Once you’ve been given a date for ankle replacement surgery, it’s normal to feel a bit anxious. No doubt you're looking forward to less pain and to becoming more active after months and even years of limited mobility. But it's also normal to feel a bit anxious about what’s going to happen to you:
- If you’ve never had any kind of surgery before, you may wonder what it feels like and how long it will take you to get better. The idea of replacing part of your body with an artificial device may seem strange.
- You may wonder how you’ll do in the hospital and whether there will be any complications after surgery .
- You may also wonder where you’ll go for rehabilitation after you leave the hospital and how you’ll manage to get around your home.
- Almost everyone who undergoes any kind of joint replacement surgery worries about whether or not the operation will be worth it. Will the disabling ankle pain that bothered you before the surgery finally go away or at least improve so you can get around and do more?
- Finally, because TAR is newer and less common than other types of joint replacement surgery, you may be anxious about the long-term outcome—especially about how long your new ankle joint will last and whether you’ll eventually need more treatment, possibly another operation.
If you’re having these thoughts, you certainly aren’t alone! One option that may be helpful is for you or a family member to talk with someone who has recently undergone a similar operation. A free, telephone-based, peer support service for Canadians called Ortho Connect may be helpful.
You’ll be matched with a volunteer who is willing to share his or her own personal experience with ankle surgery and who may be able to offer emotional support along with practical tips. (Call the Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation at 1-800-461-3639, or go to the Ortho Connect website.
While such one-on-one support can be useful, keep in mind that many factors will affect both your surgical outcome and how you experience of surgery and recovery. These factors include: your pre-operative symptoms, the nature of your operation, how your body heals after surgery, your overall physical and psychological health and your level of social support. These may not be exactly the same for you as they are for other patients, so don’t expect your experience to match theirs in every way.