Fracture Recovery Part 5: Getting The Boot

Black walking boot and crutch

Read part 1, part 2, part 3 and part 4.

One of the biggest things I was looking forward to as we approached one week out of surgery was getting out of the splint into The Boot. Now I call it The Boot in part because it is both an exciting prospect and a little scary. Now compared to the splint though, it seems like heaven. One week out of surgery, my ankle was nowhere near as swollen as it was when the splint went on, so it shifted a little, every time I moved, also, splints are heavy.

However, this meant another trip to the fracture clinic, and boy did I learn a lesson. The first time I visited the fracture clinic was a Monday, the day after I broke my leg. I spent seven hours there, enough that it has its own blog post and when we arrived, the staff there mentioned that Mondays are the busiest day of the week, but I had no idea how much busier it had been that day. This time, I went in on a Wednesday, around lunch time. We went straight up to the desk, then straight off for x-rays (which we did have to wait a while for), and when we got back to the fracture clinic, I was whisked straight in for my appointment. The whole thing took no more than four hours.

The actual appointment was something I wasn’t quite expecting. I guess this particular Wednesday was exceptionally quiet, since I got to see my surgeon as well as not just one but three residents who are working with him. This amount of attention was a bit of a shock, especially after my previous visit.

Once I was cut out of the splint, they took a look at the surgical site then tried to get my foot moving. They seemed to have some pretty high expectations of what I would be able to do one week out of surgery having been out of the splint for all of five minutes. My range of motion was all but nonexistent, which was in large part because of the level of pain I was in from getting my leg out of that splint. Given a little time and some patience, though I was able to get it moving once I was back home.

DSC_0194

My lesson to pass on to you all is this;

if you can book an appointment in the middle of the week, do.People who come in with breaks over the weekend are all scheduled in for the Monday after, so of course it’s going to be busy. These are the kinds of things you don’t think about when you first injure yourself, but knowing what to expect can keep a horrible situation from being made worse.  Also, every time you visit the fracture clinic, take the pain meds they’ve prescribed for you. Give them time to kick in, because once they’ve taken you in, they’re going to want to get you in and out as quickly as possible, especially on a busy day.

Once we were out of the fracture clinic, the reality of my life for the next month or more set in. I was a little shocked at how optimistic I was feeling, despite being in pain and having just spent hours at the hospital, I felt like I could see the light at the end of the tunnel. I was one step closer to feeling like myself again, even if it was only one step in a marathon, it was a clear and decisive step forward. Also, The Boot weighs less and hurts less than the splint, which is a huge bonus.

The rest of that week was tough, I was expected to start moving my foot, and it is incredibly tough to push your body through this kind of pain, BUT it is the key ingredient in your return to normal. It sucks, but we have to do it, because if we don’t, the ankle never really goes back to normal. The doctors and hospital staff all say that my left ankle will always be a little off, that it’s always going to feel different, but that is nothing compared to what happens if you don’t force yourself to move.

Physio this week has been a new experience for me. Now that the leg is free to move, we’re able to make real changes before things become set and more difficult to change. This means working on an incredibly sensitive area of my body, which is, inevitably, painful. The unfortunate reality of a significant break (whether it requires surgery or not) is that there is a high chance that you’ll have a whole lot of sensitivity in that limb. Everybody’s different, and the degree of sensitivity will vary from person to person, but there’s a good chance that even a light touch will have the nerves in your body telling your brain that you’re in pain. This is normal, but can have a profound impact on your recovery if it’s not resolved.

Swollen ankle with bandage on the outside

It’s difficult to treat any part of the body when there’s a lot of hypersensitivity involved, which is why the first task on the list was clearing that up using neurofunctional acupuncture. This was our main priority for the first week, and reduced the pain and helped with my range of motion, which is one of the biggest factors this early in the recovery.

We have a little more time to prepare my body for some of the treatments because I was fortunate enough to have a relatively progressive surgeon. Typically, you’ll be in a cast or splint for 2 weeks after the surgery, at which point you’re cut out of it and the stitches are removed and you can start on movement and move into The Boot. I was lucky enough to be out of my splint in a week, allowing for physio near the actual injury as well as movement and I moved into The Boot. With this extra time, I’ve been able to progress at a similar rate to what’s expected after the cast comes off at 2 weeks. In these kinds of cases, every day counts. Changes can be made or slowed down with every day you’re immobilized.

A side note,

The Boot is seriously expensive (Sunnybrook charges $200 and they run about $180 on Amazon), so if you know someone who has one, or if you can find one that’s (lightly) used, like I did, it can save you a whole lot of money. Now, you do have to rely on someone else to do the legwork for you, but if you’ve got someone who’s willing to do it, your local used clothing donation store may just have one (that’s where we found mine).

Next up, we’re back at the fracture clinic to get the stitches out and get a check on how we’re progressing so far.

 

-Alicia, Endeavour Office Manager

 

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