Phases of Ankle Surgery

IMG_6932 getting geared up

Figuring out how you’re going to get around is a major consideration. I mainly used crutches during the eight weeks when I could not put weight on the ankle.

For those who care, I’m posting the progression of my ankle (fusion) surgery from start to finish. Just in case you’re contemplating, or even if you’re not…here you go:

    1. Preparation. It may take years to come to the realization that you can no longer stand the pain. Once you decide to go for it, begin to prepare and don’t look back.
    2.  Surgery. The surgery itself was an exercise in trust. I trusted my surgeon and it worked out. He is a man or great confidence.
      IMG_6933 first cast

      The first cast was heavy and not fun. It stayed on for three weeks before I asked for a new one a week ahead of schedule.

    3.  The second cast was on for the remainder of the first six weeks. It came of in mid-July. By the time it came off, I was suffering from serious  cabin fever. Even took some anti anxiety pills. They worked.
      IMG_6934 new cast - red

      The second cast was a nice red color. It stayed on until the first  six weeks point when I was allowed to use a removable cast – but could still not put weight on the foot.

      4, With the new “boot” cast I had to use crutches for two more weeks, but at the end of eight weeks, I was allowed to walk with the boot on.

      IMG_6968 boot, but don't walk on it
      Here’s the special boot used to get started walking.

5.Finally the day when I could put my mountaineering boot on my right foot. That was around the 10th week. The July 15 X–Ray showed that the bone was 80% grown in.

IMG_6978 real boots - Kennetrek

Putting the Kennetrek mountaineering boot on my right foot was a major positive. I had to cut the tongue of the boot in order to fit my foot into the boot.

6 After putting on a real boot, it wasn’t long before I could take real walks and even a hike at Del Valle dam.

IMG_7011 first hike

Lola and I didn’t make it to the top, but we did go almost half way.

7. At some point in mid August, I celebrated a bit because I could see better days ahead.


8. Today, at the three month visit. Dr. Hamilton told me that I was good to go  and that I didn’t have to worry about hurting the ankle because it was 100% fused. He told me to do whatever I was comfortable with.

He also said he liked my video.

Today I climbed the hill again. Not all the way to the top, but at least half way. Didn’t want to get too sore, but right now, I’m fine and ready for more. Let the mountain climbing begin.


Ankle Fusion Progress

If you read my blog periodically, you’re probably aware of the fact that I had my right ankle fused on June 3. The ordeal that followed has been a challenge for Linda and I. During the first six weeks following surgery, I was essentially helpless and had to rely on her for most of my needs.

I can probably never do enough to repay her nor can I convince her that I understand what she has done for me. That’s they way it is sometimes under extreme conditions.

On July 15, the surgeon X-Rayed the ankle and declared that new bone had replaced 80 percent of the joint. Instead of a joint, I now have a solid bone connection between my leg bone and the ankle. The is an additional joint below the ankle that still provide opportunity for some bending.

With the good news, I was granted permission by my surgeon to begin walking on the boot which doubles as a sort of improved cast. Here it is.

boot IMG_6968

The boot straps tight around the leg and ankle. It is designed to hold your foot in place while allowing enough use of the foot to facilitate healing.

I’ve now been walking on the foot for almost two weeks. At first I used a cane for added balance. Currently, I’m only using the cane at times when I’ve walked on the foot quite a bit and it begins to get sore.

No pain. Sometimes soreness, but that is part of the healing process. If all goes according to plan, I’ll be out of the boot on August 26. The bone growth should be 100% at that time. In time for Labor Day weekend.

I’ve noticed a loss of muscle in my right leg which is to be expected. As I’m walking now, the muscles are coming  back slowly, but noticeably. Not sure where the improvement will end as without movement in my ankle, there will be something lost.

I’m on track for fishing in September and hunting in October/November.




Update On Ankle Surgery



Sitting in my recliner with foot up. New cast.

Ankle now fused. Done arthroscopically. Minimum surgical intrusion.

If all goes as planned, I’ll be able to put weight on it in four more weeks – about July 15th.

Hardly any pain, but some misery is involved. Taking a pill occasionally. Hard on my  wife as she’s the caregiver and you’re pretty useless when on crutches.

Should be good for hunting with my Open Zone tag. And, I think my brother and I will purchase a pontoon boat which will make fishing a big easier during the final month of my recovery.

The fused ankle should allow me to hunt ducks this winter without a limp.







Ankle Surgery

The purpose of this post is to provide some information that may be helpful to others who suffer from ankle or similarly debilitating foot issues, but first some background.

Forty eight years ago on a Saturday night after a rugby match in Washington DC, I attended the victory celebration in Georgetown with my teammates.

