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Old 12-03-2012, 06:15 PM   #1
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Ankle Reconstruction Surgery

I am going in for ankle reconstruction on Friday and I'm really getting nervous about it. I've had 3 ACL reconstructions done on my knees so this isn't my first surgery. This time though I'm going to be on crutches for 6 weeks. I think part of my anxiety is not being able to do the things I take for granted doing everyday myself. Thankfully it is only 6 weeks though.

Has anybody had that kind of surgery done? What was your experience like and can you offer any words of advice to a nervous patient?

BTW, I do plan on watching lots of Disney movies while I recover. Lol
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Old 12-03-2012, 06:33 PM   #2
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I had ankle reconstruction surgery in Feburary. I had 2 different bones broken, a bone graft done, and 4 large screws put in. Totally looks cool and nasty at the same time when looking at the x-ray.

The first thing I would recommend is a shower seat as you shouldn't be weight bearing at all the first few weeks.

The surgeon told my husband to keep me knocked out the first 3 days and then gradually reduce the pain meds. He was not kidding as it wasn't my ankle that hurt but where the doctor broke my leg bone to fuse things together.

Are you doing the ice machine packing thingy? If not, I kept my leg elevated with pillows under my knee as well as my calf and every 2 hours would put an ice pack(frozen corn) under my knee for probably the first week or so.

I was freaked out about keeping the same dressing on for the first 7 days but was told that wasn't a problem because of the anti-bacteria whatever that is rubbed on the ankle before wrapped up. Keep an eye on the swelling in your toes. I had big time swelling the first 3-5 days and then gradually went back down to normal.

The surgery itself wasn't too bad. I was in the surgery center about 5 hours total I think and I had a big time nerve blocker behind my knee that lasted about 12 hours or a little more.

All in all I was on crutches for 12 long weeks as my surgeon wasn't taking any chances and then I did another 8 weeks of physical therapy.

I hope your surgery goes well and easy for you with healing.
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Old 12-03-2012, 07:05 PM   #3
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Have you seen the knee scooters? (you can Google if you haven't). They are GREAT to use instead of crutches. Much easier to get around, less tiring and you have a place to sit and rest if needed, or to prop your foot up. Ask your dr if it would be okay for you to use it in this situation, especially if you have knee problems. I rented mine from a local medical supply place. Insurance didn't pay for it but it was worth every bit that I paid.
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Old 12-03-2012, 07:07 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lovetoscrap
Have you seen the knee scooters? (you can Google if you haven't). They are GREAT to use instead of crutches. Much easier to get around, less tiring and you have a place to sit and rest if needed, or to prop your foot up. Ask your dr if it would be okay for you to use it in this situation, especially if you have knee problems. I rented mine from a local medical supply place. Insurance didn't pay for it but it was worth every bit that I paid.
I did see the knee scooter and I'm looking into renting one. The knee problems is my only concern. I'll try to talk to him pre-op.
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Old 12-03-2012, 07:12 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lovemygoofy
I had ankle reconstruction surgery in Feburary. I had 2 different bones broken, a bone graft done, and 4 large screws put in. Totally looks cool and nasty at the same time when looking at the x-ray.

The first thing I would recommend is a shower seat as you shouldn't be weight bearing at all the first few weeks.

The surgeon told my husband to keep me knocked out the first 3 days and then gradually reduce the pain meds. He was not kidding as it wasn't my ankle that hurt but where the doctor broke my leg bone to fuse things together.

Are you doing the ice machine packing thingy? If not, I kept my leg elevated with pillows under my knee as well as my calf and every 2 hours would put an ice pack(frozen corn) under my knee for probably the first week or so.

I was freaked out about keeping the same dressing on for the first 7 days but was told that wasn't a problem because of the anti-bacteria whatever that is rubbed on the ankle before wrapped up. Keep an eye on the swelling in your toes. I had big time swelling the first 3-5 days and then gradually went back down to normal.

The surgery itself wasn't too bad. I was in the surgery center about 5 hours total I think and I had a big time nerve blocker behind my knee that lasted about 12 hours or a little more.

