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Recovery from serious injury?

Postby awilbur77 » Thu Mar 07, 2013 8:46 am

I am hoping there are others on 14ers.com that have had a similar injury so they could share their recovery story with me, because honestly I am losing hope that I might ever see another summit.

Two weeks ago, I severely dislocated / broke my right ankle, broke my fibula and tore every ligament and all the soft tissue that holds your ankle in place. I had emergency surgery to reconstruct the ankle, and will be in a cast and non weight bearing for 2-3 more months. At that time I can possibly start rehabing with PT. Apparently doc thinks this injury is serious enough to warrant the "it's a possibility that you may not ever hike again" speech.

I'm not looking for sympathy, I just need some hope. Please share your story with me if you've had a similar injury.

Xrays below...

Before surgery:
Before.jpg
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After surgery:
After.jpg
After.jpg (75.43 KiB) Viewed 1108 times
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Re: Recovery from serious injury?

Postby mtgirl » Thu Mar 07, 2013 9:05 am

Sorry to hear about your injury. While I have not had an injury similar to this, I did have a knee injury and multiple surgeries where a doctor told me my physical activity would be severely limited and that I'd have significant arthritis before I hit 30. Well that age has long come and gone, and I've since run 13 marathons, lots of trail runs, lots of mountain bike races, and have reached hundreds of summits. With no arthritis to speak of.

I had shoulder surgery in December (torn rotator cuff, torn bicep tendon, and torn labrum). Physical therapy has done wonders for me. I'm already resuming most of my activities and hope to be 100% over the next few months. Do your physical therapy and do what the doctor says. Don't lose hope. There are determined people out there who climb peaks with no legs - surely you'll be able to do it after your injury heals ! :) Best of luck to you.
"Life is not measured by the breaths you take, but by the moments that take your breath away."

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Re: Recovery from serious injury?

Postby Jim Davies » Thu Mar 07, 2013 9:07 am

TGR has an entire forum dedicated to discussions of injuries. It's pretty horrifying reading, but you might find something like your situation.
http://www.tetongravity.com/forums/forumdisplay.php/16-Gimp-Central
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Re: Recovery from serious injury?

Postby Presto » Thu Mar 07, 2013 9:13 am

My injury was worse (broke both bones in the lower left leg and shattered the ankle). Three hours of surgery ... permanent rod from the knee to the ankle, 5" plate on the outside of the ankle and a mess of Ace Hardware on the inside to rebuild it all (they wouldn't even show me my x-rays before surgery). I have since seen the x-rays. Wow.

Initially, I was told I could lose my foot. :shock: Actually, that comment was even made by my ortho after the surgery too.

This all happened last September. Spent the first 5 weeks in bed on my back. Got the boot off at the beginning of December (almost a month before the doc predicted I would stop using it). Started riding my bike to work about a month ago (when weather and conditions permit ... 13 miles roundtrip). Try to fast walk everyday (for 45 minutes). I WILL BE HIKING in the very near future ... just have to get my endurance up. When I do go for a long walk, I'm still limping a bit for the rest of the day and am sore for the evening.

Some sage advice (as I was given some by others): Don't push the rehab to soon. You can do damage to your recovery. Once you are allowed, do your exercises everyday. I opted not to go to physical therapy ... there's plenty of information on the net regarding proper exercises/stretching/therapy for injuries such as this. I used it. I have found that a compression sock can help when you're starting to push the activity level ... promotes blood flow and helps "everything feel more secure" (my brand of choice is Tommie Copper). I do have limited mobility now, but nothing that will keep me from returning to the mountains to enjoy what I love. I do my own physical therapy EVERY MORNING. Oh, and those big stretchy rubber band thingies help with stretching too.

Keep a positive mental attitude! That will aid in your recovery. For awhile, I was in the depths of despair and depression thinking I would never hike again (hell, thinking I would lose my foot!). That's enough to make anyone feel down.

Happy trails! You'll be back out there before you know it (and, to give you more hope, I'm QUITE a bit older than you ... just sayin' :wink: ).
Last edited by Presto on Thu Mar 07, 2013 9:25 am, edited 1 time in total.
As if none of us have ever come back with a cool, quasi-epic story instead of being victim to tragic rockfall, a fatal stumble, a heart attack, an embolism, a lightning strike, a bear attack, collapsing cornice, some psycho with an axe, a falling tree, carbon monoxide, even falling asleep at the wheel getting to a mountain. If you can't accept the fact that sometimes "s**t happens", then you live with the illusion that your epic genius and profound wilderness intelligence has put you in total and complete control of yourself, your partners, and the mountain. How mystified you'll be when "s**t happens" to you! - FM

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Re: Recovery from serious injury?

Postby ameristrat » Thu Mar 07, 2013 9:22 am

I don't have any experience recovering from an injury like that, but I'm praying for your full recovery. I know you'll get back out there!
You cannot stay on the summit forever; you have to come down again. So why bother in the first place? Just this: What is above knows what is below, but what is below does not know what is above. One climbs, one sees. One descends, one sees no longer, but one has seen. There is an art of conducting oneself in the lower regions by the memory of what one saw higher up. When one can no longer see, one can at least still know. - Rene Daumal

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Re: Recovery from serious injury?

Postby George James » Thu Mar 07, 2013 9:27 am

Presto gives good advice. Don't sweat it too much Adam. You'll make it back.

