January in Utah means the arrival of the annual Sundance Film Festival. This year Jason and I, as usual, forgot to register for the locals’ passes in time and so we were forced to be part of the pandemonium the day tickets were made available to the general public. In the midst of the chaos we were able to get tickets to three films: The Missing Person, The Yes Men Fix the World, and Earth Days.
The Missing Person, a feature film about a PI, had a nostalgic feel to it. Its slow pace reminded me of a movie from a different era, which I believe was the film maker’s intent. We enjoyed it and the Q&A afterward, where we got to meet John Ventimiglia, Frank Wood, and Noah Buschel.
Goofing around with Jeremy and Kara before the screening of The Missing Person
Earth Days was a well done documentary about the origins of the environmental movement. I love history so I thought it was enthralling. I had no idea that environmentalism started here in the United States-what a surprise, since American aren’t exactly perceived as being the most environmentally conscientious people now days. We got to meet the director, Robert Stone, after the film. His insights were fascinating.
Robert Stone, director of Earth Days, at the Q&A
I can’t say enough good things about the third film we saw, The Yes Men Fix the World. It was easily the best film Jas and I have seen at Sundance. I laughed until I cried through parts of it, but, during other parts, I thought I might cry in earnest at the injustices that it revealed. This documentary followed two men, Andy and Mike, as they set out to expose corporations involved in unethical business practices. They exposed these companies using creative pranks and hoaxes. The film was completely hilarious, one of the funniest shows I’ve seen in a long time, but it was also inspirational. It made you want to change the world, even if your methods might be a little bit more main-stream and would in no way involve wearing an inflatable “survival suit”.
One of the Yes Men at the Q&A-dressed in his "survival suit"
The Q&A session after the screening, with the Yes Men themselves, was also quite entertaining. Andy and Mike were as wacky and clever in real life as they were in the movie.
And yes, in case you didn’t catch it in the previous paragraph, The Yes Men Fix the World was a documentary, and yes, I thought it was more thought-provoking and entertaining than any movie I’ve seen in quite a while. So all of you that avoid documentaries and immediately start nodding off the second the word “documentary” is even mentioned, you might be missing out on more than you think.
Every documentary we have seen at Sundance has been absolutely fantastic. But beyond just presenting these remarkable shows, that you may not get a chance to view otherwise, Sundance also gives you a unique opportunity to experience them in a theater setting. A film is always more moving when you have that big screen in front of you and can join in your neighbor’s laughter.
We will definitely be attending Sundance again next year and look forward to more surprises.
During the many doctor’s appointments I had before and after my peroneal tendon repair surgery I asked my doctor countless questions. I am a very inquisitive person, but even with my never ending inquiries there were plenty of questions I forgot, or didn’t think, to ask.
Since I am sure that many patients forget to remember what to ask, here are some questions you may have about your peroneal tendon surgery, or the recovery process, and the answers my doctor gave to me.
Me after a much needed workout-notice my legs practically look the same now. Yeah!
1. How accurate is an MRI? Will it show with certainty if I need to have surgery or not?
Unfortunately, the answer to this question is no. Apparently, although an MRI will give a doctor a good idea of what is going on, it won’t necessarily accurately illustrate the extent of the damage to your tendon. According to my doctor, sometimes an MRI will indicate that surgery is the best option for a patient, so the patient will go ahead with surgery, only to discover, after the fact, that the damage wasn’t extensive enough to justify the procedure after all. The reverse was true in my case; my tendon was much more injured than the MRI suggested.
So it seems that while an MRI is a good diagnostic tool, it’s not error proof. That’s why my doctor recommended I try physical therapy and orthotics before resorting to surgery, just in case a less invasive option would take care of the problem. But in the end, if nothing else helps, the only way to know exactly what is going on with your tendon is to cut you open and take a look at it.
