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Injury Healing Timeline

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This healing timeline is part of my book: When my Horse Fell on Me – A Tale of Injury Recovery

One of the most common questions regarding an injury, is “what is the timeline for healing?“. People who are injured want to know how long does it take a broken ankle to heal, when can they start walking after breaking a shin bone, and how long will a broken pelvis keep them bed ridden.

Obviously, there’s no proper single answer to these questions. Healing timelines of broken bones vary from bone to bone and from person to person. Also, every person defines “healing” differently. For some, healing means being able to move around slowly, and that’s fine. Others don’t consider themselves healed until they are back doing their favorite sporting activity. Stepping out of bed after being Non-Weight Bearing for 6 weeks doesn’t mean you’re healed. It’s just another step on the road to healing.

When I was injured, I wanted a detailed timeline. Any timeline. I wanted to hear from someone who’s been through it. I wanted to understand what lies ahead. Even though I understood that each healing timeline is different, I still wanted to get as much information as possible. All I could find, though, were rough estimates. That was one of the reasons I wrote a book about healing from an injury – I thought there might be other injured people out there, looking for details and information, and finding bupkis.

One of the chapters from my book is a detailed timeline – from the day of the injury to the final check-up in the hospital.

Here’s the first part of the timeline:

  • First days in the hospital: pretty much bed ridden, can’t get out of bed, wearing a diaper and moving very little.
  • Around 3-4 days into my hospital stay, I was out of bed with the assistance of a physiotherapist with an Arm Walker. At this point, my ankle was still broken (and undiagnosed), so it was very painful and hard for me to move at all, despite the fact I didn’t put any weight on my leg.
  • About a week after the injury, and a couple of days after the ankle surgery (with a cast on), I was able to get in and out of bed unassisted, and I was also using a regular walker, instead of the Arm Walker. I couldn’t walk very far with the walker, but was able to go to the bathroom and fill a water bottle at the end of the corridor.
  • 9 days after the injury I received a lesson on using crutches.
  • 10 days after the injury I was released home (went to my father’s place. I couldn’t go to my apartment because it’s located on the 3rd floor, and no elevator) with a cast on my right leg. I could do some physio exercises, like small pelvis lifts and some stretches while using the walker. I couldn’t lift my right leg straight up and it was scary for a while (more on that in the Physio chapter).
  • 13 days: moving around slightly better. Doing one-legged squats using the walker. Lower back and knee pain are still present. I can do most chores around the house, like cooking and dishes and laundry. It takes a lot longer, but it can be done.
  • 16 days: stopped taking pain killers. Not sleeping very well because of uncomfort during the night (I could only sleep on my back). STILL couldn’t lift my right leg straight up. Can sit on soft surfaces for short periods of time.
  • 18 days: cast removal! Got an aircast boot, but only needed it when going out. When I was home (which was most of the time), I just went barefoot. The leg looked swollen and weird after the cast removal, and the calf was super thin. A lot of muscle loss happens in less than three weeks.
  • 21 days: first physiotherapy session with the new physio (went great).
  • 26 days: I can finally lift my right leg, although not when it’s fully straight. Pain in the knee has lessened somewhat. Ankle is still stiff, obviously, despite the physiotherapy.
  • 28 days: started exercising with exercise bands and weight, which helps a bit while being NWB.
  • One month, one day: straight leg lifts are no problem now, even with added weight! I can move the ankle nicely, the swelling of the leg has subsided measurably. Sleep is better, and I can turn onto my stomach for short periods of time, which helps stretch my back and get a better sleep. I can also turn and lie down on my left side for a while (right side was the injured one).
  • 32 days: went to visit my horse for the first time since the injury, managed well with the crutches. Sleep is better, and I can sleep on my left side for short periods of time. The knee, of all things, still hurts.
  • 42 days: I can sit on a chair and work on a computer for a while, though I am stiff and achy when I get up. The knee and the right side of the groin, which have been bothering me since the injury, are still somewhat painful and stiff.
  • 49 days: first check-up. The ankle is healing nicely, the pelvis is still in process. I can finally put weight on my leg! Started learning to walk again – at first with crutches, but not for long. Feels weird to walk and despite all the exercises, my muscles feel very weak.

Want to read the rest? Check out my book on Amazon!

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