Back in February, I posted this entry looking for people who have experienced an ankle fusion and want to share their experiences. So far, nine different people have written in with their stories and even updates on their progress. My motivation for writing the post was in part because it is so difficult to get a picture of life with an ankle fusion. Based on information I’ve been reading on the web, it can be so different from person to person. Some people are golfing while others struggle to walk. I wanted to better understand what factors play into these different outcomes. My other motivation was to provide some comfort to my partner, Mike, who just went through this surgery and is now recovering.
Mike had his fusion on July 11th. I won’t get into the details of the cause for this fusion except to say he had a very bad sports related injury 3 years ago which shattered his left ankle and broke his lower back. In the past year he had been experiencing a lot of pain during the course of his normal day. It finally got to a point where he couldn’t bear it and thus told his surgeon he’d like to explore the surgery. His surgeon agreed that this was the best way to alleviate the pain he was experiencing.
During the surgery, he had 4 screws inserted to lock the leg bone to his foot. As with other ankle fusions, this means that he has no mobility in his ankle joint going forward. A plate was also inserted into his ankle area as well. The surgery was short – a couple hours – although due to the late start and the looong time in the recovery room, it was about 12 hours after I left Mike that I saw him again. For the next 2 days, he was in pretty unbearable pain. It is sad to see someone waiting for the next dose of pain medication, clenching to the little button that rations it out over a set time window. After 2 days, he was switched to pain medication in pill form that helped him get over the pain hump. A day later, he came home with crutches, a bi-valve cast (removable with velcro straps), and some bandages.
Since he’s been home, he’s been resting quite a bit. His pain is manageable and he’s taking less and less medication. He’s able to get around ok on the crutches, and luckily the apartment is small enough and has no stairs except a few to get outside. His surgeon told him he would be able to put weight on it whenever he is ready, which we were surprised to hear given the amount of time many have waited to put weight. His surgeon also mentioned that he won’t be wanting to put weight on it for quite some time, as it will be very painful.
He’s doing really well right now given how he was after the surgery. It’s wonderful to share the stories on this blog as well as the tweets, ecards, notes, and kind words from people who know us or have gone through a similar experience.
I’ll periodically update on how Mike’s doing. I hope more people share their stories as well. Someone wrote in that they were hitting golf balls a couple months after the surgery. That made Mike feel pretty good 🙂