|The Dutch student walked on a fractured ankle for two weeks. Doctors could not believe it and said she must have been in excruciating pain. But it was bearable for her after she had broken tibia and fibula when skiing.
Five years before, she tore her right cruciate ligament. During the following surgery her muscles of the right leg did not get enough oxygen which causes a permanent muscle damage and severe weakness. As result she cannot move the leg, walk or bear weight on it without wearing a brace. This orthosis goes from foot to thigh. But it could not stop her from skiing. "I love skiing!", Annika writes in her internet blog. Before the surgery she already was a ski racer and two and a half years later, she joined a disabled talent program of the Dutch ski federation.
Nearly one year after she continued skiing, the 25-year-old woman broke the ankle of her weak leg. It happened during trainings for the next season in the indoor ski venue in Landgraaf (South-eastern Netherlands). In slalom training she hit a pole with the right ski. "I fell and my leg was hurting," she remembers. "It was more like cramping then a big pain, so I thought I tore a muscle." She uses an orthosis for skiing as well, so standing on the injured ankle was not a problem. "The leg felt even weaker than before. It was a weird feeling, because my leg has no muscle function at all. So it could not be weaker." Furthermore she had problems pushing the ski boot into the binding. But she continued the training. "At first I skied down the hill like Bambi on the ice," she remembers.
In the evening the ankle was swollen and Annika was in slight pain. But with the brace she could walk, so she was sure it could not be a fracture. At night she hardly slept. Her roommate helped her with wet towels to cool the ankle. The next day Annika thought about suspending the training. "But I wanted to proof myself since it was my first summer training with the national team." When ankle and brace were fixed in the ski boot the pain was reduced and skiing was not so bad. "I got my confidence back," she remembers. "After training I was walking a lot better than before and my walking got better and better over the next days."
The following training unit was one week later. Annika tried to ski again but had no control at all. The team physiotherapist examined her ankle the next day and noticed that it was more than a sprain. She got an MRI scan and the fractures on tibia and fibula were seen - two weeks after the accident. Another week later she had surgery in the Academic Medical Center of Amsterdam where she stayed for four days. Her lower leg was put in a cast.
In the next month Annika had to rest at home in Leiden, 40 kilometers southwest of Amsterdam, where she studies medicine. "I had my foot up high almost all the time," she tells. She used her wheelchair mostly. Walking with crutches was difficult for her because the cast ended below the knee and her weak knee was not stabilized like the brace does usually. Every day she needed injections for thrombosis prophylaxis. "I hate those so bad, I was bruised everywhere."
Six weeks after surgery the cast was removed and the student got a plastic boot. She was allowed to walk with it in combination with the brace. However the boot did not immobilize the ankle well. Later at hospital it was seen that one screw in the bone moved a bit. "It was very painful and dangerous because the screw could break out of the bone, so I was casted again and I couldn't walk anymore," she explains.
Finally, 13 weeks after surgery the last of nine casts was removed. X-rays showed a good healing. Annika could walk again with the brace on, even without crutches "In the first days, my walking was a bit unsteady, which isn't surprising after such a long time in a cast. But five weeks after removing the cast I was skiing again."