Underestimated Predicament - Broken Ankle Pt. 1

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Sooooooo turns out I didn't sprain my ankle. It's funny how at the end of my last post, I mentioned that my pain didn't feel like pain from a sprained ankle but it felt like something else.

This was what it looked like after the earlier bandages were taken off. Bruises on the side of my ankle was a sign of torn ligaments I think?
Turns out my fibula is fractured causing my talus bone in the ankle to dislocate. Also, I had torn ligaments. Listen to what your body is telling you, people! This was more serious than I thought it was.

My underestimated injury required surgery called ORIF (Open Reduction Internal Fixation), where they had to insert a metal plate, which held 6 screws drilled into my bones to straighten the broken fibula plus re-position the talus bone for recovery. The doctor also had to do ankle ligament reconstruction on my ligaments that tore.
Thankfully, the surgery was successful and the spinal injection given was not as painful as I thought it would be (ETA: The spinal injection site is starting to bruise. Hmmmm). I thought it was the kind of pain that would elicit blood curling screams from me, but thank God it wasn't. The post-surgery spinal injection wound was even more annoying to be honest because I had to lie down most of the time and it would always rub against the injection area.

It's also very interesting how everything from my waist down just felt numb. It's even more interesting that you can't feel the surgeon cutting into your leg. So cool. I wanted to see what was going on, but there was a curtain separating me and the operation area which is understandable. But being my curious self, I asked the anesthetist if he could help me take some pictures and he did! I get to see what they did inside my leg, and the X-ray showed how it was fixed with the 6 screws and metal plate. The doctor also had to put my leg in a splint.

Ahhhh wonder what path I would have gone down if I was a doctor/surgeon. Their job is so noble in my opinion, healing the broken and helping people regain certain skills and abilities. Okay, enough why-didn't-I-become-a-doctor talk before I spiral into the vortex of over thinking about my past and future. Cue X-rays!

Before: An X-ray of my broken fibula and displaced talus bone.
After: 1 metal plate and 5 screws later.... one more long screw will be inserted which will connect my fibula and tibia together at the bottom.

Lessons I have learnt so far in this very unneccessary experience:

Lesson 1: Heavy people are more prone to serious injuries due to their weight. Because of my big boned and heavy body, a small fall can cause a big impact. Sigh, the many woes of a heavy person.

Lesson 2: Just go to a western doctor instead of a Chinese traditional doctor to save your time if you think you need to. Wasted 4 days of bed rest with herbs on my leg when all I needed was an X-ray to see what was going on.

Lesson 3: In a zombie run, if you want to follow a crowd, do so with extreme caution. Or you'll end up like me. You might as well get your life tag pulled out then risk spraining your ankle or worst - surgery and months of healing/rehabilitation.

Lesson 4: If you have screws and plates in your body, you are allowed to have a different take of the song Titanium.

Lesson 5: If you plan to do a spinal injection for surgery anesthesia, here's an important tip: go to the toilet and do ALL you need to do before the surgery. Because the anesthesia is going to last 6 hours and you don't get to pee and your bladder refuses to let you pee. I am usually called the girl with the strong bladder from my friends, because I can hold my pee and not pee for a long while (not a good thing to do btw). I made sure not to drink excessive amounts of liquids before and after the surgery so I don't need to: a) use the toilet which is like 200 miles away for me after a LEG surgery; and b) use a bedpan. But for some unexplained reason, my bladder just filled up after the surgery and the pain of not being able to pee because your body isn't letting you, is excruciating. They had to put a catheter (and I'm going to leave it at that), and the relief of letting go of your bladder after that is SO great.

Isaac and Jas dropped by with a Christmas gift and a card!

I don't know if I should be relieved this injury did not happen during my school period, or sad that this is happening during the Christmas/New Year/semester break season. This is making me have to cancel all my plans for my semester break! I was suppose to find a Christmas cookie recipe to make as Christmas gifts! Now, I can't even BUY Christmas gifts. This is going to take forever to heal, and I'm not ready to be grounded for 2-3 months. As much as I love lazing around, I may go stir crazy. Not getting to go out with my friends, eat good food, go for the usual Christmas/New Year festivities... Le sigh. Oh well, looking at the bright side, I get to save quite some money and petrol not going out.

My house is also a total hazard for whomever who has a broken body part like me. We don't have railings in toilets, the slope to the entrance of the house is uphill, the steps into my house den is high, we have a lot of tall steps on our stairs, the toilet nearest to the living room is far far away. I admit it's not going to be an easy feat to live in my house with a broken leg, therefore I'm predicting that I will have to stay in bed for a loooooong time.

