The placement of the pins in the OR
The placement of the pins in the OR

In an instant her summer changed. A tool in the shop, a long-handled thing with a blade on the end used for peeling logs, fell onto her bare foot. It landed on her first three toes, slicing through the extensor tendons and into the joints of two, and through the nail of the third. She went off to Trail for two hours of surgery to repair the tendons.

For five weeks she was casted with k-wires pinning her toes in full extension. No swimming, not even in the midst of our heat wave. She hunkered down in her bedroom to wait out the non-weight-bearing phase with her laptop. It was in the midst of the move in Nelson. It made me realize how much I’ve come to count on her to help out with things of the cleaning / moving / carrying nature. Suddenly she was more payload than help, and it was so easy for her to get bored just sitting around.

Look ma, no hands!
Look ma, no hands!

But she got pretty handy on her crutches, developing a pretty awesome prehensile-armpit technique that allowed her to carry things short distances.

And the time went by. The heat wave peaked with temperatures hovering around 37 C. Dance camp registration got cancelled. A lot of Netflix got watched.

Cast change two weeks in: looking good! (Really!)
Cast change two weeks in: looking good! (Really!)

We made a few trips back to Trail. She finished the preventative antibiotics with no sign of infection. Things seemed to be healing up well. Xrays showed the pins staying in place nicely, the cast got changed, the skin stitches removed.

The fibreglass cast was much nicer. More solid, lighter, and more comfortable. Still it was a waiting game: had the tendon repairs taken? We wouldn’t know until after all the splinting and pinning was done with. The surgeon had shared a case study with her of a professional dancer who had begun a return to activity after just three weeks, but since Fiona doesn’t have a livelihood depending on her speedy return to dance, he wanted to be more conservative: six or seven weeks.

Atrophy: look at that skinny little left leg!
Post-cast atrophy: look at that spindly little left leg!

At last week’s follow-up visit, the pins were removed and the cast came off. She was placed in an orthopedic boot and told that she can partially weight-bear but should not really be using the toes for a couple more weeks. The amount of atrophy in her calf is appalling for just 5 weeks.

But the good news is that she seems to be able to ever-so-gently wiggle her toes. And so we are hopeful. She’ll start physiotherapy with a therapist who has 17 years of ballet training in a couple of weeks. She needs those tendons if she’s going to continue to dance en pointe, and she will need to work really hard to get back the strength and mobility in her foot and leg.

So this happened…

One thought on “So this happened…

  • July 12, 2015 at 4:37 am
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    I do ballet too (I’m 14), and I can’t imagine not dancing for so long! Hoping you can dance soon! From England.

    Reply

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