When is your distraction surgery scheduled for? Although your fixator will not be hinged, it will still provide some benefit to your ankle in the long run. You will just have a little more physical therapy to get the range of motion back and the muscles to respond to movement again. You will be fine though.
As for me, it has been 3-1/2 months since my fixator was removed. I am doing much better. My pain was severe before I had my ankle corrected and I consider the surgery a big success. I knew it would be a challenge to get back to my old self once I committed to this type of surgery. I was told to expect about one full year before making a comparison to my pre-surgical pain and functionality of the ankle. Right now I am at the 7 month mark and I still have about 5 more months before I reach my 1 year anniversary of my distraction/osteotomy surgery.
I have had some minor setbacks during my physical therapy here and there but nothing has prevented me from working hard to get better everyday. As a matter of fact I had a setback today. I was cutting my lawn and as I was pushing the lawn mower, I stepped wrong with my good ankle on the right. This slight stumble caused me to trip and in an attempt to prevent myself from falling, I put all my weight on my left foot and strained some muscles which run down the outer part of my foot near my ankle. I have strained these muscles a few times during my recovery on occasion. Usually, I strain them when I misstep going up the stairs and my heel overhangs the stair tread and I (again) put my full weight on this foot. This ankle and foot is not strong enough yet to withstand my entire body weight on its own. I will eventually get this foot/ankle strong enough to one day support my weight.
I am very patient following my ankle surgery and I pray that I will one day return to normal. It will take hard work and exercise to get there and I am willing and able.
As for advice on sleeping - I am very comfortable sleeping on my back. My wife, on the other hand, prefers sleeping on her side and stomach (so I understand your dilemma). You must sleep on your back when you have an external fixator attached to your ankle. Sleeping in this position is the only way to keep your foot elevated on pillows as you sleep. You will have to get used to it. I still to this day sleep on my back in order to continue elevation and to allow my ankle to shrink over night after a long day of swelling. I have an advantage because my wife and I bought an adjustable bed about 7 years ago, so we can independently position either side of the bed to support raising the leg area to keep my ankle at a level higher than my heart. We are blessed to have this bed because it is similar to the one in the hospital. But lots of pillows can accomplish the same thing too. Snoring will be an issue when you sleep on your back but you will need to find a position to keep your head back to widen your airway. There are also dental appliances that can help position your jaw to reduce snoring. I am rooting for you for your upcoming surgery and sending supportive thoughts your way. Please keep me posted on your progress and take care.
Thanks for your update and support.
My operation is sceduled for september. End of juli was possible, but my job is too busy in summer because of vacation of my co workers. And I don't think it is a pleasure being in the frame while it is hot and sunny.
I think you are not doing bad being out of it such a short time. My dr tells me to start counting the months ( the year) after the frame.
The following user gives a hug of support to HildeW: djs1188 (05-07-2013)
The Following User Says Thank You to HildeW For This Useful Post: djs1188 (05-07-2013)
I know you have your surgery scheduled for next month. I am sending well wishes your way for a successful procedure. Good Luck.
I miss conversing with you ladies over the health message boards. Next month marks my one year anniversary from when I first was married to my external fixator. I am doing ten times better than prior to my procedure. After a lot of physical therapy and perseverance I conclude my operation was a total success. However, I will never be my younger self without any pain or swelling or cognizance of something different going on with my lower limb, but I am much better. I hope to get back to maybe 95% of my pre-problematic ankle joint and lower leg hey-day. My real milestone will be one year after the removal of the external fixator which is January 10, 2014. I hope to be the best I can be by then. My pain level is consistently less than 3 of 10 and many times I am pain-free. I overdo it sometimes by walking around all day shopping with my wife or cutting the grass after a long day on my feet. But overall, I am very satisfied with Dr. Fragomen's work and I have no complaints.
I got very discouraged when my progress slowed and then reversed. I was never pain free, and though for two and a half months I walked unaided after the removal, my foot turned more and more out to avoid the very same surface grinding pain that brought me to HSS and the cage in the first place. Another two months I could not walk without boot and cane - then MRI and surgery again. More than half the cartilage transplant had died, and even with PT I had produced massive amounts of scar tissue and bone spurs. The ankle was frozen.
So now I'm two weeks post arthroscopic clean out and MUA - I'm tied to a CPM (continuous passive motion or constant pain machine depending on who is describing it..) 6 to 8 hours a day and I'm told I've got maybe 5 years left in that ankle.
And my dog died.
I did manage to do some work this summer, and get to Amsterdam and Munich with the family...
So, thanks for checking in, DJS, And Hilde, hope you're hanging in there, September's right around the corner.
Last edited by moderator2; 08-21-2013 at 03:53 PM.
I understand now why you were not in the mood for a chat on this board. I thought it was because you were enjoying life, but this is very bad news.
What do you mean by ' 5 years left in that ankle.' Will you be needing the machine for so long? Is that to prevent the spurs and scartissue from growing back?
You must be feeling extra miserable missing your four legged friend. Did he put his head on your knees and look up at you like mine does?
Did your dr give you a good chance that your ankle will be alright after this? You have been through so much. You deserve a good and fast recovery.
OR for me might not be in september yet. I need some other medical issue solved first. End of august I will know more.
To bad you could not reach me this summer. I was near Munich to for a few days visiting friends. Talking about a small world. ..
Can I ask you a practical question? How did you make the sleeve over your frame?
