Wednesday, August 22, 2012

How I recovered fast from fibula fracture-personal story

21 August 2012(revision of previous post on similar matter)

I couldn't wait to do my x-ray on 12 December 2011 to know how my ankle bone was. When I did my x-ray on 4 November 2011, the surgeon at KPJ Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia (private hospital) told me the x-ray looks good.

After 10 November 2011, I found I was able to walk and drive (auto transmission sedan). I do have the occasional pain when I walk up and down the stairs or at night when it's cold or when I use the elliptical trainer but other than that I feel fine.

My friend who visited me in GHKL (public hospital) told me that once I have the metal plate and screw inside my leg, it would be dangerous to go outside when there's lightning but I must say I haven't felt any pain though I have only been in the house so far when there's lightning.

I haven't tried running or other sports but I'm just grateful I can walk. I wouldn't want to have to rely on others to do basic things like walk or bathe or use the bedpan like I had to when I couldn't walk.

At the same time, in Malaysia, people look at you funny when you use crutches. They’re either very sympathetic or they’re not. When I was at KLIA (Malaysian airport), waiting to board the plane (MAS flight), the seats meant for disabled people were all occupied by people who weren't disabled!

Before that when mum and I wanted to eat at the Asian cafe downstairs at KLIA, there was one table that wasn't occupied but before we could even sit there, some lady 'took' it and mind you she and her family members could all walk without any aid! Malaysia is still an unfriendly place for people with disability.

Now I know why groups for the disabled (wheelchair bound etc) used to make so much noise about making public places like malls more disabled friendly. When I was studying in Australia few years ago, I hardly noticed disabled people having much problems.

My fracture was oblique distal fibula (left ankle). The doctors at GHKL did a good job with the surgery (23 September 2011), contrary to public perception in Malaysia that public hospitals are not good. I think they're good except that they're overworked and underfunded. The housemen were pretty professional too even though they're only trainee doctors.

Initially, I was told on the day I was discharged on 27 September 2011 from GHKL that I'd have to wait 12 weeks before I can walk without crutches but I find I can walk without any aid or support after 6+ weeks.

I drank a lot of conventional milk (Anlene brand), green tea (Boh brand) and soya (Drinho brand), took a lot of potassium (banana, sweet potatoes, nuts, pitted prunes and dry cranberries, brocolli, carrots), consumed less red meat and more protein and made sure I did not try to bear weight before the 6 weeks was up as I was non weight bearing.

Websites about other people's experience with ankle fracture like sports-injury-info also helped. Most important of all, I prayed and God hasten my recovery time.

If you have a similar injury (leg fracture), just remember

  • not to bear weight prematurely (your doctor will tell you exactly when you can start bearing weight based on the x-ray);
  • watch your diet (go for food that aid bone healing and avoid food that will make you put on weight due to a lack of non physical activity);
  • keep yourself busy to avoid depression so you won't be tempted to overeat to cheer yourself up, find a good physiotherapist (your physiotherapist is your best friend post op)..... I know I did at KPJ Kuching; and
  • pray.  

I lost a potentially good job offer because I broke my ankle a day before the interview and the position needed to be filled urgently. Even though I’m not very religious, I found the story of Job in the Bible very encouraging after missing out on a good job opportunity and breaking my ankle.

In addition, write about your personal experience so that others may be encouraged (I started my own blog because of my injury). Remember that when you encourage others, you will forget your own injury and you won't feel useless from not being able to do more since you cannot walk.

I'm now back in practice and I'm loving it. The quality of life is better here than in KL eventhough I'd probably make more money in KL.

Ps: Nicotine, alcohol and drugs slow down the bone healing process so if you’re a smoker, drinker or recreational drug user, you must avoid them if want to recover fast.
Also, please invest in good crutches and if you can't afford something fancy like Mobilegs, make sure the rubber at the bottom of the crutches is not hard so the grip is better or you will slip. I changed the rubber for my crutches for RM 25 each at a nearby store selling medical supplies. I didn't want to buy expensive crutches because I knew I'd walk without them at some point.
Whatever you do, don't use wheel chair because you may be too dependent on it and may lack motivation to exercise your ankle. This is detrimental because if your ankles aren't strong, you cannot bear weight! I went for more than 1 month with crutches and at times i even dragged myself (like a cripple) up the stairs but it was worth it in the end as it made me exercise my ankle so I ended up recovering faster.

Hope this helps.
If you have any queries or need clarification let me know. Not being able to walk like you usually do when you were born normal can be frightening and discouraging but I'm here to tell you that YOU WILL WALK and you will do so without any walking aid whatsoever. However, you must be persistent and believe in God and yourself.