Cast Off – Boot On

Much as I was looking forward to having my cast off today, I’ll confess I was also a little nervous. I just couldn’t see how I would instantly transfer from not walking on a leg for 6 weeks, to suddenly walking on it. And when the cast did come off, I could have cried. I knew my ankle and foot would look horrendously atrophied, but I wasn’t prepared for how it would feel. Like an uncontrollable jelly at the end of my leg. I didn’t seem to be able to do anything with it at all.

Anyway, the next step was to see the consultant. He pressed all around the site of the fracture – no pain. He asked me to bend the ankle as far as I could – I managed a little way. Then he bent it for me – I nearly hit the roof. How on earth was I going to walk on this thing?

The answer became clear. I was to be given an air boot. With this contraption on, I have to re-train my brain to put all my weight again on my left leg and get back into walking. I can take it off if I want – but unless I’m wearing it, I’m still not allowed to put any weight on the ankle for at least 4 weeks.

So, my next appointment with the consultant is in 6 weeks time and at the very least he wants to see me walking in to his office perfectly normally, but with the boot on. If I feel up to it though, I can start trying to walk without it after 4 weeks.

This is definitely taking longer than I thought!

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About chrissiedixie

Love being out on the moors and mountains, backpacking, dogs, travelling generally. Favourite place in the world - Yosemite National Park. Retired teacher and ex Mountain Rescue Deputy Team Leader. Married to Geoff, who puts up with all sorts.
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47 Responses to Cast Off – Boot On

  1. Dawn says:

    Healing can be a long process Dixie. Literally, take it one step at a time. Wish you well, hang in there.

  2. beatingthebounds says:

    Blimey, more frustration! Good luck with that.

  3. Geoff says if I pretend to lose the boot and get a replacement one, he’ll be able to use them as motorbike boots when I’ve finished with them…

  4. surfnslide says:

    Very stylish!
    Best of luck with the ongoing recovery, just be patient – a bit like me – NOT! 🙂

  5. Well done getting to this stage. It is sort of strange learning to walk again. it is something you don’t normally think about. Had to do this after I snapped my achilles tendon playing Squash a number of years ago. You will soon be back to walking !

    • Thanks for that Mark. You don’t realise how much you take for granted until something like this happens do you? I’ve already resolved that when this is sorted, never to pass up a chance for a walk or a night away again!

  6. southwestdesertlover says:

    Best wishes for your continued healing, Dixie. It takes a longer time than we’d like. I had knee surgery back in 2010 and it seemed to take forever to heal. :^) It absolutely gets better and better, I promise!

  7. Thank you very much for your kind words – much appreciated.

  8. Martin Rye says:

    Stick in there and you’ll heal fully and soon be out and about.

    • Hi Martin, thanks for that! Feel so frustrated at times, but I’m trying to follow all the consultant’s instructions properly. After all, even if it takes a few weeks longer than I expected I want it to be right so I can be back out there with you all! Btw, liked your spooky comment on Mr Boulter’s blog about your dad turning stuff off in the house and it turning itself back on again. In the first few weeks after my dad died, we had lots of things like that happen in our house….but then, he always was a bit of a practical joker!

  9. backpackingbongos says:

    Does that thing take a crampon? It looks like a knee length mountaineering boot. Sorry to hear that it’s going to take so long to heal. Hopefully the pain has now gone.

    • It’s so huge, I don’t think a crampon exists that’s big enough!
      Yes, the long recuperation is a bit of a bummer. I don’t think I’m realisitcally going to be on the Southern Upland Way either at Spring Bank, although I’m hoping that by then I’ll be doing something in the hills – even if they’re just very short routes for a few weeks. We’ve got to get up to Scotland mind, so I can collect my whisky prize off Mr. Edwards……
      It hasn’t really hurt though for several weeks now, but the current thing is aching muscles as I’m starting to use the leg again.
      At least you’re all keeping me entertained with your trips – although Dixie says she’s worried Reuben will have forgotten all about her by the time she sees him again!

