Foot/Ankle Surgery Recovery – 19 days Onward

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If you are just tuning in, this is a blog on my own recovery from foot and ankle surgery of my left foot. The surgery took place on January 14th, and I am documenting the recovery. The documentary is in case someone else is considering this surgery so they will know what to expect in the days and weeks and even months following this surgery. As is commented on in this post, one thing to expect is that complete loss of the use of one leg! Until it happens, there is nothing to prepare oneself for this. It isn’t the pain as there is very little, but the problem of movement to any other location. Sitting is boring. That is quickly found out. But walking is impossible. So the compromise is to compact all the walking around duties so it is mostly done at the same time, and sit the rest of the time. Ugh.

Today is February 3rd. Yesterday was a monumental day. Yesterday was the first day I was able to negotiate my way out of my house, and down the back steps, then the brick steps to my driveway without having to sit and bump down, or back up. Once outside on my back stoop, I placed both crutches in my left hand, and grasped the stair rail with my right hand. Using my left(casted) foot as a balance point, I put the points of my crutches down to the next step down, ran my right hand forward so I was bent slightly forward. I bent my left leg slightly and quickly stepped down to the next step with my left leg, then rapidly brought my right, (uninjured) foot to that same step. I went the rest of the way down, using that method. Yes, I put weight on my casted foot, but it was only slight. Very little. So little that I could hardly feel the cast touching the step. Anyway, I got down.

Upon arrival back, getting up was the opposite. Holding onto the left rail of the brick steps, I also held a crutch in the left hand, along with a crutch in the right hand. I put the right crutch on the step up, stepped up with my right foot and quickly lifted the left foot up on the same step. This put a weight on my left foot, but if I did it rapidly, only a little weight was on that foot. I went up the rest of the steps using that method. Success!

Now, on February 6th, I find that my toes are swollen after spending some time in my basement. My foot is a little tingly as well like it is going to sleep. I think its possibly from sitting around so much. I try to get up at least once an hour just to get on my cart and ride through the house, do something, ride back and go back to sitting. Today, I went into the basement and stayed about 1 1/2 hours. I sat there, doing some work for about 40 minutes. Before I sat down there, I was up on my crutches for about 10-12 minutes looking at some things. I noticed my toes ached a little then, so I sat for about 40 minutes. The I got up again after my work was done, and simply crutched on over to the stairs to reclimb then and discovered my toes were quite swollen. I could feel the pressure of my foot pressing against the inner sides of the cast. Kind of a weird feeling. Perhaps a way to cure this swollen business to get on my cart more and ride around, or crutch around the house.

I discussed this swollen toes and tingly toes with my health insurance (CIGNA) this morning. They offer help lines toll free to contact with any issues. The nurse I discussed this with advised the usual about putting the leg up higher than my heart. She even suggested I could lay on the floor and put the leg up on a pillow. I hadn’t thought of that before but that might be the best way because, other than the immediate problem getting down to the floor, putting any pillow there makes the leg higher than my heart. Another thing we discussed was that the tingly toes may have to do with a lesser sodium intake the day before. Pretty interesting for sure! And one other thing was that the nurse said I may be sitting too much in one place. I had thought about this but wasn’t sure. So today when I sat, I sat on our couch rather than my reclining chair. So far today I’ve had no tingly toes, and they haven’t been swollen either. These little things are always good to know, even if it isn’t quite recovery. I’ll call it maintenance instead.

February 11th was another monumental day. When one doesn’t have the use of one leg to speak of, most anything involving weight or movement can be thought of as monumental, at least by the person with the one leg. I decided to return to the basement again as I had some things to do there. I like to wash my clothes I wear every few days as I am basically using nearly the same clothing everyday, so its imperative to keep these items clean. I decided to try going to the basement the same way I traversed the outside stairs on February 3rd. That is, more normal than going down the stairs on my butt. I used the method of stepping down the stair and putting some light weight on my casted foot while I brought the good foot down for the rest of the weight. I stayed in the basement just for the time to put my clothes in the wash and went back to the steps to return upstairs.

