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Old 12-05-09, 11:42 AM   #1
Allegheny Jet 
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My ankle is fused

On Tuesday I went to the surgery center and got screwed big time. A collegiate athletic injury suffered a very long time ago surfaced about 12 years ago which led me to cycling as my main form of exercise. At the time the doctor said an option was to fuse my badly arthritic left ankle to relieve pain. I thought I was too young at the time and also hoped medical advances would catch up and provide some additional options.

Twelve years later...

Riding has gone well but the ankle had continued to go South. Just walking from a car and into a store had become a painful chore. When I realized I was making daily decisions based of pain avoidance I knew it was time to visit a doctor again. About 1 month ago I had my meeting with the doctor and the recommendation was once again ankle fusion surgery. For the last month I needed to accomplish a lot of holiday decorating, putting away all the seasonal furniture and tools, complete the “honey do list” in advance of the tasks being posted, complete some remodeling in the basement, and plan for my absence at work. I also did as much riding as possible including riding with my buddies and doing two more cyclo cross races.

The surgeon anticipated cleaning up the outside of the ankle bones with some sort of grinder then inserting three large screws down into each of the tarsal bones. Due to the extent of joint damage and lack of any cartilage the grinding was extensive, and besides the big screws, a plate with 5 additional screws was added. The surgery was scheduled as "outpatient" and as planned my wife took me home at the end of the day.

The first evening home I was in some big time pain even though the nerve block in my leg was still effective even though the block didn't stop all feeling during the operation resulting in me being put out. Day two was a different story. When the nerve block began to wear off the pain level went through the roof. I will say that was 12 hours of my life that I would not wish to live again. Two days later and I am much more comfortable and the healing process has begun. I have also developed a fairly efficient method of bathing while standing in front of a bathroom sink.

So, I'm shut down from any training or riding for awhile. I have a doctor visit next week where I'll get the recovery/rehab process explained. I'm hoping that a PT will understand my need to ride and prescribe trainer work when any “load bearing” is allowed. I have already set up a bike on a trainer with a platform pedal for the left foot for the early rehab work. One of my fears is weight gain during the holiday season and lack of exercise. The down time will be a good opportunity to do core work as there will be no excuses because I’m too busy. I’m hoping for a complete recovery by mid-February but that may be a stretch.

I can’t wait to get off the meds so I can have a beer or two. Hopefully I won’t become a BF pest during the idle time.
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Old 12-05-09, 11:46 AM   #2
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Ouch, Heal Quikly...
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Old 12-05-09, 11:54 AM   #3
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Man, you were riding the way you were, with your ankle like that. You're going to be a ball of fire, when you get healed up.
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Old 12-05-09, 12:01 PM   #4
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I'm glad all went well with the surgery. Hell, don't worry about gaining a few pounds if the doctors give you the green light to cycle. You'll burn it off quickly.

Go pound some Budweiser. Doctor's orders!
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Old 12-05-09, 12:27 PM   #5
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All best wishes to you, heal quick, and many fast miles soon, I trust

(and I know doctors post here - is pain meds><beer really an exclusive choice? If so, I've been doing something wrong over the last few weeks!)
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Old 12-05-09, 12:30 PM   #6
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I'm glad all went well with the surgery. Hell, don't worry about gaining a few pounds if the doctors give you the green light to cycle. You'll burn it off quickly.

Go pound some Budweiser. Doctor's orders!
No way- Budweiser when your sick??????

Must be something better than that to take. I prefer a real ale like Spitfire or even Guinness- but watch out for the real ale. You have to drink it standing up. Then you know you have had enough when the floor comeup and hits you. If you sit down- you find out you have had too much too late- When you go to stand up.
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Old 12-05-09, 12:30 PM   #7
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That sounds intense. Heal quickly; good luck on the rehab.

It's hard to believe what they call "outpatient" surgery these days; just went through something w/a family member and I was amazed we were bringing her home at the end of the day.
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Old 12-05-09, 12:31 PM   #8
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Best wishes to you. Like you, I have had my share of pain lately, and, like you, I don't enjoy it one bit!!

Hoipe both you and I are back on the bike SOON!!
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Old 12-05-09, 12:36 PM   #9
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Thanks for the comments guys. Today's activity is to repair about a dozen tubes and fix a sew up tire. No meds yet today so beer may be on the menu. I was afraid the pain medicine might not work when mixed with alcohol.
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Old 12-05-09, 01:09 PM   #10
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Alcohol potentiates the effects of pain meds and pain meds potentiate the effects of alcohol. Which is not always a bad thing....in moderation.
For all the pain and suffering you've gone through, I hope that at least some of your hardware is titanium.
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Old 12-05-09, 01:18 PM   #11
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^^^^excellent point^^^^

Is your new hardware ti or crabon fibre? Or did they use some sort of cro-moly stuff in there?

