My Friday follow-up appointment with the orthopedic specialist went far better than I had expected. Runners must not be great patients; because both the doc and his assistant seemed surprised (and excited) that I had worn the boot cast 24 hours a day as directed, and that the ligaments were healing so quickly. As we went through the exam, there was really only pain when pointing my toes toward the floor or when he pushed on the area with some force. Part of the discomfort is from the fact that my foot has been immobilized for two straight weeks.
The best part of my day was when the doc said I was ready to be out of the boot. WOW! Much sooner than expected. I hadn't even brought a shoe, because it was an option I had not even considered. Initially, he thought I could be done with the boot entirely, but then we discussed the nature of my job, how much I "run" around the school in sometimes dicey situations, and we decided the boot would be used there for awhile longer. But, the rest of the time, I am free! I've got a snug brace that fits into my shoe to help stabilize the area until the ankle regains some strength and flexibility. As I took my first test steps around the office, I couldn't believe how quickly the muscles had forgotten their job. I laughed, feeling like a toddler. Here's a picture of my legs after the boot came off. My right leg has atrophied quite a bit, although it's not as obvious in the picture.
The new and improved plan is to start light stretching, adding circular motions with the ankle in a week. I'll wear the boot at school for another week, then go to half days. No boot at home or while sleeping. This week, I'll start on the stationary bike, gradually increasing the time. If there's no further pain, I can use the elliptical. I'll also be adding strength training, but will have to avoid some exercises like squats. No swimming because my foot's not ready to be used as a flipper. It's not running, but at least there's been a whole lot of progress. This picture is of my beautiful foot today, much improved from the last photos!
On a strange and somewhat related note, my doctor also hooked me up with a local ballet school/company, calling the director during my appointment. He works with their dancers, and decided that since I had been a dancer in the past, I should help them out now. It seems that I may now be used as an adult dancer in their upcoming productions. I'm not sure how I feel about that yet. It's revisiting the past, but could be a fun addition to my future.