Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Healing Redux

Tomorrow I see the orthopedic surgeons for an update on my healing status. It will be thirteen weeks since I originally broke those bones. Thirteen weeks of wheelchairs, walkers and crutches. Thirteen weeks of learning to live without walking. Thirteen weeks of slow but steady progress, looking forward to the day I'll be able to resume my old way of life.

The reality of therapy is grueling: hours and hours per week of spinning on a stationary bike, pumping dumbbells, stretching therabands, picking up marbles with my toes, pushing a noodle to the bottom of the pool with a float-wrapped ankle, fast treading water, balancing on a small trampoline, doing bridges and crunches with a giant rubber ball tucked under my knees, one-(bad)-legged squats on a sliding board, and zapping my leg with electricity to make the muscles contract more. That's for partial weight bearing. In the past few weeks I've placed more and more weight onto the bad leg, practicing with my bathroom scales to see where the 50% of body weight point is. I almost look like I'm walking and just moving the crutches along with me, although my sore right hand protests that I'm still bearing more weight there than desired. And stairs give it all away, of course.

Tomorrow, if the X-rays show the bone to be healed enough, I'll get permission to transition to WBAT, weight bearing as tolerated. Two hours later, I'll walk in to see my therapists again, who will have dreamed up a whole new set of torture exercises for me. It's a scary proposition, to trust the leg to hold me, especially knowing that I broke it doing nothing more than walking on the sidewalk. Experience with the last weight-bearing transition leads me to think I'll be expected to get on that treadmill or elliptical trainer pretty quick.

As the load has gotten higher lately, pain during the workouts has become the new issue. The inner incision scar is the most common place to hurt, and I suspect that the underlying hardware is rubbing. Repetition seems to eventually diminish that pain, so either scar tissue is breaking loose, scar tissue is forming to cushion, or muscles and tendons are rebuilding strength and flexibility. I'm told that pain that goes away is nothing to worry about. The long term concern, of course, is osteoarthritis from damage to the cartilage. Force strong enough to splinter my bone into several pieces is bad for more delicate soft tissues. There's nothing much to do about that though, except take my supplements and send healing energy down to that knee every time I think of it.

Wish me luck tomorrow.