Broken Ankle Log

One of the first things I did when I got home from the emergency room after breaking my ankle was look for information online. My main concern was how much this whole thing was going to cost (I don’t have insurance). I also wanted to know more about what I would be going through in the coming weeks. I found a UK forum, where someone asked for advice in 2006 and people are still posting to it even now, sharing their broken bone stories and how to cope with being immobilized. So I decided to make my own Broken Ankle Log, to document my condition and progress, and to offer a listening ear to anyone else going through this.

Week 1

February 9, 2009: The weather was really mild and the streets were completely free of ice and snow, so I decided to ride my bike to school. As I was riding, the chain felt really choppy, so, thinking it might have a kink in it, I went up on the sidewalk to check it. Finding nothing wrong, I got back on my bike and continued on the sidewalk, intending to go back out in the street at the next driveway. Before I got to it, I was confronted with large mounds of snow that I wouldn’t be able to ride over, and without thinking, made a sharp turn to the right. The front wheel slipped on some ice, the bike went under me to the left, and I heard a crunchy sound. Somehow and without thinking, I dragged myself away from the bike, clutching my right ankle. I tried to get up using only my left leg, but when I took my right foot off the ground it felt like my foot wasn’t there. It was the strangest thing I ever felt.

The only comfortable position was keeping my right foot squarely on the ground, sole down, which is why I thought maybe it wasn’t broken (because I figured if it was, I wouldn’t be able to do that). Some helpful passersby called 911 for me. About 15 to 20 minutes later (more or less, I didn’t have a watch on) I was in an ambulance on the way to Detroit Receiving Hospital. The EMTs had put both my legs down, but I told them my foot hurt too much, so they unstrapped me and I put my right foot down squarely on the stretcher. In the ER they put my leg down again, so even though it hurt, I left it like that because I figured they knew best.

X-rays confirmed the broken ankle: the distal (lower) ends of my tibia and fibula were broken. By this time (about three hours after falling) my ankle had gotten pretty swollen, and a bruise was gradually appearing. An Orthopedic Surgeon numbed me up and snapped the bones back into place, which felt pretty good, to the extent that I felt it. There was a very satisfying “pop” sound. He and a med student (from Wayne State; go Warriors!) put a splint on my ankle up to my knee. Within 3 hours of being admitted I was given discharge papers with prescriptions for vicodin and ibuprofen, and instructions to make an appointment for surgery in a week. If I remember correctly, the OS said I would probably need 2 or 3 screws. After looking around on the internet, I hope it is just that few!

February 10 By the end of the day, my toes were swollen. Little sausages is a good way to describe them. For some reason, I looked at my swollen big toe and thought it looked like Peter Griffin. I’m not in much pain, even when I forget to take the meds, it doesn’t hurt too much. I’m hoping that means my injury isn’t too bad.

I emailed my professors to let them know I’d be missing class for at least 2 weeks, and with one exception the response I got was ‘Sorry. But if you miss too much you won’t do well in the class.’ Sheez. Trust me, I’d rather be sitting in the most boring lecture right now than nursing a broken ankle; my house is like an obstacle course now.

I got caught up on episodes of HOUSE and Late Night with Conan O’Brien. Thank goodness for the internet! I also have a boatload of readings for school to get caught up on. I started reading “The Apotheosis of Saigou Takamori” from Ivan Morris’ The Nobility of Failure.

February 11 I’ve got going up and down the stairs on my butt down to an art form. My toes are still swollen, but not more than they were yesterday. I continue to wiggle them about a lot, and can flex them up and down more. I hope my tendons aren’t damaged. I’ve solved the problem of not being able to carry things while on crutches by putting this pouch I have around my neck and putting the things I need to carry in it. Of course, can’t do that with food. ^ 0 ^ I’ll try to get more readings done today. It’s still early, so I’ll probably go look for a movie to watch on Hulu.

February 12 I can deal with the pain. But the itch under this splint… >_<

February 13 Happy Birthday to our cat Pantera! She’s 9 years old today!

In Ankle news, I’ve been doing the “itchy weave tap” on my splint, LOL. I think it’s a good sign that I’ve been able to make it on one less vicodin. This whole thing is a bit distracting though, so I’ve barely been able to make it through my readings for school unless I read them out loud. Luckily one of my reading assignments is a novel (The Soil by Nagatsuka Takashi), so it’s easier to get through.

Week 2

February 16 Went to the doctor, but my foot was too swollen to operate on. They told me to really keep it elevated, to basically get up just to go to the bathroom. At least I was relieved to see my skin under the splint wasn’t too bruised. But to put another splint on it, the doc twisted my foot some because he said if the foot isn’t at a 90 degree angle the Achilles tendon could shorten. All this time, since I wasn’t in much pain I thought maybe my injury wasn’t too bad…but today the doctors were like “you really did a number on it” and “that’s a really bad injury.”

I guess my life had just been going too smoothly.

