Recovery, Rehab, and Thoughts on the ER

Allow me to preface this post with an apology.  It's very possible I'm in a bit of a Percocet and Toradol haze.  As my editor isn't available at this moment, there might be a typo or disjointed sentence (or 4) floating around somewhere.

It's day 3 after my ankle surgery.  I have to admit it's not as bad as I thought it would be.  Granted, when the nerve block on my lower leg wore off the other night I was popping Percocet like they were Chicklets.  But it's manageable.  I'm not all smiles and full of cheer, to be sure, but I'm experiencing pretty much exactly what was explained to me.

There's pain and discomfort of course, and I do have periods of time where the discomfort is a bit troubling.  But I'm finding a groove, so to speak, in getting around the house and am getting the hang of navigating the kitchen with a cast and crutches.  Sleep is fitful, but depending on what meds I'm taking I nap enough through the day and 4-5 hours of sleep at night is about all I can muster. 

I really don't have room to complain too much.....really, I don't.  I'm very fortunate to be able to run, swim, and cycle - and compete in triathlons.  As a dear friend said to me yesterday, if this is the worst sports injury that I've had, then I should consider myself lucky.  If all goes well I'll be starting physical therapy in the next 2 to 3 weeks, and then it's just a question of how hard am I willing to work in conjunction with the healing process.

My wife JL has been great.  She makes sure that I have water, fruit, snacks, laptop, etc all ready to go on the coffee table in the living room before she heads to work.  She's been keeping an eye on me since the incident happened a week ago, and without her here at home I would have been in a spot of trouble for the first few days.  But I think a corner has been turned and the healing process is underway.  I'm now looking forward to getting the hard cast off and getting PT started.

I'd like to jump back a bit, and comment on our observations on the ER, the Orthopedist, and the care that was given throughout this wonderfully fun past handful of days. 

I'll start by saying that everyone in the ER was great.  We were checked in quickly, and I think we might have waited 10 minutes in the waiting area before being brought back into triage.  There was a bit of aloofness (for lack of a better word) at the beginning.  Not that the physicians assistant and the resident docs weren't friendly, competent, and direct.  But there wasn't any real urgency in moving things along as fast as I would have liked, or thought they should have been.  But I'll touch on that in just a moment.

The on-call Orthopedist for the ER was at her practice at the time, so we saw her there on the way home.  The next day I met with the Chief of foot and ankle surgery - with a sports medicine background - for that practice.  Both were great.  Very informative, and very to the point.  If we asked questions, they listened and gave answers.  This isn't to say there wasn't a little of the usual "quickness" in their answers, but follow-up queries were accepted without being talked over.  They both wanted to understand what my expectations were, and explained very clearly the time lines and process for recovery both with and without surgery.  Once it was decided that surgery was required, the Orthopedic surgeon rang me up and told me exactly what he was going to do and again listened to all my questions.

The day of surgery was very business-like.  I think that sums it up best.  The nurses in the prep area were all business and didn't mess around.  My attempts at joking with them fell mostly flat.   My surgeon, the Anesthesiologist, and physicians assistants were actually very upbeat, direct, and offered suggestions and input during the planning process for the day.  I was put at ease by their attitude.  No complaints at all.  I will say, however, that an improvement in communications while I was in the recovery room would have been helpful.  There were a few gaps where more information and communication to both my wife and I would have been helpful on a number of fronts.  In the end, nothing major.  If that's the biggest complaint we have for the day then so be it!

So, as I said, there was kind of a strange vibe going on in the ER when we first arrived.  I was in a hell of a lot of pain, and there was just a bit of a lackadaisical approach with the people we spoke with.  I just felt that, while competent and being thorough, nobody seemed to think things were all that bad. they kept talking about a 'bad sprain' in my ankle and that I'd 'be fine'.

It was shortly after the radiology results came back that we had our little epiphany (well, JL did - I wasn't thinking much at all at this point).  As soon as word got around the ER that I had one, possibly two fractures, the physician assistants, nurses, and ER docs who all saw me from the beginning (saying that it could be a bad sprain) all started to circle back and, with great surprise, state "'s broken?  Wow, you really did it up right!" or "...oh my god, you broke you leg?"  We think, and this is just a guess, that they see so many weekend-warriors come in with sprains and muscle pulls that it was just assumed that I was another type-A, 40-something out trying to relive his childhood.  But when word got around that I really did screw things up, their tune changed a bit.  We could be reading into things, but in hindsight their attitude did go from somewhat aloof and indifferent to enthused and attentive.

Don't get me wrong - I'm absolutely not knocking the nurses, PA's and doc's that were in the ER.  They were great.  And I'm sure that, if I had been in their shoes, I would have had the same initial attitude:  Some knucklehead 40+ year old out running in 20 degree, icy, miserable, weather?  Really?