What's wrong with Russ?

Yes, I am using crutches... and will be, for another 3 - 4 months. Why?

This is what a left-foot should look like:  
However, on 20/Mar/03, my foot looked like

That darkened region just below the ankle (on the "head of the talus") is a giant cell tumor.
Btw, this bone basically supports ALL of my weight; it is therefore very important!

The good news is:

The bad news is:

The surgery is relatively minor, as long as that bottom portion of the talus remains intact. But any high impact activity runs the risk of breaking it... then things get very very complicated.

Btw, walking (without crutches) is a high-impact activity.

Assuming everything goes well:

30/May: I'm back from the hospital.

The good news is:

The bad news is:

I'm still feeling a bit weak but basically ok.

After they cut the holes in me, they had to close the wounds. With staples! Honest!
(Note: these are a bit gruesome...)
Hip region     Left foot

16/June: The staples are out. Phew. They still do not know whether the graft will take.

1/July/03: Current views
Foot     Hip
    Boot -- orthotic I need to wear 24/7, to keep foot rigid and not supporting weight

Stay tuned for more, as it happens.

17/July/03: met with the surgeon, who tells me I am allowed

Does this mean I can But I think this means things are getting better...

When I be allowed to put weight on my feet -- eg walk without crutches?
(Dunno == the surgeon won't tell me.)
But NOT before my next MD appointment, which is 18/Sept. Sigh.

Btw, my interpretation is... I will be cast-free once three things happen: (this was updated 18/Sept)

  1. The bone graft takes
  2. The talus bone (with new material) is solid enough that it can bear my weight.
  3. There is also a small "possible fracture" at the back of the talus. This has to "seal" up.
I think #1 has happened, and we are waiting for #2 and especially #3.

The bottom line is: The tumour is annoying, and I wish it had not happened.
However, I am also very grateful: this could have been MUCH MUCH worse. I understand this tumour has essentially zero chance of metasticizing, and there is an excellent chance of a complete recovery. (Knock on wood.)

Had this happened 50 years ago, it would probably not have been detected and addressed, and chances are, I would have lost the use of this foot, permanently. I am grateful!

18/Sept/03: I saw the surgeon today.
The graft is taking nicely.
Apparently there is a possible fracture at the back of the talus; this is why I am not supposed to put stress on my foot. This is also "trying hard to heal". Yeah.

So... I am now allowed to put up to 10lbs on my left foot. (How do I do this?
... other than dropping my weight down to 20lbs total... :-)

And allowed to go biking, and told to go swimming, daily if possible. Ok.

Next appointment will be in December. X-ray foot and lungs, to make sure things continue to go well.

New estimate: this may take as long as 8 months to heal "completely".

4/Dec/03: I saw the surgeon today.
The graft is taking nicely: the bone is growing through the graft (which is good!).
The chest X-ray is negative -- ie, no sign of metastasis there (again, this is GOOD!)

I should gradually add more weight ... eg, add another 10 lbs / week
... and get some exercise, like biking or swimming.
But no skiing, nor even putting full weight on the foot.

Figure another 6 months before things are more normal. Sigh. In the grand scheme of things, this is not bad... I keep telling myself.

29 Jan'04: After 6+ months using crutches, I started going solo. It felt weird at first, especially I kept trying to figure out what i was forgetting... Oh yes, the crutches... :-)

March'04: the "top" of my foot (talus) feels fine. But now my HEEL hurts. (Probably not that surprising, given that I am now putting weight on it, after > 1/2year of not.) Xrays show

Stay tuned.

X-ray from 25/Nov/04:

Dec'04: Surgeon says: everything is going as well as possible!

May'05: Surgeon says: Try whatever you want!

May'07: Met with surgeon for the 5th year anniversary examination... and given a clean bill of health: That is, the chance of getting a recurrence is very low -- comparable to getting a tumor, at all!

Last update: 30/May/07