Welcome to my blog. This is a place for me to vent and share about my adventures with an bum ankle. Join me as I make the effort to heal and be somehwat normal once again!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

So time to catch up again....

Surgery went well - as scheduled on July 17th. I was scheduled for 9 AM and that's when it was and I was home before 1 PM.

I was in a splint for two weeks. No weight bearing for eight weeks. Back to work at 10 days and did the county fair at two weeks. Whew!
This time around some big differences. First of all - IT HURT! Right in that bone on the left. The OCD this time around was 1.1cm - so about twice the size of last time - and apparently lots of debris since my doctor called it a "massive crud-ectomy". It still tends to hurt some, but I'm hoping that will go away. Plus, I have lots more swelling this time around - so much so that my big toe is "numb" and I can't bend my toes much. Feels like the ball of the foot is also swollen - which makes now starting to weight bear a bit more challenging.

After the last time I did this - I knew I had to do something to make my crutches work better for me. Doctor's office wanted me to do the knee-roller thing - but to me, that's a lazy way. I'd rather expend the energy I'm not spending because of the healing process on something that will actually "work" some of my body. So I played around and created this -

They are removable crutch covers designed to make the crutches comfortable, fun, fashionable and FUNCTIONAL. There are pockets to hold things. One hidden at the inside top for cell phone/keys and one outer pocket that is sized to hold a water bottle or other kind of drink, a tablet, book, mail, etc. People have actually been going pretty crazy over them since I've been using them. So much so that they are now Patent Pending. The interest has been so strong that I started a Kickstarter Campaign to raise the funds to complete the formal patent so we can start getting them out to people. 
Kickstarter link in the QR code

We're also on Facebook - www.facebook.com/CrutchSleeves and Twitter - www.twitter.com/CrutchSleeves.

I'm excited that this simple little idea has sparked such interest globally. We are trying to partner with the local Children's Hospital as well to get Mini-Sleeves to their patients on crutches - we think the kids will adore them!

So - that's what's up. I'm up to weight bearing (as of three days ago) and it's a slow go - but it's a go.

Adventures continue!!!!!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

So - it's time to play the "catch-up" game again....

First issue that we were facing last time was the insurance issue. I put in my request for changes on time and never heard from our agent here at work. I emailed him repeatedly, only to be told that due to AHA (Affordable Healthcare Act) - the insurance companies were running w-a-y behind on making changes, so I should just be patient and eventually it would come through.

Flash forward about four months - I FINALLY get an answer on the insurance. The change never went through - "someone" dropped the ball - who, we can't be sure because everyone is pointing the finger at everyone but themselves. God  bless my boss, who opted to help me out. The good news is - I have insurance. How much this surgery will cost me could be potentially good or bad news...

So - now into June - and I go back to visit the new doc. I explained my delay in scheduling the procedure and he's ok and says we can work on payments.

God bless him!

He sends me for a new MRI - just to make sure the damage is no worse. The good news - not any worse. Thank God for small miracles...

Surgery is now officially scheduled - July 17 - a Thursday morning, at the practice's stand alone facility. I'll be out of work for at least a week, if not two. Then comes our county-fair, where I am a Division Chair for Home Arts - meaning I practically live there for the week. Should be fun on crutches, two weeks post surgery...

Whatever possessed me to choose to be on crutches during the hottest time of year here - I'll not quite figure out - but we're doing it.

Hopefully - this will fix things once and for all.....because I really need to dance.....

Friday, December 27, 2013

So here we are again - with time escaping us....let me catch up from where I left off before....

Went back to see this new orthopedist and review the MRI. The OCD is now 1.1 x 0.9 - much larger than the original (barely 0.6 square). But, he was able to show me floating bodies within the joint and felt that the next step should be a "redo" of the microfracture and debridement - and that if that fails - we still have the option of the larger cadaver replacement surgery. :::oh fun:::

His description for this surgery (at his hand) is fairly similar to the last time. He feels he can go into the previous holes so there will be no new scarring. I will come out of surgery with some sort of a cast on the ankle which will stay there for two weeks - at which time I would see him, remove that and any stitches. I would be completely no weight bearing for 8 weeks - and then I would put a shoe on that foot and start to put weight on it until I could walk normally. They felt I could do all this on my own without any PT. I got the gal's number to call and schedule and was asked if I had crutches and also suggest to get a knee roller. (I much prefer the crutches - more of a work-out, and for an active person - eight weeks of no weight means minimal ability to "work out" so crutches would be my chance to stay a bit fit.)

