Sunday, June 13, 2010

Five Week Progress Report

It was five weeks ago today that I broke my leg. That is five weeks without throwing a leg over a bicycle. It's been only over the last few days where my foot is starting to look normal again. I'm also catching myself attempting to use my left leg in a normal fashion, like forgetting to grab my crutches when getting up from the sofa. I haven't mistakenly put much weight on my leg yet. I honestly believe it wouldn't hurt if I did. Per doctor's orders, I still have another week to go with zero weight bearing. Things must be going half way decent if I'm starting to forget I have a broken leg.

Here's a little comparison between my ankle on Sunday, May 9 and today, June 13. A little bit of titanium and some time to heal can make quite a difference, eh? I attempted to put the orthopedic surgeon's mark where I thought it would be on the latest image. I did my best to capture the same angle and leg orientation as in the ER five weeks ago. I still find it hard to believe that was my ankle.

I've been increasing the intensity of my SkiErg workouts. I really have no interest in going an hour at it, so I fill 30-40 minutes with short, hard-as-I-can go intervals. I got my heartrate up to 172bpm today. That's approaching Mt Ascutney race pace. I did this while balancing on my right leg and resting my left leg up on a block. The power is still not very impressive, peaking out at only 250W. My average power for 30 minutes is still just over 100W. Most of this is seated poling and triceps limited. There is a lot going on for this measly power output. It is weight bearing and involves nearly all muscle groups. Skiing economy is much lower than cycling economy. Thus for a given output power level, a lot more calories are burned while poling than spinning on a bike. I can burn 350 calories in 30 minutes now, which the computer tells me is covering over 6km on medium fast snow (resistance set at 2.5 out of 10, 10 being most resistance).  Sub-five minute kilometers using only arms is not bad. I question whether I could have done that at the end of last ski season.  Friday's workout consisted of warming up, then 1min all-out, 2min recovery for 30 minutes total. It was the first time in five weeks I can honestly say I got an endorphin buzz. I was trashed afterwards.

I'm hoping when I see the orthopedist in a week, he'll clear me for spin bike work. I haven't attempted to use the spin bike since three weeks ago when several readers chastised me for one-legging it.  I did try a little experiment Saturday where I put the left crank back on with a flat pedal for the casted leg. My right leg did most of the work and my left leg just went along for the ride. There was no issue with this. I could easily put a little power into it with my left leg if I wanted too. With an immobilized ankle, I had to heel pedal on my left side, which took a little getting used to.

I've been stretching my Achilles tendon a couple times a day. I have pretty good downward range of motion now. I have almost no upward range of motion, maybe just past 90 degrees. I think my calf muscle is tight and prevents the movement. It doesn't hurt really, at least I'm not forcing it to that point. It just stops. The other degrees of freedom are gone. It's like my ankle joint just fused over. The doctor didn't want me working at these other movements before physical therapy anyway, only the Achilles was permitted. Can't really curl my toes down either, using their muscles. It feels like those tendons go around the back of the ankle and are all tight.  My toes move no problem if I do it manually by hand.  Weird stuff.  I have a hunch physical therapy is going to be unpleasant.

Per the doctor's initial assessment, I could have as little as three weeks left in the cast, or another five weeks. I sure hope I'm not only half way. The temptation is growing daily to start using my left leg, since in the cast I have negligible pain anymore. I wonder what my bone strength is up to now. 40%? 70%? Don't need any setbacks. I'm transitioning from a phase of despair to impatient anticipation.


Judson Cake said...

I'm sure you'll be back sooner rather than later. Healthy people heal faster, simple as that. Keep it up.

Anonymous said...

For you 5 weeks probably seems like forever. I can't believe 5 weeks have gone by this fast. Relax a little. You will be back in the saddle before you know it.