All in all I was on crutches for 12 long weeks as my surgeon wasn't taking any chances and then I did another 8 weeks of physical therapy.

I hope your surgery goes well and easy for you with healing.
Ok, you're surgery sounds a lot worse than mine! I don't believe I'm being given an ice machine thingy. I'm going to make sure to have a great supply of frozen veggies.

If you don't mind me asking, why did you need the ice pack under your knee? Does it get to the point that it hurts too or was it because of where the doctor broke the bone In your leg?

Did you use bed pillows or like decorative pillows to elevate your leg? I think I need to pick up a few pillows before Friday.
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Old 12-03-2012, 07:19 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheDisneyGirl02 View Post
Ok, you're surgery sounds a lot worse than mine! I don't believe I'm being given an ice machine thingy. I'm going to make sure to have a great supply of frozen veggies.

If you don't mind me asking, why did you need the ice pack under your knee? Does it get to the point that it hurts too or was it because of where the doctor broke the bone In your leg?

Did you use bed pillows or like decorative pillows to elevate your leg? I think I need to pick up a few pillows before Friday.
The ice pack behind the knee was because I couldn't get the frozen bags onto my ankle. It would help with the swelling and the pain because it would essentially numb the tendon that runs down from your knee to your ankle(Achillies I believe).

I used two big pillows under my calf and then two or three throw pillows under my knee to keep it propped for at least the first 5 days. I even slept on the couch like that for the first week because I couldn't get up and down the stairs the first week due to the pain and I was drugged.(I'm very easily drugged on pain meds!) I kept my leg so elevated due to big time swelling from all the things the surgeon did.


ETA: if you are going to be alone during the day, have a little backpack that you can carry when going to the kitchen or restroom because trying to crutch while carrying things is quite difficult.
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Old 12-03-2012, 07:54 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lovetoscrap View Post
Have you seen the knee scooters? (you can Google if you haven't). They are GREAT to use instead of crutches. Much easier to get around, less tiring and you have a place to sit and rest if needed, or to prop your foot up. Ask your dr if it would be okay for you to use it in this situation, especially if you have knee problems. I rented mine from a local medical supply place. Insurance didn't pay for it but it was worth every bit that I paid.
I was just going to recommend that myself! I had the reconstruction a couple of years ago and the knee scooter saved me so much wear & tear on a shoulder that I'd already had rotator cuff surgery on. I agree with Scrappy, worth every single penny I put out.
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Old 12-03-2012, 09:04 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lovemygoofy

The ice pack behind the knee was because I couldn't get the frozen bags onto my ankle. It would help with the swelling and the pain because it would essentially numb the tendon that runs down from your knee to your ankle(Achillies I believe).

I used two big pillows under my calf and then two or three throw pillows under my knee to keep it propped for at least the first 5 days. I even slept on the couch like that for the first week because I couldn't get up and down the stairs the first week due to the pain and I was drugged.(I'm very easily drugged on pain meds!) I kept my leg so elevated due to big time swelling from all the things the surgeon did.

ETA: if you are going to be alone during the day, have a little backpack that you can carry when going to the kitchen or restroom because trying to crutch while carrying things is quite difficult.
That would make sense about the ice pack. I may need to keep that in mind.

Thanks for all of your help!
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Old 12-04-2012, 08:21 AM   #9
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I don't want to give you a gloom and doom story, but this was our experience...

My DD had ankle reconstruction almost a year ago. In her case, she had an extra bone removed from her ankle and then the surgeon needed to detach / reattach a ligament that was attached in the wrong place (congenital). She is a dancer and was having pain for four years before we corrected the defect, and had many sprains, bone bruises and the like her entire life. She is now 14.

This surgery was extremely painful for her. We had a wheelchair for her to get around the house for the first two weeks. Even the weight of the post surgical cast / dressings hanging down when she was on the crutches was painful. We had her maxed out on her pain meds (literally ... the doctor couldn't give her any more) and she stayed on a bed in my first floor office because she was unable physically (and so drugged) to get herself up the stairs to her bedroom.