Unfortunately the drive home resulted in a crash that created serious injury including numerous broken bones. My right ankle was one of them. The recovery took about three months with the first month split evenly between Bethesda Naval Hospital and Naval Hospital at the U. S. Naval Academy.

The rest of the story worked out as well as could be expected. I recovered with little permanent damage. A bad right ankle was the most impactful.

After forty-eight years of tolerating various amounts of pain, I have reached the point where surgery is imperative to maintaining the life style that I desire. In other words, I’ve got to keep on duck and deer hunting and the ankle pain is unacceptable at this point – unless I have the ankle fused.

So now I’m two days away from the big surgical event. I’ve been considering this type of operation for 20 years and planning it for about six months now. Ankle fusion is commonly used to resolve serious ankle joint problems. In the terms I’m familiar with, it requires removing dead bone and remaining cartilage from the ankle joint, creating a path for the joint to grow together and adding a couple screws to assure the joint remains tightly compressed together.

If all goes well, the ankle joint will become one piece. The reduced motion at the former joint will affect walking, but ultimately the result will be better than doing nothing (not an option). And, I can learn to deal with that later.

With all that said, here’s some information I have picked up along the way.

The first two weeks after surgery will be critical to the success of the operation. I must keep my foot elevated and remain in a safe environment. If I were to fall and put weight on the joint, it could ruin the chances for success or create a need to repeat the surgery. That would be unacceptable. Therefore, I’m taking what steps I can to limit my exposure to falling.

Even after the first two weeks, I will need to be very careful not to fall or in any way put weight on my right foot. I expect that some type of cast will be on my foot for two months – or longer.

I expect to use crutches and a knee scooter to get around. I’ve been warming up on the crutches for a couple weeks and on the scooter for a few days.

scooter and crutches

Here’s what I’ve learned.

No mater how much experience you have with crutches, some issues are unavoidable. First you can’t carry stuff around while on crutches, unless you want to be reckless. You cannot go to the toilet, stand on one leg and get the job done, unless you want to be reckless.

The knee scooter is a nice piece of equipment, but it is unstable at times. Practice before use is necessary. Both my wife and I have crashed while trying out this scooter. Linda’s crash resulted in a broken knee cap and she wasn’t goofing around.

It’s difficult getting up off the toilet if you are sitting on a regular toilet when one foot is in a cast and you can’t put weight on it. A raised toilet seat with arm rests seems to work well. I purchased this one online.

toilet seat riser with arm rests

Stools will be useful as knee-rests so I can stand at the bathroom sink and toilet and be hands free.

I moved an old recliner from my office to the back yard in hopes that I can spend some time with my foot elevated in the outdoors. The height of the stool will put my right ankle higher than my body and I can add a pillow if necessary.

recliner and improvised foot rest

Because we own a bed that inclines at both the head and the feet, I’m in good shape on the bed issue.

Other examples of injuries that can put a person in this situation are a broken foot, broken lower leg or torn Achilles tendon.

The healing process will take 8 to 10 weeks or more.

I’m hoping that these preparations will make me more comfortable and safer while allowing me to have peace of mind going into a situation that is a bit stressful.


Trash Night

5 PM, time to feed Lola. Linda is all over it.

“OK, I’ll do it,” I say as she stares from across the kitchen.

Lola is ready and waiting, staring hard at the bowl I have in my hand.

Half a cup of dry dog food and half a cup of wet, along with a couple of so-called lubricants.

Sitting across from my bow-killed Impala ram, I’m sipping on a glass of red wine as I watch Tucker Carlson argue with a gun control fanatic. Doesn’t get much better than this at my house.

Then Linda begins her Monday night theatrics. “Trash night!

“Ugh,” I respond as I turn up the volume on the TV set.

“I’m tired of Tucker, is there anything else we can watch?” she adds.

How about “American Pickers,” say I.

“OK,” she responds, “But don’t forget it’s, it’s TRASH NIGHT!”

“Ugh,” says I.

The pickers are kicking butt on some great unusual stuff and Linda announces she’s ready for a shower.

“Don’t forget. Trash night!” says Linda as she heads down the hall.

“I won’t forget,” I respond wondering why she makes such a big deal about trash. It’s not like they won’t be here to pick it up again next week.

The National Championship game is on and soon Michigan takes a significant lead. I’m thinking this could be a big-time up-set.

Both teams are playing great, but Michigan is maintaining. Then some white guy comes out of nowhere and scores about nine points in a row for Villanova. Then he throws one in from about 30 feet.

“Trash night!’ I say to myself at the half. Time to go break down some cardboard boxes and rip them to shreds.

American Idol is recording.