If it had, then the tension would have to be put back in the struts and the position adjusted back to what it was after the final adjustment. I wasn't sure whether or not it had shifted. I could convince myself it had, but from looking at photographs I had taken before the struts were loosened and since, it seems as though the frame has definitely moved but my leg hasn't. So I knew if it had bent at all, it must be a small amount. I figured I would also feel it on the floor with my foot if it had bent much.
|X-ray from 9 July 2012. Front view.|
As it turned out, it hasn't moved. My knee and ankle are still in the correct alignment, so that's a good thing! I think that maybe my consultant was a bit worried that I would take this as a sign that the frame should come off, but I'm more sensible than that (I know!). I think we should leave the frame on until the break is almost completely healed. Last time, when the ex-fix came off and I went into plaster, my leg gradually bent over until it was in the state it was in. So this time, let's be ultra-cautious.
There is definitely some healing on the outside of my leg (right side on the x-ray), even though on the x-ray it does kind of look like the bone's in two pieces still with a big gap. It's clear when zoomed in that there is cloudiness across about a half to two thirds of it. The metric we're going to use now is 'whiteness', meaning very cloudy and probably healed up (yes, quite vague). It is probably about 20% white now on the cross section, and when it is 60-70% white the frame will come off. But I know from past experience that bone healing is non-linear, so it could take another two months to get there, or another six months. Either way, the frame stays on until we're sure it's two-thirds knitted.
In two weeks, I will go back again for another x-ray. I will go back now every two weeks to monitor if the bone is bending at all. If at some point the x-ray shows that healing has slowed down or stopped, there are some things we can do using the frame. We can compress the bone a bit to promote the healing, then stretch it out again afterwards. Another advantage of the Taylor Spatial frame I guess :)
Comparing back with my x-ray from October 2010, when I had the previous external fixator fitted, it's amazing how my tibia has changed. It seems to be a lot thicker now and the area where the main break is is quite a mess now compared to then. But, if it heals up, fine, and being thicker is better because now I've got no fibula. I don't have a picture of the October 2010 x-ray, I'll get one next time so you can see the difference.
Since the struts were loosened, my leg and ankle have been more swollen and more painful. The frame rattles a lot and moves if I knock it on something, which hurts. I'm not really sleeping properly at the moment, I keep waking up with a sore ankle :( The swelling is very variable - the other day it looked less swollen than ever before, then a day later it was more swollen than ever before!
So it's not particularly pleasant having the frame still on - clearly I'd much rather it was off - but I get why it has to stay on and I agree with that. If my consultant had said he wanted to take it off now, I would have objected! I really don't want to run the risk of it bending again and then needing another operation later on. What's an extra few months now, after more than two years?!
I also feel like I've got a good relationship with my consultant. I think he trusts me to look after it and my pin sites etc. (which are still all quite clean and dry), and I trust him to tell me the truth about what's going on and make the right decisions.
I'm very tired now after having gone to Preston and back today, but I will get a rest day tomorrow where I don't do much except tap on my computer and get some work done.