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One of the most frequent questions I get asked these days is how my peroneal tendon surgery recovery is going. I’ve been hesitant to share an update because my progress wasn’t as I had hoped and I was completed frustrated by it. However, in the last 6 weeks, I’ve found a new care team that is helping me take back my body. With this came a rekindled motivation to heal. Before we get to the good stuff, I also want to share with you a few other updates that may be of interest to those following my story or researching for their own surgery.
The Pain Didn’t Go Away, It Just Changed
One of the main reasons I opted to have the ankle surgery in the first place was the pain. It wasn’t a constant pain, but it was frequent, annoying, and draining. I would get a sharp stabbing pain that shot up my ankle when walking any distance or on uneven surfaces. To manage the pain, I would have to sit down and rest until the stabbing pain and associated tingling stopped. It consumed a lot of my energy and left me frustrated and drained.
Going into the surgery I knew that the pain might not be eliminated, but that it should be significantly reduced. While this outcome was accurate, the pain changed to a dull lingering discomfort. I honestly don’t know how to describe it even a year later. All I can say is that sometimes it tingles at seemingly random times and when I push myself too hard it throbs.
Even worse than the lingering discomfort is that the whole ankle just feels off. I live in fear of reinjuring it as there is nothing they can really do to “fix” it beyond what they have already done. To help calm these fears, I follow the directions of my orthopedist closely. I wear my tall hiking books when doing any kind of distance walking. I don’t participate in any kind of sports. And I travel with a walking boot in case of emergency. Legit, my surgeon’s last piece of advice to me was “If you hurt your ankle, no matter how bad, put on your walking boot first, then call for help.” Comforting, right?! ;)
There were several unexpected outcomes from my ankle surgery that I want to share for those in the same process. To start with, I still don’t have complete feeling back in my nerves where the incision was made. The majority of it is there, but there is a spot that is weirdly devoid of sensitivity. Nerves grow from 1mm to 5mm a day, so I’m pretty sure that mine has had plenty of time to regrow and this is my new normal.
Oddly enough, my foot shape and arch changed. My foot is wider and my arch isn’t as high as it was before. I’m not talking entire centimeters here, but enough to feel and notice a difference. This hasn’t been too big of an issue, but I did have to toss out several pairs of shoes that were no longer comfortable.
Speaking of shoes, I ended up donating 90 percent of my shoes. I am unable to wear high heels (honestly, I’m so not sad about this one) and most of my summer sandals don’t provide enough support anymore. Instead, I live in two pairs of sandals (Birkenstocks and Teva). They not only fit, but keep my foot in a healthy position and they look cute. I also had to get rid of my old tennis shoes as they weren’t comfortable with my new foot shape and sensitivity.
Getting My Body Moving Again
My surgery left my ankle purposely stiff. I basically have no pronation or supination. This is really good because that was always my issue and where the stabbing pain came from. However, it also limited my plantarflexion and dorsiflexion way more than expected. I spent nearly 6 months in physical therapy after my surgery working on my plantarflexion and dorsiflexion. When I left PT and had my final post-op check-in, I was told that it was “as good as it would get”.
These limitations actually really messed with my body and mind. I was still unable to walk long distances and everything hurt. When I say everything hurt, I mean everything hurt. My hips were way out of alignment due to my nearly 8 months in a walking boot. I favored my bad left ankle, which put a lot of pressure on my right knee. My right knee, in turn, developed painful bursitis. Let’s just say I became a master at applying KT tape!
With my hips out of alignment, my back started to hurt. Honestly, I was in a ton of pain for a solid month and didn’t know how I was going to make it another. (Sidebar: I’m allergic to several medications and avoid all of them unless I really need to take them.) So, I did some research and decided to seek out the care of a chiropractor. Under the care of my chiropractor, I was able to manage my back and hip pain. It wasn’t a miracle, but it was working.
Finding the Right Team for my Care
Fast forward to a few months ago, after a particularly long road trip and my back started to hurt again. This time, my hips and sacrum were even more painful than before and I ended up in bed for a few days. I did more research and decided that I didn’t want to go to a pain or spine specialist. Personally, the idea of frequent shots or surgery weren’t appealing. So, I dug deeper into chiropractic care and found the Gonstead method.
I found a Gonstead practitioner an hour from our place and made my first appointment. I loved her holistic approach and felt empowered to take back my body after our first session. (Honestly, I never thought I would get to this point again in my life post-surgery.) I’ve been seeing her for just over a month now and I haven’t felt this good in what seems like forever. On top of that, she also connected me with a functional movement specialist on her team.
After a few sessions, my chiropractor suggested I had made enough progress to begin working with the functional movement specialist at her practice. Before this, I hadn’t even known what functional movement training was and how it could benefit me. We started by assessing my ankle and other issues before developing a custom plan that would get me moving again. The FMT “workout” seems really easy on paper, but I’m challenging my body to work better. One of the unexpected things that came out of my FMT is that I’m learning how to walk and use stairs differently. I had (badly) self-modified after surgery to make these activities easier on my body. Now, I’m working on doing them the correct way and feel much more confident walking about and don’t have to climb stairs like a toddler anymore. #winning
Finally, I’m also seeing an energy healer who has helped me learn to manage my fear of injury anxiety. I know may seem too “out there” for many readers, but it’s working for me. I feel more centered and at ease, as I go about life.
I’m honestly not sure what the future holds for my health, but I do know that I’m taking charge of it!