So, I broke my ankle. Since I have found next to nothing about what to expect with regards to the recovery process online, I’ve decided to post my own experiences, so someone else can find them and see what this recovery period looked like, for me.
I broke my ankle on Sunday, January 8, 2017 somewhere around 2:30am, and I had surgery to fix my ankle around 9:00am. I don’t remember a whole lot, except that I was in a lot of pain by the time I went into the operating room. And I was scared. Scared of the unknown, scared of the known, but trying to focus only on the things that were right in front of me. Keeping a smile on my face and jokes in my mouth helps me cope. I stayed in the hospital all day Sunday. I was on an oral pain killer with morphine on demand if I needed it. I had a catheter and I wasn’t allowed out of bed (not that I wanted to). My pain wasn’t well managed until they switched me over to Percocet (Acetaminophen and oxycodone). I still had a few flare-ups of intense pain and requested additional morphine doses in my IV. These took the edge off. The problem I had was that the narcotics gave me sleep apnea, so I ended up needing oxygen while I slept. I would fall asleep in the middle of a sentence or even while chewing. It was very disconcerting.
Monday, the doctor came in to check on me and lowered my dosage of the Percocet which helped a lot. I was feeling good by Monday afternoon, largely because my mom and an occupational therapist helped me to shower. I changed back into real clothes and out of the hospital gown and they removed the catheter. Getting to the bathroom with the walker was a struggle, but I still had an IV, so I was having to go regularly. This built my strength up and my confidence in getting around. We began discussing how I was going to get around at home and we settled on a wheelchair. Thankfully, the insurance covered it, and we decided to borrow a walker on our own since they were cheaper. I am pretty sure that my weight (240 lbs) played a part in this decision behind the scenes, but I never heard about that. I wanted the wheelchair for the main reason of caring for my seven week old baby. No matter how adept I got in a walker, I still wouldn’t be able to move with a baby. So, I practiced with the chair, and since I’ve got a few small steps leading up to my house, I practiced going up and down steps with a walker.
Tuesday, I had the IV removed and I was home around lunchtime. Tuesday was spent adjusting to my new world. My toilet seat was unreachable by chair, so I needed a walker for the bathroom. Even with the walker, the toilet seat was too low for me to hoist myself off of, so my mom had to run to Walgreens and buy a toilet seat riser which did the trick. My couch was my new bed and I had my foot propped up on pillows. My foot hurt intensely every time I lowered it, even a little. So, aside from trips to the bathroom, I was confined to the couch and happy to stay there.
Wednesday, I was feeling very helpless and still very much in pain. But I was in good spirits, so that helped a little. The biggest thing that happened was that night. My husband had to work the following day, so he grabbed the baby’s bassinet, secured it to a folding table, and arranged all the bottles, water, diapers, wipes, and changing table I would need and I took Hannah for the night. This brought me to tears. All day, I had watched my family operate around me and I was dreading the coming months, having to watch my family but not be able to participate. I was thrilled to find that, with my wheelchair, I was able to care for my baby through the night. I was still on my pain medicine, so I needed to wake up and take it anyway. Plus, I don’t have much in a way of a bladder (hello, five kids!) so I’m up numerous times a night anyway. This was my first game changer moment. I was tired, but I was useful.
Thursday, I had my first visit (of four) with my in-home physical therapist. Before that, however, I had (rather foolishly) gone along with my mom to pick up my kids from school that day. I don’t remember why I made that decision, but my leg hurt so much by the time I was done that I didn’t want to get back in the car ever again. Having my leg propped up was absolutely essential to my comfort. It didn’t help that I had forgotten my Percocet at home, so ended up being an hour late with my dose. My PT went well; we mostly just talked about what to expect. She encouraged me to get up as much as I could, to sit up straight rather than recline, and to expect some mood swings. She also reminded me that I should be moving my bowels and if I didn’t by the following day, I should take a laxative. I took care of Hannah again that night and haven’t looked back since.
Friday, I had a friend over in the morning to help out since my mom and husband were both working. Around lunch, my sisters brought over Rally’s and I ate like I was starving. As soon as I finished the last bite of my burger, though, I felt seriously ill. Eventually, I was able to move my bowels, which helped. Barely. I was still very shaky and didn’t eat dinner that night.
Saturday was a strange day. I wasn’t feeling well and so didn’t eat anything. I took the laxative which gave me diarrhea. I slept most of the day. I felt hungry, but I was so nauseous that I couldn’t eat. I didn’t even munch on anything. It was like morning sickness all over again. Miserable.
Sunday I was feeling better. I had been “bathing” myself with the hospital-provided wet wipes and my mom had rigged up a way to wash my hair in the kitchen sink. It wasn’t comfortable, but it was great to be clean. I cut a few inches off my new leggings and I was able to get them over my soft, temporary cast. Going to church was difficult. I learned that not all handicapped bathrooms are easy to use, especially when you need to have your leg stretched out in front of you. I also learned that there are a lot of people who are willing to help, if you just let them. It is harder than I expected to allow people to help me. I was able to eat a good lunch, but once I got home, I stopped eating again.
All in all, this week has had massive ups and seriously massive downs. It feels like my recovery is stretching on into forever and that this is permanent. I’m reminding myself that this is a lie, but from where I sit, propped up on my couch because my bedroom and bathroom are on the second floor and I can’t go upstairs, it feels like forever.
What happened next? Week 2