So - I look at the calendar and try to plan this. First monkey wrench in the mix - I'm running for state assembly at this point in time, and while it is still summer, I'm looking at the busiest time for a campaign. To decide - do I campaign on crutches - or do I wait. I decide to wait. Next monkey wrench in the mix - the cost. Last time I was on Medicaid and the surgery and PT cost me maybe $100 in co-pays. Now that I've been working, I have insurance from my company - but now my cost is much more. $2500 deductible  and then a rediculous co-pay. Not only does my employer pay almost $10,000 a year for my insurance coverage, but I chip in an almost addition $2000 for premiums - and then to have this kind of co-payment? I worked it out, and the surgery would cost me (out of pocket) between $7-$10,000!!!! While the doctor's office was willing to work out a payment plan after insurance paid - they couldn't tell me how much I might have to agree to....

So - the next thing was to look at changing insurance when the plan year was up. The offerings were slim - with huge deductibles and co-pays - as well as additional premiums. I finally settled on a plan where my out of pocket would be about $4000 (still a lot, but much better than $7-10,000) and sent in the change forms.

And that's where I sit. Our renewal date at work was 12/15 - our agent knew I was making a change and got the paperwork in time. But I have no new cards, and no verification that I actually have this new coverage. 

And so I wait. With an ankle that is so painful, it brings me to tears. But I can't make plans without knowing 1) that I indeed HAVE insurance and 2) without knowing how much this will cost me.

So let the waiting game begin....

Friday, July 5, 2013

Adventure Update - and potential Additional Chapters....

Life does tend to catch up with us - and get away from us - and so it has with this. I had every intention of continuing this blog and whoops - here I am not quite two years later and have not mentioned a thing. So - to catch up..... After that MRI that I had in 2011 - the doctor felt there were no real changes in my ankle. The OCD was still there and not much had changed. He recommended a shot of cortisone - which I agreed to. He advised I might want to have crutches available for three-five days in case the ankle was painful or unstable - which I took him up on. The day after the shot, I attended a university football game to watch my daughter with the band. That day a freak October snow-storm (more like a blizzard) started just as the band was welcoming the football team to the stadium. That snow continued through the game and into the evening. Trying to crutch through the snow was a real adventure. The stadium offers trolley service for those that need it. After half-time, I went to find the trolley to take me back to the bus (to parking) only to be told because of the weather, they shut down trolley service! Finally, they put me in a wheel-chair and tried to push me through the six inches of snow/slush and ice. As you might imagine, it didn't work. So I put on my big-girl panties and crutched my way to the bus - and once at the parking facility - to my car. Actually, crutching in that mess wasn't that bad. I could securely plant my crutches into the snow/slush/ice and they would hold solid while I "stepped" to the next safe spot. Crutches are also quite useful in clearing snow/slush/ice off of car windshields! So after the cortisone shot, the ankle was no better, but my surgeon was stumped. He felt perhaps we could try a lubricating injection or plasma-rich injection. However, my insurance felt those were all "experimental" and wouldn't approve them. So - I just coped. For the next 18 months - coping was all I did with the ankle. Sometimes it seemed "perfect" - no catching, no locking, no pain. Then there were the days/weeks when that's all it had - catching/locking/PAIN. A couple of ER visits when it went out on me very badly and swelled up - but all they could do was check to make sure I didn't break it and put me in an aircast and crutches. Finally, several weeks ago, while stretching the ankle suddenly and very loudly went POP!!! Pain and swelling accompanied it. I thought of going to the ER - but passed on that decision - knowing they would only re-x-ray and pronounce nothing broken/nothing to be done but rest it. But what I did do, was contact a new orthopedist - one highly recommended by my primary - who was in my new insurance. Got an immediate appointment with him. He looked at my old scans and told his PA in the hall - "That thing is HUGE! Huge I tell you!" and then told me - "its a very big OCD". Also at problem was where it is on my talus - on the corner. So much so, that he would not do any surgery on it himself as he felt an OATS or other surgery would be pointless since it would easily fail (by breaking off the corner again). His recommendation was a referral to a specialist who had developed a technique of using a cadaver talus to fill the OCD. But first a new MRI. While waiting for my MRI appointment, I checked online about this new surgery potential. Very big surgery. Full ankle exposure - almost double the recovery time. Enough to make me pause on this... The MRI went without issue - except my ankle felt worse after it was over. When I called the office to check with my doctor about it - he called back with the MRI results. Seeing the new MRI - he was now comfortable in recommending another shot at microfracture and debridement (what I had in 2010) rather than the cadaver surgery. I see him on Monday to actually review the films with him and to talk about/schedule surgery. Seems like we are back on this merry-go-round for another ride. Oh the joy of it!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Back on the Merry-Go-Round

