Friday, February 28, 2014

My Cocoa Butter Slathering Routine

Years ago, to help with scarring, I used Vitamin E ointment when I had my hip and knee surgeries.  At the time, I thought it helped a bit.  But most scars really need time to help them fade.  And time requires patience...and I really hate patience!  I want my scars to fade yesterday.  So this time around with my ankle surgeries, I decided to try something new.

I had used cocoa butter on my c-section scar way back in the day when I had my babies.  It was supposed to help with scarring and stretch marks.  Did it work?  At the time, I wasn't really sure if it helped a lot, but I did think it helped a bit with the scarring.  Not so much with the stretch marks :(  So I bought a new jar of cocoa butter before ankle surgery #1 in hopes that it would help lighten my scars.  And the Palmer's brand even had my previous go to, the Vitamin E, in it.

For my first ankle surgery, which was in June 2013, I put it on in the morning and at night every day for a few months.  I haven't been quite as diligent with ankle #2, but I do put it on every day...just not always twice a day.  Lately, I've been applying it to both ankles...I figure that it can't hurt to continue on both...especially since I have so much of it left.  Seriously, this stuff goes a long way.  I have a 3.5 oz container and considering how often I've used it, there is still a lot left in this little jar.

It is more of an ointment than a cream...meaning that it doesn't fully absorb into the skin.  When I apply it, I do so right before I put my socks on.  But even when I apply it at night, without socks, I don't find that it's a's not super greasy or anything.  If you go to my picture page, you can look at my left and right ankle scars and see the difference between the two.  The scar on my left ankle (#1) is very light considering the short amount of time I've had it.

And the best thing about cocoa smells very chocolate.

Has anyone else used cocoa butter for scars?  Any other recommendations for products that work well for scarring?

Thursday, February 27, 2014

12 Week Update -- Ankle #2

This week has been a really transitional week for me because even though I'm progressing by being out of the walking boot, I've slowed down a bit because it's a lot harder on my ankle to be in the aircast.

I saw my ankle surgeon on Friday morning and got my boot off and fitted for an aircast ankle brace.  (You can read about my whole visit here).  I'm supposed to be weaning myself off of the boot and into the aircast over the next week or two.  Well, I've been bad.  I really don't like the's very uncomfortable to wear, even if I'm not walking in it.  I find it too constrictive.  So, for the past few days I've been walking around the house without least most of the time.  I have been using my cane when I don't have the aircast or boot on.

I went to church on Sunday with my boot on and then came home and put the aircast on for the rest of the day because we went to my in-laws.  I wore the aircast on Monday to physical therapy and then wore the boot at home on and off the rest of the day because my ankle was really sore and the thought of putting the restrictive aircast back on wasn't an option.  Tuesday and Wednesday I didn't wear the aircast or boot at all with the exception of when I had to go out and drive to pick up my daughter from school.  I know I should be wearing it, but I just find it really annoying.

The best news of the week:  I can drive!!!!  Granted, I can't drive far, or for long, but I have a little bit of my freedom back.  The bad news is that I have to wear my brace for least for the moment.

My goal for the month of March (basically the next 4 weeks) be able to go to my son's school and have lunch with him.  He's at that age where soon he won't want to have lunch with me because it will be the most embarrassing thing on earth to have lunch, in public, with his mother.  My kids are growing up too quick!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

My Top Of The Line 3 Part Ankle System

Someone recently asked me about the size of the implant that was used in my ankle.  So I asked my surgeon if he remembered or knew.  He said that he didn't know, but that if he had to guess, it was probably a small size.  He also said that the decision on which size implant to use is made when the patient is on the table.

My implant is the STAR implant--Scandinavian Total Ankle Replacement.  At the moment, it's the top of the line, most advanced ankle in the world.  It's a 3 part system...2 metal parts go into the bones and there is a plastic part (that you really can't see on the x-ray unless you look really hard and see what looks like a thin pin) that acts like the cartilage.  He said that the 2 metal parts come in 6 different sizes and the plastic part comes in 8-10 the entire thing is very custom.  I'm like a custom built Buick :)  The nice thing about the three part system is that if one of the parts starts to wear, it can be replaced without the others having to be touched. 

I asked if the plastic part was the most likely piece to wear first because it acts like cartilage...he said yes.  And get this...he said that it's a 5 minute procedure to replace that part because he's just making an incision large enough to pop out the old part and put in the new one.  I wonder if they even need to put you under general anesthesia for that?  The way he explained it, it sounded easier than when I had root canal!  Have I ever mentioned my hatred for all things dentist related?

To read about my full ankle replacement journey, please click here.