Hpoing that from now on you will get better. I am crossing my fingers for you. If you don't mind I plan to step in the footsteps of DJS.
Wishing you well,
Last edited by moderator2; 08-21-2013 at 03:54 PM.
My operation is sceduled 17 oktober. Talking to my dr a few weekd ago I found out some more differences between the dutch and the american way.
Experience with knee distractions learned that 6 to 8 weeks distraction should be enough. It is followed with 6 weeks of non weight bearing. After that I start PT. But my dr says that must be done with caution, not to damage the new cartlage. so no aggressive therapy for me.
I will not have stamcels or icepicking or anything like that. But when they find a lose piece of cartilage they will try to repare it with a laser.
It is very different from the stories I read here, but I trust my dr, so I guess I will be alright.
Puppetlady: I hope you are doing better than one month ago.
Get well all of you,
I hope both of you are doing well. Hilde - I send you well wishes for your upcoming 17 October surgery. I believe ankle distraction treatment originated in your region of the world, so I am sure your doctors know what they are doing due to their proximity to the pioneers in this field of medical practice. I hope you get successful results as I did.
Puppet - I am so sorry that your original procedure did not get the results you were hoping for. I also wish you well as your doctor tries to treat you again until you are relieved from the pain you are experiencing.
Just a couple of weeks ago Dr. Fragomen (Hospital For Special Surgery) surgically repaired my right knee (arthroscopically). I waited a year until my left ankle was well enough to support me during my right knee healing process. Arthritis is a b**ch!! The older I get the more my joints reveal the toll they endured during my younger years. I am a 6'-4", 295-lb, 49-yr old man that played too many joint-taxing sports during my teens and adult years (basketball, tennis, jogging, sprint-triathlons, racquetball, golf, etc.). Although I conclude my arthrodiastasis was a success, I will never be 100% as good as I used to be 75 pounds and 10 years ago. However, I am DETERMINED to get my quality of life back to a level where I don't have unbearable pain in my ankle/knee, to lose weight, and to live an active lifestyle as I grow older. I joined Weightwatchers with my wife and I lost 25 pounds since my cage was removed from my ankle so I am progressing toward my goals. One day I hope to get back on the tennis court to play doubles. Next Spring I plan to resume playing golf. I have already begun swimming laps and riding my bike again.
So my message to both of you is DON'T GIVE UP!! Give your physical therapy 150% of your effort and be a good patient for your doctor so that you get back to a level of physical health that you are comfortable with.
The Following User Says Thank You to djs1188 For This Useful Post: HildeW (10-05-2013)
I am now 2,5 weeks post-op and doing well. The pain is very well under control right now but I still take rather a lot of painkillers, mostly to be able to put some weight on my foot when I walk with my crutches (I have some sort of sandal that can be attached to the frame) But I was able to stop with the opiates a week after the operation. I stayed in the hospital for 5days in which distraction was completed. Sleeping on my back is not as bad as I expected.
Today I got the date of the frame removal. In total I will wear it for 7weeks. I asked my dr about this and he told me that they experimented with shorter distraction time in order to cut down infections and found no difference in outcome with the initial 12 weeks they started 20 years ago. I am happy about it because, allthough I can handle this, I feel trapped and sometimes just sitting down in the house is a bit depressing.
Hope you two are ok. Especially Puppet: I hope that the treatment you are getting is giving you releive.
How are you doing now that your external fixator has been removed? Are you walking well? What level of pain do you have? Have you started physical therapy?
I recently celebrated my one year anniversary of having my external fixator removed. My ankle is not perfect but I can get around much better than I did prior to surgery and I believe once my weight is at a reduced level (50 pounds less), I will truly see the maximum benefits from my surgeries. I actively go up and down steps and walk around with very little effort. However, I do have days when I overdo it. At night after a long day, my ankle can get a little sore but by morning I normally have reduced pain levels and can be somewhat comfortable. I plan to play a little golf this year and by the end of the summer or early fall, I want to break out my tennis racquet to hit a few balls.
The ankle joint swelling has subsided a lot but my ankle still does not look like the nice skinny other one that did not undergo surgery. I notice that comfortable sneakers or shoes make a world of difference with pain and comfort level while walking. Also, sole inserts for your shoes help as well.
So nice to hear from you and to hear that you are doing so well. I hope I can say the same in a year.
Right now I sometimes have doubts. I am progressing every day, but it is going so slowly. My ankle is still very stiff, flexion just a little over 90 degrees. And walking is still painful. In the house I can walk, or rather limb without or with 1 crutch, but outside I still need two. PT tries to make my joint more flexible, but it is hard. My dr told me not to overdo it, because the growing cartilage ( I hope ) is very fragile. So when my therapist hurts me to much I tell him and he stops. I wasn't used to that. Finding the balance between burden the joint and caution seems to be the key
When did you start walking without aid? I wiil visit my dr in 10 days and I hope he will tel me all is normal. Maybe it is the ostheofyt again which is holding things back. It was taken away during the operation, but has grown back again already. The dr said it happens more often. The process that makes the cartilage grow, does the same with the bonespurs. I hope this doesn't mean another operation soon.
I am very happy that I started work again end of december. Getting there is an other problem. I take the bus , taxi or get a ride. Driving is still not possible, but today I tried getting on and off my bicycle and that went well. I just must not jump off for an emergency stop. So I should not whine. Things are progressing and I still think I am with the ones that get better from the procedure.