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email: Mihal.Freinquel@gmail.com
twitter: @MIHALdot

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

An Anniversary and an eBook!


Well, it's been almost 2 years since I broke my ankle - and since I started this blog. The break caused a lot of unexpected things - emotions, time spent rehabbing, lots of money thrown at surgery - but most awesomely, a connection to a HUGE community of fellow ankle-breakers. I've loved reading all of your YouTube comments, emails, blog comments, and tweets. Even though it sucks that you have to go through what I went through (or some version of it), I felt so isolated when I broke my ankle, and it has been so great to know that I've not been alone in my experiences.

And all of you want to know more. How am I doing now? How long until I started driving? What are some things you can do to speed up the healing process? Where did I practice walking and for how long each day? The list goes on and on and on.

So I decided to write an eBook. It is a complete guide for What To Expect When You Break Your Ankle based on all of my experiences. Here you will find the stories from my blog, a detailed chronology of my healing and steps (literally), as well as tons of practical tools and advice to navigate your totally stupid injury, and come out better on the other side. I hope you enjoy it – and happy healing to you.


Click below to get your copy!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Recovery After Ankle Surgery

It's been a year since I made THIS video, so I figured I should make a follow-up. Here's how I am one year after walking - and one month & one year after weight-bearing.



I suppose as long as you guys show interest, I'll keep posting - so let me know if there's anything specific you want me to talk about :)

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Let's be done with this already!

Today I went in for my final follow-up. First, i got my hardware back! It's cool and weird...haven't figured out what I'm gonna do with it yet...


Then we looked at my x-rays...below is a before (left) and after (right) the hardware removal:


As you can see, the picture on the left has a plate all the way down the outside of my ankle as well as the one on the back. Since the one on the back wasn't bugging me, and it provided some stability, we left that in, and took the side plate out, as well as the 5 screws associated with it. This whole time I've been saying I had 2 plates and 8 screws, but turns out it was really 9 screws! Oy vey. 

Anyway, next month will mark 1 year from my first surgery. I can't believe what a crazy year it's been - amazing how such a seemingly small thing can have such a gigantic impact. I still have some range of motion to regain - I'm back at yoga and even starting to incorporate some traditional home workouts. I'm not saying goodbye to you guys forever - don't worry - I'll continue to check in. And feel free to keep emailing me with questions!!

Mihal

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Scar Massage: The Horror/The Brilliance

Let me start by saying: Ashley Mueller is the best massage therapist in Portland, Oregon. Maybe the best in the country...I've tried my fair share. I've been seeing Ashley since a few months after my first surgery - so like, late summer early fall of last year. She's strong, she's intuitive, and she knows a lot about feet/ankles (amongst everything else).

Let me tell you guys - massage is so important to rehabbing your ankle - particularly to getting your scar-skin moving like regular skin again. Scar issue attaches itself to anything it can - it has little legs that grab onto bone, muscle, ligaments...whatever's around it - and it fucking HURTS. It causes major major discomfort and tightness. Unfortunately the only way to break it up is to have somebody as awesome as Ashley massage it out. IT HURTS LIKE HELL. But then it hurts less.

So if you've had your surgery and done your rehab and you still feel tightness or any sort of similar ache, try the scar massage. I'm telling you. And if you're in PDX, tell her I sent you :)

Aside from that, things are slowly getting better. I haven't gone back to yoga yet, but the time is coming soon. Maybe next weekend, making it 5 weeks post-op. The holes in my bones are supposed to close up 4-6 weeks post-op, so I think I'm reluctant to push myself too much before that. My foot/ankle is still a little bruised. Also, I had a little sharp thing sticking out of my incision/scar which Ashley said was an un-absorbed suture and that I should pull it out...so I did:


There's another one too, but I can't get it. I have a checkup with the doc in 2 weeks so I may solicit his help. 

Sunday, February 9, 2014

mini-breakdown

I had a little breakdown last night. 


