Thursday 13 January 2011

Hello and happy 2011! Plus surgery & ankle rehab update...

Yes, I realise it's a little late in the year to be wishing you all a happy *new* year but then the last time I blogged was a *last* year so I think I qualify ;-)


Have you all made resolutions? Do people still do that? I haven't yet but I'm planning to sit down and think about what I'd like to achieve this year, which is kinda the same thing :-)

So, the good news is that I've got some time off work during which I'll try and update my blog with what's been going on in my life since... well, April 2010!

The bad news is that the only reason this is possible is because I can't actually *get* to work (unless I pay for a taxi there and back!) as I have had surgery on my ankle and I need to keep all weight off my right foot. I can't even leave the house in case I fall over or knock my foot etc as it's very much in the early healing stages so absolute rest is imperative.

However, it's not really *all* bad news as once I'm healed from my surgery I will be able to do things like run properly - for longer than 5k! Play netball again, try new and exciting sports (more about that when I list my goals for the year), and also wearing heels without feeling like I'm being stabbed in my ankle... which is never nice, especially when you wear 4" heels on stage during competitions as it makes posing practice almost impossible!

You see, I was diagnosed with an Osteochondral Defect (amusingly the acronym for this is OCD :-D), by the leading foot and ankle surgeon Mr Mark S Davies who works out of the London Foot and Ankle Centre. The picture at the head of this page features Mr Davies... bizarrely, the woman in the picture is wearing a jacket that I posses, spooky huh? Especially considering I got mine in a Sample Sale when I worked at House of Fraser - I hadn't expected it would get to the shop floor as I thought the hook&eye design was flawed... anyway, sorry, I'm going totally off topic there!

If you're interested about the condition, there's some good information available here:, and here:, but basically what's happened is some bone/cartilage became damaged and dislodged from the bone where my ankle bone (Talus) meets my leg bone (Tibia) and would 'catch' when my foot twisted (i.e. when playing netball, or just twisting when walking round a corner!) or was put in a non-flat position (i.e. when wearing heels or standing on tip-toe).

I had an MRI done and I have a zillion scan pics and am unable to identify much on them - not being a specialist - but basically you can see the damage here (the black area where the ankle and leg bones meet):

There was also a large patch of inflammation at the back of my heel - undoubtedly resulting from the injury - here:

Actually, if you're at all that interested, I have a whole album dedicated to MRI pics of my ankle, lol! Here on Flickr :-)

I had a cortisone (steroid) injection into the area where the inflammation was located to see if that would sort out the pain. We needed to rule out the possibility that the pain was a result of the inflammation and not the OCD. Unfortunately the injection had no effect on the pain so the only other option was to operate to remove the cause. I was told I'd need an ankle Arthroscopy, which is surgery during which two incisions are made. One is for the instruments which are used to remove the obstruction(s) and the other is for the camera to guide the surgeon's hand.

My surgery was first scheduled for November last year but as it got closer to the date it became apparent that it was just not going to be possible as a) I was horrendously busy at work and b) work on our bedroom to fit an en suite and walk-in wardrobe *still* hadn't finished despite having been going for weeks and weeks :-( Basically, our builder took on the work, then agreed to move to Wales with his other half and took on loads of extra work to facilitate this move... he was meant to be working on our bathroom himself, as he'd agreed, but he ended up subcontracting the work out and we had new people in all the time it felt and the work took about 3 times as long as it should!

Anyway, the surgery was rescheduled to Friday, January 7th and to be honest, it was a bit of a relief because Christmas would have been a bit of a pain in the arse if I'd been less-than-mobile! (As it turns out I was very much less-than-mobile during Christmas because of illness but that's for another post :-) )

Pre Surgery

I'd love to say that I prepared well for the surgery and was ultra-fit by the time last Friday came around but the truth was that most of December was spent battling various viruses and I didn't get much time to train at all!

My last workout before surgery was 25 mins on the rowing machine and I was shocked at a) how tiring it felt and b) what a rubbish time I got for 5,000m!

