Ankle Replacement Recovery; Necessities to Ease Your Time .

Our dear friend Thelma graciously invited Yolanda and me to spend the first couple weeks of my ankle replacement recovery at her lovely home in the Vail area. My other options, either at our cabin or our condo in the foothills outside Denver, involved difficult situations like uneven ground, carrying firewood, outdoor plumbing or several flights of stairs.

Thankfully, Thelma’s got a stairlift eliminating any need to climb stairs on crutches.

I’m tentative and apprehensive about my new ankle replacement and this big splint I’ve got covering it. For that matter, I’m pretty iffy about getting around period.

When we arrive at Thelma’s fresh from the hospital I sling the two nerve block pumps in their bags over my shoulders and hobble on crutches through the garage straight to the stairlift. It whisks me slowly, (yes, that’s being ironic), up to the bedroom level where I shamble straight into bed. I’ll spend the vast majority of the next two weeks here.

I have a beautiful view over the valley and its brilliant autumn color. I also have a large screen TV, Netflix, books, music CDs, a DVD player, my computer and the internet all of which will keep me entertained. 

I’ve even brought my taxes to finish. Yes, I’m slack. I never get my taxes done by the April deadline because I’m usually traveling around then. I always file an extension and pay whatever interest is owed if any. This’ll give me something else to pass the time.

Things You’ll Need

I’ve prepared a number of things I’ll need before hand. Here’s a list of things I recommend you consider getting to smooth your ankle replacement recovery. Most of these will make life much easier for you and those taking care of you.

First and foremost if at all possible, you’ll need a caregiver. You need someone to bring your meals, fill your water bottle, pick up things you drop, clean up after you, empty your urinal and, very important, to watch over and steady you when you go to the bathroom, wash up and brush your teeth. God forbid you should faint or fall.

You will need crutches. I mentioned in a previous post that I bought a pair of almost new crutches at Habitat for Humanity for only $7. Once again, get them before your surgery and practice with them.

Stock up on food and easily prepared meals especially if you won’t have someone to cook and shop for you while you’re recovering.

Having a raised toilet seat with handles made my life so much easier. I bought one online for only about $30 and put it on before my ankle replacement surgery. Installation was easy, taking only ten minutes. Being able to push myself up using the handles while keeping all my weight off my right foot was a relief.

In the hospital they gave me a bedpan urinal thingy. I had bought one at Walmart before the surgery for $5 but took the one they gave me home and returned the one I bought. Why not?

They make urinals for women as well and I’m sure the hospital will provide one for you ladies. Take it home, you’ll need it. The last thing you want is to have to get up every couple hours to go pee especially in the middle of the night!

You’re going to need baby wipes and also hand sanitizer to clean up.  The pump kind is easiest to use. Believe me, you want easy. And of course you’ll need a trash basket by the bed.

Take home the water bottle they give you at the hospital as well. Heck, you or your insurance company paid for it.


The hospital gave me two different types of waterproof cast covers to protect my splint when I shower. If they don’t, have them on hand. I hate to admit, but living out in the boonies with a rainwater collection system and outdoor solar shower, I can go several days or more without showering. Two weeks though is way too long.

Which leads me to another thing you’ll need, a shower seat. I bought one on eBay for $20. I went to the Habitat Restore and several thrifty stores but nobody had one. I’d have preferred one with handles but turns out I didn’t really need them. You might though depending on your physical strength.. Better safe than sorry especially in the slippery environment of a shower.

I mentioned in the previous post the prescriptions they gave me at the hospital. I recommend you stock up on Acetaminophen which is the cheaper just-as-good generic version of Tylenol. Acetaminophen PM will help you sleep as long as your doctor says it’s okay.

A Few More Odds and Ends

Lots of pillows.


A Thermometer to help you be aware of and nip in the bud any possible highly dangerous infection.

A Mask so you can nap during the day along with earplugs if there’s noise.

Finally, stock up on 1000 mg of daily Vitamin C along with Calcium and Vitamin D3, even some Iron if you doctors allows. They’ll help you recover quicker.

Lastly, you might consider a rolling knee scooter thingy if your ankle replacement recovery is expected to take months rather than weeks. Talk to your doctor about this. It all depends upon the length of your recovery. Dr. Clanton didn’t think I needed one. He was right. There’s also a thing called the Knee Walker, kind of a peg leg-like device. Dr. Clanton strongly advised against it because it’s potentially unstable. 

Another miracle of my ankle replacement recovery is that within a month of my surgery I could get rid of the crutches. I was 100% weight-bearing on my Inbone 2 ankle replacement a month after surgery! But I’ll leave that for another post.

By Dennis Jones/Dreamcatcher Imaging