Friday, February 21, 2014

11 Week Post-Op Surgeon Visit

Hauled myself into DC this morning...well my husband actually did the hauling as I still can't drive (yet).  I'm 11 weeks post-op and I'm progressing on track.  My doctor ordered more x-rays to be taken and things are healing up as they should.  I was given a prescription for another 4-6 weeks of physical therapy...which is great since I still need to build up my strength and work on my balance.  My next post-op checkup with the surgeon will be four months from now...which will be approximately 6 months for ankle #2 and my 1 year anniversary for ankle #1.

I'm allowed to start progressing out of the boot and into an aircast, which they fit me for and provided me with today.  This is the same routine I did with ankle #1.   I'll wear the aircast around the house a bit and see how well I tolerate it.  I will need to work up to wearing it all the time.  The aircast they gave me today is a size small (I wear a 5.5 shoe) and feels a bit snug.  I'm hoping that it will “break in”.  I had a medium for my left (ankle #1)...maybe because I was more swollen when I was fit for it.  I do remember the brace feeling uncomfortable when I started wearing it last time around too, but not this uncomfortable.  I'll give it a few days and see if it improves.  At the moment, I've had it on for 20 minutes and I'm ready to take it off!  It hurts just sitting here with my foot up!  Is progressing into an aircast the norm for this surgery?  Anyone else have this?

I was sent home with a prescription for custom orthotics as well.  I had orthotics for a short time as a kid (to help with my flat feet) and remember them hurting badly.  I'm hoping that the comfort level of orthotics has improved over the last 30 years or I'm sh*t out of luck!  In addition to improved comfort, I'm also hoping that they will fit in most shoes.  Wearing sneakers all the time is hurting my fashion style greatly :)  If you have orthotics, do you find them comfortable? Can they fit in most of your shoes or am I doomed to sneakers forever?

So, things are going well, and as planned, but I still have a few months left of rehab so I can gain my strength back.  The good thing is that I now don't have the other ankle holding me back.  I can go on the treadmill and not worry about my “bad ankle”.  No more bad ankles :)

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

11 Week Update -- Ankle #2

The cane is my friend these days when I go out...but when I'm inside, and have my boot on, I'm walking around the house without it...and there is little to no pain in my ankle while making my way around the house...probably because it's short distances.  However, my lower back or hip will start to ache before my ankles do.  My overall strength and balance is getting better and I'm able to move more quickly.  My foot doesn't swell as quickly and I haven't iced it, outside of therapy, for about a month.

I've tried to do more stuff around the house...wiping up counter tops, loading up the dishwasher, and overall tidying. With some modifications (like doing the prep work sitting down), I even managed to cook dinner the other night (read about my chicken soup without chicken post here).  Although I can do more, most of the housework and cooking is still being handled by my family.

This Friday I make my way into Washington DC to see my surgeon and get my boot off.  I'll keep everyone posted on how my 3 month check up goes!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

I Forgot The Chicken In The Chicken Soup...Again.

I forgot the chicken in the chicken soup...again.

Yes again.  My handsome hubby had made one of those whole chickens the night before (35 minutes in the microwave, by the way...Pampered Chef is my chicken hero), so we had the leftovers waiting to be turned into another culinary masterpiece.  Feeling pretty well yesterday afternoon, I decided to give my homemade chicken soup a go.  I stripped all the meat off the leftover bird and then placed the bones in a pot of water with some onion and carrots and got it cooking for a few hours (yes, I know that this should be an all day thing, but ain't nobody got time for that!).  All the leftover chicken was nicely shredded up and waiting in the fridge for just the right moment to go into the soup.

And in the refrigerator it stayed. Again.

Did I mention I did this trick before?
A few years ago I invited my in-laws over for dinner and made homemade chicken soup from scratch.  We ate the entire meal, cleaned up, and my in-laws thanked me for a wonderful meal.  You know when you lay in bed at night, before you actually fall asleep, and your mind wanders all over the was then that my little mind remembered about the chicken.  My eyes bolted open and I said to my husband in a panic, “I forgot the chicken!”...I felt like such an idiot!  I served, of all people, my husband's parents...chicken soup without any actual chicken in it.  My husband and I laughed about it...what else could I do at that point?  And when I saw my in-laws the next time, I apologized for the lack of brain power.  Duh.  And you know what?  They totally noticed!  I mean, I guess most people (other than me) would notice a soup with a missing main ingredient...especially if the said ingredient is in it's name!  God bless my in-laws...they noticed but were too polite to say anything :)  Best in-laws ever.

My husband was the hero of the day yesterday...he noticed that the chicken was missing, and gently asked if there was any.  I started laughing after the initial shock of the realization that I'm losing my mind, again.  Crisis averted.  This time.