I finished The Soil. On to the next novel for another class. This time it’s Paradise of the Blind by Duong Thuo Hong. I’m sorta procrastinating by reading the novels before the drier texts for school.

February 18 Ever been psychic about the wrong thing? Back in October, I went to get new glasses in anticipation of job interviews, because my old ones were getting raggedy looking. But I barely wore them, because I was worried I might fall and break them. So today, as I hopped to an important interview, my glasses looked great, but my leg…I think irony is the plague of my life.

There was supposed to be a rain/snow mix this morning, so I had my brother wrap my splint in saran wrap, lol. Luckily it didn’t really rain.

February 19 Even though I’m keeping this mini-log, the accident seems really unreal to me now, even as I spend the entire day on my bed with my foot on a mountain of pillows.

I finished Paradise of the Blind. I’m slowly catching up with my school readings. Next up: Leslie Chang’s Factory Girls. But to reward myself for finishing the other book so quickly, (it was pretty good, so easy to read), I went to spend a little bit of time on Square Enix Members (yes, I’m that big of a geek). They’ve got this funny little “matchmaker” quiz that pairs you up with one of the 3 female leads from Dragon Quest V.

The site tells me my taste in women matches that of 24.38% of the people that have taken the quiz. It’s a bit disheartening, because I picked the answers that described a strong, independent woman. Then again, I’m not looking for a wife. I loved the question: “My wife’s favorite weapon would be…”. Put a smile on me face, aye.

February 20 I’ve spent the week waiting for the clinic to call me with the date & time of my surgery, since for whatever reason when the doctor went to the nurses to get me scheduled they apparently told him they would call me and so he told me that and sent me on my way. See my rant about trying to contact the clinic (during business hours!) in this post.

Week 3

February 23 Lots of news today.

Apparently there was a mix-up with my papers. It surprised when when the woman in charge of surgical boarding assured me that she had taken my papers over to the Pre-Op Department and had seen my chart being made, because I assumed such communications were done entirely by computer now. I thought the whole hospital was online because in the ER I was given my prescription on a computer print-out that had all my info and the barcode associated with me on it, and in the one instance where a nurse didn’t know where I was supposed to go next she just scanned my wristband. Well, I guess stuff can get lost online too. Anyway, the woman was helpful about the whole thing, and I soon got a call from Pre-Op so I know they have my info now, and they have me down for surgery on Wednesday, now I just have to wait for them to call me tomorrow and tell me the time. It will be out-patient, which is good for me because then it will cost less. Specifically, what they will do to me is an open reduction internal fixation. Here’s a computer animation of the procedure. WARNING: even though it’s CG, don’t watch it if you’re squeamish! If only I were so fortunate to only need it on my fibula!

The other news is that I got the bill for the ER. I’m relieved that it’s just $230. When I got to the ER, I told them I didn’t have insurance, and the woman doing the paperwork told me there was a $75 co-pay. I’m a bit confused about that, because how is it a “co-pay” when I don’t have insurance at all? Either way, I paid $20 that day, it was all I had on me. I don’t know if the bill I got today includes the remaining $55 of that co-pay; I assume that it does. I’m hoping the ambulance fee is equally reasonable; I don’t know if Detroit has a flat fee or one based on what the EMTs had to do. CORRECTION: This $230 bill seems to be for the actual doctors, since I’ve learned that the services of the doctor are billed separate from those of the hospital. Wtf, right?

Physically, I think the swelling’s gone down more, because the splint feels a wee bit loose. This morning my toes were pruny, which is weird because they certainly haven’t been in water. I assume that’s also from the swelling going down. I’m starting to worry though that my pinky toe sustained some damage because I can move it to the side, but not up and down. I can trace a circle with my left pinky toe, but that doesn’t necessarily mean my right one was always capable of doing that also. Still…

February 24 Oh no no no no no…I was awakened today by a call from the hospital that went something like this:

“Hello, is this Miss A? I see you’re scheduled for surgery tomorrow, and you don’t have any insurance correct? You’ll need to sign a payment agreement, and make a down payment of at least $200. Can you pay at least that much, or more?” And I’m thinking, $200 down, maybe the whole operation won’t cost so much, I had been thinking 10K at most. So I ask what the total price is…and she ways $20,000 >_<;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;

It had been a while since I let anyone see me cry. Twenty thousand dollars, to be paid over 3 years. Damn. I’m hoping the doctors work fast, since then it could be less. The woman told me the charge is hourly: about $4600 for the first hour of surgery, and about $2200 for every next half hour.

I downloaded the application for Medicaid, what else can I do? My mother told me not to worry about it, that we’ll work it out, but how can I not? The one thing I always told myself was that if I was going to keep on living at home I wouldn’t be a financial liability. I was already budgeting like mad, forgoing a cell phone, shopping, eating out, and of course, a car. I didn’t get some sort of independent insurance because the rates are crazy and what would I pay it with, being a full-time college student on a scholarship, buying books with savings from 2 years of being a full-time volunteer? Plus insurance itself is a fraud. When big shit like this happens to people, the companies don’t want to pay up and you have to fight them tooth and claw. Insurance is more about ensuring the companies get money than it is about ensuring you can get care when you need it.