The cousin and fam bought me beautiful blue flowers!
And damn, with my impending lack of exercise due to the immobility of my leg, I'm gonna be fat as hell. I was so pumped up to work out and train for my Nike Run next year! I even bought an app that could help with my training progress. Guess that's delayed and will have to wait till my next semester break. I was also going to learn to cook some dishes e.g. chicken and avocados with balsamic vinegar, spaghetti carbonara and poached salmon. I had so many plans!!!

It's okay it's okay, trying to reassure myself that I have also other hobbies and skills to explore and throw myself into without having to move my legs. For example, I've always wanted to learn French and this is my opportunity. I now also have more time to spend on quiet time with God daily. Hobbies like knitting and quilling came to mind, but I'm not meticulous, hard working and creative enough for that. I'd probably just dump the project after a few days but hey, never say never. Also, I can probably study and get a head start for next semester's subjects, no harm there.

Roasted granola with chocolate chips from Xian Jin. Thanks XJ! So addictive!

This rehabilitation process and trying to regain movement and strength to my leg, is not only a long, physically demanding and taxing phase, it also tests the mind... to not give up and sob over small defeats, but to rise over the challenges faced and stand up strong at the end of the day. I don't know when I got this emotional, but I almost cried when I almost slipped on the wet uphill slope to my house entrance, thinking how I can't do simple things like this and havivng to trouble my already tired family members just to get things done for me.

Pray for me, as I go through this whole new experience that I have not explored. You'll probably be seeing me blog more often because I have left this blog abandoned for far too long! I'd also like to help people in the same situation as me as I wasn't informed enough about how to handle things like this. You kinda gotta learn along the way and see how it goes, like life. More updates on my leg next time!

Life With A Sprained Ankle

Monday, December 15, 2014

(Update: My ankle is not sprained, it's fractured. Not everything in this post is completely irrelevant though. New post about my fractured leg)

Now that I'm in bed rest, I have more time for blogging lol.

I always thought that ankle-spraining was no big deal. I sprained my ankle a few times (very very minor though) and still could continue exercising after.

However, I was not at all prepared for this.

During the Run For Your Life Malaysia, I sprained my ankle. Apparently people took the term 'Run For Your Life' very literally and seriously. 
It was during a zombie wave and there were tons of zombies, eagerly wanting to pull out life tags. I followed a big group. Panic and fear made people stumble and then I tripped over them because I didn't have enough time to dodge or avoid the human heap - thus leading to a sprained ankle.

It almost felt weird because the pain and shock from falling was not as huge as one thing: Seeing my feet twisted 90 degrees to the left. It was like something out of a horror movies or American Horror Story! I was so shocked I didn't feel pain, yet. Of course when you see something like that happening to your leg (or at least for me), it quickly registers in your brain that something is clearly wrong and it must be fixed. So I twisted it back easily, because my joints felt like jelly. I could easily twist my leg back to the left completely if I wanted to, it was terrifying. And then, the pain comes in.

And it hurt. Some organisers and a zombie helped me up and laid me down on a safer place on the side. Promptly after that, another person was put beside me for the same problem: sprained ankle. Her name was Crab and she was such a friendly person! Without her, I would've been very lonely the entire time from the field to the medic tent.

We look happy, but trust me, we are not.

Anyways, I had to do the usual things like bandaging and icing. Elevating the leg even hurt. Everything hurt. But then again my tolerance for pain wasn't very high. So my parents got a wheelchair and a pair of crutches for me to help with going from one place to another (thanks church!).

And with my luck, OF COURSE the Ohhsome Fest and bowling with Wong Fu and David was on that night itself and the next day. The chinese traditional doctor guy told me not to and I needed to rest, but this was a once in a lifetime thing! I was determined to go, so I went.

Reached Avenue K after a long, painful process of getting into the car, and there was no ramp (which I later found out was on the other side of the entrance ugh -.-), and I THINK I twisted my ankle AGAIN. My swollen ankle was in mid-air and with the forward movement of my hop, the unhealed leg somehow slightly twisted again and I felt intense pain. Probably because my joints weren't healed and were still jelly-like. Sigh. We should probably just implement ramps everywhere. The guards didn't even bother to inform us that there was a ramp on the other side!