I'd managed to knock around 2 minutes off that time in the past but not being able to train because of being ill had really hit my cardio fitness :-(

The day before this (Tuesday), I'd done a pretty intense lower leg workout and my hamstrings were still rather sore so that might have had something to do with it *ahem* ;-)

So yes, Wednesday was my last day of exercise - over a week ago! I didn't get a chance after that point though as too much to prepare pre-surgery.

Ankle Arthroscopy - Surgery Day!

Friday morning we woke up silly early (05:30!!) and got a cab to the hospital.

I was really chuffed with my room, it was mahoosive!

There were even hotel-style toiletries in the en suite bathroom - sweet!

(I didn't actually get to use them though, and no I didn't steal them, ha!)

So, first of all I changed into my uber-attractive surgery gown.

Hubba Hubba!

(I'm not quite sure how it was that Joe was able to resist me at that point, seriously!)

No... having an open back didn't make me feel at *all* vulnerable, honest!! 8-O

Shortly afterwards my anaesthetist came to see me, as did my surgeon who drew a large arrow on my right leg, and also some dots on the nerves of my right ankle... I don't question these things!

Next I was taken down to have my anaesthetic... this, strangely perhaps, was the part I was most afraid of as I'd never had one in the past and I guess a) the control freak in me didn't like the thought of me being totally out of it and b) the unreasonable unrealistic pessimist in me thought I might not wake up... I've heard too many horror stories! I was even talking to Joe in the taxi on the way over about donating my organs in case anything went wrong!

By the time I was ready for surgery I felt a lot more calm though. The anaesthetist didn't do any of the "count down from/up to 10" that I've heard people mention before, instead she just administered first the painkiller... which she said would make me *very* light headed and she wasn't kidding! I was VERY light-headed, not unpleasantly so though, it was quite good fun, the room was spinning around all over the place! Next the anaesthetic came, together with an oxygen mask, the lady spoke to me for a few moments and that was the last I remember!

Next minute I was lying in the recovery room being brought round. The big arrow was still present on my leg and at the end of it was a super huge dressing encasing my entire ankle and most of my foot:

I became aware of my foot being a little painful so they fed some morphine into my line... that almost sent me back to sleep, lol! I remember feeling quite cold so they gave me this wonderful remarkable blanket which was completely hollow and had a tube at one end into which they pumped hot air. A hot-air blanket... I want one for my bed!! It was just about the most luxurious thing ever, ahhh. Also, the radio was tuned to XFM, it couldn't really get much better!

I was wheeled back up to my room and given some menus for breakfast, lunch etc. I felt enormously hungry so ordered a huge fatboy cooked breakfast with toast, coffee, juice and yoghurt... was ravenous, especially given that I'd been nil-by-mouth since midnight the previous day!

Unfortunately, my breakfast's arrival was timed perfectly with the departure of my appetite (I was told it was a 'Morphine thing', great).

I made a bold effort at the bacon and sausage and gave up and had the toast with apricot jam - was the best thing ever, my nurse was rather amused when I described it as 'epic toast', perhaps it was the Morphine talking but that's how it felt to me :-)

The staff at the hospital were super nice and attentive, especially my day nurse who regaled me with medical anecdotes and let slip that his alternative career choice that he tells people when he's out (he doesn't tell people he's a nurse in case an emergency happens when he's drunk that could land him in all kinds of trouble if he messed up due to intoxication - very wise!) is that he's a biscuit designer for Cadbury's. Apparently he started off as a humble sous chef specialising in pastries who happened to catch the eye of someone high up in the company. I *love* that story!

I had to have my observations taken quite frequently after the operation, especially as my blood pressure kept dropping. I do already have very low blood pressure though so it wasn't entirely surprising. I also had my temperature taken and my toes wiggled to see if I could feel anything... which I couldn't very well for a while as my toes were numb for half the day! Apparently after the operation I was given a local anaesthetic as well to help with any residual pain.

Aside from paracetamol and dihydrocodeine, I didn't have any other painkillers, which I'm quite pleased with as I was told I could have morphine tablets if I wanted! I think it's testament to Mr Davies, my fabulous surgeon, that I wasn't in a lot of pain :-)

Mr Davies came to see me a little later that morning (I was the first surgery of the day at about 8am) and said that operation went really well :-) he said there was actually a fair bit of loose cartilage in my ankle so he removed that, together with the inflamed tissue present in my heel - double whammy! :-)

Mr Davies also said that someone from the physiotherapy department would be up to provide me with crutches and a wedged shoe to keep my foot in the correct position.

