Posts Tagged ‘foot surgery’

One less doctor – – -Yay!

Friday, March 13th, 2009

I now have one less doctor on my “With whom/when?” appointment list. I wasn’t thrilled at the need for trekking across a fair amount of the city this morning to attend the post-op visit with my foot surgeon; the weather has turned freakin’ cold and WET the past few days. Wet is good. . . .wet is great, actually, as the Edwards Aquifer levels have been dropping near water-use restriction levels recently. In San Antonio, however, rain is best dealt with inside the safety of one’s own domicile. Our drivers seem blissfully unaware that a speeding car does not stop as quickly on rain-slick streets, nor does said car perform right-angle turns as obediently as it might in dry conditions. Coincidentally, they also are unaware that their cars (especially white & light blue ones) are much more visible in a heavy downpour if they Turn On Their Headlights. Sigh – with thunder rumbling and rain striking the roof, I was not happy to leave the house!

The drive was worth it. This is the doctor I dubbed the “hedgehog” months ago, because of his prickly and pugnacious bedside manner. He pronounced himself delighted with my progress, actually deemed himself “ecstatic” in the recorded report (earning startled looks from both me and his nurse) and said no further visits were necessary! YAY!

Stitch removal & stubborn surgeons

Tuesday, November 25th, 2008

Generally, I’m pretty tough; I was awake for the surgery and didn’t freak out when I heard the bone saw (probably fitted with a grinding disc, actually) start up, after all! Still, I know my limits. While monitoring the healing process (and trying to get adjusted to my “goose feet”), I’ve noticed a few facts about the stitches which were due to be removed today. Most obvious was the sheer number of them…..removal was going to take awhile. Also, they were very, very tight…someone (as it turned out, it was a nurse whom I like very much) was going to have to pull up rather firmly on each of them before they could cut them. The visible portion of many of the stitches was only barely-visible, being embedded in scabbing along the incision line…….hmm, that wasn’t going to feel good, either! OK – Tough, yes. . . .stupid, no – – -since DH was doing the driving and I’m still using the wheelchair when away from Casa Blackburn, I arrived at the doctor’s office fortified with pain medication, a muscle relaxant and a tranquilizer! It was still a thoroughly nasty procedure!

Have I previously mentioned that my surgeon is something of an opinionated curmudgeon? Well, he is. When pitted against a stubborn and opinionated patient (um, that would be me), that practically guarantees some arguments. . .er, discussions are going to occur. Today’s “civilized discussion” took place before the stitches were removed, when he asked me how the prosthetics tech he’d sent me to was progressing with the tow caps. I reported on the progress, and then admitted that I didn’t go to “his” tech. . . . .same company, to be sure, but I went to the branch much closer to my home and the tech I had seen for several years! How shall I put this? My surgeon was pissed, disapproving and unhappy ~ yeah, that pretty much covers it! Now I have to call my branch, have them halt progress and transfer my file to his branch, call and make an appointment to have his tech re-evaluate me and re-do the molds! More time lost, more delays and (probably) more ouchies because he’d “have to write a page and a half of instructions” for any other tech! Sigh!

I do have more freedom now; Dr. B. approved me for a few more steps at a time. Since I’ve been wandering around the house quite a lot the past few days (hehe), I take that as permission to ramp up the activity! DH found some soft, cushiony socks for me a few days ago, in outrageous colors with ‘traction dots’ on the soles. Since then, I’ve been walking without the worry of slips and slides on our wood and tile floors :)

I KNEW they'd do that!!

Wednesday, November 19th, 2008

When I had my post-op checkup, the surgeon told me to go see the orthotics/prosthetics group and have them fabricate toe fillers & carbon fiber shanks for me. Uh oh! The toe fillers (prosthetic toes) will prevent the front part of whatever shoes I wear from curling up like Persian slippers in short order. O.K. – preventing curling is a good thing, but the alarm bells went off.

I have been visiting the wonderful, caring staff at HK Orthotics & Prosthetics for several years now. They are a terrific bunch, and I like them immensely. However, I delayed for two days before calling for an appointment because I knew what they would have to do! When I whined about it at home. . . .”They’re going to have to take molds of my feet. They’re going to press down on the stitches (and the rest of my feet) to get a clear mold in semi-rigid foam!”, I was met with ‘comforting disbelief’ by family members. “Maybe not.”, “You don’t know that.”, “I don’t think so; this is different.”, etc.