Anyone else losing their mind slowly?  Or is it just me?  Oy.

Friday, February 14, 2014

10 Week Update -- Ankle #2

Not too much of a change since last week...mostly I've been getting around easier and quicker.  I've been able to go out more, and even had a little “road trip” this past weekend (click here to read about my awesome day).  And I had a little house adventure this week too...this was not as awesome as my Saturday was! (click here to read about my house adventure)

I'm back on the treadmill at physical therapy and have started doing the hip machine and the knee machine is getting easier.  The knee machine is pretty awesome as it really works my quads.  Tuesday I could definitely feel like I had a workout the previous day!  I was sore, but in a good way.  I'm still using my therabands at home and Jenn (my therapist) has added some bridges to my thighs are alive :)

It's Valentine's Day? So What.

My husband got out of bed this morning, got dressed, shoveled snow, and shouted a goodbye to me from downstairs.  It wasn't until I went on Facebook that I even realized that it was Valentine's Day.

When we first got married, at 23, with no hubs got me an expensive bouquet of long stemmed red roses.  While I appreciated the thought, I told him to not waste money on flowers like that again.  We didn't have the extra money to spend (and still don't), so why waste it?  I just couldn't then (and still can't now) see spending anywhere from $50 to $75 dollars on flowers that will be dead in a week.  And I have tell you, I have never felt deprived because I didn't get one of those expensive bouquets again.

I requested instead, for him to every now and again buy me grocery store flowers...and if they were on sale--all the better.  I'll take my husband getting me $10 flowers from the grocery know...spontaneously.  And how he'll give the flowers to the kids to bring to me...that's love.  This is what I need.  My hubs buying flowers for my children to give was especially cute when they were very little.  And he lets the kids pick out the flowers I'd get bright blues and oranges to lime green flowers.  This is better than any “fancy” bouquet out there.

Living with chronic pain really makes you appreciate your loved ones even more.  After I had my last ankle surgery, and was in a lot of pain, my husband helped me get dressed.  Doesn't sound like much...until you are the one who needs help with something as simple as getting dressed.  He brought me all my meals in bed.  He took care of the kids.  Did all the laundry and cooking.  Came home on his lunch hour to make sure I had lunch.  And still managed to work a full time job in the midst of all this insanity.

He is my rock.

He puts on My Cousin Vinny when I feel homesick.  He drags me out of the house when I'm depressed.  He runs a hot bath for me when I'm achy.  He gives me his half of the blanket when I'm cold.  He lets me hold the remote.

F**k Valentine's Day.  If you are doing it right, today is just another day.

Today I do not expect to receive any gifts from my husband as “proof” of his love for me...because I know he does.  Not only does he help me when I need it most, he makes me feel special in so many ways throughout the year.
From Pixabay.xom

Thank you my love.  I know you read my if you are reading this...know that I love you more than chocolate and pizza :)

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Ignorance Is Bliss

Yesterday I realized that I could walk around the house without my cane...still having the boot on, of course.  This is fantastic because now I have use of both my hands and I can get around quicker without the cane.  

But there is always a flip side.  

This new found freedom has led to some household discoveries...and none of them were good.

  1. My kitchen is definitely not as clean as I'd like to believe. 

    There was enough food encrusted on the front of my kitchen cabinets for a toddler to snack on.  And I don't even want to think about what is underneath my stove.  Oh, and I have a small pantry in my kitchen...but it's big enough to stand inside of and shut the door.  My pantry, at the moment, has so much crap just randomly shoved in there that I'm lucky I can even close the door.  But, amazingly, there is still nothing to eat.

  2. Anything requiring any sort of electrical power in the basement...was on. 

    Lights, tv, gaming systems, younameit.  Plus, it looks like the kids were hosting a book club down there with all my folding chairs out.  I think I counted 6 folding chairs.  This is in addition to the couch and wing-back chair that are down there.  And the floor!  Whatever happened to kids sitting on the floor???  There are board games out on the table, sleeping bags and pillows on the floor, and random crap all over the place.  I shut everything off and got the hell out of there as quickly as I could hobble. 

  3. The ant problem that has emerged in the past couple of months has got to stop or I'm moving. 

    This happened after my last surgery too.  A couple of months go by where I'm not cleaning the kitchens and bathrooms on a consistent basis, and the little buggers (pun intended!) show up.  I took bleach to almost every surface in my bathroom, then sprayed with hardcore bug spray.  I think I lost a layer of skin on my hand (gloves are for the weak), and both of my feet are killing me, but I, hopefully, have gotten rid of the little my bathroom at least.

I am now sitting on my recliner, with my feet up, trying not to look at anything else in the house.  Remind me again why I stopped taking all those good drugs?  I want my bubble world back.  There is something to be said about being confined to one room when you live with animals!

