At lunch today I excitedly told a friend that I ran a quarter of a mile this morning. He looked at me kind of funny and said, "That's not very far." Well, maybe not for him, but it's the furthest I've run since the beginning of August when I found out I needed reconstructive ankle surgery and it felt pretty damn good!
It's been a while since I posted so I'll fill you in on how it has gone. I had surgery on September 8 and I spent the next 4 weeks on crutches and wasn't allowed to put any weight on my foot and I had to wear a bit boot on it so I couldn't move it. After 4 weeks they put me in a lighter brace that let me move my foot up and down, but not side to side and they allowed me to put partial weight on my foot.
When I started out it felt like the sole of my foot was a big sponge full of goo that squished out when I put it down. It was a weird sensation but didn't really hurt. It was more of a pins and needles type of sensation. I still had quite a bit of swelling in my ankle at first, but as I started walking, even with crutches, it helped pump some of the swelling out of my lower leg, ankle, and foot. I started out at 1/4 weight the fifth week, then 1/2 weight the sixth week. On that Thursday one of my crutches broke so I walked with just one crutch with about 3/4/ weight on the ankle.
I had been planning on running the Kansas City marathon on the 18th of October which was at the end of my sixth week post surgery. I took the crutch along, but I cheated some and walked some short distances without it. It was weird. The most painful part was my heal where the achilles tendon attaches and by the end of the weekend my left calf was really sore and stiff.
The next Tuesday I showed up at the physical therapist with no crutches. He was funny because he checked the calendar to make sure I wasn't jumping the gun. Apparently some patients have a problem with patience and get ahead of themselves.
Over the last two weeks progress has seemed glacially slow, yet somehow in only two weeks I'm walking without a limp and I'm putting more trust in my ankle. I'm actually more comfortable walking now than I was before the surgery so that is good. My range of motion is nearly back to normal. I still have swelling after exercise, but apparently that's okay for now.
The most painful part of my ankle ever since surgery has been the front of the ankle and my heel. Right after surgery I couldn't hardly point my toes down at all and until the last couple of days, that has been the most painful area. I had to be very careful going down stairs or ramps because of the pain, but over the last couple of days that pain has almost completely disappeared. I suspect that it was caused by the device they used to pry open the joint to drill the fracture out inside the joint.
When I got off the crutches I started going to the gym again. For the last two weeks I've been doing very light (30 pounds) leg presses for about 10 minutes to help with range of motion, riding a stationary bike for cardio, and doing light weight lifting. At the end of last week I tried about 10 minutes on the elliptical trainer. That felt okay so I started working up until I got to 20 minutes yesterday and 30 minutes today.
Last Friday I tentatively tried a very slow jog and felt pain immediately and stopped. Yesterday I tried jogging on my toes and that was okay. I gradually let my foot strike move back toward the heel until I was using a normal foot strike. After 1 minute at 4 mph I called it quits and called it a success. Today I went for two minutes a little faster and ran nearly a quarter of a mile. My foot and lower leg were fatigued even from that, but I didn't have any pain and only a little swelling afterwards. Considering that I've only been walking without crutches for 2 weeks I'm pretty excited by how good I feel.
Overall, everything is feeling very good and I'm finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. I'm really, really out of shape and my legs aren't ready for running, but I'll slowly work up to it and everything should be fine.
I have my last visit with the doctor tomorrow. About my only concern right now is the swelling and whether that indicates a problem or if it is just a symptom that the joint still doesn't have full range of motion. I'd also like to finish up with the PT because the cost adds up and we're not doing anything that I can't do on my own at home and in the gym. So, I'm going to suggest that the PT give me a list of exercises to do on my own with followup appointments only on an as-needed basis.