I do have a leg to stand on

… but only the one. Here’s why the other can’t be used:

Ankle X-Ray

When I talked to the surgeon (Dr. Shannon) on Monday, he said that my options were two: an operation, during which he’d put a plate and a screw into my ankle, or just having a cast put on it. The possible failure modes were very similar for both treatments, but there were a couple of extra potential problems if I had the operation (such as infection). I was concerned about the cost of the operation, because I have no medical insurance, but his charges were going to be under $600 for the surgery, so I thought it might be affordable. He made an reservation for an operating theater for Wednesday morning in case I made that decision.

Then I talked with the hospital. Their charges, even after a 40% discount because I was paying myself, would be expected to run in the $17K-$22K+ range. I didn’t even bother to find out what the anesthesiologist would charge; there’s no way I can justify that much money.

So, yesterday morning, I got my cast. I wasn’t aware at first why it couldn’t have been put on Wednesday during the time that had been set up for the operation, but they apparently wanted an extra day or two to let my ankle reach its maximum swelling. I took these photos after they took off my splint, just to have a record of the bruising and swelling:

These are the impressive bruises. The break is on the other side of the ankle, but I’ve got tendon and ligament damage on this side.

Inside bruising

This is the side with the broken bone. There’s bruising, but this is probably the best shot for highlighting the swelling.

Outside bruising

This shot shows how far up the shin the bruising extends. I was surprised, myself.

Up the leg bruising

I don’t regret going for a cast instead of the operation. As I noted earlier, the potential outcomes and drawbacks are similar. The operation has a couple of extra potential drawbacks to counterbalance the potentially-but-not-guaranteed-better outcome. Dr. Shannon also noted that one of his mentors feels that ankle surgery is recommended too aggressively these days. His evidence was that people with knee and hip surgery from 30-40 years ago were getting arthritis in those joints and needing new surgeries done, but people with ankle surgeries of similar vintage weren’t getting arthritis nor were they needing ankle fusion operations.

So far, apart from finding out just how much exertion getting around on crutches requires (particularly dealing with stairs – I’ve been sleeping on the couch to avoid them), transport is my biggest problem. Because it’s my right ankle that’s injured, I’m not going to be able to drive a car until it’s completely healed. Bugger.

This morning was the regular third-Saturday-of-the-month ukulele club meeting at Swallow Hill. I’d planned on going, but was unable to. I did go out on my back patio and play ukulele for a while this afternoon, and I also found a fun “Spot the Ukulele” game at Maggie’s Farm. I’ll probably play that several more times until I can get to meetings again.

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