What helped ... start taking the pain medicine as soon as you get home whether you feel that you need it or not. Take it like clockwork the first few days, even in the middle of the night. If you wait until you need it, you will be playing catch up and the pain gets ahead of you. If it makes you sleepy, great. When you are asleep you can't feel your ankle.

Ice, ice, and more ice. Frozen corn, frozen peas, a medical grade gel ice pack. 20 minutes of every hour have the ice on. Remember that the coldness needs to go through the cast / dressing / whatever so it is not as cold as you feel in your hand.

The wheelchair was a necessity for us. Even to get from the bed to the bathroom. We used a small transport chair and it fit through the doorways. From there we went to crutches and used the wheelchair while we were out. We didn't get the knee walker, but I haven't heard a negative word from anyone that I know that's used one.

Pillows to elevate your leg and prop you up while you are sitting in bed. Bed was the most comfortable place for DD. She had her laptop, movies, books and other things to keep her occupied. Her friends would visit and hop into bed with her to watch a movie. It was better for her not to move around much. And if she fell asleep, great.

For the shower, we flipped a plastic laundry hamper upside down and used that. We taped a plastic trash bag to her leg to keep the dressings dry.

In DD's case, the first two weeks were rough. But she is happy that she had the surgery now that she is fully healed. It took her four full months to get the final sign off from the doctor and return to her normal activity level. She was in physical therapy after the first six weeks.

One idea - check with the hospital, local township office, nurses association, etc. to see if there is a lending closet in your area that might have what you need. I was able to borrow the medical equipment that I needed for free and without a rental fee. They had crutches, wheelchairs, walkers, shower seats and all kinds of things to borrow just for the asking.

Good luck to you. When this is all over, it will be worth it. Just take it day by day and remember that everyone's story with this type of surgery is different. It will all depend on what the doctor finds when he gets in there.
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Old 12-04-2012, 08:56 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheDisneyGirl02 View Post
I am going in for ankle reconstruction on Friday and I'm really getting nervous about it. I've had 3 ACL reconstructions done on my knees so this isn't my first surgery. This time though I'm going to be on crutches for 6 weeks. I think part of my anxiety is not being able to do the things I take for granted doing everyday myself. Thankfully it is only 6 weeks though.

Has anybody had that kind of surgery done? What was your experience like and can you offer any words of advice to a nervous patient?

BTW, I do plan on watching lots of Disney movies while I recover. Lol
My sister did major ankle reconstrution surgery about 4/5yrs ago. She was born with club foot and her foot was collapsing, basically. They took bone from her leg or something for the surgery.

It was a big deal. She needed 24/7 care for a while. She did end up getting a blood clot. I think she was not allowed to put weight on her foot/ankle for several weeks as I recall.

She was in a wheelchair/walker for several weeks after that. I had to take her to appts. and the store.

Recovery is slow.

She went in this year to have a little more surgery, she had gotten bone spurs on her shins and was in a lot of pain. So while they were in there they took out some hardware.

Her surgery was major reconstruction so depending on the amount of work you need, will depend on the recovery I would think.
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Old 12-04-2012, 10:45 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AboutTheMouse
I don't want to give you a gloom and doom story, but this was our experience...

My DD had ankle reconstruction almost a year ago. In her case, she had an extra bone removed from her ankle and then the surgeon needed to detach / reattach a ligament that was attached in the wrong place (congenital). She is a dancer and was having pain for four years before we corrected the defect, and had many sprains, bone bruises and the like her entire life. She is now 14.

This surgery was extremely painful for her. We had a wheelchair for her to get around the house for the first two weeks. Even the weight of the post surgical cast / dressings hanging down when she was on the crutches was painful. We had her maxed out on her pain meds (literally ... the doctor couldn't give her any more) and she stayed on a bed in my first floor office because she was unable physically (and so drugged) to get herself up the stairs to her bedroom.

