Part 1 of the broken ankle saga is here. I decided to blog about my recovery and experience given there is not many posts from runners. I hope it inspires someone who is going through something similar.
Waking up from the surgery was probably the thing that will stick in my mind the most. I was 11 days since my fall and so the broken bone inflammation was going down and I had started to feel a little better. I think this made it more dramatic when I woke up in that recovery room and my entire leg was on fire!
Having surgery during a pandemic is not ideal if you have anxiety issues. I asked ahead of time if my husband could accompany me and I was assured he could. We had both been 2 weeks post our second vaccine and it should have been safe. I have had panic attacks in the past and being in hospitals makes me nervous if I am being operated on. I was quite frustrated with their bait and switch tactic. They let my husband bring me to the waiting room and then brought me in to prep and said he had to wait there in the waiting room. However I called him before surgery and he was in the car! As soon as I was brought in they told him he had to leave and was no longer allowed to be inside the hospital. As they wheeled me in I was panicky and they gave me a medication through my IV to calm me down.
Coming out of the anesthesia is where it would have been nice to have him there. I was alone, the nurses were short staffed and running around the floor. It was hard to even get someone to bring me water. Then they moved me into a wheelchair 30 minutes after I woke up and took the bed away because they were “short on beds”. I’m not sure about anyone else, but I was completely uncomfortable and in pain and being in a wheelchair made it worse.
At this point I called me husband, he had not even been informed I was awake. I told him I was and was ready to be sent home where I knew I would be cared for better. After about 30 minutes of shuffling of nurses and paperwork they let 2 volunteer students bring me outside to the lobby where my husband was waiting.
Coming home I was relieved and exhausted. The hardest part was managing the pain. It was awful, burning, throbbing, and nothing helped. They gave me prescription pain medication, and I was very hesitant to take it, by in the middle of the night I realized I had to try because I was crying in pain. With my past addiction issues I was scared to take pain medication, when my ankle broke they offered it to me at urgent care but I declined. My husband was capable of managing it but I just did not trust myself. I also realized I would not be able to take my SSRI while taking pain medication. This would complicate things for me.
These are the complications of life, and preparing in advance would have made more sense. Unfortunately I was given a 18 hour notice of when I would have surgery so I didn’t take much time to plan out post op issues. I would advise anyone going through something like this to make a plan, make a plan for childcare for a few days, plan for pain management, and to be in bed for a few days. Also icing, how to have enough ice on hand. And if you struggle with mental health, to have a solid plan to manage that.
The hardest part next to managing my pain was managing my depression. I did not want to get out of bed, I was so sad. I felt so defeated, before the surgery I was beginning to feel less pain and be a bit more mobile and when I woke up from that surgery I felt knocked down. Being so active, a mom to 6 small children, and an ultra runner; I felt like I could not do anything anymore. I know it was irrational but its hard when you are in excruciating pain day and night, cannot sleep because of the pain, and all of the ways you manage are taken from you.
I also felt lonely. I had great support here from my husband and my sister who stayed with us for many days post op, it was not their fault. I just felt alone, it was like I was stuck in a bubble watching my life being lived without me. I hated it. I would get dragged out of bed by noon and just sit on the couch. I just felt useless and sluggish. After about 5 days I decided to stop taking the prescription pain medication. I felt like it was making me even more depressed and it was not really helping pain management. This proved to be a good idea, I started to feel some withdrawal symptoms like body aches, dizziness, hot flashes, and headaches. I knew what it was, and I also knew I wanted to keep it out of my system, it was kind of hard. It took a good 2 days for it to go away and for me to begin feeling better, I also began taking my new SSRI Wellbutrin and this seemed to help me stop feeling extremely depressed.
I was still depressed but not as heavily. I finally was able to begin getting back on the rowing machine about 10 days post surgery. I know it sounds crazy to some, but I need physical activity to pull me out of a dark tunnel, it seems to be one of the best ways I know how.
We have found the Breg machine to help a lot. It delivers a steady stream of icy water over my ankle. It runs on ice and water and electricity. I use it daily. I was blessed to have one of my husband’s friends drop it off for us to use.
After 2 weeks we went in to see the Physician’s Assistant who works with the surgeon. I got to see the fancy new hardware.
The first 2 weeks were the hardest. That first week was awful, and I am glad I got through it. The doctor cut the ends of the dissolvable stitches and it was very sore for a few days. The incision was bigger than I anticipated! I was honestly kind of expecting that 2 week checkup to be easier, expecting it to be healed. It was not and I had to wait a few more days with it covered. It finally began forming a hard scab about 3 weeks post surgery.
Thats currently where I am. Mentally I feel slightly better. The mornings are. hardest, I miss waking up early and going outside for those chilly spring time runs. It’s hard to still be non weight bearing and try to care for my children. My house is so messy and theres not much I can do about any of it, except wait and heal. And for an impatient person like myself that is a hard thing!
To be continued.