Thursday, August 10, 2006

One Week Down and 3 To Go

Yes, I said one week down. In the cast, I have 3 weeks to go. Then I should be out of it. WooHoo!! But, I saw Dr. Heier the other day and he indicated that he probably would put me into a removable cast instead of a boot. I was hoping to be completely out of a cast, but I will settle for a removable cast over the regular cast that I have on now. Still no walking for another 8 weeks, but at least I will be able to take a shower without a plastic bag over my leg.
I went back to work this week. So far I have not completed a whole work day, but I am hoping to suck it up and do 8 hour days starting next week. Tomorrow is a short day as we get out of work early on Fridays. My ankle and leg have been swelling quite a bit while at work. The swelling causes issues because it is painful. It feels very tight with a burning and tingling. It isn't unbearable, just difficult. Surgery was on July 20. I have been off of all pain meds for one week now and I feel pretty good. I was taking the pain medication for 2 weeks post surgery. My stomach was very upset from all the medications. One day I just chucked all the meds and decided I could do without it. Maybe not the smartest idea, but at least my stomach is trying to kill me now.
My foot spasms every now and then. This causes bad pains in my ankle. It takes a while for that to ease. My toes also spasm and that causes pain as well. I can wiggle my toes, but I do not have full range of motion. I cannot lift them and I cannot bend them completely. This is very painful and can cause my foot to spasm.
I have been trying to do some research on talus fractures. Most of what I could find was not good news. Things like blood supply loss to the bone, bone death (avascular necrosis), loss of up and down movements, weakness, arthritis, continued pain. There was some good news like, if the bone was not displaced then there is a good chance that the bone will not die and the blood supply will naturally renew itself. Considering it took 6 pins to fix, something tells me the bone was displaced. The information that I have also said that the whole bone may not die. There may be sporadic death and that some of the bone may still be viable. I am still hoping for the best though.
I am hanging in there. It could be worse. I could have died.
With that I leave you with a picture of the crash. I was the passenger.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Broken ankle, broken pelvis, broken sacrum, sigh

On July 14 I was in a car accident. A 4x4 GMC truck smashed into the passenger side of my Matrix. Unfortunately, I was the passenger. I have searched online for stories of other people's trials and adventures with a talus fracture and I have come up with very slim pickings. So, just in case there are other people out there searching for information on a person's adventures with a talus fracture and trying to heal from one, here is my story.
Yes, this was a mostly devoted to knitting blog, but I haven't been knitting too much lately due to some changes in living situations. Now that I have been stuck in bed, I haven't felt like knitting all that much. I find it uncomfortable to knit while laying down. Sitting is a also not very comfortable as I have a few pelvic fractures and sacrum (tail bone area) fractures on the right side. Ankle fracture is on the left side. So, needless to say, there is no comfortable position for me these days. I can lie on my back for a short while, turning on my right side is painful, turning on my left is difficult because of the cast. Lying on my stomach is comfortable for my back, but I can't seem to find a good position for the leg in a cast. So, 4 more weeks of this torture then I will be in a boot. Which, considering that I will have to be in the boot for 23 hours of the day, it probably will not be much better.
So, about the accident. We were driving home, turning left and did not see the truck in the oncoming lane. An "Oh, Shit" later and we were hit. I remember not being able to breath, thinking that I was going to die, then someone telling me that help was on the way. I must have passed out. Well, my ankle was hurting, my back was hurting and my chest was hurting. My husband, the driver, undid my seatbelt for me because I asked him to. He was trying to reassure me that we were going to be okay. Very scared, he asked me how I was every 5 minutes. After a while, I wasn't up to answering and was giving him a thumbs up. The paramedics or firefighters (really not sure which) cut the door off my car and got me out of the car. A trip to the ER revealed a talus fracture.
Me, not knowing much about a talus fracture thought all I needed was a cast and I would be back to work on Monday. The ER PA looked at me sadly and said "This is going to need surgery. You need to contact an orthopedic surgeon on Monday to get this taken care of ASAP." He gave me the name of an OS, Dr. Hayden, and informed me that Dr. Hayden would call me the next day, Saturday, to discuss the injury. I went home still with the hopes that this would be an easy fix. I worked in an orthopedic office for 5 years. I knew a great orthopedic who specialized in feet and ankles who surely would know the quickest and best way to handle this particular fracture.
Dr. Hayden phoned me on Saturday morning. He stated that
the talus, not a good thing to break. It has a very weak blood supply. In breaks of the talus, the blood supply is usually severed and non-renewing. There is, in fact, only a 10% chance that this blood supply would renew and the bone would heal to its previous glory. He offered to fix it for me, I thanked him for his help and told him that I knew a good surgeon who could help me out. He wished me well.
I hung up the phone and promptly burst into tears. It finally dawned on me that this fracture was not a simple wrap it in a cast and be on your way. So, I called a doctor I knew, Dr. Guess who is a back surgeon. He told me to relax, take my pain meds, get some rest and come into the office on Monday to see Dr. Heier. On Monday, Dr. Heier worked me in between surgeries. He was no more hopeful than Dr. Hayden. Dr. Heier told me the same thing, bad supply, bad bone to break, the bone will probably die and I will probably have arthritis in that ankle. But, we can definitely fix the break. Okay, Dr. Heier, thanks!
Surgery went well. It took 6 pins and a plate, but the bone fits into its rightful place in my ankle now. I am not quite sure how much of what is in there is actual bone, but there is something filling that space now and it isn't a bunch of bone spread about however it wanted. I was in a plaster splint for about 5 days then I was placed into a fiberglass cast for another week. I had the stitches removed this past Tuesday and I was placed into another fiberglass cast that I will be in for 4 weeks. A little window was cut into the top of my cast for my bone stimulator to fit into with the hopes that the bone will heal faster. The cast is torture, rubbing and pressuring spots that I find quite annoying. I can't walk and it feels like I will be in this predicament forever! It is hard to be optimistic when you know the chances. It is a waiting game now. Waiting to see if the bone heals, waiting to see if the blood supply renews, waiting to see if the bone is going to just die and calcify. Just waiting.
So, in short, if you are in the Dallas area and have a talus fracture seek out a surgeon who specializes in foot and ankle surgery for repair. Dr. Keith Heier in Carrollton is great. Talk to your surgeon at length. Get his best and worst case scenarios along with the percentages of a best scenario. Get it repaired as quickly as possible. Then hope for the best.
I will keep you posted as to how everything is healing. Email me or comment if you have a question or if you have been there and have some advice on how to cope.