Another medical journey

Mar 16th, 2024

Another medical journey

Anyone who reads this blog may have noticed that I haven’t said much about walking of late. I try not to be downbeat about things, so when I mentioned hurting my shoulder, I didn’t say that I also hurt my ankle in the same fall.
My left ankle has a bit of history, starting when I took up running as a child, and my proud parents bought me a very expensive pair of trainers. I was running over 50 miles a week on roads at that time, and after a few months my feet started to pain me. Several months of ignoring the pain later (this is a theme with me btw), someone pointed out that the trainers were grass shoes and inappropriate for road running. Then at the age of 18 I fell down a flight of stairs at a railway station in Switzerland and hurt my left ankle quite badly. I put it off as a sprain at the time, and because I was on my way to a summer job as a waitress, I just ignored it although I am pretty sure it was actually broken. Then I broke two toes jumping off a wall trying to escape from the college porters at Kings’ College Cambridge in the middle of the night – ignored again. Since then, I have intermittently had problems with that ankle and foot, largely intermittent clicking noises and the feeling that it was somehow not rotating correctly. It didn’t stop me walking and climbing though, and this probably contributed a few stress fractures to the rich mix.
Then I fell in the shower incident, and as well as my shoulder, my ankle swelled right up as though badly sprained. Again, it seemed to get a bit better, but it now definitely looked rather distorted. The final episode was in September when I twisted it walking up on one of the high paths above the village and compounded this by walking around London on it for a week.
So there have been no real walks since then, and the ankle was growing progressively worse during my whole run up to, and recouperation from the shoulder operation.
As soon as I got my arm out of the sling, I went to see a consultant about my ankle and had X-Rays and an MRI. The long and the short of it is that my whole ankle and foot are in a very bad way, with arthritis caused by multiple past injures and over use, and if I don’t have reconstructive surgery, I’ll soon be unable to walk without a special shoe and a stick. So I am having the surgery in April.

I’ll be off my feet entirely for at least six weeks, and partially for three to four months. Luckily enough, we not only live in a bungalow, but one of the elderly couple who lived here before us was disabled. So the entire house is level and wheelchair accessible. There was a wheelchair accessible shower but we had removed the adaptations and are now hurriedly having to put them back.
I’m not sure whether being unable to walk is actually worse than having your right arm completely incapacitated, but I guess I am about to find out. I suspect it is actually rather less disabling, as I have practiced scooting around in a wheelchair, and I can do most things, particularly as I can stand up on my right leg provided I am careful not to weight bear on my bad ankle at all. I’ve also been practicing on crutches, and while I can walk on them, I am not a fan. It says in the documentation from Ross Hall that I will only be released from hospital when I can demonstrate adequate crutch skills, so I am giving them my best efforts.

The picture is of my new wheelchair with lots of sticker’s from R’s various conferences on the back. I was thinking of getting an “L” plate for it!

The prognosis for a reasonable recovery is good, but my foot is always going to be stiff as some of the bones are being fused together, so I sadly think my long distance walking days may be possibly be over. We’ll see…

On the bright side however, my shoulder is almost completely recovered and I have 90%+ full movement range although I am still building strength.
Just before I got the date for the operation, I bought a mountain bike and had a few rides on it. It is in the shed now until I recover from the operation, but if it turns out I can’t walk long distances, I will take up mountain biking instead – probably in due course with an ebike.