Wow! It is hard to believe it has been two whole years since I broke my tibia and fibula at Clapham Junction Station and had an operation to put an intramedullary nail (IM Nail) into my left leg in January 2010. Getting to this point now seemed like a lifetime away shortly after the accident as I only let myself concentrate on short term goals. I took things a month at a time and 6mths seemed too far away to think about, let alone two years. However, here I am and happy to report things are good!
Before getting to specifics, I would like to say a massive thanks to everyone who has contributed to this blog, not just for some of the nice things said, but especially to those who have shared their own experiences. I started writing about my own experience as there wasn’t (and still isn’t) very much on the interweb about IM Nail recovery and what to expect. It has been very helpful and reassuring to me and to everyone else that others are going through similar problems, worries and issues. Please do keep adding and updating your own experiences as well as any handy tips as lots of people have got in touch to say how useful it is to read them all.
Right, a few people have asked me some questions of how the leg is 2 years on, so I will answer those:
Does the leg feel like a normal leg now?
Almost, but not quite. If you have broken your leg to such an extent that you need an IM Nail inserted, then your leg is never going to be quite the same again. You have to accept that having a large bit of metal in it means that it is not a normal leg any more. Two years on and it feels normal most of the time, but not all the time. For the first 6mths and year of recovery you will be very aware when walking that one of your leg feels noticeably different. However, as time goes by, it starts to feel less and less different to the extent that you don’t think about it much, but you are still aware of it. Don’t be disheartened into thinking you can’t do the things you did before, as you can, you will just be much more aware and careful with your leg. Doing the physio and exercising the leg can actually make it stronger than it was before the IM Nail.
Do you still get pain?
No, I wouldn’t describe it as pain, but I get niggles from time to time. For example, yesterday I had a few niggles just below the knee whilst in Central London. I’ve been ill with a fever and been stuck in bed so it was the first time I had walked anywhere in a few days. I had to sit in an uncomfortable chair for an hour or so and when I got up and had to start carrying/moving stuff around I noticed the niggle. No great pain, just small blasts of it feeling sore and a bit weird. It didn’t prevent me from walking around or doing what I was doing.
Have the scars gone?
Nope, they have faded a bit, but not a lot. As you can see below there is still an annoying brown/bruise type mark where the tibia broke. I had hoped that this would have gone away as it’s nowhere near as sexy as an operation scar. Oh, and apologies about the hairy legs!
Will you have the IM Nail taken out?
It’s definitely something I am considering doing, but because I don’t get lots of pain, just niggles, it is not a priority. I am going to organise a visit with the consultant to see what the options are and review the risks.
Have you had any other issues?
Two months ago (November), I had a problem with a shin splint type pain in my bad leg so had to rest it for a few weeks. Shin splints are caused by muscle imbalances in the legs and I think because I hadn’t been keeping up my exercising (I cancelled my gym membership a few months beforehand) this caused this issue.
Any words of advice or encouragement?
Yes, absolutely. Although the above has focussed on issues I have had, I feel my leg is really good right now and I am happy with it. Although doctors tell us that it takes 6mths to recover, it is actually longer than this. We will still get pain and soreness for much longer even though we can be very active on our leg. Be patient with any pain, it should subside eventually. If you are still getting a lot of pain after a year then definitely go back to discuss with your consultants. Even when the leg is feeling good a year after the operation, do keep up some of the physio. I still do the standing on tip toes on my bad leg from time to time (sets of 15).
Can I get in touch with someone who posted a comment as it seems they experienced what I am going through now?
Potentially yes, this has happened already. I will get in touch with the person and ask if they are happy for you to contact them. Please send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please share your experiences! It really is useful for others to hear about what you have gone through. Also, if you have any questions or worries, then maybe others have an answer.