“I’m coming home, I’ve done my time…”

Posts on my blog have been pretty scarce for the past few months, but the osteonecrosis (ON) of my left talus was beginning to affect my outlook on life and it had affected the quality of my life for too long.

First, I visited a doctor whom I’d heard could treat my ON successfully. He stated that he felt an ankle fusion was the only option but if that didn’t successfully revascularize, he’d need to amputate. That wasn’t an option that I wanted to entertain. 

So, I consulted with another orthopedic surgeon. Actually, both ankles were equally diseased, but on the day I saw him, I had more pain in my left ankle. So, after our discussion in which he explained why he felt replacement was the best option, I had my only day as a model: With a ‘Star-Trek’ kind of camera, he clicked away at different camera angles while he was down on all fours! 

 He also video-recorded my gait with this same ‘Star Trek’ camera. My osteonecrosis was only getting worse and I chose the not so often chosen option of an INBONE™ ankle replacement. Knee, hip, and other joint replacements have become commonplace but the ankle is a difficult joint to replace because of all the directions it moves-and I’m sure there are more technicalities.

Surgery, never without risks, was routine’ (at least for me who slept all the way through it) and rehab after surgery encountered only one glitch in the form of an infection of the incisions. Knowing of the huge risk of infection in orthopedic surgery which can lead to osteomyelitis, they were quick to jump on the infection; with an oral antibiotic for 10 days. 

After a 5 day hospital stay, I went to a rehabiltation facility for 6 weeks to exercise and to protect my ankle from EVERYTHING. This intense physical therapy 2 times a day was to strengthen my upper body, core and unaffected lower extremity so I could more easily compensate for the affected right upper extremity.  I looked like ‘Popeye the sailor man’ with all my muscles-but I lost 20 pounds!

At 6 weeks in rehabilitation CT and X-rays showed the surgeon enough for him to make the determination that I could now take 3-4 transfer steps  I.e. from the bed to the wheelchair or from the wheelchair to the commode. But I couldn’t advance beyond 3-4 steps during that 6 weeks period. Once I’d reached that goal, I was not able  to progress (other than more strengthening). Was that boring or what?

At 12 weeks in rehabilitation, I had another CT and x-rays and the surgeon made the determination that I could begin to take steps on the operative foot and a week later, I would be able to go home. In a week, we began the return journey to Colorado. I sat in the front seat, got a terrible case of dependent edema, but it was worth it; my husband and I had not seen each other for 3 months and we had a lot of catching up to do! Skype and Facetime can only sustain a relationship so long. 

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