Four years ago I busted my leg up pretty good

x-ray.jpg
x-ray.jpg (51.19 KiB) Viewed 1002 times


Today I am skiing just as good as I always did

killing it.jpg
killing it.jpg (103.71 KiB) Viewed 1002 times


Good luck!
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Re: Recovery from serious injury?

Postby mtnjim » Thu Mar 07, 2013 9:41 am

In Jan 1996 I broke my right ankle in an ice climbing fall. Broke the tibia and the fibula, both malleolus (malleolae?) screwed back on, 25% cartilege torn, just stuck back in and hope for the best.

May 1997, Cho Oyu summit.

My right ankle doesn't look like the other, usually hurts a little, after a tough hike or run I'll limp for the first 50 feet or so after a rest. Sometimes I get significant pain along the lines of the tib-fib breaks. There seems to be some dried cartilege pieces floating around and where they settle can make a big difference in how it feels. Sometimes I can't do a heel raise. It's as though there's just no strength there. I don't think the tendons and ligaments run quite the way they did in the OE model.

BUT, in two weeks in Feb I did 4 races, 2 ski area hillclimbs, a 55k, and a 22 miler with a few sections of moderately deep snow.

It's impossible to compare injuries so yours may be more debilitating than mine but it's too early to count yourself out. See how the recovery goes.

Rereading this, i see how it could look as though I'm pretty tough. I'm not. I'm really a wimp about pain. The pain I'm describing is usually pretty low level though it's continuous nature does weigh on me a bit.

Good luck with your recovery,

JimS

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Re: Recovery from serious injury?

Postby cory1223oh » Thu Mar 07, 2013 9:44 am

While my injury was not quite as bad as yours, hopefully this can give you encouragement. I tore my ACL, MCL, and meniscus during my last football game my senior year of college. I was told that I'd likely miss my entire senor season of track. I pushed the rehab really hard. My doctor would have died if he knew some of the stuff I was doing. To make a long story short, I was back high jumping 3 months after surgery and running the high hurdles again 4 months after.

While I wouldn't recommend doing more rehab than your doctor tells you (I was definitely risking reinjury, but thought it was worth it at the time), being diligent and working hard on the rehab will make all the difference. I highly recommend using ice after every rehab session. This will keep the swelling down and allow you to take time in between rehab sessions. Just know that it will be really slow and likely frustrating at the beginning, but that's the worst part. Hopefully you'll be surprised by how quickly it gets better. You also have to realize that the doctors probably don't factor in the drive and determination that some people have, and that can make all the difference.

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Re: Recovery from serious injury?

Postby Presto » Thu Mar 07, 2013 9:48 am

by cory1223oh » Thu Mar 07, 2013 10:44 am
I highly recommend using ice after every rehab session. This will keep the swelling down and allow you to take time in between rehab sessions. Just know that it will be really slow and likely frustrating at the beginning, but that's the worst part. Hopefully you'll be surprised by how quickly it gets better. You also have to realize that the doctors probably don't factor in the drive and determination that some people have, and that can make all the difference.


These are all three very good points. Ice ... slow and frustrating in the beginning .... doctors underestimating an individual's drive and determination.
As if none of us have ever come back with a cool, quasi-epic story instead of being victim to tragic rockfall, a fatal stumble, a heart attack, an embolism, a lightning strike, a bear attack, collapsing cornice, some psycho with an axe, a falling tree, carbon monoxide, even falling asleep at the wheel getting to a mountain. If you can't accept the fact that sometimes "s**t happens", then you live with the illusion that your epic genius and profound wilderness intelligence has put you in total and complete control of yourself, your partners, and the mountain. How mystified you'll be when "s**t happens" to you! - FM

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Re: Recovery from serious injury?

Postby Buckeye-Annie » Thu Mar 07, 2013 9:58 am

cory1223oh wrote:You also have to realize that the doctors probably don't factor in the drive and determination that some people have, and that can make all the difference.


I so agree. I had two non-invasive-type laser surgeries to fix back problems. Couldn't stand more than 5 minutes without horrible pain. Chiropractor had said twice to me "Ann, you just have to understand there are some things you can't do anymore" F**k you!

Drive and determination coupled with a body that was healthy to begin with and some patience, gives a peson optimum outlook to do what you enjoy.

Last year I did a 5-month 1100-mile journey traversing the northern Himalaya route across Nepal. \:D/
Last edited by Buckeye-Annie on Thu Mar 07, 2013 8:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Recovery from serious injury?

Postby kushrocks » Thu Mar 07, 2013 10:19 am

ameristrat wrote:I don't have any experience recovering from an injury like that, but I'm praying for your full recovery. I know you'll get back out there!


I second this. Get well soon!!!
" The two most important days in your life are the day you were born, and the day you find out why." - Mark Twain
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Re: Recovery from serious injury?

Postby Dave B » Thu Mar 07, 2013 10:43 am

You should read Joe Simpson's This Game of Ghosts in which he entails a similar injury with a similar doctors diagnosis followed by a return to climbing less than a year later. This is, of course, after hearing the "you'll never climb again" line from another doctor for blowing up his knee on Siula Grande.

My own story is a complete fracture of the collar bone 5 weeks prior to leaving to climb Aconcagua, I still went on the trip. The body is capable of remarkable things when the mind is driven to heal.

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George James wrote:Today I am skiing just as good as I always did


lol
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