If you do a Google search on shattered ankle (that is if you google it in Dutch) you will soon come to the first page of a blog post of mine telling what happened to me. By now the accident on December 7, 2015 has been 7 years ago. Time flies as they say!
The reason I am writing this blog now is that I have been contacted a few times recently by people who have suffered a similar fracture and are hoping I can give them some more information. It turns out there is not a whole lot of information to be found on the Internet and certainly not information that will make you happy I can vividly remember that too when I went to do a Google search.
Briefly, on that infamous Dec. 7th, 2015, I crashed into a giant Norwegian oak tree, dog sled and all. With my legs extended, because I was in the sled. The impact shattered my right ankle and the metatarsal of my left ankle was also broken. In addition, I broke a rib. Which, by the way, is funny because the only thing that was palpable at the time was that left ankle. The pain on that was so enormous that everything else was dwarfed. So I stumbled up from the slope hopping (hanging between two men) on my left leg.
After four hours (we got stuck in the snow and at the emergency room of the GP clinic they couldn’t do anything with me of course) we finally arrived at the hospital. An x-ray quickly learned that it was not good. “I’ve never seen anything like it,” the doctor on duty told me. She did not dare to operate. Telephone consultation with the AMC and it was decided that I would be operated on there.
Then there was no plane available so I had to wait an extra day and then the first planned operation at the AMC was cancelled because of schedules and working hours that were too long. Finally, on December 11th, 2015, I was operated on my ankle. On the left, a screw also went in (because I was there anyway) and on the right they spent over four hours cobbling that shattered ankle back together.
The talus was straight through and the prognosis was that there was a 98% chance that my bone would die. If that happened then all sorts of devices had to be put in place to make sure I could still walk. Probably with something like a roller in my shoe. It all sounded complicated anyway.
After a week I was allowed to return home. There, a hospital bed had been placed in the living room because I was not allowed to put any weight on that ankle for the next three months, so going up and down stairs was a no go. That meant pooping and peeing on a toilet chair and washing a little from a tub. I then slept there for six months. That became a period of great uncertainty, fear for the future, alternating with hope and joy when something did go right.
I was able to move around the house a little with a wheelchair with leg support. Bit awkward because for the first few months I couldn’t let my leg hang down without a lot of pain.
I was in a lot of pain all those months anyway because I seem to break down painkillers at lightning speed. That doesn’t help, I can tell you. And I am not a fan of painkillers so I didn’t take too many. Didn’t help anyway. Haha….
After 3 months I could carefully put some weight back on that shattered ankle. With crutches of course. By now, the cast was off on the left and I had some crazy shoe on the right that kept everything in the right position.
That first time I could drive a car again was of course fantastic, but even after 7 months I could barely walk. After only a few meters it became too painful.
It is somewhat difficult to give exact times but I think I am not exaggerating when I say that it took three years to get where I am today. The bone recovered miraculously and did not die which I thank God on my bare knees for. The nerves under my foot were completely numb in the beginning. I still have less feeling there than on the left, but I got used to that too.
I can travel again, hike, play sports and do most of the things I enjoy. Unfortunately, one disability has always remained. If I have worked a day in the studio (a lot of standing and walking back and forth), it often happens that I can barely walk in the evening. Going up the stairs is quite a climb. I can walk about 10 kilometers (which is better than standing in the studio all day) but then I have to do nothing the next day. The ankle needs continuous maintenance and regular rest. And that’s not my strong suit.
I sometimes ‘forget’ to do silly exercises. Not very convenient of course, but that is the reality. I do strength training because it’s good for old bones, but even more so when you already have some kind of disability. And I regularly go to an osteopath who loosens the bones. Very unpleasant but it keeps that ankle as supple as possible.
Some movements I cannot make with my ankle. Sideways is not possible because some bones are also missing at the bottom. That also means my balance is poor. But overall, I can get by just fine without too much fuss.
So the status quo is actually fine at the moment. I can do anything I want as long as I take my limitations into account. Sometimes that is still quite frustrating but it is what it is. How things go in the future is of course still a big question mark. I hope I can continue like this for a long time and I will certainly try to do everything possible to make that happen. After the surgery, Dr. Kloen did tell me that there is actually a 100% chance that I will need surgery again. But as long as I can put that off…. I certainly will.
I found the stories I received from people who also had a similar accident even more intense than mine. Complete horror stories, but if you have questions or want to know something you can always email me or leave a comment on this post.