My PT had suggested that I keep some sort of recovery journal, in case someone else googles and wants to know about major cycling accidents (though with my PageRank, the odds of this coming up for anyone are /super/ slim). Regardless, I thought it useful, so I’ll at least try
I’ve been non-weight-bearing now for almost 8 weeks; 3 of those spent mostly in bed at various hospitals. I’ve found that I can use crutches for almost everything, with a walker useful for getting in and out of the shower with a LITTLE more stability. For the most part, the healing has been fairly smooth — but there’s definitely been more than one or two wrinkles. First, a couple of days where the hip has been upset from the PT — minor. Second, the non-weight bearing led to the foot tensing up and resulting nerve pain. I’ll talk a little more about both after the jump. Third — voice damage from the larynx injuries. Finally, dental work — though I’ve been surprisingly lucky there.
TL;DR — the hip is healing well, with some nasty issues with nerve pain and some stiffness. Weight bearing is anticipated, barring unseen issues, Feb 13th. The voice is not doing as well, with a vocal cord still paralyzed and I sound very hoarse and quiet. We’re hoping to address that temporarily Jan 31st.
First — the unwiring of the jaw and eating. That progressed well, though even after two weeks, I still have some aches and biting into harder foods is a challenge. The other big, surprising to me factor was that my throat muscles struggled with solid food for a bit, having got used to liquids. I took it fairly carefully, especially with the paralyzed vocal cord making coughing harder — when food get stuck, it gets stuck! (I found this one out the hard way, but it was dealable with). Overall, progress has ben pretty good.
Second — the hip and foot. It’s been very tough to find PT that actually strengthens a completely non-weight-bearing leg. I’ve a solid routine that has been built by my therapist at Langford Physical Therapy, but even that has been a little bit of a challenge. My hip is quite weak (surprise, surprise!) and I’ve managed to get it to be unpleasantly stiff a couple of times. The goal is to have it flexible and not too weak when we go to weight-bearing, and then really work on it at that point, so it’s been important to NOT overdo it. The good news is at least I get some time every day on a stationary bicycle, so I don’t feel like I am completely lazy, and we have me working on some total isolation exercises for my quad (long arm quad) and hamstrings (hamstring curls) to stave off as much atrophy as possible. The approach has involved carefully adding exercises as we get further from the surgery to minimize risk of complication; for instance we added gentle clamshells last week, and VERY careful external and internal rotations this.
Roll on Feb 13th! Not /just/ Fat Tuesday!
The foot was more problematic, in many ways, despite not being involved at all. Some combination of the foot itself tightening up and sciatic involvement led to nerve pain in the sole — which led to not sleeping, which led to slower healing, which …you get the idea. It started on Boxing Day but was VERY minor — but fairly rapidly escalated. Nerve pain is pretty unpleasant, so we needed to address it.
The approach has been threefold. First, on the orders of my surgeon at UNMH, I’m taking a direct nerve painkiller (Gabbapentin/Neurontin) and Ibuprofen 3x a day. (In fact, these are the ONLY painkillers I’m using, which I think is a good thing). Second, working with my PT I’ve been doing some very targeted foot stretches (big toes stretches, mostly). Thirdly, I’ve been working on acupuncture to help reduce the tension. I was distinctly sceptical of the latter, but the combination is definitely working and I think the acupuncture has been a big part of it. At this point, the foot isn’t perfect, but it’s manageable, I’m sleeping again, and can do all my other PT without being in pain. I’ll take it, and am continuing with the acupuncture to see if it can help with the next issue too.
Once again, roll on Fat Tuesday. I rather expect to get some relief once I am able to do some weight bearing on the left leg again.
Thirdly — the voice. This is the bugbear, with one vocal cord still paralyzed and not showing any signs (as of the jaw unwiring) of any recovery. This isn’t unexpected, since if the nerve was crushed, the expected recovery is in months not weeks. The downside is — right now we don’t know at all if the nerve is sheared, stunned, crushed or anything. Short-term (next week) the plan is to do an injection into the vocal cord to at least bulk it up. The advantage is that the two cords do not meet, so the injection will help that, and give some more strength to my voice. After that, we’ll see.
Finally — dental work. This is ‘relatively’ minor, after my cleaning last week. (Note: cleanings are fun when your hip is mad at you and you have to stretch out in a dentists chair, as well as a jaw that dislikes being wide open forever). It went well, and the prognosis for fixing some of my slide is limited to a small number of crowns and some reconstruction on a small number of other teeth — certainly better than I expected.
Overall — I’m just over 8 weeks out. Recovery is MUCH faster than I expected. Most of the people who see me are surprised too, so I’ll take it. I’m wishing karma upon the driver who conducted the hit and run. If you took the time to read all this, thanks!