Wow! I cannot believe that it has been ten weeks since I broke my ankle. It seems like only yesterday, but at the same time, it feels like my fateful fall was a lifetime ago. Maybe that’s because it takes a very long time to walk anywhere these days!
But, Broken Ankle Phase II: “Learning to walk again” is nearly over, which is such a great thing! And I have improved quite a bit over the past two weeks. And I probably could have been a little bit further along if I hadn’t gone to a conference in Croatia for a week. However, the conference wasn’t a setback by any means, so I won’t complain. (Heck, even if it was a setback, how could I complain about a week of lovely weather in Croatia?!?)
So, how am I faring ten weeks in? Not bad, but I still have a long road ahead of me. My sleeping and washing routines are no longer hampered by my injury so I won’t bother including that section, as I have in previous updates. Instead, I will start by talking a bit about tapering out of the walking boot! Ready? Here goes!
Walking without the boot
During Phase II, I was meant to decrease my use of the walking boot until I could manage completely without it. This process of tapering is meant to last about 2-6 weeks. As I mentioned in my Week Eight update, I hoped to be done with the boot by this update, and I have succeeded!
In the first two weeks of tapering, I wore the boot to-and-from the office but didn’t wear it when I was at home. And there were even a couple of days at the office where I walked around without the boot. I spent the third tapering week at a conference in Croatia and decided that it would be better to wear the boot during the conference because of the uncertainty of when and if I’d be able to sit and rest my leg. I then walked without the boot when I was at the hotel, and managed to walk into town a couple of times for some sightseeing without the boot, too. (Slowly, but I did it!)
By the time I returned from Croatia, I decided to try to go completely bootless. This was the start of Week Four in the tapering zone and I felt confident enough to go without. It has been helped by the fact that I am housesitting right now. That means that I am in more control over when I will move about, and when I will rest and elevate.
You could probably argue that I could have (should have) used a different method or pattern for tapering out of the boot, but I feel quite confident that I have been sensible in my decisions. Plus that, walking without the boot means I can work on my gait a bit more, something that has been thrown off a bit from the awkwardness of walking without the full use of my ankle.
I’m getting a bit better at daily living and chores. I am faster now, especially without the walking boot, but I am not 100%. And there is a limit to how much I can do at any one time because my ankle gets sore after a while and my leg muscles are still a bit weak.
However, I am incorporating most of my exercises into my routine which is a time-saver. Well, mostly. Because I am trying to work on my gait, and on fully going through each step when I’m walking, it takes a bit longer to get from Point A to Point B. But this will save me in the long run, which is the important thing!
At this point, I haven’t found any chores to be impossible, but I have found that I have to take it easy with anything I do as my ankle is still weak.
Balancing rest and life/work
This one remains difficult! As I recover, I find myself forgetting that I still need to rest and elevate my ankle throughout the day. That means that I am on “go mode” until I realise that I am a bit swollen and sore, which means that it takes even more time to rest and let the swelling go down. If I were to just build in time to elevate my ankle, I would be much better!
I think that getting the balance right on this will be a matter of breaking up my daily tasks into things I can do with my ankle elevated and things I can’t. Then, I need to alternate those tasks a bit. Importantly, I will also need to remember to actually elevate my ankle when working on an elevation task! (Easier said than done!)
Happily, I can enjoy life. This means that last week’s visit to Croatia was manageable. And I even managed a nice wee walk in the woods today, although I restrained myself from continuing once the trail became unsafe and unstable (not something I would have ordinarily done!).
However, I am pleased to say that I am improving on finding a good balance. Not by leaps and bounds, but I am getting better. Slowly.
Pain and swelling
There is still pain. And there is still swelling. But both are decreasing dramatically.
The pain is a bit frustrating because it seems that no matter how much I work on my flexing and range of motion exercises, I am not winning the battle. Things are still tender and sore, and I am tired of that! For the most part, the soreness is very mild and expected. But every once in a while, I will move my ankle just right (or just wrong!) and I will feel more than just a mild bit of pain! At this point, I am not worried about it though. Instead, I think it’s just because I’ve moved my ankle in a way that my muscles and tendons weren’t expecting and it’s just their way of saying “take it easy, silly girl!”. If by the end of Phase II (two more weeks) I am still experiencing these pains, I will call the doctor to make sure everything is OK.
As for the swelling, it’s a bit random. The long-term swelling (which is expected to last about a year) is slightly frustrating because it means my shoes fit awkwardly, but at least I know that it’s there and it’s not going away anytime soon. The rest of the swelling comes and goes throughout the day, depending on how much walking I’ve done and how much resting and elevating I’ve done. But sometimes, it just seems to be more swollen than I think it should be. However, rest and elevation reduce the swelling so I’m not too worried about it.
With two weeks remaining in Phase II, I am just working on my rehabilitation exercises so that I can run again when Phase III begins. I will be house-sitting for the majority of this time, so will use the opportunity to rest and elevate a bit more, too. At this point, there isn’t really much more I can do, other than keep pushing through the exercises to strengthen my ankle and my leg.
The end of Phase II, and the start of Phase III, will happen in two weeks whilst I’m in Denmark for (another) academic conference. That’s when I will be allowed to attempt running again, but I am starting to feel a little nervous about doing that. I really want to run again, but I don’t want to push too hard, too soon.
With luck (and hard work, and a bit of restraint!) my next bi-weekly update will include a lot of positive progress for my healing. So please stay tuned!
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