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Ankle fusion and knee scooter: How do I manage the farm?

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  • Ankle fusion and knee scooter: How do I manage the farm?

    I've had 3 hip replacements and have an ankle fusion, knee replacement, and torn rotator cuff still to repair. My highest priority is my ankle so I can walk, not limp and be relieved of pain. I'm told I need a knee scooter for 6-8 weeks. It's my left ankle but it's my right knee that is slated for replacement. That means that leg will bear the brunt of my walking. How do I manage getting to my car over my gravel driveway? I'm told crutches won't work well. I need to be on my feet a lot at work so not sure how it's going to work. I am seeking any experience anyone has had and hoping for some help.

  • #2
    My experience with NWB and crutches / knee scooters is this. You can't go to work probably. You need someone to do the horses for those 6 -8 weeks. My poor husband did the thank God simple horse chores. My role was to sit on the porch and shout ineffectually. It is exhausting to be so impaired, you probably haven't taken that into consideration. Also usually the injury requiring NWB causes swelling. You will need to spend some time with the affected leg elevated, i.e. lie down. Work won't allow that. Do you not have time accrued to take off?


    • #3
      Thanks allons-y. I have the time to take but it creates quite a burden on my coworkers. People don't appreciate working double to cover my job. Makes them cranky and resentful. This is one reason I've put it off. I can't figure out how I'd get the scooter in and out of the car by myself.


      • #4
        Suggest contacting local physical therapist to discuss. There is most likely a way to get the scooter in/out of the car --he or she would know that. As for crutches --I had both knees replaced (at the same time) and used a walker maybe 3 times before I switched to crutches because the P/T thought that was a better choice for me (I am very tall). I think it wasn't long before I was slowly getting myself to the barn to supervise feedings, then helping more each day. I really think a visit with the physical therapist NOW can ease your mind and give you a chance to practice before you HAVE to do what you need to do. The IT woman at my school was back at work on her scooter almost immediately after breaking an ankle.

        A final thought would be to look into renting a Gator type ATV (4 wheel vehicle for going around the farm). Even if you can rent it just for a month, you might find that is all you need.


        • #5
          Thanks foxglove. I work with some physical therapists. I'll ask them. I have a golf cart that I use now but that's a good suggestion.


          • #6
            Ok, unless you have incredible upper body strength AND can hop from the trunk to the drivers seat and back you ain't gonna get that scooter in and out of you car one legged. On another thread someone suggested a scooter that stays at work and a scooter that stays home.

            Its a PIA but a great workout to hop one legged with a walker but your knee will hate that.

            Take time off, find some help, or board your horses for a couple months. Seriously.

            The good news is the knee surgery shouldn't be nearly the headache the ankle fusion is gonna be. Fwiw, I've had two knees, a bust ankle, a rotator cuff and a foot fusion. NWB is the worst but after the fusion, I was trimming my horse's hooves while the husband held the leg up for me. Horse's leg, not mine.

            The NWB is crucial to healing, don't cheat!


            • #7
              Originally posted by deacon's mom View Post
              Thanks allons-y. I have the time to take but it creates quite a burden on my coworkers. People don't appreciate working double to cover my job. Makes them cranky and resentful. This is one reason I've put it off. I can't figure out how I'd get the scooter in and out of the car by myself.
              OK, I'm going to give you some tough love here!

              If you can take the time off financially, then take the time off and really it does not matter about your co-workers. They can hire a temporary replacement while you are gone. There is not a job in the world that is more important than your health, especially a job with cranky and resentful co-workers!!

              Frankly, you have a *lot*of health challenges on your plate. If you are on your 3rd hip replacement, that is not good news at all. You have problems with all your joints, basically. You need to take time for yourself to let things heal. When you use a scooter or crutches to protect one injured joint, you put more stress on all the others (just like a horse will sometimes get mechanical founder in the "good" foot after being lame in another leg for a prolonged period of time). I get that we are all horse folks and we hate to be sidelined or to feel that we can't do everything we want or used to do. But my guess, reading between the lines, is that you have never given yourself quite enough time to heal up from any of your surgeries or injuries, and your body is collapsing because of it.

              You need to plan your 6 or 8 weeks off so that you do nothing except the helpful amount of movement prescribed by your PT or doctor. You need to not go to a job that involves standing on your feet all day on a knee scooter and you need to not worry about getting out into the mud to feed your horses.

