I have now completed my ankle surgery and am no longer in pain from it. Thanks to all the well-wishers in cyberspace and elsewhere! I face 4-6 weeks of annoying walking on crutches and other recovery issues, but it should eventually all be OK. For the moment, it is still extremely difficult and disorienting not to be able to walk or drive, but I'm sure I'll overcome the problems involved over time, at least well enough to get through the recovery period.
I do have a couple of reflections for people who may be going through similar problems, now or in the future. First, do not imagine that you can get through the first few days after surgery living all by yourself. I foolishly thought that I could, but my doctor and relatives set me straight, and one of my family members generously came to live with me for a few days. Trying to make it on your own right after a serious surgery is actually both foolish and dangerous. Don't try it if you have any choice at all.
Second, this experience has given me a new appreciation for the value of extended families. As a friend from an extended family culture pointed out to me recently, that setup spreads the burden of caring for an invalid over a large number of different relatives who can each pitch in a little. That makes things easier for both the injured person and the caregivers/family members (none of whom face a really severe individual burden).
Obviously, extended families also have significant drawbacks and I'm certainly not advocating that we all return to that lifestyle. However, it's worth noting that the extended families have their advantages as well, and dealing with crises is certainly one of their strengths.
OK, I think that's enough surgery-blogging. I will try to return to more normal blogging topics as soon as my recovery permits.
UPDATE: Some claim that reliance on family members to help you during an illness or other crisis is unlibertarian, and that a true libertarian would rely on the market to solve such problems. See, e.g., here. This view is based on a misunderstanding of libertarianism that portrays it as advocating that all problems be solved by commercial transactions in the market. In reality, libertarians advocate the superiority of the private sector broadly defined over government. That private sector includes families, civil society, and charitable organizations as well as commercial enterprises. In some cases, noncommercial private sector options will be better than commercial ones (as is probably true for my recovery from my current operation). There is nothing unlibertarian about recognizing that reality. Moreover, even where family or charitable organizations will do a better job than for-profit businesses, the latter may still be better than government service providers. If I had no family members to help me in my current situation, I'd much rather rely on a commercial firm to provide the needed services than on a government bureaucracy that has little or no incentive to do a good job and that will not lose profits if it performs poorly.