Posted on 42 Comments

Am I better yet? Almost.

I feel quite silent at the moment. I don’t have much to say. I think it’s because I am concentrating on my exercises. It has been very tiring. Recovering from a broken leg & ankle is a surprisingly long process. I have been asked a few times if my leg has healed yet. Well, yes it’s not broken anymore but it turns out there’s a bit more to it than that.

I have read that most people are able to normally walk again in three months, although the bones take quite a bit longer to fully heal.  I sort of assumed that once the cast was off, it would not be long before you could walk again. I was given a leaflet by my hospital called “Following a Broken Ankle” in place of actual physical therapy. In this leaflet it was claimed that “some people return to [their sport or activity] within a few days after the cast is removed”. I’d like to meet these miraculous people. It has been 4 weeks since I first started putting weight on my ankle and I am far from “back to normal”. 

My first experience of putting my foot on the ground was very odd. The muscles and tendons had seized up. I was like the rusted tin man. It felt like there were tight belts inside my foot stopping it move. It felt so weird that I initially thought that those were the plates in my foot. I have realized since that this a very daft notion as the plates and pins are in my leg not my foot. It was very uncomfortable putting weight on my leg and foot. My leg was weak as the muscles in my calf and upper leg were smaller and wasted. I had bought a set of resistance bands to exercise with and these were very effective at toning those skinny muscles.  I worked hard at my exercises and needed to sleep a lot.

Most of these exercises were found on the internet. Some more were kindly sent to me by a fellow artist, Nancy, who also broken her leg but gets to go to actual rehab. So here I am 4 weeks later, I can walk short distances but I struggle to climb more than a few stairs at a time.  I have made it down-stairs twice in the last week. I am currently practicing standing on one leg – the recovering leg. That was pretty scary to start with.  The tendons in my ankle are still tight and uncomfortable but my range of motion is improving. I have to concentrate hard when I am walking so that I don’t limp. My husband, Séamas, has helped with the exercises. He has watched how I walk to suggest improvements and encouragement. 

Perhaps in another 2 weeks, I will be more normal. Every day I make progress but it is slow progress. There has been no magical moment when nothing is stiff anymore and everything moves like the other foot. I suspect that day (if it exists) is still months away.

I am very grateful that I can finally stand on my own two feet again. I sometimes just stand up for just for fun, because I can. I am happy that I can carry something as I walk, as I no longer need a crutch. I feel that I will make it up those steep stairs to the attic studio soon, but not this week. Maybe next.

Free at Last
I made it down two flights of stairs to see the dogs!

42 thoughts on “Am I better yet? Almost.

  1. Oh this is taking so long. And presumably is further complicated by lockdown. Good luck with your ongoing recovery

    1. Thank you, Ceri. Yes. I would of had rehab and a second cast. I didn’t have any one to tell me how fast or slow I should go I have been pretty cautious but worked hard at the exercises in the hope that flexibility would lead to mobility. Nancy’s comments have been very helpful too.

  2. Those people who return to their sport or activity right away? Their sport is crocheting.

    1. lol! I thought they might be teenagers. Or it might be a typo.I am still amazed if they are walking in a few days!

  3. Maybe going to actual physical therapy sessions would have helped you. Rather than read about it on a leaflet, it would have been better that a trained therapist shows you how to walk again.

    1. Yes, indeed.I quite agree but therapy sessions have been cancelled because of covid-19! I have got quite frustrated at times.

  4. sorry it is taking so long, but baby steps ahead to your full recovery

    1. Thank you, Beth. Baby steps indeed!

  5. Bravo for what you have achieved so far. But no rehab! not a good place to be. Please don’t rush this. My friend broke her ankle very badly two years ago and it took a long time to get back to normal.

    People who have miraculous recoveries tend to be wealthy elite athletes with a full support team of doctors, physios and masseurs etc and a contract to get them back on their feet and out there ASAP.