I just hope the surgeon works fast. I’m still waiting for the call about the time of the surgery. Of course the money business gets taken care of first.

February 25 Last night the hospital called to say I was scheduled for surgery at 5:45PM today. This morning they called to say that that surgeon couldn’t get me in after all, so it’s been pushed back again. Now I’m on for tomorrow at 6AM. With all these setbacks, surely my bones can heal on their own?! (Please?)

February 27 It’s done! I am now the FullMetal Alchemist Ankle!

The Surgery: I got to the hospital at 6AM. After struggling to give a urine sample (hard to do when you’ve fasted), the anesthetist gave me two options. I could either have an injection in my spine to paralyze me below the waist, or…I didn’t quite get the other option, but it involved having me breathe through machines rather than on my own. I went for the spinal. It was almost a pleasant sensation. I don’t recall falling asleep. Before I knew it I woke up shaking from cold. The procedure was over, I hadn’t felt a thing and had very little sense of elapsed time. They put some lights on me to warm me up. I was in the recovery area for a while hooked up to some morphine, when one of the surgeons came and said he thought I should stay overnight (they had been telling me it was an out-patient procedure all this time).

Post-Op: So I spent one night at the hospital. I didn’t have to give myself too much morphine; the machine lets you give yourself some every six minutes, no sooner than that. I decided I’d do it every 10 minutes, and then every 30 minutes, since I didn’t want to get used to not feeling any pain. That same night I was able to get up to use the toilet that was next to the bed with my pain decently controlled, so I was discharged this morning. The whole orthopedic team that worked on me filled the room and told me it had gone well, and the surgeon who had attended me in the ER recognized me (he earned brownie points with me on that one; or as a Star Ocean fan should say, “emotion points”). I had to ask for the “specs”, a question they seemed to find strange when I should think people want to know how much hardware they’re now carrying. They told me I got 2 screws on the inside of the ankle and a plate with some screws on the fibula, for a total of “5 or 6” screws. They closed me up with sutures, which sorta surprised me because in most of the broken ankle stories I’ve been reading online the incision was closed with staples. Medicine wise, they gave me a stronger dose of vicodin and some antibiotics to prevent infection. In contrast to last week, when the doctors told me not to get up except to go to the bathroom to get the swelling down, this time the surgeons and physical therapists said I needed to alternate having my foot down and up. The resident surgeons kept telling me I would be able to go back to classes next week, but then the doctor that filled out my discharge papers said I was not to go to class until after my first follow-up visit.

February 28 Today our cat Angus turned 8 years old!

In Ankle News…somehow when I went to go to the bathroom, I guess I put the crutches out too far or something. Somehow I got off balance and I ended up flipping over into the bathtub, I landed on my butt. The physics of that fall are beyond me. My mother and brother came running and helped me up. Fortunately, I seem unharmed. My operated leg hurts about the same as it did before, but I am worried. They put a dressing over a splint on it, so I think if I started bleeding it wouldn’t go through the bandages. In absence of evidence something got loose though, I’m not going to the ER. I hope they stitched me up good!

I get a burning sensation halfway up my calf when I extend my leg. Guess that’s about where the plate on my fibula is. My back hurts a bit, I think from the spinal, but I don’t have any external signs of damage there.

Post-Surgery Week 1 (Week 4)

March 4 Figured I’d restart the numbering, since in a way the three weeks I spent just getting swelling down and waiting for mix-ups to be straightened out didn’t really do much for my recovery…I think.

Speaking of mix-ups…even if you have insurance I bet the bills get a bit silly, especially with something on this scale. I had a WTF? moment when I called to ask for clarification on my bills. For whatever reason, the “hospital bill” is separate from the “doctor’s bill.” Seriously? Why? On top of that, I was told that each time I go to the doctor, I will get another bill with a separate account number, and then have to set up another payment plan for that account. Considering I’ve been going to either the clinic or the hospital once a week so far (and hopefully it’ll become less frequent now that I’ve had surgery), that’s an awful lot of accounts to keep straight. It seems like they’re trying to trip you up so you don’t make a payment on time and have your bill passed to a collection agency. The guy told me the accounts could be “packeted” together, but since he did say each one was separate I was confused and didn’t ask what he meant by “packeted.”

I need a hero…

The orthopedist told me that without surgery I’d develop arthritis within a year or two, but as the bills start coming in, and I see my mother getting upset at my brother for asking for $125 to fix the muffler on the family car…I can’t help but wonder if I should have just gone with the arthritis.