See, when you have hardware removal surgery on your ankle - there are a few things you hear over and over: "it's nothing like the last one" and "recovery for this one is really easy" and "you'll be fine." This is great, because it's an encouraging thought that recovery for surgery #2 won't be THE FUCKING FLAMING HELL that surgery #1 was. But it's also not great - because it doesn't actually help you know what to expect going in, and afterward, it makes people forget really quickly that you're in surgery recovery mode.

Of course, I have a really supportive network of friends and family - I'm not blaming anything on them. Hardware removal surgery is deceptive because you are up and walking the first day, you can move your foot (kinda), visually there is way less going on, and you've already done the physical therapy and everything. So your loved ones will be tricked into thinking that everything's cool. But for me - inside - there is still a lot going on! My digestive system is still weird, I feel a little light headed sometimes, my ankle hurts and is bruised and I have very little range of motion...not to mention, I went shopping yesterday and within 10 minutes of being on my feet I was swollen and limping. Oh! And now I have to walk EXTRA carefully because for the next 4-6 weeks I'll have holes in my bones where the screws are and can re-fracture really easily.

In many ways, it's a lot like recovery from the first surgery. I use the same stack of pillows to elevate, the same ice packs with all its timing and wrapping rituals. I'm back to not being able to do yoga which SUCKS. I'm nervous about going back to work tomorrow (I worked from home my first week of recovery) - maybe I should bring some ice packs with me? I have to be back in sneakers after I've been back to real shoes for a few months and loving it. Ugh, that part is terrible.

The hardware removal, though it may be nothing like the first one, is still surgery...and it conjures up a lot of old emotional stuff. I was able to break down last night with my mom and just talk about all of the stuff that's in pain and freaking me out...so I think I'm ok now. Kinda. There may be another breakdown in my future. After surgery #1 I had little breakdowns literally every single day.  I'll keep you guys posted...of course.

ooooh the paranoia

I've gotta say...one of the worst parts about getting surgery is the paranoia that comes with recovery. In my case, the thing I'm most afraid of - now and after the first surgery - is a blood clot. Soooo one begins to Google. 


This is obviously the worst possible thing to do. But here's the rub: with ankle surgery, especially if your foot/ankle/calf is immobilized afterward, you start to get muscle cramps like crazy because you can't contract and release your muscles, which is like their main purpose in life. So here you are with these calf cramps, and then you remember that something in all that post-op literature you got said that's a major symptom of blood clots. So you Google "blood clot symptoms", and start to get anxious when you see the calf cramps you're feeling. You feel the anxiety in your chest...and as you read on, you see that blood clot symptoms are not only cramps in your calf, but tightness in your chest!! And so on...

Anyway, it's scary. I don't have answers, but omg fuck Google for freaking me out ALL THE DAMN TIME. I'm so exhausted  by it. I can't even advise you not to be scared because if it's really a blood clot you should be getting medical attention!! Ugh. So this time around I'm trying to stay away from Google, but it's hard, and I do have cramps in my calf and pains in my chest again...

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

week 1 checkup

Today is 6 days post-op, so I went back to superhero (Dr.) Gellman for him to take a look at what I've got going on...


I told him that around my incision was really tight, and he said scar tissue has a difficult time recovering, and just to keep moving my ankle and massaging the area. But not too much, because the incision hasn't healed yet.

Then he took off my tape, cleaned it up, and put new tape on which I need to keep on for another 5 days.

The yellow stuff is something he put on there to help the tape stick - it's not the color of my skin, though I do have a little bruising. 

I can take regular showers now! I've been showering with a trash bag on my leg, and my leg basically up in the air because I don't have faith in the trash bag  method. So that's cool. They didn't have my hardware ready to hand me yet, which was not cool. (Fun fact: Gellman said about 95% of his patients ask to keep their hardware). 

