Pain and Progress: My New Life Story, Apparently

I started physical therapy last week, and my second appointment—on Thursday—was so brutal that I ended up having to duck out of work early Friday afternoon because of the pain. (And as someone who already works from home, I only take sick time when I absolutely cannot focus on my job.) I spent the entire weekend on the couch babying my ankle, feeling sorry for myself and wondering if I’d ever recover.

Last night I told my therapist to take it easy on me, and explained my reaction to the last session. We backed off the weight-bearing exercises and focused on stretching and range-of-motion stuff, as well as strengthening my core and glutes (apparently if you do nothing but sit on the couch for two months, your ass gets weak).

But she also put some tape on my ankle—the kind that has a pre-tape and then the actual tape goes on top of it—along the foot, right underneath where the separated bone fragment is still hanging out.

I’m not even kidding, as soon as she put it on my ankle felt stronger. The pain I usually felt when standing up went down a bit, too. How could a piece of tape could make my ankle feel stronger than an actual stabilizing brace? I am still not sure what kind of sorcery this stuff is, but I hope it stays on until I can get to my next appointment and figure out the trick.

I iced my ankle when I got home, as recommended, and then realized I could walk fairly easily around the house with no brace. The tape really does stabilize my ankle. I have no idea if it’s all in my head, but I don’t care. I still can’t twist my ankle or bend down, and I walk with a limp since I can’t bend my ankle in normal walking fashion yet—but a limp without crutches is a definite improvement.

On Friday morning I was convinced I’d never recover, and now I’m starting to feel like there’s a chance I’ll fully recover in time for all of the fun spring/summer activities I’ve got planned. (Cross your fingers and toes, y’all, because I really need to get out of the house again.)

The light at the end of the tunnel

I had my 8-week follow-up at the ortho doc last week, and unfortunately I’m not entirely healed yet. He said he could see the bone fragments were “trying to heal back” with the rest of the bone, but there was still one chunk that wasn’t cooperating. It’s likely why I’m still having a decent amount of pain, especially when touching that specific spot.

The doc (well, PA) said that it’s likely the bone chunk will stay put, but should smooth out and hopefully not cause pain forever. Or it might cause pain forever. It might just be when something presses on that spot (you know, like a SHOE). We’ll just have to wait and see how much trouble it’s going to cause me. :/

In better news, I was told to start transitioning out of my boot into a brace around the house, with the intention to start physical therapy and transition from the brace to nothing. Armed with the info that it’s not likely I’ll injure the ankle any further at this point by trying to walk on it (carefully, though, as it’s still weak and could buckle), I started using the brace around the house. I quickly discovered that I could walk easily with the brace and one crutch, and after a couple days of doing that I’m able to sort of limp around with the brace and no crutch. I was even able to walk to the mailbox with the brace! I had to use a crutch to help me, though. I’m still not good at stairs or uneven terrain, and I’m trying to take it slowly. It’s hard to tell if the tendons are still injured or if everything is just tight because of lack of use, but I definitely don’t want to push too hard.

I start physical therapy tonight, which I’m excited about. I’ve always had relatively weak ankles that have plagued me while hiking (basically I’m slow af going over rocks or other uneven spots because my ankles would roll easily), so I’m hoping that in addition to rehabbing this ankle I can learn how to strengthen them both so I can get back out into the woods without having to worry about injuring myself again. (Because apparently now that I’ve broken and sprained my ankle it’s more likely it will happen again. Yay.)

After two months of what felt like little to no progress, it seems like a lot of improvement has happened in just the past two or three days. I’m not sure if that’s normal, but I’ll take it.