              I have in the past tried to work through painful injuries, teaching with a broken arm in a cast. All that got me was a frozen shoulder. In retrospect I shouldn't have been commuting driving one armed but I realize now I make bad decisions when I am seriously injured .

              Take the time off to heal and if your co-workers say anything other than, oh how awful here's a get well card: ignore them.


              • #8
                Yes, unless you are very steady on the ‘good’ foot and have the strength to hop...getting the scooter in and out of the car by yourself is not really doable. I have had surgery on both feet. For the first one, I had no issues managing the scooter into the car. Between that foot surgery (rt foot) and the most recent in April (left foot), I had a hip replacement, tailbone surgery and back surgery for a bulging disk, there was no way I could get the scooter in the car (I am single—no help in sight). I don’t have good balance on my right foot and the back surgery (just last year) precluded me even trying to load it. I already had one scooter so got another one and took one to work and left it there for the second foot surgery. I would use crutches to and from the car and those about killed me (specifically my arthritic shoulders). I have a pretty arthritic knee and was worried about that as that was the one on the scooter but it actually did quite well. The hip held up, thank goodness. I suppose that the scooter I had at home was a sitting scooter (has a bicycle seat instead for the leg pad) did help the knee survive and I took the knee scooter to work.

                I had a 3 part cavo-varus reconstruction and was 6 weeks NWB then 6 weeks graduating to cam boot. I took 3 weeks off and went back to work and was able to go back to a position where I was primarily sitting. It was really tough. I made it through my 3 months of NWB and the boot then retired (after a 40 year career) I was physically spent and I am glad I didn’t have to work when I started working on walking unaided again. The swelling was bad. So, if you have the time I would take it. It sounds like with all other issues you have, getting around is going to be tough. Perhaps get an assessment from a physical therapist as suggested above.

                Also, if you need a scooter to do farm chores, you need to get an all terrain scooter with the bigger tires. The standard scooter wheels will not work on soft or uneven ground. My horse is boarded. I did not go out very often while using the crutches...between the difficulty of the crutches and the fact that my mare was terrified of them. If you are doing chores solo, boarding or hiring barn help would be recommended.

                Sorry to be such a Debbi Downer but this is going to be tough. Jingling for a good outcome.



                • #9
                  Teenage boys who break an ankle skiing can come back to school and crutch down the hallway like one legged pirates boarding a burning ship. The rest of us, not so much. Especially us ladies of a certain age.

                  When I broke my foot 2 years ago and was NWB for 6 weeks friends mentioned knee scooters. But my condo is too small for one and I have 3 flights of stairs down to the parking garage. I had to do that on my butt up and down to get to weekly appointments at the cast clinic. Couldn't drive because my right foot was broken. Couldn't take a knee scooter down stairs with me, couldn't even take a hand bag, and once down I was just out in the middle of a suburban sidewalk in winter. I didn't leave the apt without a friend.

                  There is a much younger COTHer with a recent thread who has been taking the Toronto subway system to work with a knee scooters. I'm really impressed. I cannot imagine at my age being able to do that.

                  When my friends drove me to the hospital we just used a wheelchair from the parking lot.


                  • #10
                    Thank you for the replies. These are just the kind of "reality check" responses I was looking for.


                    • #11
                      I broke my ankle badly 4 1/2 weeks ago. Dislocated it and severely fractured tib/fib with also some other splintered and chipped stuff in there. Reduced immediately to restore circulation to foot in the ER then straight to surgery for repair/internal fixation with plates and screws. Completely non weight bearing, of course. Was up and moving about on a walker within hours. On the walker exclusively for about 2 weeks and still use it inside my home. It was total hell for the first week, honestly. I was not used to swinging my entire body weight by my arms like a monkey, believe it or not. My arms, neck, shoulders, hands, and wrists were screaming sore. I gained upper body strength and the body pain diminished dramatically after 5-7 days. It is still exhausting to cover long distances, though. I hate it. Surgeon and PT dude totally anti crutches. Way more likely to fall and also I lack the upper body strength to use them properly. Most people can't, honestly. Was cleared to use a knee scooter after like 10 days. It was a game changer. My mobility improved like 1000% and I can actually go shopping, out to eat, basically everything I want or need to do. I returned to work at my desk job and have had no issues using the knee scooter. I'm just sorry knee scooter isn't practical inside my home. It might be for someone with a very open floor plan and giant bathrooms, etc.