Also, why do people make the doors of the toilets for people with physical difficulties the kind where there's a weight that closes the door? How are people gonna push the door open when both our hands are trying to push ourselves forward into the toilet?? Well thank God for kind people who offered to open the door for me though.

At the same time, my mouth felt drier than usual the whole time I wasn't even sure why. Which meant I had to drink more water. Which also meant then the frequency of my toilet going increases. With my leg, it was SO troublesome, painful and inconvenient to just push myself up the wheelchair or whichever surface I was on to place my derrière on the toilet bowl. Thank God they provided toilets for people with physical difficulty with railings that I could hold on to for leverage. From then on, I realised I would have to torture myself to go to the toilet.

Rolling around the mall in a wheelchair, I felt as if some people were looking at me, trying to figure out what poor tragedy I stumbled upon. How did I know? Because I knew I would've done the same.

The pain is horrible though. Even when my leg was at rest, there was still that throbbing pain that threatened to become an even more intense pain if I moved my leg just a little bit. Every single second - it hurt. When I move from a certain location to another and had to lift my leg, it hurt so bad. It's as if my swollen ankle had a weight tied on it all the time. Even gravity makes it hurt. 

And once you stay at a place, you kinda stay there forever (unless you're ready for more pain from moving to another location). If you don't have someone to help you take stuff, then man good luck. I am lucky because I have my relatives and family who help me once in a while :) It's difficult to go the toilet, difficult to get in and out of the car, difficult to just MOVE your leg from one orientation to another... the inconvenience of it all... I have experimented with 5 different leg positions, because my leg gets painful after awhile on each position so I always switch it up.

Over here, we have the prop your leg over another to elevate your foot. Note: It hurts when you lift it up so high. At least to me cause it feels like my foot is gonna twist any time. And your leg gets tired.

This one is the most normal leg position. But it doesn't elevate your leg, and the heel gets a little painful after awhile because of the swelling on the bottom.

This one is for when all the other leg positions get tiring and painful, and you want to just not touch the heel for awhile, so you prop your foot's base on the flat surface. Also gets tired because you're kinda resting your whole leg on it so that's painful too.

This one helps to elevate your foot. But hell, this one gets uncomfortable and painful after awhile because of the weight it puts on the heel, and my heel hurts.

I think this one is the most recommended leg position. I can stay in this position the longest, and it's the most comfortable one among the rest. It's the same as the previous one, but with a bolster underneath my hamstrings area to support the weight.

I wish I had one of those tall loops where you can put your leg in the hole and helps elevate it without touching any part of your foot. Sigh.

Also thank God for Sarah! She was my lifesaver and pushed me everywhere I needed to go and took care of me during, before and after the Ohhsome Fest. Her parents helped me get to the front entrance of the mall and waited with me till my dad came. Everything was made easier cause of them. A THOUSAND THANK YOUS!

One thing I did appreciate also, was strangers helping me by holding the doors open for me, asked me if I needed help with pushing my wheelchair, and moving chairs away to make way for my wheelchair. There is hope for humanity! And thank you to the security guards and organizers who helped carry me up steps because well I couldn't roll myself up steps. I know I'm heavy. Also strangers giving you their awesome spot at the very front in an event because you're too low to see anything. Thank you kind strangers!

Also hopping around and lifting your left leg in the air to avoid from being hit by all kinds of things also builds leg muscles. Not joking, it's super tiring. And pushing yourself forward? Total arm exercise. I've been doing so much hopping, it makes me so tired. Also since you can't use your leg as leverage to get up, you have to kinda do a partial sit up and then push yourself up. My core honestly hurts right now. I feel like I'm exercising lol.

And being able to park at the parking for disabled people near the entrance to the mall! No more looking for parkings lol.

2-3 days in, and I don't think the swelling is going down nor is the pain subsiding. Is that bad? Am I suppose to get it x-rayed or checked out by a western doctor. Idk. We'll find out soon because I'm going to the chinese traditional doctor tomorrow to change the bandage and see how my ankle's doing. Hopefully it's getting better because Christmas is coming! Not only that, I've made plans with friends for this week and next, and it's so sad to have to postpone them or cancel them. And I also have friends leaving the country very soon, and if I don't get to hang out with them at least once before they leave because of this injury, I will be devastated and sorely disappointed.

Idk if I'm being a wimp, but this sprained ankle thing is really painful and troublesome. It doesn't look like a big deal to other people, but man to me it's really something else. Now, I'm trying to figure out how I'm going to get downstairs and into the car tomorrow with the least amount of pain and stress put on my foot.... hmm.

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