March 5 More adventures in WTF Land when it comes to medical billing. It seems my accounts have already been combined. Yet, the balance remains the same. So what was combined, I don’t know. Oy vey…

Anyway, I got a fiberglass cast today, along with permission to go back to class. That’s gonna be a bit tough, but I want to go back because some of my professors are saying I’ll probably end up having to drop their classes, and that’s unacceptable to me. I’d rather get C’s than have the semester be a total waste. The day of my accident was the last day to drop classes without professor approval, and about two weeks prior to that was the last day to drop classes and get a refund.

In two weeks I’ll have the sutures taken out, and then it’s two more weeks in a fiberglass cast. Whenever they take me out of the splint though, my leg feels like it’s not mine, like it’s a zombie part attached to me. Can’t wait for it to revive!

At the clinic I saw a woman walking really slowly, using crutches but walking with both feet. I thought to myself, I can’t wait to be her!

P-S Week 2 (Week 5)

March 11 This past Monday I went back to classes for the first time. I was worried about someone pushing me over or just tripping and falling somewhere, so one brother’s been escorting me in the morning and the other one picks me up in the afternoon. The very first day, my ankle was not at all amused by suddenly going from spending nearly all my time either in bed or in a chair to hopping around outside. I’m not putting weight on it, but I guess just the swinging around is what aggravates it. Even going to class though, I’m only up for maybe a grand total of 40 minutes the whole day, and not all at once. My toes are a teeny bit more swollen than they were the week after surgery, so when I get home I super elevate my foot.

March 14 Got the ambulance bill. So in Detroit, the cost of an ambulance ride is $425 plus $9 per mile. I assume there are additional fees if they have to do something to you. In my case they just wrapped my ankle in bandages, but it’s not like it was bleeding (externally anyway). If it weren’t so much a part of my nature not to be a burden to others, it might have occured to me to ask the people driving by for a ride to the hospital. I could have given my bike as payment. Then again, it would have had to be someone willing to not only take me to an ER, but to help lift me up, as everytime I tried I would collapse from the strange sensation in my broken ankle. Oh well. All’s well that ends not terribly effed up, right?

P-S Week 3 (Week 6)

March 19 The cast saw tickles!

Got the sutures taken out. In general I just felt little tugs, but some parts, especially on the outer (fibula) side kinda burned. There’s a big patch of crusty blood that I thought was sutures on the inside. It felt so good when the tech washed my right foot and lower leg! For six weeks the closest I’ve had there was alcohol wipe-downs. Nothing like good old soap and water. He put these things called Steri-Strips over where the sutures were, and told me not to try to pull them off, as I’d rip my skin off if I tried. Said they’ll fall off on their own eventually, so to just treat them like skin.

My two weeks in the comfy fiberglass splint are up, and now I’m in a boot. I guess this is what people call the Darth Vader boot. But to me, with all the straps and rivets, it looks more like something from Hot Topic. So I call it:

The Emo Goth Vader Boot!

The benefit of being in a boot over a cast is that you can take it off to wash your foot and shower somewhat normally (baths are discouraged so soon after having sutures removed). And you can take your foot out to do little non-weight bearing exercises like rotating your ankle–to the extent possible without pain–in preparation for physical therapy.

P-S Week 4 (Week 7)

March 26 As disturbing as seeing my ankle full of sutures and thinking about the screws and plate within, was seeing the sorry state of my lower leg today. I took the boot off to try to do some of the ankle exercises they’d given me at the clinic last week. Now, I had already noticed that my right thigh was a full inch smaller than the left one. I figured that the loss of muscle tone would be even more dramatic on my lower leg, since the thigh is still being used to at least hold the lower leg up, if not bear weight. But to see it! To so clearly see the bone under the skin, and the fat just hanging off of that…see:

My shrunken leg

My shrunken leg. (So I haven’t shaved in a while. I’d say that’s the least of my worries right now, wouldn’t you?)

Well, at least my ankle isn’t as mad at me when I go out to class as it was on the first week out the house. The swelling is down considerably, at least on my toes and foot. I didn’t have the guts to take the cotton wrap off and see the whole sad composition, even though I saw the sutures being taken out. (I didn’t watch the whole time, but I did watch some of it.)

Two days ago I met an older gentleman student who lost his foot in the service some 30 years ago. When he saw me approaching on my crutches he smiled kindly and asked what had happened. My fellow students have generally been nice and offered to help me if I need something, but it was a bit more ‘comforting’ to talk to someone who’d also experienced being unable to walk (he now walks with a prosthetic). It made me think that there need to be more disabled characters on TV shows. It seems like we mostly see disabled people on TV as “inspiration” stories, stuff that kinda says “this teenager who lost his legs is out there surfing, so what excuse do you ‘able-bodied’ people have for sitting around on your asses?!”

[Continued in Ankle Log, Phase II]


30 thoughts on “Broken Ankle Log

  1. Broke my fib/tib and ankle, hiking no less… almost 4 weeks ago. Its so nice to think that I am not the only one out there. I am on My Broken and there is just something to reading about the process and RECOVERY (and misery LOL) that others are going thru

    • Hello Aundrea, thanks for stopping by!

