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Old 28-12-2017, 14:12   #1
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Fused ankle

Hi all, for the last 16 or so years I have had a fused ankle. For the most part, I haven't had any issues. Most people don't even notice a limp. Unfortunately over the last 2 years the smaller joints have been degrading. The surgeon has informed me that 2 more joints will need to be fused.
Does anyone out there have any experience with this in terms of sailing. My options are to just get it done, relieve the arthritis pain, and continue on. Or..
Live with the pain to keep original parts as long as possible.
I'm leaning towards getting it done. But am concerned with the reduced movement aboard.
We do plan on a cat as sloped floors are the most difficult. And my wife likes cats better;-)
Really I would like to hear if anyone has the same situation, or know of anyone.
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Old 28-12-2017, 14:49   #2
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Re: Fused ankle

My SO has a very bad ankle (nearly severed by a drunk driver when she was 18.) She's trying to hold off on ankle replacement as long as possible to avoid out-living the replacement.

We knew it would have to be a cat as she could never cope with the heeling. After 2 years of research and charters, we chose a FP Saba in large part due to ergonomics and her ability to handle the steps, helm and flat cockpit and saloon.

It's still difficult at times for her, but manageable. Our next challenge is a passerelle design to assist with boarding.
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Old 28-12-2017, 17:53   #3
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Re: Fused ankle

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Originally Posted by CalmSeasQuest View Post
My SO has a very bad ankle (nearly severed by a drunk driver when she was 18.) She's trying to hold off on ankle replacement as long as possible to avoid out-living the replacement.

We knew it would have to be a cat as she could never cope with the heeling. After 2 years of research and charters, we chose a FP Saba in large part due to ergonomics and her ability to handle the steps, helm and flat cockpit and saloon.

It's still difficult at times for her, but manageable. Our next challenge is a passerelle design to assist with boarding.
From what I've heard of replacement ankles, she made the right decision to wait.
The technology has improved drastically over the last decade. My understanding is that it's a one shot deal. Once it wears out or if there are any complications, the only remaining option is amputation.
The surgeon made it very clear to me that isn't an option for me. Being that the main joint is already fused, a replacement won't work.
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Old 28-12-2017, 18:36   #4
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Re: Fused ankle

I'm 70. All my joints from my back on down were damaged in the military. Bones in the feet and ankles are screwed together. At times, lots of pain and swelling. Yet I spent much of my life on the ocean. And I still cruise.
It's all in the mind. I have the pain, sitting on my ass or when I'm having fun. I choose to have fun.
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Old 28-12-2017, 20:25   #5
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Re: Fused ankle

Quote:
Originally Posted by chris mac View Post
Hi all, for the last 16 or so years I have had a fused ankle. For the most part, I haven't had any issues. Most people don't even notice a limp. Unfortunately over the last 2 years the smaller joints have been degrading. The surgeon has informed me that 2 more joints will need to be fused.
Does anyone out there have any experience with this in terms of sailing. My options are to just get it done, relieve the arthritis pain, and continue on. Or..
Live with the pain to keep original parts as long as possible.
I'm leaning towards getting it done. But am concerned with the reduced movement aboard.
We do plan on a cat as sloped floors are the most difficult. And my wife likes cats better;-)
Really I would like to hear if anyone has the same situation, or know of anyone.
It's a hard thing to work out for yourself.

I've been trying to decide on something similar.

Not to do with ankles but knees and back. I've been putting off surgery thinking just suck it up but I've noticed I have started to act and behave like an old man.

So this is what I decided, not necessarily right for you.

Doesn't matter what the number on the birthday cake is it's where you are in your head. I've decided to have the surgeries this year and already feel better. I think part of my problem was that I thought I should treat myself with care to prolong the joints. Now I don't care so much and feel more like having a go again.
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Old 28-12-2017, 20:37   #6
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Re: Fused ankle

How are the nerves and your sense of feeling the ground through your feet? That can be an even bigger problem than simple mobility of the ankle and knee joints.

I busted up and crushed my tib/fib back around Y2K and got some very minor nerve damage going down to my left foot because of that and the resulting reconstructive surgery. It doesn't bother me on land at all these days, but on the boat it does contribute to some instability and stumbling around on a moving and wet deck. The knee is a bit trick too, and gives out every once in a while due to the surgery to add the hardware down the bone from the kneecap that they needed to lift up like a car hood to do the drilling all the way down the ankle inside the bone. That's rare, but it always seems to hit me hardest when I'm working on a roof near the edge, or when things start pitching on the foredeck.