    However once you can get out to get some rehab I would strongly recommend it. The time hasn’t passed for you to benefit from getting physiotherapy.

    I have had to do a load of physiotherapy for my two knee replacements. My physio said to me that improvement was an ongoing thing. People often thought that rehab had to occur within a fixed time-frame to be of any use. Yet many of us, me included, benefit from extended support – if you’ll pardon the pun. I also used a specialised trainer to give me a few sessions to establish an exercise program tailored to focus on strengthening weakened muscles in the course of my usual gym program.

    I will ask my friend of the broken ankle if she has any exercises for going down stairs. I suspect that the exercises that I did with my knee post surgery may not be advisable for ankles.

    I hope that being literally stuck inside hasn’t been too much of a downer for you. Sending you some virtual flowers.

    1. Thank you, Leonie. I think that recovering from a broken ankle (and leg) is a lot more complicated than a broken leg. I think this is part of the problem. I don’t really know how long this should take. I just have what it says in the leaflet. Everything I read online says “Your doctor will tell you…” and I haven’t seen a doctor since 1st April. It helps me that you say your friend took a long time to recover, not that I want to take a long time. Also that there’s not one “window” for rehab. I had worried that if I don’t get it fixed and develop a limp I will be stuck with it! Thank you for the virtual flowers. I may paint them!

      1. I’ll look forward to seeing the painting!😊 My friend had a very bad break with lots of metal work which is why recovery was long. Regarding stairs she said she just avoided them. The rule for knees is “Good leg to heaven, bad knee to hell” in other words lead with your good leg while going up stairs and lead with your injured leg, using hand rails or crutches going down stairs. Place you crutches first before placing your leg.

  6. Everyone has their own timeline with recovery. You know best what works for your body. So sorry to hear that the physical therapy was cancelled due to the pandemic. It certainly helped Sar when she was recovering from her bad fall last year. Hopefully the work that you are doing on your own will help with your recovery. BTW, your dogs are so cute! They must be a comfort to you as well as your husband. Take care – Neek

    1. Thank you, Neek. My dogs ARE very cute. Getting on a bit now.

  7. Hi Emma, so good to read that it is going well with your broken ankle. As I think you know I am still trying to cope with my broken ankle for about one year and a half now and still not able to climb and descent stairs, sometimes not even able to walk a pace about it.So please feel blessed, even if it is not going to heal as soon as you wanted. Enjoy your time for painting with watercolours, because you are doing it so good allready 🙂 And I do wonder if you have had the time to experience with the composition of that one painting I did suggest? Lots of love to you ( and your hubby) from me.

    1. Thank you, Cecile. I am so sorry that your ankle is still giving you difficulty with going up and down stairs (down is much worst, in my opinion). I decided to leave the composition of the painting. I did have one or two enquiries (although no sale) so I decided to leave it. Thank you for your encouraging comments about the watercolours, too because I get quite frustrated with them too. I want to run with them when I can just about walk! lol!

  8. It is frustrating and as noted by a previous comment getting the assistance of a physio would have helped but with Covid that was a no go. But you will get there in the end. 💖

    1. Thank Anne. I think the very tight achilles tendon is at the heart of the problem. It is stretching with the exercises but VERY slowly.

      1. Well don’t give up.It will come right eventually.

      2. Thank you, there is progress, it’s just bloomin slow!

  9. I know how to get you running like a gazelle Emma! I’ll bring over one of furry friends and it can chase you across the moors!

    1. I think I’d limp like a wounded wildebeest, at the moment. Still I’d like to meet furries (at a safe distance).

      1. I’ll send over one of my eagle friends over for a fly by.

  10. Emma, be patient! Especially with no access to physio therapy! Recovery will take longer without it. Professional therapy would give you confidence that you’re doing the right exercises. Right now you have to do without it. It’s hard, but mostly it takes time!
    I had back surgery and with intense therapy it took a good year to feel almost normal again! Keep on trying! You’ll be good again, better every day! Give your body time to heal!❤️Ursula

    1. Thank you so much Ursula. These are wise words. What I hear from people’s experience is that these things take a lot longer than you think they are going to. I work away at the exercises but ease off when the ankle feels swollen. I know from running that the recovery periods are as important as the running. Good food and plenty of sleep are important too.