  10. Hi Chrissie, and thanks for subscribing to my blog (One Man’s Mountains AKA One Pillock’s Hillocks)

    We have a couple of things in common, apart from blogs. Like you, I’m ex-MRT – 17 years with Penrith MRT (two stints as assistant TL) and also ex-SARDA with a graded dog.

    The other thing we have in common is that I’m a dog nut – sorry about this, but for me it’s Border Collie’s all the way! Having said that, our ‘Mist’ has had some fun running with Boxers in our local park.

    I featured ‘Mist’ in a blog recently – as a fellow dog lover you might enjoy reading this –
    http://hillcraftguidedwalking.wordpress.com/2011/12/12/56-a-dogs-life-re-visited/

    Looking forward to following Dixie’s adventures, and wishing you a swift recovery from your ankle injury.

    Paul

    • Hi Paul, thanks for coming over to see the blog!
      We do have another thing in common actually, we used to have a Border Collie too – Ragga. Hubby Geoff was also in MR for many years (25), and at one point he decided to train a dog for SARDA. They trained for a couple of years and Ragga was doing really well, but at the point when Geoff becamed Team Leader he realised he couldn’t do both to the standard he wanted to, so gave up the SARDA side of things, although of course Ragga continued going out in the mountains with us for many years. We still miss her…While he’d been with SARDA I used to go along to all the training as well and body with my previous Boxer, Cleo. In fact I have been wondering if I recognise you…
      I was in MR for 21 years – a couple of years with Calder Valley, then a couple with Holme Valley and then the rest of the time with Kinder, where I was Deputy for the last few years.
      Thanks for the best wishes for the ankle and I look forward to both reading your posts and seeing lots of photos of Mist – who looks very like Ragga.

  11. Where the Fatdog Walks says:

    Looks like something you might need for ice hockey!

    Sorry to hear that you’ll be laid up for a while yet Chrissie…on the up side you’re getting plenty of time to write the blog. Hope the process speeds up…before you start tearing the house to bits.

    • Hi Ken, hope your fitness regime is going to plan. Is Maisie on her own regime too?

      Never thought about ice hockey – mind you I’d be no use as I never could go backwards. Forwards and no sharp turns was as skilled as I ever got on ice skates.

      I think Geoff’s just waiting for the time now when I can use the vacuum cleaner instead of a crutch…

  12. Jo Ritchey says:

    Hi – I’m losing a cast tomorrow for a broken distal fibula, right above my right ankle. I will be getting some sort of boot, too, following two stints with casts, the first for nearly a month and then these last two weeks. I hated the way my foot looked after removal of the first cast – still very bruised up to my knee and out to my toes, and pain when the doc touched the fracture point; hence, the second cast. Yikes, I too fear a difficult adjustment to walking with both feet again. This has been interesting to read.

  13. Hi Jo, it’s nice to hear that this has been interesting for someone suffering the same problem! Can’t remember if I said anywhere, but it was my distal fibula I broke too, only the left one. Good luck with everything. The worst thing for me with the boot, was having to put it on to go to the toilet in the middle of the night! I tried sleeping with it on the first night but it was too uncomfortable. It did take a surprising amount of time though, to get used to not having something solid round my ankle – it felt a bit vulnerable.

    My calf muscle ached like mad (enough to take painkillers), for the first few days. After all, it hadn’t been used for weeks.

    It does improve though! Even though I didn’t see the consultant again for another 6 weeks, I did take the boot off myself after 4 weeeks. I first started walking in walking boots, and then gradually graduated to trainers etc over about a month. I also started physio after seeing the consultant again, and that was really good. It made me feel like I was really making progress.

    So, about 6 months after breaking it, I was backpacking again, although it was probably another 2 months after that before I finally felt that it was totally back to normal again. Now, it is just a distant memory, and I hardly give it a second thought!

    Good luck with it all, and if you want to know anything else, just ask!