I've got about 90% mobility left after the surgery because the ankle joint was a little effected, but the nerve damage causes me much more of an issue. Seems to get just a little worse every year. I'm only 50 too. Good luck with your ankle. From one gimpy to another, just keep on moving and don't let the reaper catch up to you.
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Old 28-12-2017, 21:15   #7
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Re: Fused ankle

Three fractured vertebrae and five crushed discs when I was eighteen.

They told me no more soccer, no more motorcycle racing, no more skiing and that I would have to have my spine fused within a year or loose all mobility.
The fusion would have limited my flexibility. I raced, played soccer and ski'd for another 30 years.

At 66 I can no longer run or sit in a chair for more than two hours. I've lived with constant pain but look at what I would have missed if I'd listened to them.
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Old 29-12-2017, 09:27   #8
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Re: Fused ankle

Thanks for all the replies. I agree that it's mostly in the mind. I too was told that I would never run again, or walk without a limp.
I continued siding houses, downhill skiing for 15 years, muay Thai and ju jitsu for 10, even represented my province in nationals for San shou. (a type of kung **)
So I definately try to live life as full as possible. That also may have contributed to the further damage, but worth it.
We have just booked a cuba trip, leaving on Jan 2. So I will assess how it is in the tropics, and can also see how bad it gets with a quick transition back to the cold.
It's -30 c. Here right now and the cold seems to be the biggest trigger for the pain.
As for nerve damage, I have about 80% feeling still. I imagine I would lose a little more from another surgery.
Black heron, I shut down my construction company this year because of the roof issues. A couple times on a roof I've had my ankle give out for a second or two. Intense pain for about 15 seconds. It definately increases the pucker factor when up there. The danger just isn't worth the money anymore. Luckily the plan is to be liveaboard by the end of 2019.
Hence the dilemma. Do it now and be recovered for the move, or leave it and hope warm climate makes it livable.
This holiday should help make sense of it, Cuban rum will help too.
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Old 29-12-2017, 09:59   #9
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Re: Fused ankle

My friend has both knees replaced, both hips and fused ankles due to a congenital problem. He does walk pretty stiffly on those ankles. Last I heard he said there are no replacement ankle joints. Have they come up with them now? He's been reluctant to go sailing anymore for years.
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Old 29-12-2017, 10:05   #10
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Re: Fused ankle

What I was told about replacement ankles, I'm definately no an expert on it, was that they came out quite a few years ago. Pretty strict on qualifying for them. After a few years pretty much all of them failed. So they stopped doing them for a bit.
They are now doing an improved model but I don't know how successful this one is. I don't qualify since mine has been fused so long, so I didn't dig any further into them.
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Old 29-12-2017, 11:21   #11
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Re: Fused ankle

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Originally Posted by Cheechako View Post
My friend has both knees replaced, both hips and fused ankles due to a congenital problem. He does walk pretty stiffly on those ankles. Last I heard he said there are no replacement ankle joints. Have they come up with them now? He's been reluctant to go sailing anymore for years.
My SO is followed by Univ of Michigan Ortho - They indicate there are a couple of replacement options that they have success with and that replacements are becoming more commonplace. The primary concern (in our case) is she would likely outlive the hardware/cushioning joint requiring a revision in ~10 years.

Subsequent revisions are much more difficult and risky as bone is lost during each procedure.
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Old 05-01-2019, 14:18   #12
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Re: Fused ankle

To put some closure on the thread, I am booked for surgery on Jan 9th. They are fusing the sub talar and talar navicular (sp?) joints.
Looks like 4-6 weeks non weight bearing, then into physio.
Now that it's happening, I'm looking forward to it. And I should be good to go for boat shopping this summer, as long as the house sells:-)
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Old 05-01-2019, 14:47   #13
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Re: Fused ankle

Good luck!
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Old 05-01-2019, 15:35   #14
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Re: Fused ankle

Good luck! Also, maybe start to train your upper body.



Some additional handles, rails, dynema loops, ... probably will work wonders.



Henry Amel just put solid rails on his boats after turning blind and kept sailing.


Also there's plenty of folks with disabilities sailing, maybe you can grab some inspirations for modifications on your boat there as well.


https://www.disabledsportsusa.org/sport/sailing/
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Old 05-01-2019, 18:36   #15
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Re: Fused ankle

@chrismac: good luck, wishing you a speedy and complete recovery.

@ Dave S: get your surgeon to refer you to a physio before the surgery, to do what you can to keep your muscles working well. I did 6 months physio prior to a bilateral knee replacement revision surgery, and it was worth every hour spent at the gym! If you can pay for it out of pocket if it is not offered under your health scheme, it still will help so very much. Without the surgeries, I would not have been able to keep on sailing.

Ann
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