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May. 8th, 2009

air cast, ankle

it's only been two months since my last post.

Lame, so very lame.  Sorry to leave y'all hanging for so long.  I have no reason, except that life got really really busy.

Ok, I'm gonna just jump right in.  Yesterday I went rollerblading for the first time for about 8 minutes.  Why so little?  My foot is still swollen and my ankle really hurt below the ankle bone.  I actually did a short lap and went back to the car to put on another sock.  It didn't work, the next lap hurt like hell.  I'm going to go get some moleskin and see if that keeps the boot from rubbing so much.  But other than that, it was easy.  I was doing crossovers, sprinting.  You wouldn't know that just two months ago I was still barely walking on my own.

Today I walked around Town Lake (also a first!) with a good friend.  3 miles round trip.  I was fine until maybe the last 100 yards.  I didn't hurt myself, my ankle just sorta said, "hey, enough of this walking crap".  And then I came home and iced it.

So, yes, surgery on December 15 and I'm still icing and elevating my foot.  I go to physical therapy once a week (down from twice a week, about two weeks ago).  When I'm not at physical therapy, I do exercises at home and on airplanes (if I remember, I'm so bad about that, it's amazing how quickly I have taken walking for granted).  I'm pretty much a blob at this point.  No stamina and I won't even tell you about my thighs.  It is disconcerting.  However, I'm committed to the rollerblading (help me, moleskin!).  I have reached a point where I'm antsy.  I literally MUST be moving, doing something physical.  I see this as a good thing.  There's nothing like the loss of your mobility to make you want to exercise!

Physical therapy has been so much better since I switched facilities.  I have a great physical therapist, Devlin.  He's a good ol' Texas boy, so lots of stories and cheering me up when I'm sick of limping and being a gimp.  The other day he did impressions of John Wayne and Burt Reynolds.  I consider this a bonus (especially since the people at the last physical therapy facility had no sense of humor whatsoever).  

Speaking of the former p.t. facility, I just got their bill.  $675 for 6 sessions.  Lousy customer service and incomplete sessions. Can I challenge that with my credit card company?  Seriously.  What a waste of money!

I've been on a rollercoaster with my recovery, mainly because of my line of work.  I stay at home in front of the computer most of the week, then I go out on Saturdays and work on my feet for 10 hours on uneven terrain.  For most of March and April, I would go to p.t. on Monday and cry.  They would ice and do the electrical stimulus and the ultra sound and not much else.  Then by my Thursday session, I would be completely recovered and pushing the limits.  Devlin showed me my chart, it really does read like a rollercoaster.  Up, down, up, down.  For awhile I was still limping and still had a pillow at the foot of the bed because I couldn't lay my foot completely flat and needed the support.

I'm pretty much getting back to normal these days, but the recovery has felt agonizingly slow.  Glacially slow.  I'm not super-athletic, so your results may vary.  I just know that they always cautioned me about overdoing it and I listened (despite feeling completely stir crazy!).  I still have limited motion in some areas of my foot.  When I stretch my foot in certain directions, I can feel the scar tissue binding and pulling.  I'm still working on breaking up the scar tissue and am hoping to be completely mobile by the end of summer.  I've booked a photography gig on Oahu and while there I am planning, on my off days, on a) hiking the Haiku Stairs and b) learning to paddle surf and c) maybe seeing some of the Lost castmembers (ha!).

I will try to post more.  I've been so busy with work (making up for lost time due to surgery), but am hoping to have a normal life again soon.  Thanks for all your support!

Mar. 7th, 2009

air cast, ankle

I'm driving.

Ok...I started driving last Sunday, but completely forgot to blog about.  Funny how easy it is to take things for granted.  I was eagerly wanting my freedom back (driving by myself), then once I got it, no biggie. 

I was thinking last night how weird it is that I can stand on both feet or even all on my left foot.  A month ago, this was just not possible.  How quickly I've forgotten that past reality!

I'm not totally back to normal.  I'm still going to physical therapy, still doing my foot exercises 3 times a day, still having to ice and elevate at the end of the day.  But life is slowly getting back to normal.

Mar. 3rd, 2009

air cast, ankle

cemetery wedding.

Here's me shooting a wedding with my gimpy leg, two days after finally graduating from crutches:


air cast, ankle

two steps forward, one step back.

I've been posting less and less because I've been busy trying to make up for 8 weeks lost.  I just spoke with someone else who had this surgery and she was bemoaning the time lost for herself, but she also said the painkillers made it tough to be productive.  

So now I'm in a frenzy.  I think I was pushing too hard, pulling some late nighters, because I felt myself getting sick.  

Then, I shot my second photo gig, another wedding, on Saturday.  Caregiver made me wear the air cast because the wedding location was outdoors at the Wildflower Center.  I'm not cleared to walk on uneven ground, not yet.  The air cast is good in that it stabilizes the leg, keeps it safe by not allowing any movement.  It was also bad in that it didn't allow any movement.  When I got home after 8 hours of shooting, I took off the air cast and couldn't stand on my left leg.  The pain was in my heel of all places.  Since I couldn't move my leg while in the air cast, all the muscles tightened up.  I elevated, iced and cursed.  I really didn't want to go backwards in my rehab progress.

The day after the wedding, I had a portrait session for a few hours, again in a bumpy outdoor location.  I chose to wear my cowboy boots.  This helped a little, but I came home and popped a painkiller, then iced my foot.

I got up on Monday morning in a fog (thanks, painkiller).  Luckily I had physical therapy at 11am.  Instead of putting me through my low-level exercises (still only 10 minutes on the recumbent bike), they massaged my foot, top and bottom.  Put some electrical current through and also super-iced it.  Then they had me do stretching. 