2. What risk factors contribute to peroneal tendon injuries?
Evidently, if your feet have high arches you have a much higher risk of injuring your peroneal tendons. Also, your probability of tendon tears rises if you walk abnormally. You put a lot more strain on your tendons if you maintain your weight on the outside of your feet as you’re walking. You should instead push from your heels, through the balls of your feet, to your big toes-that’s a normal step. I have high arches and an irregular gait. So basically, I was a tendon injury waiting to happen.
3. How long will peroneal tendon repair surgery take?
This surgery takes about an hour.
4. How successful is peroneal tendon repair surgery?
I’m sure there is some variation depending on how skilled your orthopedic surgeon is, but according to my doctor the success rate is about 90%. That means 90% of patient’s tendons show marked improvement, or are completely normal, following surgery. This surgery is considered “unsuccessful” if there is no significant improvement after the procedure. My doctor has never seen a case where the condition of the tendon worsened after surgery.
5. Do I have to be put completely out for this surgery?
Other doctors may do things differently, but mine put me completely out. In addition to general anesthesia, I was offered a nerve blocker for my leg. A nerve blocker completely blocks nerve sensations for hours. People that have a low pain tolerance tend to be big fans of the blocker. However, getting a blocker does slightly increase your risk of permanent nerve damage. In the end, I decided that it wasn’t worth it for me. I can handle quite a bit of pain and I did just fine without the blocker.
6. How long will I have to stay in total at the hospital/surgical center?
I’m sure this depends on the facility, but I was at the surgical center for about 6 or 7 hours in total. Preparations for the surgery took me about an hour and after surgery, regaining consciousness took a bit as well. You shouldn’t have to stay overnight.
7. Will I have to take antibiotics after surgery?
This is obviously up to your doctor’s discretion, but I didn’t have to. I was given antibiotics intravenously during the procedure so I wasn’t prescribed any antibiotic medications afterwards.
8. What medications will I have to take after my surgery?
I was only prescribed Percocet and Phenergan after my surgery. The Percocet was prescribed for the pain, obviously, and the Phenergan was prescribed in case the Percocet made my stomach hurt-which it did.
9. How long after surgery is there an increased risk of re-injuring your tendon?
According to my doctor, your body does the majority of its healing in the first three months after surgery. After you hit the three-month mark the risk of re-injury goes down significantly. However, apparently for a full year after surgery the risk is still greater than normal because I have been instructed to wear my ankle brace while doing any type of physical activity for a year.
10. I have been experiencing shooting nerve pains up the side of my leg. Is that normal after peroneal tendon surgery?
Yes, that is normal. Because you have a lot of nerves in your feet it is evidently impossible for the doctor to gain access to your tendons without damaging some of these nerves temporarily. Also, because the tissues in the surgical area are so inflamed after the procedure, the nerves get all bunched up in the swollen mass. This causes them to behave abnormally. The good new is that this effect should only be temporary. As you become more mobile again and the tissues start moving around in your foot, your nerves should slowly untangle themselves and you should no longer experience these pains. I had some issues with severe shooting pains about 3 or 4 weeks after my surgery. I haven’t had any problems with them for months now.
11. I’ve noticed that my skin feels strange around my incision, a little numb. Is this normal?
Yes, once again, it’s because your nerves were damaged during your surgery. Apparently this is common and the numbness should improve with time. Though, my doctor said for some people it never completely goes away. My numbness issues have definitely gotten better over the last few months but there is still an area about an inch or two wide above my incision that feels like it just got a shot of Novocain. I guess only time will tell if that spot will remain permanently numb.
12. How long should I expect my ankle to stay swollen after surgery?
Your feet have a tougher go of it after surgery than most of your other parts. Since they have to carry your weight constantly, they really don’t get a chance to heal the way everything else does. Due to that fact, the doctor said to expect some swelling in the incision area for 1 to 2 years.
13. When can I expect the muscle mass in my leg to return to normal?
I know the muscle loss in your affected leg is extremely depressing. Seeing my warped shapeless leg jiggle like there was no tomorrow was sad indeed. But there is good news. As soon as you start bearing weight on your foot again your muscle mass comes back pretty fast. It has been four and a half months since my surgery and my legs are almost identical again. Yeah!