    • Jo Ritchey says:

      Hi Chrissie – First of all, thank you so much for the quick and detailed reply! I went this morning to the doc, and as planned, cast #2 was removed, films were taken, and I was fitted with an airboot. He wants to see me in a month again, but until then, although I can remove the boot to bathe or exercise (flex) while watching tv or something, I am supposed to wear it day and night until I see him again. that part doesn’t thrill me. But, for starters, I’m planning on taking a bath later, to help get my skin back to normal again.
      I must say, already I’m feeling more mobile. I doubt that I’ll use my knee scooter anymore and dropped one crutch already. Yes, it’s tender and I feel tentative, but so far so good.
      FYI, I’ve always been pretty active, not so much in recent times, but this year I’m hoping to rekindle some active choices from my life, including some hiking, camping, gardening, and wood working/seat weaving. I turn 61 on my next birthday, coming soon in February, so I’m not a kid anymore. I must remember to take things slowly and be patient…but I’m doing OK!

  14. Jo Ritchey says:

    PS Where do you live? My hubby and I and our two big dogs live in Eastern Washington State in the US. They call this “the banana belt” of Washington. We have 4 seasons, but summer is long and has some hot triple digit days; winter is mild, just gray out there with very little precipitation.

    • I can remember it taking a few baths to get the skin back to normal!

      We live in the UK, in an area called the Peak District, near Manchester. We have been to the Pacific Northwest a couple of times, although I haven’t done any blog posts about those trips yet. I do plan to though. We’ve done several hiking and backpacking trips in the Cascades and the Enchantments, and really enjoyed the mountains over there. One of our favourite places to stay inbetween backpacking trips was an inn called the ‘Chewuch Inn’ at Winthrop. We also found a fantastic bakery/coffee shop at Twisp – called ‘The Cinnamon Twisp’.

      In fact, you might have inspired me now to get a blog post about the area done sooner rather than later!

      I have to say that we have travelled fairly extensively in the States, and Seattle is without doubt our favourite city. Not too big, lovely setting, easy (and safe) to wander around. We really enjoyed exploring it. Plus, it has the flagship store for REI – we could spend hours wandering around there!

      I wish you well with your plans for more camping and hiking this year. I do believe that my experience with a broken ankle (and lets face it, things could have been a lot worse), helped me to focus on ‘life’ a bit more. 12 weeks of enforced inactivity is hard!

      • Jo Ritchey says:

        Thanks again for a quick reply and added info. It’s a small world. We have a very good friend who owns property in Winthrop, and we’ve enjoyed Winthrop and Twisp! I want to go back there as soon as possible and hope to hike or do some bike riding in that pretty area. Where we live is like high desert, so trees are sparse and sage and bushes abound…The Cinnamon Twisp sounds delicious right now!!! (groceries needed by the end of the day today, for sure!!!)

        Having grown up in the northeast (upstate NY and VT), I miss trees and mountains and hills. Then, since later living in San Diego, CA for over 21 years, I really miss the ocean…this place is fine, and we are able to enjoy a large yard with pool and hot tub and the beautiful Columbia River a stone’s throw from our back fence…so no complaints, really.

        On the ankle topic, I’ve enjoyed two oatmeal baths, followed with a very nice foot lotion, and my skin is looking quite acceptable already. I am having some heel pain wearing the boot, but I’m guessing it’s just because of the new weight-bearing my whole leg has to get used to. I now have a hiking shoe/boot on my good let, so my posture is more even. That should help, too.

        As long as we are here, if you travel to the US again, do remember we have plenty of room here, and are dog-friendly, too! We have two big ones who get along with everyone!

        • Thanks for the invite – will certainly bear it in mind if we venture over that way again!

          Sounds like you’re having some postiive experiences too with the boot/ankle. I think things did start to improve more and more quickly once I got moving a bit again. Overall I ended up with 16 weeks off work – 12 weeks in the cast and the boot, and then another 4 weeks of learning to walk again without the boot, and then there was another couple of weeks before I started driving again. So for the first couple of weeks back at work, hubby Geoff had to take me in and collect me.

          It’s just coming up to my 12 month ‘break-ankle-anniversary’ – February 5th!