What helped ... start taking the pain medicine as soon as you get home whether you feel that you need it or not. Take it like clockwork the first few days, even in the middle of the night. If you wait until you need it, you will be playing catch up and the pain gets ahead of you. If it makes you sleepy, great. When you are asleep you can't feel your ankle.

Ice, ice, and more ice. Frozen corn, frozen peas, a medical grade gel ice pack. 20 minutes of every hour have the ice on. Remember that the coldness needs to go through the cast / dressing / whatever so it is not as cold as you feel in your hand.

The wheelchair was a necessity for us. Even to get from the bed to the bathroom. We used a small transport chair and it fit through the doorways. From there we went to crutches and used the wheelchair while we were out. We didn't get the knee walker, but I haven't heard a negative word from anyone that I know that's used one.

Pillows to elevate your leg and prop you up while you are sitting in bed. Bed was the most comfortable place for DD. She had her laptop, movies, books and other things to keep her occupied. Her friends would visit and hop into bed with her to watch a movie. It was better for her not to move around much. And if she fell asleep, great.

For the shower, we flipped a plastic laundry hamper upside down and used that. We taped a plastic trash bag to her leg to keep the dressings dry.

In DD's case, the first two weeks were rough. But she is happy that she had the surgery now that she is fully healed. It took her four full months to get the final sign off from the doctor and return to her normal activity level. She was in physical therapy after the first six weeks.

One idea - check with the hospital, local township office, nurses association, etc. to see if there is a lending closet in your area that might have what you need. I was able to borrow the medical equipment that I needed for free and without a rental fee. They had crutches, wheelchairs, walkers, shower seats and all kinds of things to borrow just for the asking.

Good luck to you. When this is all over, it will be worth it. Just take it day by day and remember that everyone's story with this type of surgery is different. It will all depend on what the doctor finds when he gets in there.
Don't worry about doom and gloom, it was what happened for her and I'd rather be prepared for the worst.

I do know about the pain meds because of my ACL surgeries. It's funny, I've been dancing for 30 years and all of my other surgeries were a direct result of it... Not this one. I badly sprained my ankle in college going to class and have overturned it several times since.

Thank you for the information! I'm glad your daughter is doing well now.
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Old 12-04-2012, 10:47 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Mystery Machine

My sister did major ankle reconstrution surgery about 4/5yrs ago. She was born with club foot and her foot was collapsing, basically. They took bone from her leg or something for the surgery.

It was a big deal. She needed 24/7 care for a while. She did end up getting a blood clot. I think she was not allowed to put weight on her foot/ankle for several weeks as I recall.

She was in a wheelchair/walker for several weeks after that. I had to take her to appts. and the store.

Recovery is slow.

She went in this year to have a little more surgery, she had gotten bone spurs on her shins and was in a lot of pain. So while they were in there they took out some hardware.

Her surgery was major reconstruction so depending on the amount of work you need, will depend on the recovery I would think.
It is my right ankle so no driving for me for a long time.

I really hope I don't end up with a blood clot. What were the symptoms that she suspected a clot?
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Old 12-04-2012, 12:26 PM   #13
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It is my right ankle so no driving for me for a long time.

I really hope I don't end up with a blood clot. What were the symptoms that she suspected a clot?
She had pain in her calf that was not the normal pain.

If you get to be on crutches that is great. My sister was not allowed to bear any weight on her foot for many weeks.

It was about 1 yr for her to really heal. She had to learn how to "walk" again with her "new ankle/foot". She has no flexibility in that foot.
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Old 12-04-2012, 06:18 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Mystery Machine

She had pain in her calf that was not the normal pain.

If you get to be on crutches that is great. My sister was not allowed to bear any weight on her foot for many weeks.

It was about 1 yr for her to really heal. She had to learn how to "walk" again with her "new ankle/foot". She has no flexibility in that foot.
I am 6 weeks non weight bearing. That part is freaking me out.
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Old 12-04-2012, 07:58 PM   #15
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I am 6 weeks non weight bearing. That part is freaking me out.
It is tough that is for sure. Do you have help at home after the surgery?
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