                      OP, give yourself a break. Literally. For several weeks. You will need to stay home and rest for a couple of week at minimum. Just doing basic life stuff was exhausting. Like showering, moving around my house, letting my dog in/out, doing dishes and a little laundry. Maybe going out to lunch or on an short errand was exhausting and caused my ankle to swell/ache. I returned to my DESK JOB after 2 weeks. And I couldn't have done even that much any sooner without a lot of pain and possibly setting my recovery back. You will need to elevate your leg almost 24/7 for weeks. I was able to elevate my leg most of the time at when I returned to work, and it STILL dramatically swelled and ached that first week or so. This has improved a lot by 4 weeks, but I was out and about on my knee scooter for several solid hours today, maybe the most I've been on my feet, and my ankle HURT.

                      Not sure how you will be able to work on a farm using a knee scooter. I have a fairly upper end one and it still jolts my entire leg even just over a decent bump in the pavement or sidewalk. It is certainly not stable off smooth pavement. They make do "all terrain" ones with bigger tires, etc. Not sure that will help, though, because so much of using it safely is staying balanced and being careful. Otherwise, you will tip over and or fall off. You will either take a fall, and suffer whatever injury that may cause, or plant your bum leg to save yourself. And that is how your whole recovery is set back, started over, or even worse...

                      On a brighter note, I've found getting the knee scooter into/out of my car very easy. Depends on your vehicle, though. I was forced to swap cars with someone because my SUV was just too tall. The small crossover is fine. I use my walker to get into the car, fold it up, then put it over into passenger side seat/floorboard. I use it again to get out of vehicle and to the trunk, where the scooter is stored. Then I sort of sit/lean on bumper, let go of the walker, and then lift the scooter out in one motion. Stow the walker into the trunk, mount the scooter, and ride away. Same same for reverse operation. I sit on bumper and take the walker out of the trunk, collapse the scooter and put it in there, then hump it on my walker back to driver seat. Scooter weighs like 22lbs, which sounds like a lot, and first time I did it while balancing in thin air on one leg while lifting it in/out. That was stupid and lucky not to loose my balance and bite it. Then I figured out to just sit on or at least brace my rump against rear bumper while I lifted scooter in/out and suddenly it was totally easy. No strain at all.

                      OP, I realize you will have a much more difficult time trying to work a farm job. I've actually done some some short/limited farm sitting a few times over past 2 weeks. Set up is fairly easy and farm owner sets me up for success. No stalls to clean or horses to lead in/out. She put hay a few yards from pasture and all I have to do is toss it over the fence. Same with grain into feeders just dumped into pans over the fence. Auto waterers also along fence line so all I have to do is stick my hand through the fence to make sure they are working every day. There are a couple of chicken coops to service, but the hose is handy to refill water and their feed is stored in container beside the coops. I just open the door to dump feed, top off water, and walk away. BTW I use my walker only on the farm. Knee scooter is not at all doable. And on the walker, I go very slow and carefully place it for every "step" on the grass and other terrain. And yep it takes forever. Literally takes me 3 times as much time to accomplish these very limited and over simplified chores than it ever took me to do much much more on the same farm in regular care routine. It is a compromise, of course, as things are very minimized and over simplified for me to be able to do it for a couple days. If something went wrong on the farm, I wouldn't be able to deal with it. Fortunately, the farm owner and myself both have a lot of friends who are willing and and able to help in a emergency. I would have to call someone to help with a colicky horse, repair a broken fence, or whatever.

                      Best of luck! Take care of yourself and let us know how it goes!


                      • #12
                        Hi! I'm currently on week 10 of being NWB with a talar fracture, and the knee scooter has been a godsend for me BUT I could never figure out how to get it into the car on one foot. It hasn't been a big issue for me, as I rarely drive (I'm the one Scribbler mentioned above - taking the subway with my knee scooter). I also can't speak to using a scooter on gravel. Before I got back to the city, I was visiting my retired horse on crutches (and with help from my mom, who is his primary rider now).

                        I had a fair bit of pain and swelling the first 3-4 weeks, and went back to work 4 weeks post-injury, as I couldn't take any more time. It hasn't been terrible, but I have a desk job. My coworkers have been pretty accommodating, too.

                        Crutches suck, are hard to manage, and make everything on your body else hurt while using them. They are much easier to get into the car, though!

                        Have you looked into the iWalk crutch? It doesn't work for me as my femur is too short (I'm 5'1"), but might be an option for you.


                        • #13
                          Wow. You are all brave souls. This recovery seems quite arduous. Thanks for the replies. It has helped me a lot in getting a reality check and some "tough love".