The hardware, was it Japanese, American, or Italian?

Did the docs leave the options open for upgrades in the future?

Would the surgery have been less expensive if they used Nashbar parts?

Sigh. If only orthopedics were like cycling.
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Old 12-05-09, 01:48 PM   #12
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Here's hoping you mend quickly. Hang in there. Anyone who can endure cyclocross racing can handle this.

Forget the buttwiper. You've earned a good beer.
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Old 12-05-09, 02:03 PM   #13
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Alcohol potentiates the effects of pain meds and pain meds potentiate the effects of alcohol. Which is not always a bad thing....in moderation.
For all the pain and suffering you've gone through, I hope that at least some of your hardware is titanium.
The Oxycontin bottle has a label that states the use of alcohol may intensify the effect. Would just be my luck to come out of this a drug addict and a drunk.
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Old 12-05-09, 02:06 PM   #14
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^^^^excellent point^^^^

Is your new hardware ti or crabon fibre? Or did they use some sort of cro-moly stuff in there?

The hardware, was it Japanese, American, or Italian?

Did the docs leave the options open for upgrades in the future?

Would the surgery have been less expensive if they used Nashbar parts?

Sigh. If only orthopedics were like cycling.
As long as he didn't use "cheap government plastic" I feel secure, if not a little heavier. If the heads of the screws are Allen heads I can always make adjustments on rides.
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Old 12-05-09, 02:13 PM   #15
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The Oxycontin bottle has a label that states the use of alcohol may intensify the effect. Would just be my luck to come out of this a drug addict and a drunk.
There are treatment programs available for both of those behavioral issues. No effective programs available for the cycling monkey on your back.
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Old 12-05-09, 02:18 PM   #16
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BTW, you should ask the doc for images of the x-rays so you can post them here. We can then all compliment "the build."
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Old 12-05-09, 03:59 PM   #17
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Glad your feeling better and heal up quick.. Did you ever work for Allegheny (what years?)
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Old 12-05-09, 04:04 PM   #18
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No way- Budweiser when your sick??????

Must be something better than that to take. I prefer a real ale like Spitfire or even Guinness- but watch out for the real ale. You have to drink it standing up. Then you know you have had enough when the floor comeup and hits you. If you sit down- you find out you have had too much too late- When you go to stand up.
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Here's hoping you mend quickly. Hang in there. Anyone who can endure cyclocross racing can handle this.

Forget the buttwiper. You've earned a good beer.
I knew I was in for it when I was typing the word Budweiser. It's an old baseball saying, probably from the book "Ball Four" by Jim Bouton. I'm sure those guys weren't actually drinking crap like Budweiser.
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Old 12-05-09, 06:18 PM   #19
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In addition to recovery time, isn't there a significant loss of flexibility with this procedure?
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Old 12-05-09, 06:51 PM   #20
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Hearing this I am amazed that you were riding and racing like you have. Best in your recovery. I would mix and match the meds and beer myself but that is just me.
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Old 12-05-09, 07:30 PM   #21
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In addition to recovery time, isn't there a significant loss of flexibility with this procedure?
Due to the extent of the damage the bones were pretty much fused. I think the doctor said that I had < 5% flex. The pains came when the ankle did flex. In consultation with a PT and my coach we all came to agree that I already have made the adaptions to my pedal stroke and the loss of any more flexibility will not be a deal breaker. The doctor also added that my calves are different sized and the the lower bones in the foot do provide some flexation.
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Old 12-05-09, 07:35 PM   #22
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Hearing this I am amazed that you were riding and racing like you have. Best in your recovery. I would mix and match the meds and beer myself but that is just me.
Seems to be a consensus. I think I may partake a little tonight.

First time out tonight. The wife and I went to a local Mexican restaurant. Wearing my pajamas bottoms "commando" was a trip, now I know how those folks at the all you can eat buffets feel in their "buffet pants".
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Old 12-05-09, 07:40 PM   #23
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Glad your feeling better and heal up quick.. Did you ever work for Allegheny (what years?)
We have a family cabin in PA on the Allegheny River and my boat has a jet outboard motor. I also post on some fishing forums so I just carried the screen name over to keep it simple.
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Old 12-05-09, 07:44 PM   #24
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Well, if you have to be down, this is the time of year for it. Heal well!
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Old 12-06-09, 06:17 AM   #25
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Good luck with the ankle. Your original post sounded pretty gruling, it seems like things have improved.
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