Me and my new ankle - sixty seven days after surgery (S+67)

August has flown by, and I've just realised that I hadn't added anything new to my blog since  late July, so here goes.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I was allowed to go "weight-bearing" two weeks after the operation, and that has meant life was a lot easier than the first two weeks when I was flat on my back.

Also, as time has progressed during August I have found myself feeling much less weak than I was when I first started weight-bearing, and so I have been gradually increasing the distance I am covering during each day.

Just over three weeks ago, I was back at the RNOH for my second, six-week check.

I actually arrived a couple of hours before the scheduled time for my check-up, because I had agreed to record the voice-over to accompany the filming that I did of my time in the hospital for the surgery - see my previous blogs for details, and also see the latest (summer) TARVA newsletter for a picture of yours truly wearing both the camera I used for recording, and a great big beaming smile! I am assuming that at some stage the filming with the voice-over will be added to the TARVA website, so anyone who is preparing for similar surgery will be able to get a more detailed view, from my perspective, of the actual experience.

Once that was completed it was off for my second check-up, which - as anticipated - was lengthier and more involved than the first one.

First port of call was the plaster theatre to have my cast removed (and with fingers crossed that, after X-rays and a meeting with Mr. Goldberg, I wouldn't be returning there). That done,   and with my ankle not at that point supported, I was wheeled to the X-ray department. On my previous visit there, at pre-admission, I had had a bit of a wait, but this time it was straight in for a series of mainly weight-bearing X-rays, mainly to show the alignment of the whole of my lower leg, and also of course of how the implant was looking.

Back to the foot and ankle section, and I caught up again with Deirdre Brooking, and we were then able to get in quite quickly to see Mr. Goldberg. After looking through my X-rays and a discussion of my progress, I was delighted to be told that I would be moving into an "Aircast" boot - Google it if you want to see what it looks like, but it's essentially designed to secure and protect the ankle, but with the big advantage that, with the surgeon's agreement, it can be removed at night and (for example) when sitting watching television).

Another little-advertised but highly valued benefit of having a removable boot was the ability at long last to have a looong scratch at those itchy bits that had been inaccessible for six weeks!

A word of warning here - the first sight of my naked leg after six weeks in plaster was not a pretty one - the whole of my leg below the knee was shedding skin and looking decidedly unattractive - about the only bit that looked in good shape was the ankle itself!

So, with Deirdre Brooking's much appreciated assistance, it was then off to find the orthotist to have a boot fitted, and a brief explanation of how it worked, and then I was free to go, with a request to ensure I continued to wear the boot up until my three-month check-up, which is due in just about three weeks' time from the time of writing.

I have been fortunate to be able to access some (private) physiotherapy to supplement my first appointment with the RNOH physio three weeks from now, and we have been working on managing the expected swelling and starting to improve core and gluteal strength in preparation for starting to walk "properly" again, which I'm guessing will mainly happen after the three-month check-up, with Mr. Goldberg's blessing.

Before closing, there is one point I would like to make, which is that I have been personally surprised at the total absence of any pain or even the slightest ache around my operated ankle - I am sure that my walking ability, gait and range of motion are indeed going to improve over the coming months, but even now, because of the absence of the often significant discomfort I experienced before the operation, I would already view the procedure as having been totally worthwhile. I must record my thanks to Mr. Goldberg, his surgical team and all the other support staff for the very high standard of care they have given me, and for their skills which ensured my operation was successful.

It only remains for me to say once again how great the staff at RNOH were, an experience which appeared to be echoed by several of the other patients that I had a chance to chat with.

Knowing how busy I am going to be over the next few weeks, I suspect the next time I'm going to be posting to this blog will be straight after my three-month check at the beginning of October.

See you again then.


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