At Home Recovery

Advice for Newcomers

So… I’ve been stuck at home recovering from surgery since January 16th, 2 months now. Across the world, but certainly as per CDC guidelines here in the United States, I’m sure many of you are now looking down the tunnel of similar isolation as you protect yourself, your family, and your community from COVID-19. I thought, since I have a bit of a leg up on this (although, it does mean in a few weeks this staying at home will flip from being related to surgery recovery to being related to COVID-19), that I should share some advice:

  • Forget about the weather report. I mean, seriously, why bother. You aren’t going anywhere anyways. The most it can affect you is if severe storms risk power outages, so pay attention to NWS warnings, but the daily forecast really isn’t important.
  • Give up on activity tracking like that which the Apple Watch does for the time being. This was definitely a thing for me stuck at home not even walking much, but for everyone who is at home all the time you won’t likely meet your goals. That is just fine. Your health is important and being protected largely by staying home for the time being. If you don’t meet your movement or exercise goals that is fine. Your stand goal should still be met, though. You may even want to disable the activity notifications your device has for the time being.
  • Stay in touch with friends and family using the internet. Social media is one way. But so to is the use of tools like iMessage, FaceTime, Zoom, Google Hangouts, and many more. Oh, and also phone calls. Regularly check in with your people.
  • When shopping is necessary, consider going at low-volume times like right when stores open or right before they close. Also go to local shops for the necessities as much as possible. But hey, I just read that as I haven’t been anywhere except doctor’s appointments recently.
  • When working from home, which remember is my norm anyhow, find a hobby or other fun activity to do, be it on the internet or entirely offline, to break things up. Also it is best to have a given place in your house in which to do your professional work.
  • Perhaps, just maybe, try to stick to a regular basic schedule of when to sleep, when to eat, and so forth. That will be healthier than sleeping more, eating more, and such.
  • Netflix and other streaming services are your sanity’s friends. So are games you play on your devices.
  • Having reputable news sources to read online is a good idea. This will help keep you informed, and sane.
  • Whatever you do, do not panic. Seriously, that will make things much worse (see toilet paper hoarding, for example).

Of course, the CDC plus my advice is not the end of the line. If you have more, feel free to share. Together we will get through the next few weeks to months of this COVID-19 more or less shutdown of good swaths of society.

Also posted on my regular blog.

Follow-up Appointments

Stage Three

The first stage of surgery recovery was the hospital stay. That lasted about 2 days. That is also when this blog really begun to document the process of my recovery. One could say this stage lasted the first whole week, until the Robert Jones bandage came off and I was settled in my long term recovery routine.

The second stage of surgery recovery was casting. It, like stage one, is a fully non weight bearing stage of recovery. This is the stage that has been the last 8 weeks, and also is probably the longest, in reality, not just in the patient’s head. This stage ended at around 11 am today.

After the last cast came off I got a second round of x-rays, and then it was all hurry up and wait for Dr. Koop. But hey, I don’t really mind that wait, because it comes from the amount of time he spends with each individual patient. He takes the time that is needed rather than getting in and out quickly. In many ways that is part of what makes him such a good surgeon, and part of why I got around to this surgery before his eventual retirement. Also, he is a Johnnie (I wonder if he dislikes the purple clinic rooms and prefers the red ones, as they’re color coded at the hospital, I saw him in a purple room today ? ).

When we saw him, it was, as may be expected, all fantastic news. He saw ample evidence of continued bone healing, and was able to answer all of my lengthy list of questions. I am now, officially, done with the non weight bearing recovery, hence stage three begins. While I won’t be given the green light to walk on my right foot until my April follow-up with Dr. Koop, I am now allowed to, and encouraged to, set my foot down on the floor when sitting, or even when standing using my walker. Up until now I’ve been keeping my foot up on stools when siting. Really all I cannot do is walk on the foot. Super news, and a solid step forward!

After meeting with Dr. Koop I went and got my new AFO fitted. It is far different from the old one, but already feels better than the old one did at the end, though that is likely mostly my foot having been literally rebuilt at the skeletal and muscular levels in the time since I last wore my old AFO. Though for the next chunk of time at least I’m to wear my AFO as if it were a cast (about 22 out of 24 hours) it is not, indeed, actually a cast. There is no top, so my foot gets lots of good air, also I can take the AFO off. While usually this will likely be in the evenings after dinner before going to bed, the nicer side-effect of this is that I can take baths, and wash my right leg and foot even in my regular showers again (although I should still use a shower bench and get help). Later tonight I’ll probably soak in the bathtub to wash off all the grime on my right leg and foot (and the rest of my body, but it has been getting showers about every other day all along during recovery). Further, this means that the three incisions will be able to regularly breathe openly, instead of being stuck under padding in a cast, which should help the skin healing.

My last stop was at Physical Therapy to get an evaluation and overview of what that process will be, which stretches out until early June. As I cannot walk yet, this was basically getting an idea of what PT will be, and laying out my goals, which in order are:

  1. Walking independently
  2. Using stairs
  3. Walking long distances
  4. If time left, get an idea of what exercises I should do long term to not just help my foot, but my weight and health in general, seeing as my professional work is all at the desk I’m sitting at writing this right now

I was also given a few exercises I should be doing twice a day, to simply keep my muscle strength up as I continue to not be walking at all on my right foot. Those I’ll probably do in bed before going to sleep and after waking up each day, as they’re to be done lying down.

Once done, I was at the hospital for 5 hours. A long time. But not as long as I was there right after the surgery.

Alas, this ultimately means anther month or so of this upstairs-only (except for doctor’s appointments, though this time there’ll be some not related to the surgery, if all goes as scheduled) routine, and not really going anywhere else. But, given all the Covid-19 messiness in society all of a sudden, and all that is being cancelled or ought to be cancelled, and everything likely to get much worse before it gets any better, I really don’t mind. Hey, due to the surgery recovery I’ve effectively been self-quarantining myself for the last 8 weeks. Another 4 or so minimum ain’t bad. I mean, honestly, I don’t really want to go anywhere for the next few weeks anyway now. Thanks Covid-19. But in all seriousness, we should all be keeping track of everywhere we go these days, just in case. To that end, if you have an iPhone, it is doing this for you. This data can be seen on all your Apple devices, but is locked with encryption only you can decrypt. Really, Apple needs to give everyone a quick way of sharing this to health authorities now. Your device has the data, for public health they should let you share it.

The good news is that with having casting behind me, and a sense of the PT routine (plus the therapist’s contact info) we can probably make it through any shutdowns of normal society, normal medical appointments, or even if we get sick, without much harm to the overall surgery recovery process. This is not something I could have said yesterday while still in a cast. We’ll see. But truly, it is now onward not just with stage three of surgery recovery, but the total uncertainty of how society will move forward as this Covid-19 pandemic continues to unfold.

Achievement unlocked: Casting done, AFO begins