Accidents Happen – Ankle Fracture!
You just never know what is going to happen to you. One minute I was walking down the stairs planning the various domestic errands I had to do around the timing of patients and the next minute I was lying in a heap on my hallway floor with the most unbearable pain in my left ankle. I knew in that instant it was fractured. The fact I felt it snap was a bit of a giveaway. The level of pain and there being absolutely no way I could put any weight on it were also significant indicators.
After the initial shock and 10 minutes lying on the floor in agony I managed to pull myself up and hop into the kitchen to get my ice packs then hop to the sofa, raise my leg and apply the ice. The pain was searing through my ankle but all I could do was lie there and wait for the pain to start to ease as the ice started to work its magic.
A trip to A&E confirmed what I knew to be the case – A weber fracture of my left lateral malleolus and an avulsion fracture on the medial malleolus. The good news was the bones were in place and no surgery was required. The bad news was that my ankle was feeling pretty unstable so the decision was made to put it in a solid plaster cast.
Osteopath Heal Thyself!
Being an Osteopath I am in the business of making people feel better when they have musculoskeletal injuries. Here I was with my own injury that I could do nothing at all about, at least for a few weeks anyway, and what a long few weeks they were. I know it could have been worse but having half a leg in a plaster cast is not something I will be in a hurry to repeat. When you are hopping around with crutches you have no idea how frustrating life can be when you have no hands to do anything. Even the most basic of tasks are difficult like making a cup of tea! Sitting down to do anything was not great either unless the leg was elevated or my foot would start to swell and be uncomfortable. There was no option but to rest.
The philosophy of Osteopathy is that the body has the innate ability to heal itself. Osteopathy just facilitates that healing process by ensuring the tissues have enough circulation (and therefore oxygen and nutrition), inflammation and swelling is dissipated, joints are moving properly without restriction etc. Here I was, in a position where I could do none of that. I could however think about nutrition, eat well, increasing my protein and sources of vitamin D and took high strength vitamin D tablets which hopefully helped a bit. All I could do physically was be patient and wait whilst my body did the healing bit itself.
Many of my patients often ask me how long it is going to take before they start feeling better. For some patients’ it is quite easy to predict that two treatments should do the trick and for others it is much more difficult to say. Everyone is different and speed of recovery can often depend on how much notice the patient takes of any exercise advice I give to continue the treatment at home. We just have to be patient patients’ and let our bodies mend themselves.
The Magic Healing
And what a miracle the body is. Five weeks after the fracture the X-ray showed the fractures are well on their way to being almost completely healed. The plaster cast was removed and replaced with an ankle support with metal plates down the sides to prevent inversion and eversion of the vulnerable ankle joints. Now time to start walking putting weight on the foot and using the crutches to the extent I needed them says the Orthopaedic doctor. Great! Except I could not feel my foot and my ankle refused to move. Hmmm! This is going to take time. The orthopaedic department said they will refer me for physiotherapy (the phrase ‘Coals to Newcastle’ came into my mind) but it will probably take a couple of weeks before I get an appointment. I can’t wait that long. The rehabilitation starts here and now. It has only been two days of no plaster and gradually the sensation in my foot is returning. I am gently mobilising my ankle and the joints in my feet. I am using my soft tissue techniques to wake up the muscles that have not functioned for 5 weeks. I am using the stirrups to walk as much as I can and resting my ankle without it when I am not walking. I think with each day there will be a little improvement.
How Long Until I am Back to Normal?
The million pound question. How long is a piece of string? I am aiming to get back to treating my patients and making them feel better as soon as I have got myself better. In order to do that I need to be able to comfortably move about and fully weight bear on my left leg without needing the crutches. As soon as I can I am going to be out walking as much as possible to get my ankle back to normal. The Orthopaedic Registrar suggested it would take a further 6 weeks before the ligaments around my ankle will have healed properly. In 5 weeks time I am off to Copenhagen with my husband to celebrate our 20-year wedding anniversary and I am aiming to be able to walk around the city and maybe cycle as normally as possible. So, I have something to aim for and I am going to try my best to get there.
Last week I had my foot in plaster, it was the worst rainy weather imaginable and I was getting a bit frustrated with the situation. This week my bones have nearly healed. Yesterday I managed to take my son on an outing to the Natural History Museum (he did need to push me round in a wheelchair or we wouldn’t have got anywhere) and today the sun is shining and I am outside making my own vitamin D to help my poorly bones!