It has now been eight weeks since I broke my ankle whilst on my way home from the shops. And two weeks since I entered Phase II of the healing process. And that means I only have four weeks to go until I’m allowed to try running again. (Yay!!)
For the past two weeks, I have been working to slowly strengthen my ankle. I have also been working to rebuild the muscle in my calf, which suffered from a bit of atrophy from the initial six weeks of wearing the walking boot full time. It has been a slow process, but I am confident that I am improving.
Phase II has also been a frustrating process. Mostly because I am feeling stronger, so I want to walk more; I want to push myself to go further and faster. But I am still healing and I have to try to remind myself of that fact.
Importantly, Phase II means I can walk without the walking boot, at least part of the time. I expect that by my Week Ten update I will have stopped using the boot altogether. (Fingers crossed!)
Starting today, I will also be using a walking stick at times when I’m not wearing the boot. Its use will be more awareness-based than anything else, signalling to others that I am moving slowly and with a slight level of physical imbalance. This will really come in handy when I’m at my conference in Croatia this week!
As for the rest of my healing and recovery, I can honestly say that it is an ongoing process!
Sleeping and washing
A lot has changed in the past two weeks. In my Week Six update, I shared that sleeping in certain positions was still difficult and that I was still struggling a bit with showering. But I am now able to sleep without (ankle-related) issues and I have even managed to stand for my showers now. However, I am still a bit unstable on my feet so I have my shower seat ready just in case I need to sit down.
I am no longer wearing the boot when I am at home. When I’m walking around the house, I am incorporating various strengthening exercises into my daily routine. For example, I do calf-raises whilst brushing my teeth and I walk on my tippy-toes whilst my coffee brews. I am also able to do modified push-ups and planks now and sit-ups and ab crunches are easier to manage, too.
When I’ve been running errands in town, I am still wearing the boot because it’s too far to walk unaided. However, I can walk a lot faster with it on now. That means that errands are getting faster, but things still take longer because I am not moving at full speed.
Balancing rest and life/work
This is a hard one! Because I feel stronger, I want to do more. And I’m finding that I am actually doing too much because of that increased strength. And then, I feel the pain and exhaustion because of my stubbornness. (It’s an evil little cycle.)
In Week Seven, I wore my walking boot at the office. I would take my leg out of the boot a couple of times each day for stretching but wore the boot for walking. Halfway through this past week (Week Eight) I travelled to and from the office in the boot but changed into regular shoes once I arrived. It was great to walk around the office without the boot, but I probably got the balance wrong and should have worn the boot a bit more, or elevated my leg a bit more. Or both. Yes, probably both!
I think that the balancing thing is going to be a challenge for quite a while. I am just too stubborn to sit still!
Pain, swelling, and bruising
I am no longer feeling the pain of the broken bone, which is great! Instead, the pain I’m feeling is related to the joints, tendons, muscles, and swelling! Doing my stretching and strengthening exercises (and walking, to an extent) hurts. But it’s a managed hurt and I can make the pain stop as soon as I stop stretching, exercising, or walking. That said, it’s a pain that I will have to continue to put myself through, as it is all part of the healing process.
The challenge here is to push myself enough to increase my strength, flexibility, and range of motion, but not so much to cause further damage. So “good pain” versus “bad pain”. Whatever that means!
There are two forms of swelling now: the healing swelling that might last a year or more, and the lack of proper rest and elevation swelling that comes and goes. I can’t really control the first one as it’s just a part of the body’s process of rebuilding the bone. However, I can control the second one by resting and elevating my leg more often. This is a difficult thing for me, but I am trying to remember that I am still broken.
As for the bruising, it’s pretty much gone. I can still see the faintest evidence of the bruising, but it’s definitely not as noticeable anymore.
I have another four weeks in Phase II, by which time I will be completely done using the walking boot. My hope, however, is that I can be out of the boot in the next two weeks.
I am travelling to Croatia this morning for an academic conference, where I am presenting a paper. Whilst there, I will likely wear the walking boot for much of the conference. There will be so much walking and standing that I don’t want to risk overdoing it.
The following week, I will have three days in the office before I head off for two weeks of house sitting. I will try to spend an entire day without the boot, travelling to and from the office in regular shoes. And with luck, I won’t need the boot at all by the end of that week. I intend to do my bi-weekly updates through Week Twelve though, so stay tuned to find out if I managed this feat of feet!
To read more about my progress, follow the links below:
I am broken
Two weeks broken
Four weeks broken
Six weeks broken
Broken ankle, Phase II: Learning to walk again
Eight weeks broken
Ten weeks broken
Twelve weeks broken
Broken ankle, Phase III: Getting back to normal