I really couldn’t stand the thought of scooting back up those stairs on my butt. It’s a slow, and not the most comfortable method of ascending stairs. I turned around backwards, figuring if I came down those stairs standing up, why couldn’t I back up the stairs facing frontwards? Now, facing frontwards, actually means looking back down the stairs! I began. I have to say, it’s quite confusing to back up a stairway. It really is against everything anyone is taught about climbing up stairs. One reason is that foot placement is confusing, ESPECIALLY when one only has a single foot at 100 percent to begin with!! The method the walking up was to hold the casted foot on the step and place the good foot back on the next step up and push my weight up to the next step while tightly gripping the stair rail on the right and pushing up on my crutches on the left. Then lift the casted foot up even with the good foot and I’m ready for the next step up again. Writing about it takes far longer than doing it. I have to say its a bit nerve racking when one is backing up stairs. When the casted foot is lifted up, most weight is on the good foot, which means leaning over the stairs to get the other foot back up. It’s similar to leaning over seats high up in a baseball stadium, like you’re going to fall if you make one slip, or inadvertent move. It took a long while to go up backwards, but not near as long, or with as much effort as going up on my butt.

The best part of walking up, sort of, was that at the top of the stairs, I didn’t have to struggle to get up off my butt and back onto my cart. While we’re right here, let me explain the business of returning to my cart once I arrive back up the steps sitting down. Once at the top of the steps, I have to continue to back out of the steps, then close the basement door. I worry about falling back down the steps. That’s the reason for shutting the door. Following that, I have to twist and place both crutches in a secure corner. Don’t want them falling on me while I’m making my way to the cart. Next, I straighten out, and find something to slide up on so I’m about halfway up to a chair that I can use to slide up on my cart. Why not just push my way up onto my cart? Well, it’s about 18 inches up, which is longer than my arms can push. About 6 inches is all my arms are good for on a backwards lift up. Once up to that 6 or so inches I can then grasp something a bit higher, plus use the door frame to pull myself up the rest of the way till I’m standing, then I can pull my cart to me and kneel on it. Its hard work for a little while. Now you see why I like walking up, even backwards.

February 12th was another great day. Today was the first day I went outside, with my cart, and by myself. No wife around to lift my cart around for me. It is supposed to snow on the 13th. We have some ice melt stuff in the garage. It’s too heavy for my wife to lift. Nobody else in the house to order to do it. That would mean I get it. I Can’t carry my crutches AND the cart, so it’s going to be a cart only day. Upon riding the cart out of the door, an exercise in fear in itself whether going in or out. The cart going out is fronted out and the front end drops off the small step out of the kitchen door. It feels like you’re falling off. But, I didn’t. Now, out of the back door, and down the steps on my behind again. I pull the cart behind me, then lift it over my head and set it down on the patio. Then slide my self over the patio to the brick steps, still on my butt. Now lift the cart down onto the asphalt, position it so I can get my kneeling position quick and easy and set the brake. Now stand up and quickly get down on the left knee so little weight arrives on my knee. Undo the brake and easily ride on over to the garage. I lift up the garage door. Now, leaning down and getting this 20 bag of ice melt is going to be tricky. Can’t use the little basket on the front of the cart, might break it. Have to lay the icemelt down outside the garage, back the cart out and re-close the garage door. Now turn the cart around, pick up the ice melt in my left hand (right hand has the brake), and proceed for a few feet till the bag gets too heavy to carry while rolling along. Have to put it down. It isn’t really the weight, it’s the getting off balance from not being able to hold the bag in a tight place, but instead having to carry it out and away from my body. Finally, get back to the patio and toss the bag onto the patio. Now, back the cart up to the steps again, sit down, lift the cart back to the patio. Now get the icemelt back, slide myself back to the porch steps, bringing the cart with me. Lift the cart over my head and up onto the stoop, then back up the steps and lift the icemelt bag one step at a time. At the next to the top step, get to my feet, then get my knee up on the cart and I’m up! WHEW!! Lift the icemelt bag up and toss it on the porch. Whew, Whew!! Ride on back into the house and I feel like I’ve just done a full day’s work at hard labor.

I just had to write about that outdoors ordeal. To a person with two working legs, that would have been equal to about a 3 minute walk in the park. With one leg, it is an enduring exercise in perseverance.

Now is a good time to stop. I’ll get back again when there is something to report.

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About Detective Estes

Detective EstesMr. Estes has lived in the DC Metropolitan area for most of his life. His father’s influence and expertise in firearms resulted in Mr. Estes beginning to rifle shoot at a young age and eventually shooting on the Washington-Lee High School rifle team in Arlington, VA.

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