      Ack, that’s too bad. But yeah, at times like these, it’s comforting to know others have already gone through the same thing and managed to come out okay.

      Also, there’s not much else to do but be online all day when you can’t walk! >o<

    • Wow that’s a real bummer breaking your ankle while hiking.. and now you can’t hike for a while 😦 I guess it’s better then missing a step on the stairs though like I did LOL

  2. 3 days before my birthday i walked downstairs to ask my boyfriend what he wanted for lunch and i started walking out of his office to prepare it.keep in mind that i didnt bump my leg,twist,misstep or do anything else other than walk straight toward the door.suddenly i felt a pain in my right leg and limped a little then went crashing towards the floor w/ a mangled, bentup looking leg which had already swollen and bruised and obviously broken.i writhed around in exrucuating pain until the ambulance got there and set it as much as they could so they could put a splint on it.two days later i had surgery placing pins inside my bones w/ plates and screws.i was up every 3 hrs crying in pain and i have a high tolerance for pain.ive had broken bones before but this was unbelievably painful.they still cant tell me what caused the break and the orthopedic surgeon that worked on my leg said the bone was strong when he looked during surgery.its been 5wks and the pain is still really bad (to the point im screaming out in pain and balling,praying like nobodies business) yet not one of the doctors ive seen will give me anything for pain and there is no “meat” on top or the sides of my leg and loose skin where the sartorious muscle is supposed to foot has been swollen since it broke and the lower 1/2 of my foot is numb and my ankle looks broken (bearing hard to the outside instead of slightly inward like it should).i just cant get over how odd it was the way both my tibia and fibula just snapped like a spaghetti noodle (tibia lengthwise and fibula straight across both complete breaks).im wondering if anyone knows how long it takes for the pain to stop,if their ankle looked the same way,what i can do to speed up the healing process and make my bones stronger other than calcium and spending time in the sun which i do already and take calcium and vitamin D supplements and consume foods/drinks rich in these?

    • Dear Lord! That’s insane! I’m sorry you’re going through something like that, without even knowing why.

      I’m afraid I don’t have answers to your questions about pain, since that differs from person to person. While breaking my ankle was the most physically painful thing I’ve endured, it wasn’t excruciating. Only for the first two days after surgery was I taking as much Vicodin as allowed. As for when the pain ends…well, I’m not in pain right now, but I’m always, ALWAYS aware of my ankle. It feels different. Sometimes I will get a random shot of pain that lasts a few seconds, but that’s it. I hope your level of pain gets down to manageable levels, at least.

      As for healing your bones, again, I’m neither a doctor nor a nutritionist, but the dietary guidelines I was given in the ER said to eat lots of dark green leafy vegetables for natural calcium, and in general a healthy diet. If you’re not comfortable with the amount of information your doctors give you, even after you ask for more info, you could consider getting a second opinion.

      Have patience! Your body will heal. 🙂

  3. I just broke my ankle on april 19th. I fell down the stairs on my way to work, slipped on the rug. Ive had a rough time. Im in a splint but everytime i move my leg i feel like my bones are cracking and its painful. The hospital didnt put my bones in place or anything. Im worried that my bones will not heal right. I called orthopedic doctors office where the hospital told me to follow up at and they gave me an appointment for 2 weeks. I explained to them that im worried my bones are moving and they told me to follow up wit my primary care or go back to the hospital. I went to my primary care and he sent me right over to the orthopedic doctor and they wouldnt see me. So now im just really scared and hoping that tuesday when i go back they dont tell me my ankle is worst.

    • They didn’t set the bones? Hm, well, there are different kinds of ankle fractures. I have read that in the case of an ankle fracture that occurs below the…I’m sorry I don’t remember the name, but on the fibula below a particular tendon, in these cases doctors don’t do surgery at all, so maybe they also don’t need to set the bones either because the tendon holds it in place?

      If you’re in excruciating pain, something probably really is wrong, and if your doctors refuse to see you, I’d suggest going to the ER. However, even if you were given pain killers, you will feel some amount of pain, and that’s normal. So, sit tight unless your gut tells you that something is dangerously wrong.

      As for the sensations of bones moving, well…they probably do shift a little , but there’s a limit to how far they can go. I had to wait an extra week for surgery because my ankle was too swollen to operate on, and I remember, when I went in one week after the break, the doctor said that my ankle was getting deformed, even though they had set it in the ER. They re-set it again that day, and of course, one week after that I had surgery to secure the bones properly with hardware. If you end up having surgery, you don’t need to worry; even if your bones move around a bit before the procedure the doctor will put them where they need to be. If you don’t need surgery, then it must mean that you broke it in such a way that the bones can’t shift enough to mess you up permanently.

      I hope all goes well for you! You will walk again! ^_^b

  4. I had the same sort of incident as Michelle. I stood up from a sitting position and immediately fell without any unusual movement. My ankle is broken in 3 places. Just from standing up. Anyone else besides Michelle and I have a story about a no cause broken ankle?

