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21 Weeks

Today marks five months and one week since I broke my ankle and just about twenty weeks since I had surgery.  Last week, I finished week eleven of physical therapy.  It was a BIG week for me, but more on that later!

You might recall that the previous week, my physical therapist added a new exercise…the Star Excursion Balance Test.

Well, on Monday, he added another, new-for-me, mat exercise…

For this exercise, I had to balance on my bad foot…the right one, while reaching with my left hand to touch the cone on the furthest right.  Then, I had to stand up straight, bend over again, and reach with my left hand to touch the second cone on the right.  Next, I had to stand up straight, bend over, and reach down with my right hand to touch the middle left cone.  I had to repeat the process, with the right hand, and touch the last cone on the left.

Then, I got to do this nine more times.

Oh.

My.

Gosh.

First of all, I felt so awkward.  My PT is young and coordinated, so when he demonstrated, it looked easy.

Not so for me.

I am most definitely not young and 1,000% not coordinated (which is how I got into this whole mess to begin with).

This exercise was incredibly difficult.

It was also painful when I reached with my right hand across my body to touch those left cones.  The burden of balancing myself fell to the outside of my ankle, and that’s currently where I have the least amount of strength.  It’s also the side of my leg that houses the most hardware…the plate and nine pins.

I am always telling my therapists to push me, though…a promise they made me during my first visit.

But still…did I mention that it was HARD???

Another big thing was that I got to change the color of the band I use for my various flexion exercises.

Yep.  I went from blue to black.  The black band is much tighter and tougher to work with.  It only took me a couple of months, but hey, who’s counting (except for me)??  Progress is progress!

I didn’t have therapy on Tuesday, so I ran to Sam’s and Publix.  Although I had not been sore at school, by the time I hit Sam’s, my ankle was starting to hate life.  I got an associate to push my buggy to my car and load it with the heavy bag of dog food and cases of water I’d purchased.

Publix was a mini-nightmare for me.  My ankle was completely shot by then; the mere act of walking back and forth across the store was a form of torture.

I was able to get most of the groceries put away at home, but then I had to rest.  The Mr. kindly took us out to eat that night, because there was no way I was cooking.  Not only was my ankle sore, but it was pretty swollen.  I figured it was the effect of the new exercises.

In all honestly, I think it might have been the looming bad weather that we were getting.  The forecast was so bad that my district canceled school the next day.

I think I might have had enough energy to do the happy dance.  Just sayin’.

Because the weather wasn’t going to be coming in until the next afternoon, I went ahead and got up early Wednesday morning, called my PT’s office, and asked if I could go first thing rather than my normal time, which would be when the worst of the storms would be passing through.  They gave me the green light, and away I went.

That’s when I asked my therapists about my ankle pain.  We all agreed that it was probably a combination of the new exercises and the weather.

I did get to warm up on the treadmill that day…at a whopping speed of 2.0 mph.  Y’all better start training for your races, cause I’m coming for you!  Ha!

Wednesday was a repeat of Monday, and then I went on my merry way.

Thursday, though, was a BIG day for me.

After teaching my first two classes, I greeted my substitute.  She would be filling in for the rest of the day.  Then, I got on the road…a bit of a drive ahead of me.  At least the weather was gorgeous!

I listened to a podcast that Rebecca told me about…

My destination?

Well, first if was Shoe Station…

Ok, first let’s be clear.  This was NOT why I’d gotten a sub.  It just so happened that I had enough time before I needed to be where I was going to stop in.

Funny how things like that work out, eh?

I found a pair of sandals that I instantly fell in love with.  I waited to get them until after I was done with my original reason for my travel because I had to find a discount code (the cashier upgraded it from 15% to 20%).

Aren’t they just adorable?  Yes, they are Vionic.  I’d been missing “regular” looking sandals.  These fit the bill.

Ok…back to the point of this part of my post!