          • Jo Ritchey says:

            Question: Did you have ‘heel’ pain when you were wearing the boot? I’ve just had my boot for 4 days now, so maybe my foot is still just getting used to bearing weight, but my heel is really suffering. My calf muscles don’t seem too sore, but my heel really hurts, almost from the moment I first put my foot down. I’ve been adjusting the airpump part and the velcro straps to alleviate pressure points. I ended up taking a pain pill awhile ago, after being on my foot for a couple of hours this morning helping my hubby get ready for an out-of-town trip. Now I’m ready for a nap! Oh well, I’m not a kid anymore, and it could be worse!

  15. julie says:

    i had a cast on for nearlly 7 weeks ive just been given the air boot and have to wear that for 6 weeks i can partial weight bear but its quite awkward and its achy if i only use 1 crutch its actaully heavier than the cast but am getting better everyday

    • It took me a good week or so before I dared try and put all my weight on the boot! You suddenly realise you’re making progress though, and before you know it you’ll be desperate to try and take the thing off! I have to say that it was a good six months though from the initial fracture, to being out in the mountains properly, and even then (with hindsight), I wasn’t fully right. In fact, I can honestly say that although I thought I was back to normal after about 6 months, it was a year before I’d totally forgotten about the injury and not favouring it at all, Good luck!

      • jo says:

        Hi – I know what you mean about it taking time to really feel ‘normal’ again. I still have a lot of stiffness in my right foot/ankle when I first rise and then again after a busy day. I’m able to do the mowing of our 1/2 acre lot, though, which is major progress. I actually returned to the orthopedist after being set free from the boot, because I was having so much pain in my foot, across the base of my toes. More xrays determined that my foot is ‘deformed’ with bunion on one side, bunionet or tailor’s bunion on the other, and arthritis in the joint of my large toe. Oh, the joys of getting older! Time to spend money on real shoes!!!

        • It’s a good job no-one actually tells you how long the whole process will really take, when you first go into A&E isn’t it? It would have made me seriously depressed! Glad to hear you’re making good progress though, even if you have found out you’re deformed!!! That’s something else you learn once it’s too late isn’t it – spend money on decent shoes and look after your feet! 🙂

  16. Jude Waters says:

    This is all so good to hear.
    I had ORIF on 17th December 2013 and am due to go to consultant tomorrow and have my fibre glass cast removed…hoorah! 2 metal plates and lord knows how many pins are holding my fib and tibs in place. All I want to know is that I will walk again in a beautiful, wild place without fear of falling over!! Your stories have give me insight and the patience to know that it is likely to happen.
    Thanks to all
    Jude. UK.

    • Hi Jude, great to hear from you. I am so pleased if my stories have given you the hope that all will be well again soon! I was backpacking and wild camping again in the mountains within 6 months, and although I never looked back from then on and kept pushing myself to do the things I wanted to do, I will say that it was a full year before I stopped thinking about it altogether and felt that I’d got the full range of movement back. Just keep going and keep being positive – it WILL get to the point where it’s just a memory! Chrissie x

  17. Dan says:

    Glad you are better now.. My Dr told me at emerg to go home ice and elavate.. My legg was numb and went back to emerg 3 times before same dr says.. Your fibula is broken and ankle is out of joint.. So i walked on it for a month in real pain before dr figered out.. After i went umder the knife for surg the dr seen fluid so put me under for no reason… I have been off my lef 4 months and all cause of the dr did not know how to read an xray!! yes he worked in emergency at hospital.. Ontario Dr just wanted golf membership money!!

    acedoginthejungle@hotmail.com for any questions…

  18. Cathy says:

    I just stumbled on your blog and am really glad I did! I just got my cast off after 6 weeks. I broke my ankle and had surgery to have pins and a plate put in. I love to hike, backpack, run, bike, or do anything else active, and this break has been a HUGE downer. I’ve come across a lot of blogs with people in similar situations, but I haven’t found another hiker. I was very excited when I pulled yours up and saw the background pictures!! I see in a previous comment that you were back at it within six months. Did you have issues with swelling when you first started backpacking again? What were some of the other issues you had when you go out again?

