Her suggestion was to go to the emergency room.  After all the effort to get me home and up the stairs, returning to the hospital was not an option.  My husband went out and bought 3 big bottles of Pedialyte.  I honestly don't know how I got through that night.

By the next day the pain was bearable.  And within two days I was off everything but Tylenol. The next six weeks were uneventful and painfree. (Though sleeping with a knee high boot with 5 velcro straps was not optimal.)  I read 14 books, watched Netflix and ate all meals in bed (My husband has been a delight.  Our only fight was when I tried to direct him while he changed the bed sheets).  There was no Thanksgiving, no Christmas and no New Years celebrations. I only braved the spiral stairs for doctor's appointments.

Last week the big boot brace came off and I started putting weight on the right foot.  Pain has returned, but I am optimistic.  My one mishap happened when I got uppity, thinking I could wheel myself to the car for my first physical therapy appointment.  In my defense, the walkway was narrow and wet.  A wheel slipped off the edge and I tumbled into the flower bed.  I kept my bad angle up, but the rest of me was caked in mud.