So, I went to Bigger City, USA, for more than shoe shopping.  I actually had a follow-up appointment with the surgeon who had fixed my ankle way back in November.  Yes, the actual surgeon…no PA this time.

I love this practice.  So much.  They are timely and professional.  They are, quite simply, exactly what you’d expect a doctor’s office to be…and then some.

I had to get an x-ray.  This didn’t surprise me because I’ve had to get one every time I’ve gone.  I took a picture of it when the nurse put it on the screen in my room…

See…I wasn’t lying about the hardware.

I was so happy when the doctor came in.  The last time I’d seen him, I was about to go under the knife, and he was drawing a smiley face on the big toe of my right foot.  I never saw him afterward since I was in recovery.

He seemed pleased with my progress and noted that everything was going according to the normal time table.

He checked the flexibility in my right foot, comparing it to my left.  I told him that the physical therapist had told me that I probably wouldn’t get back all of my range of motion because of the hardware.  He surprised me by telling me that the hardware would not impede me at all.

Wow.

What he told me to do was get even more aggressive with my physical therapy.  He showed me the exercise that I need to do more often…stretching my calf…the exercise I absolutely loathe because it hurts so much.

He also reminded me how important it is to continue therapy at home on the days I’m not in the PT’s office.

Honestly, I’d been slacking a bit in this area because I’d been allowing my ankle to rest on those days.  After being on my feet all day teaching, my ankle is usually shot.

I guess this is a classic example of “no pain, no gain.”  I am still a little confused, though.  My therapists keep telling me that I could regress if I push myself too hard.

Sigh.

I asked the doctor about possibly having some of the pins removed at a later date.  The ones that protrude the most on the inside and outside of my ankle bones hurt a lot when I rub something against them.  He told me to wait until my one year mark, and then we could revisit that.  He also told me that my brittle bones will not impact the removal of the pins.

Yay!  I am praying that scar tissue forms over the pins, thus acting as a cushion, so I won’t need to go through another surgery.  We’ll see.

I also asked about pain I’m having on the inside of my ankle around the scar.  He began to rub the scar quite hard and cross-ways and told me that this is what I needed to do…that there was scar tissue underneath that needed to be rubbed out.  Ouch!

One other question I asked was about the amount of bone pain I’m still having and how long I could expect to continue having it.  It’s not that it’s terrible.  It’s just always present at varying levels depending on the day.  He said to expect it to level off around the one-year mark.  That’s exactly what one of my physical therapists had told me.

He told me that unless I have any further issues with my ankle, he didn’t see the need for me to return.

That was another wonderful moment!  I’d been back and forth to this office a total of six times in the past five months.  I would have gone as long as I needed to, but not having to drive five hours every few weeks certainly was something to cheer about!

I drove home tired but happy.

And so I sit here at 21 weeks.  The things I couldn’t do last week are still an issue…no going down stairs without great discomfort…my knee bending is still an issue (I forgot to ask my surgeon about this)…etc.  So, a week didn’t necessarily make a difference.

But…I did go walking two days this weekend.

On Saturday, I walked the last two miles of my 10k and S.P.E.W. Hogwarts Running Club race.

I also started on the next race’s distance, a ten miler, by walking 2.5 miles today.

Yes, there was pain both days, but there was also progress.  I increased my pace both days!

I also did a Piyo workout each day this weekend.  The lower body was tough when it came to doing Warrior 3 on my right leg.  I couldn’t do it without holding onto a chair.

As always, I cannot keep my mind parked on the things I cannot do.  Instead, I try to focus more on what I can do.  My doctor commented, after asking me how I was doing, that I was much better than a month ago.

That was definitely an understatement!

I am still so amazed every time I walk across the house barefoot.  I remember when I couldn’t do that…when it hurt to put weight on my foot…when my heel hurt so badly that I cried…when my foot got so swollen that I could hardly distinguish one toe from another.

I am still so grateful for God’s healing touch and for the love and prayers of family, friends, and complete strangers.

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