    • Hi Cathy!
      Where to start?!
      The worst pain I had was the first couple of days I started to use it again – I couldn’t believe how much that calf muscle ached! I relied on Ibuprofen and paracetamol for those 2 days, and then suddenly the pain eased.
      I was very stubborn and determined once I started walking again, and found it quite frustrating that it took time. Any pain around the joint was due to the tendons and ligaments not having been used for so long – nothing to do with the fracture. Not enough pain for painkillers though, but enough that I limped. It probably took 3 or 4 weeks for that to sort itself out.

      My foot was slightly swollen and I couldn’t wear anything but my largest fitting footwear to start with – but again 3 or 4 weeks and that was fine.

      I was very lucky and had no general swelling around the leg, but apparently that’s quite common. I put that down to me being as active as I possibly could.

      After those first 3 or 4 weeks, things started to improve fairly quickly and I was hill walking again (albeit in a small and careful way!) a couple of months after losing the boot.

      Six months after the fracture, I was backpacking with a heavy rucksack again, but even then I knew I didn’t quite have the full range of movement back yet, or even the same balance yet that I used to have. Over the next couple of months after the first backpack, it was all a series of ‘firsts’. The first time I ran, cycled, swam etc. – each one making me feel a bit nervous, but I never had any problems.

      The main thing I can’t emphasise enough though, is the stubborness and determination aspect. It dented my confidence quite a bit, but you have to force yourself to get out there and try and expand that exercise horizon a tiny bit each day. My husband was very supportive in this – a caring bully!

      My prediction is you’ll be pretty active and back to your old pursuits again fairly quickly, but it will be a full 12 months after you initially broke it, before you totally stop thinking about it. I’m sure this is normal!

      If you have any more questions about anything I’ve said – or haven’t touched on! – please get back to me!

      Good luck,
      Chrissie

  19. Liz Hayes says:

    Hiya, have just found your blog. Wish I’d started one now.

    I’ve had Achilles’ tendon reconstruction. I’m now in a boot after 5 casts and starting physio on Friday. Have a bit of an infection going on at the moment so don’t know if this will hamper my improvement.

    I cannot emphasise enough how feeble I feel.

    People with real health problems cope with life threatening illnesses everyday, yet here I am with a cut on my heel acting all pathetic.

    I am still non weight bearing and the impact this has had on my life has been unbelievable.

    My hat goes off to everyone in the same position, and thank you for sharing your stories.

    Liz x.

    • I’m continually amazed at how many people have – and continue to – looked at my posts about my broken fibula, and am also pleased that they seem to offer some help to folk.
      I wish you all the best with your tendon problem and hope that it will all soon be a distant memory. Believe me, I had some very dark, low moments, even with my ‘simple’ fracture! 🙂

  20. Hi Chrissie, your post is very helpful. I brok my tibia & fibula playing softball, and just had my hard cast off yesterday after ten weeks. When they fitted me for a walking boot I was in tears (and I have a high pain tolerance, didn’t even cry when I broke it!) last night I slept with the boot on and a compression sock. I woke up every hour feeling like my foot was on fire. It was some of the most excruciating pain I’ve ever felt. I started to walk slowly last night with my crutches, but it is so painful I’m worried about cringing and falling. I hope this pain goes away soon. I start PT on Monday and I know that will be painful too, but I’m trying to be strong. Do you have any other advice for dealing with the pain and swelling in the early days? Pain pills every couple hours only help a small amount. I’m assuming it is one Of those “this too shall pass.” Thank you!

    • Hi, I well remember that excruciating pain! I took ibuprofen and acetaminophen and codeine for a few days, but the pain did only last a few days. Can you take your boot off in bed? I did and it was much more comfortable overnight
      😊

  21. Paul Besley says:

    I remember it well. Except mine was a plaster cast. It took a long time getting back up and walking as normal. Just kept doing little bit more everytime and when I pushed it too far and it let me know, I eased back a bit. Sure you will do OK. Thanks for stopping by the blog too.

    • Hi Paul, I remember going backpacking on Bleaklow 6 months after the fracture and realising that although I was managing I wasn’t back to normal at all. In fact if anyone ever asks, I always say it was a full 12 months before I felt all the remnants of it had gone and was no longer having any issues with it!

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