Yeah, well. . . . .I made the appointment, and DH took me to the clinic yesterday afternoon. When my name was called, I took him in with me – to meet the crew, to provide moral support, and to prove that I know what I’m talking about :) My technician was a bit taken-aback; the file mentioned amputation… it didn’t say all ten toes. He gently tested my mental & emotional reaction with, “Um – is this a ‘Good Thing’ ?” (Read: “How’s the adjustment to two deformed feet going?” Hehe, they were deformed BEFORE he surgery!) Once we got past introductions and surprise. . . .out came the semi-rigid foam mold blanks! My tech was as gentle as he could be. . . which means he had to push slowly but firmly, on both incision lines, until he got a useable mold. Ow, ow, OW!!!!!

Apparently, the carbon fiber shank will not only keep the toe piece in place, but will “put a spring in my step”. Hehe – – -translated, that probably means I am going to fall flat on my face trying to learn to walk with the prosthetics!! It’s all good . . . . . .or will be as soon as my feet quit hollering!

I Got an "A"

Friday, November 14th, 2008

The surgical bandages have been on my feet since October 30th. I got a very brief peek at the surgeon’s work late that afternoon, when both incisions sprung a leak and the PA had to redo the dressings, but it hasn’t helped me to answer the standard questions which have popped up over the past two weeks; questions like. . . .”Why does it hurt way up there?”, “Is that a staple poking at me?”, “Are they healing well?” and “What do they Look Like!?”

Today was “answer day” (and my first time out of the house since Nov. 1st!) – time for the big reveal and answers to the questions. In short: 1) It hurts there because the incisions are longer than I envisioned (about 23 stitches in one foot & 22 stitches in the other). 2) Despite the fact the surgeon said “staples” while briefing DH after surgery, no staples were used. 3) Despite the surgeon’s conviction that I was a very bad candidate for proper healing (because of the Enbrel therapy), I am healing very well, thank-you-very-much! He was surprised, and I sort of had to rub it in a bit :)

4) “What do they look like?” Well. . . . . . .sort of a cross between duck or goose feet and something totally alien. I’ve unwrapped them a couple of times since we got home; it’s O.K. to do that, now, and I need to come to terms with this rather radical change in my self-image. Right now, I am vacillating between a healthy dose of humor (referring to my ‘new’ feet & current gait as “Quack! Quack! Waddle, Waddle.”) and cringing when I look at them. Since the latter reaction isn’t going to get me anywhere, I am trying to lean towards the humorous approach!

I’m now cleared for “a few steps at a time” – since that is what I have been doing for a week, I will take it to the next level :) To start with, I am going to venture out to preside over my miniatures club meeting tomorrow! No, I won’t be driving (or walking a great deal) – a club member is going to take me and my wheelchair to the meeting and back, but it will be a fun outing and a complete change of scene!

My stitches come out on November 25th – maybe the feet will look a little less alien then :)

** I almost forgot the Best Part: I no longer have to sleep sitting up, with my feet elevated!! YAY!

I'm walking again!

Wednesday, November 5th, 2008

O.K., it’s ‘shuffling along, carefully’, not ‘dancing’. . . . . .but then, I never have been able to dance well :) I’m taking it slow and easy, relying on post op boots and my spiffy red Rollator for support. It doesn’t hurt as much as I thought it would, but it is exhausting! Right now, I’m limiting myself to three trips per day (bedroom to family room) before I request wheelchair help. I’ll have to work hard to get my strength back, once the surgeon approves me for more exertion!

Sorry I haven’t posted anything here since my surgery; I made a small tactical error when I assumed I would only be off-line while I was hospitalized. Each day, looking at my computer keyboard has been enough to make me want to take (another) nap. I’ve got zero energy!

In brief: Oct. 30th – my surgeon arrived in the pre-op area On Crutches!! Nope, he wasn’t teasing me; he’d had a welding accident! I opted for local anesthetic, and it worked beautifully. My surgeon told DH that he had encountered more work than he expected; there were quite a few Rheumatoid nodules present…..some of them quite large!

