I understand that the idea of a major surgery can be overwhelming for my New York patients, and this is particularly true when it comes to a total ankle replacement. The name alone is daunting. Yes, we are removing your entire ankle and swapping it out for a newer model. But that’s not something we would just do on a whim. By the time patients have the option for a total replacement, they are well at a point where their current joint is impacting their overall life. If you find yourself in the situation, there are a few things you can do to make the process less intimidating and help things go more smoothly – both physically and mentally. Here are a few tips.
One of the scarier aspects of any surgery is the “what ifs…” How long will it take to heal? What if something goes wrong? What if it hurts? The best way to overcome this anxiety is to be informed. Take time to ask me or your general physician lots of questions. When it comes to your health, no concern is too insignificant to discuss. I want you to feel confident about your medical choices and well prepared for what will follow your procedure. If it helps, in the weeks before your surgery, write down any questions that come to mind so that they are in a comprehensive place the next time you talk with your specialist. You might also take comfort in communicating with family, friends, and even strangers online who have been in your situation. These individuals can offer insights from a patient perspective and be upfront and honest about anything that you need to know. Doing this investigation can help you avoid any surprises.
Keep things in perspective
If the idea of going under the knife and the weeks of recovery that will follow grows too overwhelming, remind yourself of why you are having the procedure in the first place. Is that so that you can lead a more active lifestyle? Will it help you better connect with your family and friends? Will it relieve a significant amount of pain? Evaluating your “why” can help you feel more confident in your decision to move forward with the procedure. In addition, remember that this time of surgery is only a blip in the grand scheme of your life. Although the thought of being off your feet as you recover can be frustrating, focus instead on the things you will get to do once you are healed. You can even set some goals to keep you motivated to follow physical therapy instructions and push yourself to heal at an appropriate rate.
Don’t underestimate the value of support from your loved ones and your medical team. Some days, you might feel particularly worried or stressed. Don’t hesitate to reach out to the people who care about you most and ask for their help. They can help you with tasks that prove challenging while you wear a boot on your foot, like rearranging furniture or even driving to the store. At the same time, they can offer moral support by distracting you from your recovery with games, conversation, or a good TV show. Remember, everyone wants you to live a healthy life.