After months of aching and stiffness in my right ankle, I finally went back to my orthopedic surgeon. He did followup x-rays and said I had good alignment and nothing obviously troublesome showing up. We discussed the pros and cons of taking the hardware out from my trimalleolar fracture of 17 months ago. He told me there was no guarantee that removing the metal would improve my situation and that it could put me at risk for a future break. But he also admitted that he is a spine specialist. :) He referred me to an ankle specialist for a second opinion.
I saw Dr. Chi this past Monday. He said at least three times during the review of my x-rays, "That's a bad break!" Tell me about it.
Dr. Chi has recommended that I proceed with hardware removal, arthroscopic debridement, and posteromedial capsulotomy, and I'm scheduled for outpatient surgery on October 22nd. He told me that the likelihood of breaking it again is small - and that he feels the odds are in my favor for improvement with this procedure. He did caution me that I could have long-term arthritis issues, which is in line with what Dr. Price has previously said.
This morning I happened to read an article about arthritis and the effects on working (http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20071011/ap_on_he_me/arthritis_workplace). Since I work at home, I don't foresee a problem with arthritis impacting my ability to earn a living. I do, however, already struggle with driving, exercising, and just getting around. Some days, the stiffness is so bad that I have to go down the stairs sideways. Sometimes the swelling is so severe that I can't wear certain shoes. Driving long distances in my stick-shift car can aggravate my ankle too. More often than not, I wake up stiff and hobble around for the first 30 minutes or so of the morning. An ongoing issue is the lack of strength and stability I feel in the ankle, particularly when walking on uneven surfaces. And I still have flashbacks when I walk down a sloped surface - almost like post-traumatic stress disorder.
So I look forward to the procedure on the 22nd. Dr. Chi told me to expect heavy bleeding for the first several days. I will be on bed rest with my foot elevated during that phase - and then will be in a walking boot for 2 to 6 weeks. Unlike the original injury, I will be able to walk on it immediately. No crutches!! That's good news. Though I'm not sure I will be able to drive the stick-shift car with the boot on. :(
Nonetheless, it's a temporary set back that I hope will result in a better situation in the long run.