November 25, 2016: Getting back to practice

20161116_154641Despite the fact that she could not walk and needed to be sitting with her foot elevated most of the time to keep the pain under control, Mia Rose was back in the gym doing conditioning and some bars just 5 days after surgery. This video was taken just 8 days after surgery as she was learning how to do bar skills with the weight of a cast on her foot (she put an ankle weight on the other side for balance). After a while on bars the first few weeks she had more discomfort in her foot, but not enough to cause problems, and she would elevate after that by walking on her hands and doing handstands…aka getting her foot as far above her heart as you can get.

Initially she was at the gym for just two hours a day, but within a couple of weeks she was staying for the full practice and started lifting some weights as well. Despite the fact that she still needed a lot of help with every day tasks at home like getting food and drinks and showering, at the gym she was able to feel a little more independent and “normal.” She was absolutely determined not to lose any strength and to be ready to jump right back in to competing as soon as her foot healed (in 4-5 months), so she knew that she needed to put in the time and hard work to stay strong.

As crazy as it sounds all of the time in the gym really helped to keep her sane during a very difficult time.  Competing and being at the gym training and working along side her teammates has always been where she is happiest, so that was where she wanted to be as she recovered. In the gym she was able to do something productive and keep her mind on things other than being sad and in pain.

Throughout her recovery she used a combination of the iWalk 2.0 and crutches depending on where she was and what she was doing. The iWalk was great for making it possible to hold things while moving about and helping to keep her quad and glutes active on the left side, but in the first month post surgery she could only use it for short periods because the jostling of her foot would cause increased pain and swelling. In the gym crutches were more functional because of the uneven surfaces and the fact that she could put them down and pick them up quickly.

November 21, 2016: First post-op visit with the surgeon

Post-op x-ray showing the three screws that were used align all of the bones so that her ligament can heal properly.

November 21, 2016: Four days after surgery, Mia Rose had her first post-op visit with the surgeon. At that point she no longer needed the percocet and was able to manage the pain with Aleve, which she only took for a couple of days after that. Although she was not pain free, she really disliked taking the meds and like many gymnasts, she has a high pain tolerance so she was happier medication free and I think that being fully aware of what increased her pain helped her to chose her activities more appropriately than if the pain had been blunted by drugs.

The surgeon took x-rays to confirm that everything was as it should be, and it was, and then put her in a hard cast to protect her foot as it healed. She was not thrilled with the color of the cast (orange) and when asked said that she preferred blue, but they didn’t have that so orange was it.

She was given orders to remain on crutches *strictly* non-weight bearing and to elevate her foot as much as needed to control the pain and swelling. We also asked about using the iWalk (aka “peg leg”) instead of crutches so that she would be able to have her hands free and keep her leg and glute muscles more active while she was recovering and the surgeon said that was fine.

One good thing was that the surgeon told her she could swing bars as long as she was absolutely certain that her foot never touched the ground. He also told her that she should keep her conditioning up throughout her recovery. Armed with that information we stopped by the gym on the way home from the doctor to say hello and update her coaches, but she opted not to go to practice until the next day.

The orange cast…she’s not thrilled about it, but at least it is well protected now.

November 18, 2016: On the road to recovery begins

Post-op rest and elevation surrounded by the thoughtful gifts from friends and the company of family.

The nerve block wore off after about 12 hours at which point the pain in her foot was intense and she definitely needed the percocet that the doctor had prescribed. While she was grateful for the pain relief she really did not enjoy the way it dulled her thinking or made her queasy so she was anxious to get off of it as soon as possible. Thankfully she only needed to take them consistently for three days.

She spent a lot of time in her dad’s recliner with her foot propped up an lots of pillows which helped to keep the pain and swelling controlled. Cuddles from her kitties and lots of good books were her preferred distractions though there was plenty of television in the mix too.

Friends and family were incredibly sweet and supportive, she had lots of visitors, cards and phone calls which really helped to get her through.

November 17, 2016: Surgery Day

The pillow with well wishes from the gymnasts and coaches was a huge comfort to her during the long wait in pre-op. She held it tight until the moment they took her back to the operating room.

November 17 was surgery day. The surgery lasted about 90 minutes though we were at the hospital for about 9 hours because of a 4 hour delay getting her into the OR.  She had not been able to eat after midnight…so it was a very long and hungry day for her. The surgery went well and the surgeon was able to get all of the bones properly aligned which is the most important thing for proper healing. The anesthesia made Mia Rose rather sick, so getting through that was rough. But once she stopped vomiting and had a short nap in the car on the way home, she was feeling pretty good and was ravenous. They did a nerve block to numb her leg from the knee down during surgery, so once she was awake she had no pain and thoroughly enjoyed  her dinner.

November 15, 2016: Amazing support!