My mistake, according to the physical therapy people:  prolonged physical activity, coupled with wearing the air cast instead of shoes that allow mobility.  In general, they want me to try physical activity, but in small amounts, with "pain" as my guide.  I.E., stop when you feel pain, then resume a bit later and see if the pain comes back.  With the wedding, I was so focused on my job, I didn't notice the pain until too late.  But then again, I'm not sure I would've stopped working.  I have an obligation to fulfill when documenting a wedding.  Luckily, I only have a bunch of small photography gigs for the next few weeks.  The next wedding is March 21, so that buys me some time to amp up my stamina and foot recovery.

Feb. 25th, 2009

air cast, ankle

hello Left Shoe!

I'm pleased as punch.  I'm one month out of my last cast and now get to wear regular shoes.  
The only problem is getting my still-swollen foot into some of my shoes.  
Sneakers = good, dress shoes, not so much.  So for now, I'm going for the "sporty" look as opposed to the "dainty" look. 

Even better, my surgeon cleared me to start walking around Town Lake, starting in 3 weeks.
And, if I'm doing really well, I'm cleared to start skating again in 4 weeks.  Oh joy!

Feb. 21st, 2009

air cast, ankle

say goodbye to frozen peas.

The new physical therapy place is MUCH better.  
They don't mind if I ask questions.  
They seem jazzed that I am motivated to walk.  
And they showed me more techniques for getting my foot back to normal.

After trolling around Vegas for 3 days, my foot was seriously swollen.  The therapist said that it wasn't just from that.  She felt that it was swollen because I'm not doing enough exercises.  Which is probably true.  But I then told her that I had been icing the incision and my foot in massive doses, so why wasn't that helping to reduce the swelling?

BIG piece of information here folks:  I have to elevate my leg now and do ankle pumps.  Icing will only alleviate the pain.  Ankle pumping while elevated forces the excess blood back up my leg.  So here's her method, which I will demonstrate:

air cast, ankle

not yet.

The air cast is also known as a cam walker.  My new nickname for it:  damn walker.   

I've been walking around barefooted and the physical therapist decided to revoke that privilege.  I still have waaaaay too much swelling and not much side-to-side mobility.  So I'm back in the air cast until Wednesday when I meet with my surgeon.  It's my one month out of the cast appointment.  I'm hoping she'll give me the go ahead to be done with the damn walker.

Feb. 20th, 2009

air cast, ankle

Vegas visuals, courtesy of the iPhone



real people





Wolfgang Puck


view from room

MGM window


air cast, ankle

10 Vegas things.

1)  I had to walk 3 or 4 football field lengths each day to get from my hotel room to the convention center at MGM Grand.  It was so far that the first time I did it, I plopped down in the middle of the trade show floor, took off my boot and iced the incision with my iced latte.  And cried a little.

It was so far they actually put up signs every thirty feet that said, "you've walked so much, you can get into that swimsuit" and "you're a strong photographer, you can handle this much walking".  

It was so far that people with two good legs were sore and complaining about it.

2)  I became best friends with the ice machine on my floor.  I iced and elevated every few hours.  Pretty much any chance I could get.  My foot swelled and my incision became very hot.

3)  Lots of walking and standing, but overall I did okay with my foot not being elevated.  I ditched the crutches in the hotel room, and walked (hobbled) the whole time.  By the third day, I was getting in shape and also feeling tons of cumulative pain.

4)  Descending in the airplane puts crazy pressure on the foot.  Think ear popping, only magnified 10 times.

5)  We (four exhausted, brain-stuffed wedding photographers) were in a swanky restaurant in Bellagio and accidently set our basket of bread on our table on fire.   The waiter took away our romantic table candle and scolded us.  We were the subject of much mirth among the waiters.  Oh, yeah...we had all had a drink.  Or two.

6)  People wanted to know what happened to my foot.  I must've told 300 or more people what happened. By the end of the conference, I got my story down to three lines, like a good movie pitch.

7)  I have no scientific numbers, but it seemed like 50% of the people were sympathetic and helpful and the other 50% were clueless.

I had people cut in front of me, let doors close in front of me, close elevator doors in front of me, tailgate...trying to get me to walk faster...which I never did...
But then I had people who gave up their seats for me in lectures, people who would hold the elevator doors (even though I walk slowly and they had to wait for me), people who fetched ice for me, people who let me lean on them when I was tired.

8)  I always had to sit in the front seat of the taxis, so I had many odd conversations with cab drivers.  One told me that he was a ballroom dancer and that I should be one too.  To rehab my foot?  Or just because?  I never figured that out.

I told another driver that I had surgery and he wanted to know about the scar.  Sometimes I show people the scar, if they're really interested ("Wanna see my scar?"  isn't that just a creepy way to make conversation?).  I told the driver that my scar was almost gone and I was thinking how funny it would be to go get it re-tattooed on my foot.  He got very excited and told me "that's hot!".  

9)  We went to a big networking/drinking party thrown by one of our vendors.  It was at Studio 54.  It was, like, 500 wedding photographers getting all sweaty and dancing together.  It felt a bit incestuous.  And the leg really didn't help my dancing.  

10)  I walked across the hotel room in my bare feet.  100% loadbearing.   Something in the air there?  A Vegas Miracle.  (could be a made-for-tv movie).

air cast, ankle

Nobody asked, hurray!

Last night, I was out in public at one of our favorite restaurants, Lamberts.  We got there early for happy hour and hung out in the bar with our friends and numerous friendly strangers (it is Austin, after all) until the table was ready.  The whole night, not one person asked me about my foot.  It was so wonderful!  I had real conversations.  

Life is almost back to normal.  Now if I could just get back to driving (darn stick shift!). 

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