So. I am now 17+ months post surgery. Been able to lead a fairly normal life (at least normal for me) over this time - and so have not had the urge to write.

Perhaps before I go any further - I should recap.

*Surgery - debridement and microfracture - was in late April 2010.
*I began PT in May 2010 and continued into October when there was an issue with my insurance coverage.
*During longer walking trips, the ankle started catching and even locking.
*By March 2011, all my insurance issues were resolved.
*In April, I chaperoned the HS band trip to Disney World. While the trip itself was a joy - my ankle was not joyous.
*Once back from Florida, I called my primary care physician. After examining my ankle thoroughly, he put me back in an air cast temporarily, and on a regimen of Naproxen. Eight days into the Naproxen therapy I had to stop because it affected my blood pressure.
*On follow-up with my primary - he now thought perhaps I was suffering from tendinitis and sent me back to PT - with a follow-up half-way through the process.
*PT was uneventful. Yet the pain the my ankle continued and issues with catching and locking increased.
*Again, on follow-up with my primary - he now felt we "went at" the ankle from every angle - and there were still problem - so he decided to send me back to the surgeon.

This brings us pretty current.

Yesterday I saw my surgeon. First - a set of new x-rays, and then into an exam room so he could see me. His first words to me - "You're back?" and then after we chat about the ankle he says - "Don't tell me you tore MORE cartilage?"

He checked the x-rays and they are inconclusive. Based on my symptom-ology though, it seems I have most likely got "something" floating around in the joint. When it's floating "free" - things are good - when it gets stuck - the joint locks and I'm in pain. He also showed some concern in the area where he removed a large amount of inflammatory tissue.

So - it's off for a new MRI to better see what's up in my ankle.

And then we go from there...

:::::Why do I think its going to be another surgery and more months on crutches?::::::

Do I want to ride this merry-go-round yet again?

May have no choice.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Friday, September 24, 2010

Twenty-One Weeks Post-Op

Time has flown by - and as I become more "normal" - it seems like I have forgotten to update here....

Physical Therapy continues - three days per week - even now. My therapy consists of 15 minutes of electrical stimulation with heat; deep massage of the ankle - specifically the incision sites; resistance band work; 5 pound weight sequence; Pro-Stretch; the half-ball; rocker board; treadmill; and elliptical machine.

I was officially down to one crutch by mid-August and by the end of August had "graduated" to a cane. I now walk more like "Igor" than a drunken chimpanzee.

Now, at almost the end of September, I use the cane when I am out, but around the house, manage to do without.

There is still considerable pain in and around the ankle. The last visit to the surgeon, he again talks that nothing was guaranteed (which I knew) and perhaps we may have to do Cortisone shots to the ankle, or lubrication injections to see if that helps.

While my therapist is happy with the range of motion, he says I need to build more strength. I feel both are lacking. I tried to teach a simple jazz run last week and wasn't able to even demonstrate it.

I am at a point of mixed feelings. Some days I am glad to have had the surgery and "fixed" the problem. But there are more days than not, that I question why I bothered - before the surgery, even though I had pain, I could do things that I still can't do - almost 5 months since the surgery.

I think right now, I would be very happy to be able to move gracefully again.....