On the bright side, my thigh muscles are a bit sore from PT yesterday...which makes me subconsciously feel thinner :)

Rant Over.

Anyone else feel the need to rant?  Feel free to rant away in the comments below!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Ankle #2 ROM -- 9 Weeks Post-Op

Pre-Op Measurements

If you remember, I had my therapist, Jenn, take measurements of ankle #2 before I had my total ankle replacement surgery.  When I took them, the thought was that I'd be all scientific-like with the comparisons. (For my post-op measurements for ankle #1, and comparison measurements for both ankles click here.)  Here are my PRE-OP numbers...all are active range of motion (meaning I could get to these numbers on my own):

Plantarflexion                40
Dorsiflexion                  10
Inversion                       30
Eversion                        10
Standing Calf Stretch     30

Post-Op Measurements

Here are my numbers from last week, specifically last Thursday...which was 9 weeks, 1 day POST-OP for ankle #2 ...these are passive range of motion (meaning Jenn can push my ankle to these measurements):

Plantarflexion                40
Dorsiflexion                  10
Inversion                      35
Eversion                       15

Looking at these numbers, it seems like I'm on the right track!  The passive ROM should be more than the active my measurements for inversion and eversion being more now than pre-op aren't too surprising.  In another few weeks I see my surgeon and Jenn will do my measurements again.  I'll have to remember to take both active and passive ROM measurements.

Anyone else have ROM measurements they want to share?

Sunday, February 9, 2014

I Overdid It, But It Was Worth It

Yesterday was a good day.  I totally overdid it, but is was so worth it.

I was up at 7am to get ready for my 9am acupuncture appointment.  My husband dropped me off and since I still can't drive I asked if my best friend would pick me up so we could hang out for a while.  The bestie obliged and we went to Panera for an early lunch.

We then picked up my daughter from my mother-in-law's house (they spent the morning together) and headed over to Guitar Center because the bestie wanted to look at a new guitar.  My daughter and I were bad influences and were helpful enablers when it came to my bff spending his money on a new guitar (but it's an investment, right?).  Then we all went back to the bestie's house and my daughter, who has recently started guitar lessons herself, jammed out with my bestie.  Joy overload :)

The bestie and my girl :)

My husband took my son to the new Lego movie that morning and then went back to my in-laws for a sense going all the way back to my town...both my bestie and my in-laws live a few towns over.  So the hubs stayed so he could drive me and my daughter home.  But before we went home, we all went for dinner at the local Italian restaurant.  “We all” meaning: my family, my in-laws, and the bestie's family.  After feeling sufficiently stuffed to the brim (more free bread?), we finally came home.

By the time we came home, both my feet were pretty swollen...ankle #1 actually looked more swollen than #2.  However, the pain wasn't too bad.  My lower back was hurting more than my feet...I guess too much standing at the guitar store.  I took a nice hot bath, hoping that would help both the feet and the back...then got into my jammies, and into bed with my Kindle for some e-book reading.

All in all, a great day.  I may have overdid it, and I'm still paying for it today (the back is a bastard), but I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.   I had a “normal” day!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

9 Week Update -- Ankle #2

My ankle has finally started feeling better since I overdid it in physical therapy a couple of weeks ago.  It doesn't hurt anymore to just stand on it, and when I walk, the inside of my ankle doesn't hurt anymore.  This is about where I was in the beginning of the week of January 20th.  The end of that week is when I had to go back on crutches because of the pain.  (To read about how I overdid it and ended up in pain, click here).

So I'm back to walking around using just my cane, which I'm mostly using for balance.  When I walk around in the boot, there is little to no pain.  When I don't have my boot on, there is some pain when I walk, but nothing horrific.  I have pt tomorrow and I'm hoping to get back on the treadmill...I'm done babying it and want to get back on track.

The biggest problem the past few days has been the pain in my left hand/wrist.  This was bothering me a lot right after surgery...mostly because I was non-weight bearing and had to carry most of my weight on my hands when getting around with my walker or crutches.  It had eased up after I started putting weight back on my foot.  Maybe it's because of the weather (the snow and the ice storms), or because I was back on my crutches for a week, that it has hurt more. I'm hoping that it eases up in the next few days.  If not, I'll have my acupuncturist work on it some this weekend.

The best parts of this week...

  1. I had a cleaning service come in and do a deep cleaning of my bathrooms.  It cost me a small fortune, but I'm so much happier now that I can see through my glass shower doors again.
  2. I went to dinner last Friday night with my hubby and kids.  Walked into the restaurant with my cane and was able to sit through dinner without my foot swelling like crazy.  Little by little, I am improving!

My super clean shower!