    • I’m sorry to hear that Linda. I haven’t seen anything about that other than the previous comment. Maybe the bones broke in such a way that you didn’t feel it when it happened, and only days after the injury they suddenly shifted and became painful? I hope your doctor can shed some light on this strange injury!

  5. Great blog! I feel awkwardly yesterday And severely hurt BOTH ankles. I thought i broke them when i was on the floor in pain. But i managed to get up and walk albeit very very gingerly! Today i went to have xrays and get results tomorrow. I pray its not a break! My ankle bones are swollen and bruised. So sore! How are u managing paying back all that money?

    • Oh no! I’m sorry to hear that. I hope you don’t have fractures. Certainly not on both ankles! Oh man…

      It took me 2 and a half years, but I finished paying off my debts to the hospital and doctors. I was living on half my paycheck, but since I don’t have children or any other major expense it wasn’t bad at all. For most of that time I was even biking to work, and now I take the train so I still don’t have the expense of a car. I still haven’t paid my mother back for everything she paid for though.

  6. I broke my ankle in 2 places 29th december 2011! a little bit like the lady in the post before it gave way without warning! Its now been nearly 6 months and i am still having pain and still cant walk without the aid of a crutch! i sometimes wish i never agreed to have the surgery where i have 12 screws and 2 plates. Its not like i dont do the excercises the PT gave me i only had 6 sessions and been told there is nothing more that can be done! I get so fed up and as for pain relief i have tried everything, also what dont help is that people judge me! i should be over it now and walking properly now but i dont get very far without the crutch before it feels like my ankle is giving way and i fall over which happens a lot! Im going for a 6 month check and hope the doctor listens to me i want to be normal again!

    • Only 6 sessions of PT with that much hardware in?! Oh my god that’s crazy! I had only 7 screws and a plate and I was doing PT…what was it, 3 times a week for 2 months? Then 2 times a week for two more months…I don’t remember very well now off the top of my head but damn! Any chance you can go to a different therapist? I hope you can find better treatment, Geraldene!

  7. Hi thanks for reply scalesoflibra, I started my PT about a week and half after i had the cast off, 2 at my home then a further month down at our local doctors and that was no where near as much as you had! and it was once week not 3 times at first! When i go back at then end of this month i have a few things i want to ask and at the moment i am having trouble sleeping on the one side as i can feel the screws all down the one side! so no matter how many pillows i have my ankle resting on its really uncomfy! If the hospital say i need more PT i have to go back to the doctors and get refered back to the department! So this ankle is proving more trouble than its worth! Why didnt i go to the doctors when i first went over on my ankle and it was causing me a bit of pain!

  8. A little update, my ankle still tight and painful and so uncomfortable its unbelieveable! when i went for my 6 month first dr didnt listen to me told me pain was all in my head! so kicked up a fuss and they booked me in to see the specialist who actually did my operation. He said it was safe to have the hardware removed at 10 months and i am going back in september to see if the cracks that were still showing back at the end of june are healed then we will talk of the next stage if i want them removed! I have lots of peoples stories and fact that they feel better and get more movement back in their ankle and its lot easier than having it put it in! I am very nervous though as i have horrible dreams that i come round back in plaster again and something gone wrong! At least i now can see the end of the tunnel i just wish my pain would stop! at the moment i now use to pain its now part that will never go away! thanks for looking

    • Hello again, Geraldene,

      Well, I still have most of my hardware in, but I certainly felt better after having two of the screws removed, so it probably will help you too to get the screws out. As for something going wrong, that’s a possibility with everything, right? You may have to go easy on your foot for a few days; I got a different kind of special sandal after having some of the hardware removed, but I didn’t have to wear it for long.

      Good luck and stay strong!

      • Hi Rose, thanks for stopping by! I assume you’re asking because you’ve recently experienced a similar injury? If so, I’m sorry to hear that, but it does get better!

        It’s been 8 years since I broke my ankle and I sometimes still get pain in one of the breaks (fibula) if I don’t sleep well or before a storm. I’ve never had pain in the tibial fracture again though. I still have my hardware in; the surgeon who patched me up said as long as the hardware doesn’t cause pain it can stay in for life, but one of my old Japanese bosses had the same injury and the same surgery but he had his hardware removed entirely within a year and he said he felt good as new. He said that was standard procedure in Japan. If I could afford a third surgery to remove the rest of my screws and the plate I’d do it.

  9. I have now had comunication from the hospital and i am totally fed up! They will give me an appointment for a pre op but i may not be able to have the operation at my local hospital but somewhere where i can not travel to and they wont provide any transport! No one in my family drives and i wont be entitled to hospital transport as i will not be in plaster! I cant win! I am now getting use to the fact im stuck with the pain and i feel totally miserable! Im not the same person Im snappy with everyone and i still cant walk very far at all and my Dr wont help me any more.