On a side note, just so you are aware, if the tear in your tendon is large enough apparently the doctor has to sever the ligaments that criss-cross the tendons in order to perform the surgery. This was the case with my surgery. So all that pain you are feeling might be more justified than you realize.
I hope this helps all of you with your question about what to anticipate with peroneal tendon surgery. It’s definitely not an enjoyable experience but knowing what to expect can make things a little more bearable. Having just gone through it all, I feel your pain-literally-and wish you a speedy recovery!
We are in the midst of another frigid, flurry-filled, Utah winter. We have been pounded by a seemingly endless stream of snow storms over the last month. These massive storms have already depleted many cities’ plowing budgets and left scores of Utahans very weary of the current season. While others dream longingly of the distant spring with each falling flake, Jas and I decided on a different cure for the winter blues-taking a little retreat.
I know the words “winter retreat” usually conjure up visions of warm sandy beaches and palm trees swaying in delicate breezes, but Jas and I had something else in mind. Our retreat was a bit like going from the frying pan into the ice box.
Milo thought dumping snow into my tube was oodles of fun!
We decided to spend a weekend in Midway and Park City. We went tubing at Soldier’s Hollow accompanied by my brother Drew’s family and the Rowleys, who were visiting from New Jersey.
We rocked the tubes!
Most of the little kids in our group had a blast tubing, except for Jadon, my brother’s three year old. He refused to even sit in a tube and spent nearly the entire time taking a nap on his mom’s lap instead.
Jadon taking a snooze.
Although the weather that day turned out to be sunny, a rare occurrence as of late, as soon as the sun started going down the temperature dropped very quickly.
Silas was a happy tuber.
After tubing we headed up to Park city to eat and shop. We ate at a tiny Mexican restaurant called El Chubasco. The salsa bar there was delish! Then we found some good deals at the Tanger outlet stores. While we were in Park City the temperature plunged to a glacial -2 degrees. Man, I haven’t been that cold in a long time! But we warmed up nicely afterwards back at our Midway condo as we played hours and hours of geeky board games.
Geeking it up with some Dominion.
Despite the ridiculously cold weather, we had a lot of fun on our little break. I’m glad we got a chance to actually enjoy our heaping snow instead of just cursing it as we slip and slide through it on the roads.
After all, if you can’t beat the snow, you might as well jump in it!
I’m officially back in the game. With my doctor’s consent, I started running again last week and Monday Jas and I did our first snow boarding of the season.
Being active again after a 4 month hiatus feels unbelievably good and it’s given me the chance to test out my new and improved ankle. Wow! What a difference!
Ankle pain has been my constant companion for nearly a decade now. It has tainted all the activities I enjoy-though it certainly has never stopped me. The first time I went running last week, my first time doing weight-bearing exercise since my surgery, something seemed out of place-unnatural. It took me a bit to realize that it was the pain that was missing.
While my ankle is still achy and stiff, this is insignificant in comparison to the ever-present throbbing I had grown accustomed to. The most remarkable change for my ankle is how it now behaves after I have exercised. It used to hurt for days after I ran or boarded. For an active girl like me that pretty much meant I was in pain all the time. But now I don’t pay for exercising with days of persistent misery. Although my ankle is still healing and protests a bit when it’s getting a workout, once I’m done it feels relatively normal. It still seems so odd to me-being nearly pain free-odd and extraordinary! I didn’t realize just how much pain I had become acclimated to until it was gone.
Rowley and me enjoying the sweet snow.
Now that I can be active again I am finally enjoying the fruits of my surgical misery. Now I can say it was worth it. It WAS worth it. So for any of you out there who are about to have this surgery, or have had it and are suffering through the unbelievable nuisance of crutches and boots, there is a light at the end of the tunnel! You’ll make it through and when you can go back to playing that sport you love-minus the pain-you’ll feel just as giddy as me. Hallelujah! My ankle is back!