The families at our gym are so wonderful! The mothers of two of the younger athletes put together these incredibly sweet gifts for Mia Rose to help get her through her surgery. One of them made the pillow case and the other one put together the basket of gluten free treats. Then they made sure that all of the girls and the coaches had a chance to sign the pillowcase for her. The moral support was amazing and so appreciated! Mia Rose was as touched as I was.

November 10, 2016: Diagnosis: Lisfranc injury

We saw the first orthopedist on November 10th and she was immediately suspicious that 20161110_094514Mia Rose had sustained a lisfranc injury. She ordered a weight bearing x-ray, meaning that Mia Rose had to stand on her injured foot while they took the x-ray (not fun). Ten minutes later the doctor showed us the x-ray you see here and explained that it indicated an unstable lisfranc injury with a 2 mm separation and that surgery was required.  She said that the lisfranc ligament was torn which was what allowed the bones to dislocate and that in order for the ligament to heal the bones had to be put back in perfect alignment and kept that way with screws. This was devastating news for Mia Rose who was getting ready to head into her competition season with the expectation of a great season.

We saw two additional orthopedic surgeons over the next few days to make sure that the diagnosis was correct and surgery was truly necessary. All three shared the same diagnosis and need for surgery with us. We opted to go with a surgeon who had the most experience with this injury and with treating gymnasts including Olympians and national team members.

The doctor we selected, explained that during the surgery he would remove any bone fragments that were in the area and insert anywhere from 1-5 screws as needed to stabilize all of the joints that were unstable from the injury. He said that during surgery he would be able to determine exactly which joints were injured so that everything could be put back in perfect alignment in order for the ligaments to heal. He explained that after surgery Mia Rose would need to be 100% non-weight bearing in a hard cast for at least 6 weeks and then immobilized in an orthopedic boot with progressive weight bearing for an additional 4-6 weeks. He also explained that after 3 months she would need to have a second surgery to remove the screws and that she would not be able to do any impact activities such as running or jumping until after the screws were removed because of the risk of the screws breaking from impact.

We scheduled the surgery for later that week so that she could get on the road to recovery as quickly as possible.

November 9, 2016: the Injury

Elevating her foot, gymnast style. You can see the extensive bruising on her left foot.

During the beam rotation on November 9th, while practicing “timed warm-up” to prepare for Mia Rose says that she was rushing a bit and didn’t set up quite right before for her back tuck. That unfortunately meant that when she landed her right foot missed the beam entirely and her left foot landed partially off the beam with her full weight on in in a deep squat. She experienced intense pain and the top of her foot swelled up immediately (a classic symptom of a lisfranc injury). Her coach called me to pick her up and take her to have it looked at by a doctor. We were all hoping that nothing was broken, little did we know that broken bones would have been much easier and faster to recover from than the injury that she had actually sustained!

We went straight to the local urgent care for x-rays and were relieved when the doctor told us that there were no fractures and wrapped her foot in a bandage with instructions to follow up with an orthopedist if it wasn’t better in a week.

We went home and elevated and iced her foot, but with the amount of pain and swelling she was experiencing I decided to make an appointment with an orthopedist the next day just to be sure. As it turns out we are very glad that we did that since lisfranc injuries are often missed initially and delayed diagnosis and treatment can make recovery even more difficult and uncertain.




Lisfranc injury

The swelling on top of her left foot is typical of a lisfranc injury. This was taken just a few hours after then injury so the bruising had not really developed yet. Within 2 days her whole foot was purple.


Mia Rose is a 14 year old level 9 artistic gymnast who sustained a lisfranc injury to her left foot on November 9, 2016 while doing a back tuck on the balance beam. We decided to start this blog because there are so few positive stories of recovering from this injury out there, and none that relate to female gymnasts. She is now 3 months into her recovery and doing extremely well so we’re taking time to share her story and will continue to update on her progress as she continues to recover. There is tons of information online regarding what a lisfranc injury is, so I won’t go into that on this blog.

The mental impact of a lisfranc injury and long recovery process on a competitive gymnast is at least as difficult as the physical impact. We are very fortunate to have had wonderful support from other families at the gym and especially from her fantastic coaches who have been very encouraging from the moment of the injury. They have also been extremely patient with me as I have spent a lot more time on the gym than usual watching to be sure that Mia Rose strictly abides by her doctors orders (gymnasts are notorious for pushing through injury and in this case the consequences of not following orders could be catastrophic), grabbing them for frequent updates, and taking lots of videos of what she was doing throughout her recovery so that I can share through this blog in order to give others going through this some hope as there is so little hope to be found online right now.

We would have loved to read about other gymnasts who had successfully come back from this injury and are hoping that by sharing her story, we can offer hope to other athletes who are working hard to come  back from this serious injury.

In order to avoid the world’s longest blog post and make this blog easier to navigate in the long run, I’m going to write a series of posts to cover the first three months of her recovery.