A Night in the Hospital After A Morning of Ankle Replacement Surgery

My total ankle replacement surgery with the Wright Inbone 2 ankle required only a short 2 1/2 hours. I wouldn’t have known because I was out cold. All I remember was them putting a mask over my nose and mouth, telling me to breathe and then waking up with a massive splint on my leg.

Feeling pretty good after waking up from my total ankle replacement surgery.

Yolanda is by my side and tells me everything had gone well. Being very thirsty, a nurse brings me water but otherwise I’m actually feeling very good. No pain, no grogginess, just like I’d awakened from a nice sleep. Pretty soon a couple nurses arrive to wheel me and my bed down the hall, into an elevator and into a private room. Unfortunately, the view isn’t as good as the spectacular one from the pre-op room.

Feeling No Pain After My Ankle Replacement Surgery

Yolanda joins me and nurses begin arriving to take vitals, ask how I was feeling, ask about my pain level and to hook up an antibiotic drip. A large cup of water shows up and thankfully, a urinal/bedpan thingy. A nurse puts several pillows under my splint-covered leg elevating it to help keep the inevitable swelling down. 

One of Dr. Clanton’s PA’s comes in to check on me and tell me everything went very well. My biggest concern was whether or not a calcaneal osteotomy had been performed. Thankfully, none required. Halleluia! Only two weeks nonweight-bearing rather than six.

Nerve block pumps block pain from my total ankle replacement surgery.

My nurse explains the nerve block pumps telling me that if I needed additional anesthetic I could press a button for a bigger dose but only a couple times per hour. So far I’m feeling little to no pain, a two on the scale of 1-10. There was no need for Yolanda to stay longer. She leaves to run errands and help our 95 year-old friend Thelma, at whose house we would be staying for the next couple weeks.

Finally I Get to Eat

A Tylenol is brought in but other than that I need nothing other than food. I haven’t eaten since the night before and it was now the middle of the afternoon. I call down to the cafeteria and order a big meal not knowing it’s recommended that I eat only small amounts. Nurses come in occasionally to check my vitals, empty the urinal, give me more water and ask how I was doing. The food arrives and I demolish it.

There isn’t much to do but watch TV, read the news on my phone and try to nap. Dinnertime comes and with it another good-sized meal. Sleep comes fitfully throughout the night with nurses checking vitals and morning a long time coming.

Breakfast arrives. With it comes Yolanda and new nurses with the shift change.

Practicing on Crutches

A physical therapist arrives from the Howard Head Sports Medicine Clinic downstairs to work with me in using the crutches. Knowing that I would need crutches, I had bought a good pair at Habitat for Humanity for only $7. I’m sure the hospital would’ve charged Medicare and my insurance a lot more. 

He walks me up and down the halls, up and over a practice set of stairs giving me pointers along the way. I had practiced with them at home, something I highly recommend, so was somewhat used to them. It’s very important to practice on crutches before you’re forced to use them when very tentative and concerned about your new ankle.

 Massive splint protects my total ankle replacement surgery.

Lunch comes, later more nurses along with the hospital chaplain to minister to my spiritual needs. Someone brings my discharge instructions with a list of prescriptions. Yolanda picks them up at the pharmacy downstairs; oxycodone for pain, a stool softener for oxycodone-induced constipation, Celebrex for inflammation and pain, Lyrica to reduce nerve pain and finally three boxes of ten Lovenox syringes each to prevent possible blood clots caused by laying around all day.

The drugs cost almost nothing but the Lovenox costs me over $200! Damn. The nurse shows me how to inject myself, Yolanda refuses to do it, and instructs me to shoot myself each morning until they were gone thirty days later.


Finally, I’m allowed to go home. An orderly brings a wheel chair, helps me into it and wheels me down to the lobby where Yolanda orders our car from the valet. It’s complimentary valet only at the Vail Hospital. The car arrives and I’m wheeled close to the passenger door. I very carefully stand on my good leg, gingerly maneuver myself toward the seat, touch it with the back of my legs as the PT guy showed me, sit down, close the door and am off to the first phase of my recovery from total ankle replacement surgery.

Flouroscopic view of my new Wright Inbone 2 Ankle Replacement
A Flouroscopic Image of My New Wright InBone 2 Ankle

Next time, flat on my back as the snow arrives.

By Dennis Jones/Dreamcatcher Imaging