This Thursday marks 10 weeks from my ORIF surgery and 13 weeks from my longboarding accident. It's been a LLLOOONNNGGG recovery, and I've still got quite a bit more to endure. I decided to write a lengthy post for people who are searching for more info on lisfranc injuries and my experience with surgery and recovery.
So, here goes...
I had to wait 3 weeks after the injury before surgery because the swelling was so bad, typical for a Lisfranc fracture. My foot was HUGE! I couldn't bear any weight and it throbbed for the first several days. I was given Norco for pain and would wake up in the middle of the night with painful sensations shooting through my foot. Sleeping was difficult because I had to keep my foot elevated above my heart; my body hurt from lying in the same position all of the time.
The day of surgery I was really anxious, for obvious reasons. I was probably the most anxious about getting the nerve block (I had read online it can be painful) and what kind of pain I would be in post surgery after the nerve block wore off. The anesthesiologists gave me something before the nerve block to help me relax, and they then used an ultrasound to help guide their needles to the correct areas in my leg without actually hitting nerves. After 10 minutes my leg was completely numb from mid thigh down. They wheeled me into the cold operating room, and the next thing I knew I was being told that surgery went well and I was in post op recovery. Dennis came in shortly after they removed the tube from my throat (gross), helped me get dressed, and we were on our way home with my reconstructed foot consisting of six screws and a plate. I hung out on the couch for the rest of the night with no pain (nerve block was still working), but started taking Norco so it had time to build in my system. The goal was to hopefully transition from the nerve block to pain meds smoothly with the least amount of pain in between as possible. Unfortunately, that didn't happen. Around 2am I could feel sensations in my foot and by 6am I was in the most excruciating pain I've ever felt. It was a thousand times worse than the initial injury. I chewed my limit of Norco tablets like a crackhead (since Norco has acetomatephin, there was only so much I could take in one day) with no ease of pain. I even had a panic attack and started hyperventilating because the pain just wouldn't go away. My hands cramped into these weird positions and I felt light headed and finally passed out into a weird sleep. By day two, the pain was manageable but I had taken so many pain meds that I was extremely nauseous (can't win for losing).
The next two weeks were pretty painless, with the exception of my foot swelling. I still had to keep it elevated as much as possible; even just half an hour in the car would make my foot blow up. At my two week post-op appointment with the orthopedic surgeon, they removed my splint and I saw my foot and leg for the first time in over a month. It-was-gross. My skin was stained from the iodine used before surgery and was brutally dry. My poor ankle was so weak that I couldn't even hold my foot up, and the muscle atrophy in my right calf was disgusting. I was suppose to be in a hard cast for the next 4-6 weeks, but convinced my doctor to put me in a boot instead with the promise that I wouldn't put ANY weight on it and wear the boot at ALL times, except while showering. I was desperate to shave my leg and slather lotion on it! I was also able to start doing a little physical therapy, mostly to regain some mobility in my weak, tiny ankle.
A month later, which was the beginning of this month, I had my second post-op appointment. They took x-rays and said everything looked to be healing really well. So the next steps were partial weight-bearing in the boot and physical therapy. I hadn't had any pain since the day after surgery, which I'm really, REALLY grateful for, but I knew physical therapy was going to be a different story. My foot itself hadn't been used for about 10 weeks and I now have all of this hardware holding it together...of course it's going to be painful to start using it again. There were two things I was ecstatic about though: sleeping without the boot and DRIVING! When I actually got behind the wheel, the excitement faded and I realized I was hesitant about putting pressure on my foot. For a week I drove using my right foot for the gas and left foot for the brake with the car on sport mode so the pedals would be super sensitive. Now I'm driving like nothing ever happened, which is so liberating. Physical therapy isn't as quick with progress though. My toes practically don't move because they're so rigid from lack of mobility, and some of the exercises are painful. The massages and pressure therapy are painful too, but I know I have to push through it to get my foot back as close to 100% as possible. My doctor hopes my foot can get back to at least 85%, but I'm pushing for 99.9%. I have experienced improvement with walking in the boot. I quickly transitioned from using two crutches to one, and the past couple of days I've been getting around without a crutch at all. Whoot whoot!
My next appointment is in two weeks and if all still looks well, I can move from the boot to a sneaker! I can't wait to actually have a shoe on my right foot and walk unassisted again. Three months ago it felt like this day would never get here. I had to make so many adjustments and changes to normal, daily activities; it was exhausting and a real challenge. Today was the first day I actually showered like a normal human, and it was exhilarating!
Patience is a virtue...maybe that's the silver lining to all of this.