Oct. 31st – Yep, the pain level is about what I expected ~ pronounced (especially in the left foot), but not unbearable. The nurses are friendly and attentive, and they’re prompt with the meds my Doc approved. For someone who’s only scooting around a bit on a mattress, I sure am tired!

I was supposed to go home today, but no such luck. While taking my stats for the discharge paper-work, they discovered I was running a 103 degree fever. Hmmm, nope. . . . .not going home with that reading! At least they let me stay in my roomy, gray bell-bottoms and Casper, the Friendly Ghost T-shirt, instead of another (shudder) horrid “gown”! There’s no infection causing the fever; too many years of smoking/not enough months of healing & self-cleaning are the culprits. I need to stay hydrated, use the inhaler and breathing exerciser they handed me and cough the junk out of my lungs.

Nov. 1st – The nurses dutifully cruised into my room and did my stats throughout the night. The fever began to abate, my oxygen saturation improved a little bit (I’ll need to keep working on that), and I received a green light from the Doc after breakfast. Getting from the wheelchair into Tom’s Mustang GT was not a pretty sight! The nurse asked if I was going to ride in the back seat – – – -positive proof that he’d never attempted the contortions required to get oneself into said seat! LOL! We had the expert advice and guidance of our next-door neighbor when we tried to remove from the car here at home. (Invaluable advice – she’s a senior ER nurse at Brook Army Medical Institute (?) I think.)

Nov. 2nd – Doing only necessary moving around and spending 99.5 of my time with my feet elevated to prevent swelling. I picked up my Kindle & tried to read; couldn’t concentrate at all! Couldn’t follow the action on TV or think of words to type into my blog, either. Did a lot of napping :)

Nov. 3rd – See Nov. 2nd :)

Nov. 4th – Decided it was time to conduct a small expiriment. Could I move about, just a little bit, with the help of the post-op boots and Rolator? Yes!! As I mentioned earlier, I’m not doing a LOT of it; but I got to watch the election results come in on our big-screen TV. (Love the “Smart Boards” the news commentators use now! With limited walking comes loads of fatigue. . . .I napped off & on during the evening.

Nov. 5th – Did a bit more shuffling around, sewed a few mini yo-yo’s, got some more bad news from DS, and finally got this entry written!

Surgery Delayed – Yuck!

Thursday, October 30th, 2008

I’ve had the “best of intentions” to update my blog for the past 28 days. Unfortunately, it lost out to all of the other things on my To Do list which needed to be accomplished before today’s surgery. Sooo…..here I am, house prepared for down-time and clutter cleared away, tote packed, and the surgery has been moved from 2 PM to 5 PM. Wonderful – I really needed more time to be nervous :(

For any who have missed hearing about today’s plan ~ complete removal of all ten toes, with a spinal block instead of general anesthetic. It’s rather a nerve-wracking way to go (your mind conjures pictures to go with the slight push & pull you feel), but I simply do not like the general anesthetic route!

I’m not taking my laptop with me (LOL!) so I will post a report tomorrow or Saturday. Wish me luck!

Addendum: I had just finished showering, drying my hair and packing the last of my gear in the tote when I received a call from the hospital. . . .how soon could I get to the hospital? Um, 30 minutes, maybe?! Surgery has been moved back up!

When Your Doctor Growls. . . .

Friday, August 1st, 2008

I knew “Dr. P” (my Rheumatologist) was going to be less than pleased to see me in a ‘walking boot’, but that didn’t half cover his mood when I discussed my upcoming appointment with the orthopedic surgeon!

The rest of the “maintenance visit” went fine; we’re both delighted that I have responded quickly (again) to the Enbrel therapy, the Dexa scan (bone density test) read rather well for an old broad and he was impressed at how well the ‘attempted amputation’ had healed.

Then I told him I was scheduled to see Dr. B. on August 13th, to discuss surgery on both feet – that is when he began to growl! I understand (and agree); we’re both expecting the proposal to be joint fusion, and that’s a very bad idea on so many levels!

We’ll see:)

Oh, BTW – I drove myself to my regular appointment with “Dr. P” this afternoon. I’m back to running most of the errands, though it’s very tiring. Cannot operate the accelerator or brake with the walking boot on, so it’s 1) Drive with the right foot protectively wrapped, 2) Park and put the boot on, 3) Return to car and begin again with #1. Tiring, but it works.