I can't really feel a difference yet between my mechanical ankle and this one - probably because I'm not moving this one like a regular ankle yet and there's still some swelling. I go back to the doc in 6 weeks where he'll take x-rays and make sure everything looks how it should. 

Oh, and I'm off pain meds. I was only on them from day of surgery (Thurs) until Saturday...very cool. Now I also have a pill bottle full of hydrocodone which I have no idea what to do with. 

Friday, January 31, 2014

ankle hardware removal surgery: part 2

Continued from part 1

Waking Up: As if no time had passed, I was waking up in the wake-up room. My throat didn't feel sore at all like last time and I remember asking the nurse if they used the throat tube to help me breathe again. I have no idea how she responded. I also remember telling her that, if she has anything to say about it, I'd really prefer Hydrocodone to Oxycodone - it made me way less sick last time. I don't remember her response to that either. She asked me what my pain level was, I said 4-5. She pumped some drugs into my veins and then it was like a 2-3.

Recovery: Eventually the nurse wheeled me into my recovery room. My dad said he met up with us for the ride, which I don't remember. He asked me how I was feeling and I said: "I feel well," and smiled. And I did! The procedure itself was like 10-15 mins. I was under anesthesia way less time than the first one, and I could definitely feel the difference. I was groggy, but not INCAPACITATED like I was before. I was really cold so they gave me lots of blankets. I also had a feeling in my tummy that either felt really hungry or like I was gonna puke. J bought me a gluten-free muffin from the cafe so I ate that. Then a new nurse found me some gluten-free bread and toasted it. I immediately felt better. My lips were really chapped but, unlike last time, I brought a recovery kit which included chapstick, a huge waterbottle, and arnica (a homeopathic remedy).



The Wound: I didn't get regular stitches as they had planned (which I would have had to keep in for 2 weeks) - they gave me some self-absorbing/dissolving stitches. Then they wrapped it up with some gauze and an ace bandage. 


There you can see some writing on my leg so they knew which one to cut into - better safe than PISS ME THE FUCK OFF. My toes were cold so we made a toe-hat out of my sock, because it wouldn't fit over the bandage.


Peeing: Eventually I had to pee. It was the same kind of crampy feeling as last time - I think that happens when your bladder tries to wake up from the anesthesia. They brought the potty to me like last time, except the one last time was basically a stool. This one was a chair...nay a throne...it had to be documented for you guys :)


Like last time, I couldn't get it all out - and I would continue to pee in incremental stages the rest of the day. 

Home: I went home around 1p - just a few short hours after the surgery. They wheeled me out, I used crutches to get back into the house, plopped into bed to elevate and ice. My mom met us at home because I knew she'd cry if she saw me in a hospital. She then made me some sliced cucumbers with salt (a favorite after last surgery). 

Walking: Right now I'm walking with 2 crutches, but already bearing a little weight. My ankle is sore, but not terrible...like a headache in your foot - kinda tight, kinda sharp, just achy. I'll probably make some walking videos like last time so you can see the progress. 

Drugs: I'm taking Norco, which is a combo of Hydrocodone & Acetaminophen (Tylenol). I don't feel too terrible - the dosage is 1-2 every 4 hours and I've beens ticking with 1.  I took it a few times throughout the night, along with rice cakes to avoid nausea. 

Sleep: I slept with my leg elevated last night, but everything is so much less sore than last time, and now I'm a professional broken ankle position sleeper, so it came a lot easier this time around. Like I mentioned in part 1, I didn't sleep much last night - it felt like the night before school starting. Thankfully I found Jared Leto's instagram page which kept me more than entertained. 

Changing the Dressing: This morning I changed the dressing...here's how it all looked under there...


Not too swollen or bruised. A little bit of dried blood on the gauze but nothing oozy or smelly. I put new gauze on, wrapped it up again, and put my sock toe-hat on.

So that's that!!! I have a massage tomorrow and a follow up with Superhero Gellman on Wednesday morning. I'll certainly keep you updated.