    • Hello Geraldene,

      I’m so sorry I didn’t reply a year ago when you posted this. >_<

      I hope you were able to get better treatment somehow. I know how difficult it is not to have a car; in my family we all rely on one brother to drive us around if we need to go somewhere that isn't reachable via public transportation.

      If you're still having pain from the break, but can't get help from your doctor, all you can do is monitor your lifestyle very carefully and take note of things that aggravate or improve your condition. In my case, I've noticed that sleep deprivation consistently makes my ankle hurt, so I try to be more careful to ensure at least 6.5 hours of sleep. Anti-inflammatory foods like aloe vera drinks and pineapple might also help you.

      I hope things have improved for you!

  10. Hello I broke my ankle 19 days ago playing my fav sport ! I play 2nd base & a man that barely played ball and didn’t have cleats on slid into me with both feet propped up and fell on me…we all heard the loud pop ! was horrible..I’ve broken my collarbone before but I was is in Gr.6. It took 13 days before they did surgery on my ankle..I am unsure of what happened because when I came to apparently I was in soo much pain they doped me up with Morphine and the nurse mentioned they had to put something down my throat/something to do with the anesthetic ? scary….but anyways I am glad I came upon this blog..I only got 2 Tib/part of my joint was broken..I get my staples out on Monday yay but have to be in a cast for 6 weeks ! I am athletic and not being able to do anything in my home or work and especially with my kids (it’s summer :() I was down and out. They gave me morphine and T3’s/ I dislike taking any pills to boot. I was an emotional wreck..I was crying…angry…being upset with my family it wasn’t pleasant I realized these drugs are taking over my I stopped cold turkey and have been suffering….but would rather RICE it up then be itchy moody & not nice to be around 🙂 when you got your cast on did you have to elevate it for a bit more as well ? I too feel I’ve been lugging my body pillow with 2 other pillows in my car couch to bed etc. I can feel the screws on the inside does that pain go away ? I’ve lost so much muscle and other parts of my body is cracking it’s horrible ! but I have read other posts where people have tons of more screws..plates etc. It’s nice to hear that I am not alone..but I fear that I won’t be able to play sports ? volleyball…baseball…hockey…I will think positive but behind that their will always be a thought would of not 😦 anyways thanks for your Blog !

    Patricia- Coal Harbour BC Canada

    • Hi Patricia, thanks for stopping by and commenting. Sorry that I just now got around to your comment, but in late July I was drowning in preparations for leaving the job I had in Japan and moving back to the States.

      By this point I assume you’ve started physical therapy and should be on a way to a nice recovery.

      For me, four years after the break, the pain has gone away, but that’s not to say that I feel 100% normal. My once-broken ankle doesn’t hurt, it just doesn’t feel the same as the other one. However, if I’m sleep deprived, I do get pain in that leg. One time, about a year and a half after the break, I randomly woke up with pain so bad I actually couldn’t walk and had to miss work, but after laying in bed all day, and icing, the pain went away. That’s never happened again.

      As for not being able to do sports, I can’t say for sure of course, but I think if you do all your PT you should be able to get back to it. I wasn’t particularly athletic before the break, unless you count being very flexible and doing hard stretches regularly. But I was cycling about my hilly Japanese town less then a year after the break and just one month after a second surgery. Three years after the break I started running on a treadmill. At first I was averaging 3K in 35 minutes, but over the course of a year I became able to run 5K in the same time. Not necessarily an impressive stat in itself, but considering I had never run as a hobby I thought it was pretty good. So I think your chances of playing sports again are probably even better, so long as you do what the doctors and physical therapists advise.

      I hope you’re doing better now! ^_^

  11. I am so very sorry for the inconvenience caused by your situation in 2009…and the inconveniences shared by other posters with similar situations. I was struck by a car while riding a bike trying to make a left turn (I’m 56). I made a lifestyle change 10 years ago and embarked on a serious athletic program. Been working on my health for 10 years. When I was struck, I was emotionally “devastated” (Okay…too strong a word) but I feared that I would have to fight like a mad woman to restore my level of fitness. And I did. When I read your blog and posts, I consider myself VERY fortunate. At least, the tailbone is not a weight bearing bone so I was able to resume running sooner than folks with broken weight bearing bones. Actually, being upright was more comfortable than any sitting position. I am SO very sorry that you went through this (WHAT A SETBACK!)….. I haven’t read all the posts due to time restraints but I hope that your finances have recovered and you finances are secure. I would be an emotional wreck with financial concerns even without the unpleasantness of injuries. God bless you honey. thank you for sharing.

    • Hello Dolores, thanks for reading and commenting!

      Broken tailbone, huh? I’m glad the collision wasn’t worse! It’s dangerous out there for bicyclists and motorcyclists. Even if you could bear weight sooner than those with broken legs, I can imagine it was no picnic.

