Wednesday, July 17, 2013

2 weeks pre-op

I suffer from partial talotarsal dislocation in both ankles. I'm 54 years old and just found out about this a couple of months ago thanks to a very sweet Jack Russel terrier named Gracie who I was doggy sitting for my sister-in-law. In just two weeks I am going to have a Hyprocure stent inserted in my right ankle and if all goes well, about 6 weeks after that, I will have another one inserted in my left ankle.

Maybe you are considering having the same procedure  - this blog is for you. This is going to be an impartial blog that you can trust - I'm not being paid by Hyprocure or a podiatrist. If you're like me, you want to hear about first hand experiences, good and bad, and that is what I am going to write about in this blog.

I started spraining my ankles just about as soon as I could walk. I couldn't ice skate because if I tied the skates tight enough so that my ankles were stable, the circulation to my feet was cut off. I have lost count of the times that I have twisted my ankle on a stone no bigger than a piece of gravel and gone headlong into the pavement, ripping out the knees in my pants and scraping the palms of hands.

As I got older, I started having pain in my back, so I went to a chiropractor who advised me that my pelvis was tilted, my shoulders uneven and my spine twisted. I had multiple adjustments that did absolutely nothing to alleviate my pain.

Then I began to have pain in my hip joints - it felt like they were going to pop out of their sockets. And one of my hamstrings was so tight that I was sure I had pulled it. For my hip pain, I received Active Release Therapy, a type of very painful massage. It didn't resolve my hip pain, although it did give me a set of very attractive bruises.

Through all of this, I just gritted my teeth and kept teaching aerobics and jogging 3 miles a day, until one day, I just couldn't do it anymore, so I just stopped exercising for a while, figuring that a bit of rest would solve everything.

After a couple of years of rest, and a weight gain of about 50 lbs, I agreed to look after Gracie for 3 months when my sister-in-law was out of the country. Gracie needed to be walked and so did I - I decided that both of us were going to get back in shape. I quickly worked up to walking between 5 and 8 miles every day. I reasoned that my feet hurt so much because I was so heavy and so out of shape and that if I just kept at it, it would get easier.

After Gracie left, I kept up the regime. My Achilles tendons hurt so much I would be in tears half-way through my walk. My feet would fall asleep while I was walking. Finally, one morning when I got up I had a stabbing pain in my right heel. After I had been up for a while, it went away, but it would come back after I had been sitting for a while. Research on the Internet convinced me that it was plantar fasciitis and I started doing the recommended stretching and icing as well as always wearing shoes, both indoors and out.

The plantar fasciitis, despite all my stretching and icing, got so bad that I finally went to see a podiatrist. As I gave him my history, I could tell that he had heard it all before. He took some x-rays of my ankles and nodded - it was just as he had suspected -- I had partial talotarsal dislocation in both ankles. This was the source of all of my foot, leg, and back pain, as well as my twisted spine and uneven shoulders. He told me that orthotics might help, but he doubted it. But, he said, a little surgery could fix my problem permanently. I guess he saw my eyes widen at the word "surgery" - that word certainly startled me. He agreed to start with orthotics and if they did the trick, then I could skip the surgery.

I have had the orthotics for nearly 4 months now. They have been of little help. Although I was able to relieve the plantar fasciitis with a splint I wore every night, the soles of both feet now hurt so much that I can barely hobble from my car to my office. Walking my dog, even around the block, is out of the question. The ache in my ankles and feet doesn't go away completely, even when I'm sitting down, even when I take Tylenol or Aleve. Icing doesn't help. Massage doesn't work. The pain wakes me up and I can't get back to sleep. I'm so tired and sore that I feel like I'm a hundred years old.

So I am really looking forward to having the stent inserted. I'm a bit apprehensive about the post-op pain and immobility, but I can't imagine how it can be worse than what I'm feeling right now. And even if it is worse at first, as I recover, the pain should lessen.

The procedure costs $3500 per foot and is not covered by OHIP, which is the Ontario health insurance plan. It is not covered by my private insurance either, which has a limit of $300 per year for podiatry services. So it's coming out of my pocket. But it's a small price to pay if I will be able to walk normally again.