Like Jane, I fell skiing on December 27th and sustained a TPF (Schatzker VI) and a broken wrist (both on my left side). Due to swelling, I was in an external fixator for 12 days. I had 2 plates, 15 screws placed in my left leg and a plate in my left wrist. I was told non-weight bearing for at least 12 weeks post-op. I was devastated as I am 65 and was very fit, working out with cardio and strength building exercises everyday before my accident. After 3 weeks in the hospital, I had lost 15 lbs. But, I pulled myself out of the darkness and focused on moving forward with my recovery as best I could.
One-week post-op I was discharged into the hospital’s acute rehab facility. This was probably the best thing that could have happened to me. I had 3 hours a day of rehab split between physical and occupational therapy. With only a right arm and right leg useable, I was confined mostly to a wheelchair but also learned to use a platform walker. I worked hard and did everything I was asked including exercises outside of supervised rehab. Six days later, I was discharged – a week earlier than their most optimistic plan – with a discipline focused on physical therapy.
Upon returning home, I immediately went into outpatient PT twice a week. Outside of my PT, I did 12 exercise routines twice a day. Six weeks post-op my doctors told me 5 more weeks in my wrist brace (disappointing) BUT to begin partial weight bearing on my leg and to work towards full weight bearing with my therapist by week 12! I was ecstatic and moved out of the wheelchair into my platform walker.
Today, I am 9 weeks post-op and I am using my platform walker exclusively (no crutches because of my wrist). Yesterday, my therapist tried to have me use one crutch but couldn’t get the crutch adjusted so she had me try a cane. I successfully managed to walk around the facility with barely a limp. She hopes to have me begin using a cane outside of rehab in the next week or so. So, by 11 weeks post-op I should be walking with just a cane.
I still have swelling around my knee and stiffness in the morning. My biggest complaint, like many I have read about, is the pain in my foot. The two months of non-weight bearing atrophies the muscles in the foot and it’s taking a long time to reactivate them. I am doing a stationary bike 30 minutes a day and “drawing” the alphabet with my foot. It still pains me and it is the biggest contributor to walking with a limp. The pain is slowly dissipating but I am still limited by how much time I spend on my feet. I suspect endurance on the feet will take time but I’ll continue pushing with my exercises and bike work to keep the healing process going.
I attribute my speedy recovery to my outstanding surgeon (perfect alignment), remaining optimistic, immediate inpatient rehab & physical therapy and the twice-a-day exercise routines outside of PT. I feel I am one of the fortunate ones that had all things come together in my favor. By the way, I am also a liver transplant recipient (15 years ago) and had thought those difficult days were behind me – but this accident yanked my chain, humbled me and brought a life-changing experience that I learned much from.