I *finally* had a physiotherapist come and see me, who didn't want to give me a shoe at first, even though I'd been told I needed one... first she tried to squash my just-operated-on foot into one of my crocs!! V painful, not impressed :-( She adjusted the crutches to my height and then pretty much buggered off straight away. I guess she thought I was a big girl so could work it out on my own, lol! I was too relieved at not having to use a bed pan again to care really - freedom!

My Mum came to visit me next which was fabulous. She's suffered from various aggressive cancers over the last few years that have threatened to take her life and she still visits the hospice she's been attending since she was at her lowest ebb. The hospice was near to where I was staying so that was a happy coincidence :-)

Mum stayed for an hour or so then went off to the hospice to meet up with some people and have treatment.

Next came lunch which I was super excited about as my appetite had returned with a vengeance! Lunch was beef and mushroom casserole with 'seasonal veg' (broccoli & sweetcorn), additional side salad and some rather delicious melon too :-)

It was devoured, rapidly.

My male nurse disappeared at some point and my care tailed off somewhat - I missed the company! I did have the ward sister come round with a gorgeous cake-style biscuit fresh from the restaurant... plus some other naughty biccies for tea-dunking *slaps wrist* ;-)

Mum came back a little while later and we chatted for ages, it was lovely to have her all to myself! We spent Christmas all together... my parents, Joe's parents and older brother too - was a full house! - but didn't really get a chance to speak to her properly on her own so it was lovely to just have a bit of mother and daughter time :-)

I'd planned to have a nap during the afternoon but by the time Mum and I had finished gas-bagging it was time for dinner which was pretty darn special... tuna loin served with green beans and a spinach and tomato accompaniment.

Also had soup and side salad and fruit for dessert again - I figured I needed the nourishment, my body had been through a lot that day!

Dinner was pretty early at 6pm (I don't normally eat til closer to 9pm... a bad habit to break that will be on my resolutions/goals list for 2011!), but this was good as Joe and my son came to visit pretty soon after I'd finished - good timing :-)

Was lovely to see my boys but they couldn't stay too long as they had their own dinner to take care of (and Gran Turismo 5 on the PS3 from what I could make out!).

It was hard to sleep that night, the hospital was on a main road and my room was close to the nurse's station so I could hear everything that was being said there.

To top it off I was mega flushed, my cheeks were bright red like I'd been in a sauna, I'm guessing it was from the anaesthetic as I didn't have a high temperature?

I also had some hassle on Twitter from someone who long-term blog readers are familiar with. My mobile is registered to my Twitter account so every time I get so much as an '@' mention my phone beeps. This happened late the night of my surgery and there followed quite a bit of interchange between me and my less-than-fabulous blog and Twitter feed reader. I'm not going to go into it in detail on here, you can see from my Twitter history from the early hours of 08/01/2011 if you're interested and can be bothered to trawl back that far!!

Anyway, finally got to sleep sometime close to 4am, and then was up around 8am ish for breakfast... definitely *not* the restful night I'd hoped for the night after invasive surgery!!

Breakfast cheered me up :-) I didn't go for the cooked this time but still ordered a whopper of a meal... porridge, 1/2 a grapefruit, yoghurt and 2 pieces of (epic) wholemeal toast with apricot jam AND marmalade *glutton*... oh and I might have ordered a croissant too... whoops! ;-)

I was discharged at 11am and, although I knew I'd miss my multi-directional bed and help at the push of a button, I was also horrendously homesick too and couldn't wait to get home! I missed my boys, my quiet street, my cats...

Back home

So, I've been home for 5 days now and nothing adventurous has happened really. Stairs are challenging but not impossible, especially as we had an extra bannister fitted for Joe's parents while they were over at Christmas as they are both elderly and find it hard to move about as much.

The biggest challenges I've faced have been with transporting liquid... i.e. very important wake-up fluids like coffee! My son gets home from school around half 4 so until then when he assumes the role of Tea Boy, I have to make do on my own!