  11. Emma, you will get there. I know you must be thankful for a partner who encourages and helps you, and to have sweet doggies to pat. What will be your first new oil painting? Do you think about that a lot?

    1. I am not sure. I have some commissions lined up but I am waiting on the canvases to arrive. I think I’d like to do a small painting of a Donegal cottage just to please myself to start off, just to limber up. The longer I am away from the oil paints the more I am convincing myself that I am a rubbish painter.

      1. Oh, now that is bad…. You are one of the few artists I follow and interact with online. I’ve seen some bad ones. You are good, very good! I love your style. I don’t personally know you, and I would not come back, if I thought you were rubbish.

      2. Why thank you, Pam!

  12. Dear Emma – that is a lovely picture of you – despite the circumstances. Given what you went through – your recovery is amazing. Don’t force it with the stairs – good toning exercise for the bottom!!! Shall we chat sometime? Vanessa x

    1. Hello, Nessa. That would be lovely. Are you free tomorrow (Tuesday) afternoon? I’ll call you on messenger.

  13. I hardly dare to tempt fate and say that I have never broken anything other than plates, Emma. Sounds to me like you’re doing a grand and determined job. How are the watercolours going? Don’t lose faith! I know you’ll get there 🤗💕

    1. Thank you Jo. The exercises are very tiring and I have been putting my energy into them rather than painting.

  14. How utterly frustrating. I am so sorry you are going through this and hope it is soon all behind you. (I love your adogable friends!)

  15. get hubby to make one of those motorized wheel chairs! …….4WD

  16. NO! RESIST the motorized chair!!! I think you are wonderful how you are sticking with the exercises. Like you I wasn’t given any therapy afterward and back then there wasn’t internet so I hobbled along for quite a long time. Quite by chance I came across Miranda Esmond-White…are you familiar with her? She works with people who are similarly injured and her foot and ankle exercises have made all the difference to my mobility. I think if you google her, or her Essentrics business, you’ll find her. She has a book out that really tells you what is going on with all the ligaments and tendons in there although it sounds like you have a good grasp of it already.

    Cheers to making it down to visit the dogs 🙂

    1. Why thank you! No, I haven’t come across Miranda Esmond-White.i dowonder about the muscles and tendons and why they feel they way they do. She sounds very interesting and I have ordered the “Painfree” book from Amazon – I could preview it & see it had ankle exercises. I am looking forward to it coming at the end of the week.

      1. Three Cheers for Amazon! I hope it does you as much good as it did me. Sorry I was so outspoken about the motorized chair~I was outraged that they would suggest it but it wasn’t my place.

  17. I feel for you. I’ve never broken anything, but I did have my shoulder repaired a couple of years ago. That was a long journey back, too. And every once in a while along the way I would be sure I had torn or injured something and spoiled all the surgeon’s work and my recovery chances. But that was just me being overly fearful. It took about a year to feel “normal” again, but I got there. You will too!

    1. Thank you, Alli. I had never broken any thing before 8th March this year either! You are probably right about it taking a year for full recovery. One doctor told my it would take 9-12 months before my ankle looked “normal” again. It’s like a mega fat ankle at the moment. I can walk OK but my recovering leg/ankle feels quite weakand going down stairs is a one step at a time effort.

  18. As a kid, I thought it might be ‘fun’ to have a broken leg. I’m over that. Have been so for years. Hope the healing goes well.

    1. Ha! Ha! Its not fun, believe me. However, it might be fun if you are a kid because I think you recover a faster and don’t need much physio. I feel like I am going to need it for months. Being able to run again seems like a very distant dream right now!

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