      As for me, I was fortunate enough to get a job in an affordable city after this accident, so I paid off my hospital bills in a little over 2 years. ^_^b

  12. Pingback: Running Rampant | Scales of Libra

  13. I just had the same break you had 4 days ago here in Germany and reading your experience of your first three weeks is sending shivers up my spine because of the treatment, or lack thereof, which you had and also not having insurance. Thank god there is Obamacare now! Within the first three hours of my break, the same one as yours but on the right foot, they had me on the operating table. Everyone has insurance here so at such a painful and traumatic time, I didn’t have to think about the financial stuff or have to even make a decision of whether arthritis is a cheaper option! After the operation, they wanted me to stay 4 days at the hospital. I can’t believe you went through that. I hope you are still doing well and thank you so much for documenting our experience.

    • Hello Sharon! Thanks for reading and commenting!

      I’m sorry you ended up with this injury, but yeah, if I had to choose where to break bones, it would definitely be in countries like Germany or Japan that have universal health care! I couldn’t believe how easy going to the doctor in Japan was when I lived there. Every tax-paying adult and the children thereof gets a blue card and they just show that at doctors, specialists, etc and get taken care of. It’s like magic compared to the system in the States.

      I’m skeptical about Obamacare because as long as there are different plans there will be discrimination at the doctor’s office; e.g. docs don’t give good service to people with the cheapest plans from the cheapest providers. That happened to me when I was little. My father lost his job so my family was on welfare for about a year, but the service we got with Medicaid was dreadful. And there’s so much fraud in the concept of insurance. My physical therapy bill included the “regular” price and the “discounted” price that I would pay since I didn’t have insurance. Can you believe that the regular price for a bag of ice was 42 dollars?! For regular ice in a regular plastic bag, nothing special. Forty-two dollars!

      I wish insurance companies had to subscribe to the same oath as doctors: do no harm.

  14. What a great blog! I broke my fib/tib and dislocated my ankle on September 6th. The ER docs set and splinted it and on Sept 25th I had surgery. I now have 2 plates and eight screws. Had the plaster cast removed last week and now have a boot. I have been NWB since the accident and my surgeon tells me that it will probably be another 8 weeks before I can begin to put any weight on it. It has been frustrating to not be able to do much for myself . . . I have my “command center” in the living room and try to have everything I need to minimize trips to other rooms. Pain was miserable after surgery, but is becoming more manageable every day. For me, the hardest part of this recovery process is keeping my morale up. I am used to working full time, being very active. Everything I do now requires enormous effort and I can easily sleep 10-12 hours. I tried going out for dinner a couple of times last week, and by the time I hopped from the car to the restaurant (using a walker), I just wanted to go home. Right now, it looks like I will not begin PT for 6 to 8 weeks, but like others, I am able to do range of motion exercises while elevating my leg. Best of luck to all who are dealing with this difficult recovery. It helps to know that I’m not alone and that it will get better!

  15. I broke my fibula and dislocated my ankle along with tearing some ligaments on March 10th while I was at work. I was carrying garbage out, and slipped on black ice. I heard it snap and when I raised my leg the foot was twisted. My first broken bone, and of course it’s the right one so I can’t drive now. I too, had surgery to convert me to metal woman with a plate and screws, and also a ‘button’ (no idea what they mean by that) in to keep the ankle properly aligned. I just went in yesterday and had my fiberglass cast removed, X-rays and a new cast put on with a walking shoe. I’m so scared to put my foot down hard, so I’m just adding a little weight. Hoping I get over that fear soon.
    Up until I broke my ankle, I was training to join the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Unfortunately that is on hold now, and I’m so scared that I won’t ever be back to myself to be able to stand the rigorous physical demands. Can you do things like before your break now? This is a great blog, thanks for creating it, even though the reason wasn’t so great. 🙂

    • Hi Wendi, thanks for stopping by and reading!

      Sorry to hear about the injury, but yes, there is hope! I was terrified the first time my physical therapist told me to put weight on my ankle, but if you go to therapy and do as the therapist says, you’ll get over the fear soon enough.

      I’m not sure what a “button” is either, especially if you only got one, not two. I found info on “tightrope fixation” which is different from the just plate & screws method. If you’re not squeamish, here’s a computer model of such a fixation:

      As for me, on days when I’ve gotten a full night’s sleep, I feel completely normal no matter what. I’m definitely more physically active now than I was before I broke my ankle, especially because NOT exercising actually makes my ankle stiffen up, which is really annoying. That said, I am sleep deprived more often than not, so if I’ve done things like walk around in high heels for a while or run 10K on less than 7 hours of sleep, my ankle does start hurting, and I’ll have a hard time going down stairs. Well, it has been 6 years now since I broke it. It took me 3 months of physical therapy to be able to walk mostly normal-like, a whole year to feel completely normal while walking and to be able to run a short distance with poor form, and about another year more to be able to run longer distances with good form. So yeah, depending on your situation (severity of the break and how fit you were before the break) you may be looking at having to put your dream on hold for a year or two. But you can still make it, and it’s good to have a goal like that in mind when you’re going through therapy!

      Best of luck to you!

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