The Blasted Ankle
Back in October I badly, badly sprained my ankle. Dogs and potted plants were involved. There was about 90 seconds of pure screaming before I could pull myself together enough to tell my man to get my boot off. I could feel my ankle swelling right away, and I really didn’t want to have to go through the agony of having the boot cut off. Yep, it was already the size of a grapefruit. Sigh…..So he got me set up with icepacks and elevated my ankle and we dug out the brace and crutches.
A month later, it is still swollen and sore. So off to the doc, who sent me for Xrays. Nothing was broken, so off to another doc, who did ultrasound and ordered an MRI. I’ve had MRIs before, and I expected an hour of very loud boredom while stuck in a noisy tube (imagine Atari sounds at full volume) while trying not to move. I was pleasantly surprised to learn they had a mini MRI, just for the foot. So I got a good hour of reading in.
Turns out I had a damaged ligament, a damaged tendon, and a congenital bone spur that was rubbing against an inflamed tendon, keeping it inflamed. Surgery was required. So, after months of having it in a brace or fancy boot, February 1st rolled around and off we went to day surgery.
No food or water was allowed after midnight, so it took 3 nurses to get an IV in me because I was mildly dehydrated. The dude who accomplished it was very laid back, big, thick glasses, and greying blonde curls – almost ringlets. He was the clown of the ward and I had to wonder if he worked with children most of the time because of his appearance. Everyone was super nice and didn’t mind at all when my hospital gown flashed everyone a piece of my ass – not because it is worthy of nudie photos, but because they are inured to the sight of unsightly human bodies.
This is only my second surgery ever (had my tonsils out in 2006) and the anesthesiologist chatted with me and decided a spinal was better than a general anesthetic. So they gave me some Valium, took my glasses, and rolled me to the operating room – where I remember every joke that occurred. The operating team seemed very relaxed and comfortable with one another. First, I moved to the operating table, which is much slimmer than the recovery bed. There, the doc asked me to move down so that my ankle was not quite hanging off.
I kicked my doctor in the jewels.
Yep. Please keep in mind that my glasses were gone and the valium was flowing. There was an awkward pause and I stammered, ‘Uh, sorry ’bout that.’ He replied with a casual, ‘Don’t worry about it.’
Really? Does this happen often? Am I not the first patient that has inadvertently kicked their doctor in the balls just prior to surgery? Hmmmm…….Maybe the hospital is a more laid back, funner place than most of us know.
OK, so the next thing is that my gown had to be untied. I had tied it good. The nurse or assistant surgeon – I didn’t get introductions – was attempting to untie it. I jokingly asked her if she needed to use her teeth. She responded, ‘We’ll have the doc do it, if it comes to it.’ Her head was inches from my flank as she worked the knot. I couldn’t help but chuckle. Not the response I was expecting. She resorted to scissors.
Then in went the tiny, tiny needle to my spinal cord. Left, left! Crap, Right! I had been warned ahead of time I might feel some discomfort and to let the anesthesiologist know which side hurt so he could re-angle the needle. But I have never been good at keeping my left and right separate, so it was all a jumble and I wouldn’t be surprised if he simply rammed it on home to get it over with.
My lower half started to go numb. They strapped to the table, leaving one hand free. ‘We normally strap down everything, but if the patient is awake, we usually leave an arm free so they don’t feel so…trapped,’ the anesthesiologist confided to me. Charming of them, don’t you think? They put up a curtain so I couldn’t see the show. I was left to chat with the fun anesthesiologist, when he wasn’t doing paperwork. I should have brought a book. Sigh….
When they removed the bone spur, they let me see it. I was shocked at the size! I used a curse word my mom doesn’t approve of (but oddly gran is quite OK with, in proper circumstances). Then more chatting with the anesthesiologist. We talked about Mary Roach books. He had read Stiff. I have read all her books (Bonk, Packing for Mars, and Spook). Very fun nonfiction. He even talked the crew into letting me take my bone spur home in a specimen jar. It resided in the freezer until I could clean it and preserve it in alcohol.
Finally, we were done, and they moved me to the recovery bed, and the recovery room. The clown nurse dude asked if I wanted anything and I asked for my glasses and reading material. He said they didn’t have anything because mostly their patients were rather out of it. He was kind enough to fetch my book from my man in the waiting room. They were legally required to keep me for 30 minutes in the recovery ward. I listened to the man next to me moan and cry softly. He was in great pain, and they had to find an anesthesiologist to numb the affected limb.
Eventually, they moved me back out to the room where I could dress and see my man. We forced my heavily bandaged foot into the fancy boot, which was just short of agony. My local pain meds started to wear off and I took the prescribed pills. I was wheeled to the parking lot and set loose upon the world.
I spent a horrendous night at home weeping and watching stupid tv on my computer. I took enough meds to make me queasy, and then took meds to kill the queasiness. My man rubbed my back, because it was the only thing he could done. We kept rotating the ice packs, but the chill barely penetrated the heavy bandaging.
Things got better; or rather, more bearable. I couldn’t get the bandages wet, so showering involved my man, a chair, and a plastic trash bag over the limb. 10 days later, got to leave the house, crab walking down the stairs on 3 limbs. The bandages were removed and the doc pronounced it good. Another nurse came in and removed the stitches (10 of them, my first ever). For 3 weeks, I was on crutches, unable to leave the house on my own, to feed the pets, or clean. I read, a lot.
I stumbled often. My man had to fish me out of the bath not once, not twice, but three times. I am so glad he and I don’t have any modesty issues. In the beginning, I was lucky to be able to bath myself, if set in the shower correctly. However, I needed his help in and out. If I fell, I needed his help. I couldn’t carry anything, being on crutches. So he brought me all my meals in bed. He took care of all the animals, me, the shopping, the cleaning. Indeed, he has been the domesticated version of Superman these past few weeks.
Finally, I am able to get around slowly, in short bursts, with my fancy boot and the crutch or cane. I’ll be returning to work. Hurray! I’ll be in my fancy boot for several weeks, but I am glad I can at least load the dishwasher again. Part of my foot still has no feeling, which feels odd to the senses when running my fingers over it. I hope full feeling will return with time, but if not, it is not that important to have full feeling on the top of one’s foot.