So the upshot is that I've got a few more surgeries to look forward to. Mid-November I'll see the plastic surgeon who will "de-bulk" the freeflap (tissue transfer) on my ankle. I predicted this one...and it will be pretty straightforward and outpatient. In mid-December I will have the hardware taken out of my ankle....not that the hardware is giving me trouble....it's to prepare for additional surgeries. As of now, the foot-and-ankle specialist isn't able to know what is possible surgery-wise because of all the hardware on my tibia. What we do know is that that I have bone-on-bone grinding....post-traumatic arthritis, which will not automatically improve on its own. I've kind-of had a gut feeling this was the case, even though I tried to believe that the pain I've been experiencing is still from the healing process. Well, its more than that.
SO...after hardware removal I've got two weeks of casting (non-weight-bearing), 4-6 weeks of wearing a walking boot (no driving :( ), and three months of taking it really easy on the ankle. No eliptical, no running (couldn't do that anyway), no climbing or twisting...as the screw holes in my tibia need to fill in with bone-material to become strong enough again.
...initially, a few weeks ago when my trauma surgeon shared what he had seen on the x-ray and predicted what the ensuing procedures would look like, I was like..."Hey, do you have any idea what it has taken to get to where I am now physically?" I shared how I'd worked really hard after four months of bedrest and right-sided leg atrophy (I could not bear weight on that side, and the tissue taken from my right quad rendered it pathetically skinny as well. I had no butt either....seriously. My healing pelvic fracture and the necessity of keeping my right leg elevated through all of last year's surgeries precluded me from doing any form of exercise from my bed, other than gluteal squeezes.) I've finally gotten my butt back, along with a great deal of my strength.... and am back to doing the things I love...with pain, but doing them anyway.
Well, here's the deal. Once the hardware comes out, we are hoping that something arthroscopic can be done more conservatively (there's a chunk of bone on the back right-side of my tibia which couldn't be replaced...as you can see on the pic. This is the area that is painful, and the surgeon is hoping that maybe he can "clean out" the joint space to help with pain. We'll see after the hardware comes out...
Ultimately however, we are preparing for an Ankle Replacement surgery . Yes...they do these! The GOOD news is:
- I get to choose when I have it done (pain and life-events will dictate this.....Need to play it by ear.)
- My doc is NOT recommending a fusion. Ultimately, I am not an ideal candidate for a replacement surgery, but because fusion would essentially immobilize the joint completely, within seven years or so the adjacent joints would become arthritic....which would be more disabling. Fusion is kind of an "end of the road" surgery (so is replacement), but at least if I "treat the joint well" after replacement (in the words of my surgeon....which essentially means no running or high-impact activity), it will last longer. AND, with the anticipated advances in hardware technology, if I needed another replacement as I age, it would still be doable.
- With a replacement, I can still CLIMB. Hanging out on footholds will not compromise the joint, as constant impact (such as running or jumping) might.
- The purpose of the replacement will be to alleviate the pain I've been having. Walking pain-free will be nice.
- We get to have my folks stay with us again (wink, wink) to help out with the kids and stuff...My folks are always good for comic relief.
- My medical team is amazing (my new foot/ankle doc thinks climbing is cool!)
- I keep realizing that the worst part is OVER with....these are all just bumps in the road.
- I need to make this choice anyway... not fun.
- More surgery....blech. More hospital stay, more lovenox (blood thinner) shots....(which I hate!) to prevent clots. I did have a DVT in my popliteal just below the knee, so this part is critical, I know....still hate it.
- It is likely that I will need more than one replacement in my lifetime, since I am pretty young to have one of these. (But who knows? They told my dad that he'd get ten years from his knee replacement back-in-the-day, and he's still going strong at 11+ years.)
- I'll never be able to run, or jump. This means I probably shouldn't coach my kids' soccer teams unless I get a megaphone and hang out on the sidelines. (what I miss most about running though, is that I can't run to the car when it is pouring rain!) I probably shouldn't boulder either, as that would require landing on my feet.
- More Physical therapy, casting, restrictions, limitations. Having to rely on others to get around, etc. None of that is fun....again.
- NOT BEING ABLE to MOVE ON....that's probably the toughest part. Planning life around surgeries sucks.
Here's the exciting thing....Scott and I are going out to Red Rock Canyon toward the end of November, kind of as a celebratory endeavor for getting through the year....and YES, we're climbing. We're pretty psyched....Red Rocks is an awesome climbing mecca, and we plan to meet up w/ some friends there. It gives me / us something to work toward and look forward to, especially since I'll need to take it easy for several months again. This will be "round two" of gimping through the holidays.... luckily the holidays will be a good distraction.