Following several requests I want to record my experiences following a Total Ankle Replacement. I know there are several readers who are considering this procedure and I hope my notes offer some insight. Today marks the 73rd day since surgery, but before we get into the detail a little background first. I Hope you enjoy running stories.
I just knew it, I knew the time had finally come when I would have to have an ankle replacement. It was an accident over 27 years ago, my ankle was smashed and now it was making its undesirable presence felt. Perhaps it was stupidity or the bloody-mindedness of a marathon runner, I am unsure, but I chose to pretend I was a hero. Pinned ankle or not – I would not stop running. And why not? I was still pretty young at 35 years and I was fit. I had run an eight-hour Comrades Marathon recently and had a silver medal in my sights. And so once the plaster cast was off and I could manage without crutches, I started to run. Again.
It took a few hard and painful months, but soon I was running in short 10 kilometre races and before long I set my ambitions on the 20 mile race in Springs. “He will never be able to run again” the orthopaedic surgeon cautioned my wife. “Fuck that” I mumbled as I ground my way to the finish, bowed and rebellious. A mixture of blind pain, dogged determination and mutterings of doggerel won through. And so my second running career began, a defiant act that left me in agony for the rest of Sunday while the rest of my family toasted my courage.
My brother-in-law and running partner was killed in that accident and while I was grateful for my survival, the residue of anger refused to evaporate. “See me? I am here at the finish. You couldn’t kill me, you son-of-a-bitch.” I directed my fury at a God, standing there on the finish with a clenched fist held high “I bend my thumb to you, see you at the next race” Rage consumed me as I limped back to the parked car.
It was hard, that’s for sure but fuelled by a toxic mixture of regret, guilt, anger, defiance and a love of running, I set my sights on running a marathon. True, the healing process was slow, my body and mind took on a task bigger than my ambition. When the pain of a Sunday training run lingered beyond Wednesday I often wondered if indeed my stupid grasp was exceeded by my defiant reach. But no, riding home from a dress rehearsal race clutching a medal with a vacant stare and an idiotic grin, I knew all things were possible. “Fool!” admonished exasperated friends. “Baloney!” my stubborn reply. It took a year of careful and dedicated training, but finally I was ready, a marathon became a reality.