Fortunately, the same reason why I'm in this whole ankle injury mess - being a bona fide exercise nut - means that I have equipment to cope with carrying various items in a handsfree fashion, mainly during long runs.

So... for carrying flasks of hot coffee I have my Hilly bottle carrier:

and for all other stuff I have my Nathan running bag with its handy pockets and main pouch section!

Yes, I am a running geek *proud* :-D

Other than that, I have spent four out of the past five days sleeping in excess of 12 hours... not tried to fight it as I figure my body needed the time to repair itself... hopefully now the loose tissue has been removed, new healthy tissue will form in its place. In order for that to happen though, I need to rest and nourish my body accordingly to give it the best possible chance.

I have also restocked my vitamin and supplement supplies. I decided not to reorder Lycopene as most of my meals are tomato based so I figure I get plenty of it as it is! I did order some more Lutein for my eyes, pomegranate, CLA, multi-vits and L-Carnitine, which I discovered through Multipower's L-Carnitine Range of products (the drink and bar from which I'm hoping to review soon as they're lush!). L-Carnitine is an amino acid which plays an active part in the body's ability to use fat as an energy source - cool!

I have in past bought almost all of my supplements from ZipVit as they've always had very good deals. I still use them for Glucosamine Hydrochloride (I try and steer clear of the sulphate version for the higher salt content).

More recently I've been using JustVitamins, particularly as they have some awesome deals like buy-one-get-one-free on CLA, pomegranate and more.

There are more packets in the box and that all fit through my letterbox - neat huh? :-)

I also bought some more of the rather excellent Scivation Xtend which is a yummy drink containing all the BCAAs and L-Glutamine thrown in for good measure! Here's some additional scientific information regarding this fabulous product. My previous tub was watermelon flavour, these two are lemonade and blue raspberry - lush!

I've stocked up on my Udo's Choice Ultimate Oil Blend of Omega 3 & 6, used by athletes and bodybuilders alike. You can read an article with top fitness model Carly Thornton here.

Last but not least, from MyProtein, I bought some Nitric Oxide (NO/NO2), and MyProtein's own brand version of ZMA (Zinc & Magnesium).

So yes, I'm nicely stocked up now :-)

I can't actually remember what we had to eat on Saturday night but on Sunday we had a bit of a treat... Roast pork joint... complete with crackling!

Talk about a plateful eh? This doesn't happen very often, so when it does... boy do I savour it!

This week I've been mostly resting up and digesting my fill of daytime TV... it's not the most palatable I must admit!

Yesterday I started going through some of my training books as I'm pretty limited in what I can do exercise-wise.

In fact, pretty much all I can do is upper body (seated!) dumbbell training... but also, Pilates! Although saying that, quite a few exercises in my book I couldn't do as they required *some* pressure being put on my right foot and I just can't do that right now. Mostly it's okay

I've been trying to put together a workout... with a little help from my cat of course... hmmm

And I've also had Joe get most of my exercise equipment down from the loft:

I've left the resistance tubing and kettlebell as I don't think I can use them very well right now.

I've put up my PowerBar again...

...but I still suck at pull-ups so definitely something that needs working on while I'm off!!

Unfortunately I don't think it's something that will change overnight as I think my weight-to-strength ratio is a bit off :-/

In any case, I really can't stay sat on my backside entirely for the next week and a bit, I don't think it'll do my recovery any favours and muscle atrophy is *not* on my hit-list right now!

So today I found today that all I needed was a mat and a mirror:

...and I was able to do a decent core workout without stressing my foot. Fab!

Anyhoo, I'm going to get off now as this post was only meant to be a quick update, but in true Tara fashion it has metamorphosed into a behemoth of an entry - hey ho!

I'll be back tomorrow hopefully but this time with updates - as promised - of the past year... I'm determined to catch up!

In the meantime, sweet dreams and thanks for still reading despite my poor update rate!

Stay strong!



  1. Wowsa lady! EPIC indeed! Phew!

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  3. Sorry, I forgot to reply to these comments, thanks for reading... all the way through! ;-) x