Monday, March 29, 2010
Today I had an appointment with my surgeon. See, this is what I love about having told you guys the whole story. Now I can just tell you about my day! So, I saw Dr. McGorgeous today. He came in, and I started to tell him "I just wanted to talk to you. I need some reassurance about this next surgery. The past few weeks I've been....." and I just kinda trailed off. But no worries. Dr. McGorgeous chimed right in with "Going a little crazy?"
DON'T MIND IF I DO!!!!!
Anyway, yes, I've been stressed because I just wasn't sure if the surgery is the right thing to do, and if it is, I need more details on what's going to happen. So he goes "Would you be willing to try something". Now, anyone who knows me can tell you that I love to experiment. It's why I went into science. And the only thing I love more than experimenting, is experimenting on myself. It's terrible, I know. Call my IRB. So without even knowing what I'm agreeing to, I agree to whatever he wants. I iz smart? Anyway, his suggestion is to inject the soft tissue around that craptastic suture with a numbing medicine. If that takes the pain away, then we know that's where the pain is coming from. He tells me that we won't be able to get all the way to the bone, but we can do it right now if I want. And I do. So I get to play doctor and mark my own ankle where it hurts, and then he gets to actually be a doctor and use the needle. He used some numbing spray first and I didn't feel the injections at all. So he left me alone for a couple minutes to wait to see if the drugs worked. He comes back in the door all excited to find out if our experiment worked. I told him "New plan. The surgery is off, and you can just follow me around and inject me like this every couple of hours!" Turns out, that doesn't really fit in his schedule. Go figure. So I told him I could still feel a small pinpoint of pain, like he didn't get to the center of my ankle, but I think this worked. He asked what a normal amount of walking is for me. I told him this weekend I tried to take the dog for a walk and made it 4 houses before I had to turn around and come back. So he kicked me out of his office and told me to go take a walk and see how many houses I could get. And call him the next day to let him know if it worked. So I went for a walk. In the beautiful, sunny, 60 degree spring weather. And I saw flowers, and a park, and birds, and a spray painted fence sign. Beautiful. And when I got home, I checked my route. I knew I had gone more than 4 houses, but I'm a scientist, and I need hard data. I had walked 1.01 miles. And the only pain I had was that same tiny pinpoint that we didn't reach. It felt amazing. Then I went to the grocery store and shopped, which is normally a vicodin-inducing activity all on its own! The other thing Dr. McGorgeous told me is that I would pay for this, pain-wise, tomorrow. And I can tell you that as the injection is starting to wear off, I will be paying for it. Whatever! I went for a walk, who cares?! Also, we decided that I will definitely have my shin opened up. Because I don't have enough scars. Actually, that's not the real reason. I lied. It's really because my anterior compartment is all messed up, and we're (do you like how I say "we" like I'm actually going to help with the surgery?) going to dissect the tendon sheath. So like I said, we just think I need more scars.
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
So this is the last post I need to catch you guys up to where I am now. I'm excited to share these last few details, but even more excited to have the story told, and be able to post about my current struggles in real time. So back to the girl with my injury. We shall refer to her as Ankletwin. Because from the first minute we met, it was unbelievable how similar we were. To the point where we refer to "our" surgeries and "we" went to the doctor. It wasn't until I met her that I realized how lonely the chronic pain had made me. I mean, I still live a pretty awesome life, but I've also definitely changed. When I think back to my old workouts.....60 min on the elliptical doing 6 min miles on level 8. Weights 3-4 times a week. I had just finished a 10 week beginners yoga course when I was injured. That's not my life anymore. I haven't worked out since Jan 13th, 2009. I'm now the person who has to calculate the distance between two stores in the mall so I know if it's feasible. My old life ended that day. And I'm still working on accepting that. But I have always been a fighter. And I refuse to stop fighting to get a life I can enjoy. After talking to Ankletwin and realizing that other people struggle in situations like this every day, I decided to take my feelings from private to a blog. I truly do hope there is someone who reads this and finds some comfort in the fact that I'm fighting too. And I have a collection of characters, from my massage therapist, to my physical therapists, nurses, doctors, friends and family who refuse to let me quit. I saw my surgeon on March 8th for the one month follow up to my 3rd PRP injection. My pain is worse now that it's been in at least 6 months. The surgeon can see that the swelling is worse now than it has been in months. I'm very clearly backsliding. I knew it before he even walked in the exam room that day. And for the last few months my biggest fear has been that he will give up on me and send me to Pain Management. I'm 26, and the prospect of spending the next 50 years using narcotics to manage my pain brings me to tears. But there's always that ray of hope. I tell the surgeon that while the pain is worse, it's also changed. I used to just feel pain everywhere from mid-calf down. And after the 3rd PRP, all the "background noise" pain disappeared, and I can now point to EXACTLY where the pain originates from. I can pinpoint it. And once this pain starts, if I don't stop whatever I'm doing (ex: grocery shopping) the pain completely debilitates me. And here's what he comes back with. When he repaired my ligament, he used a suture to reattach the ligament to my bone. The area of pain I'm pointing to, and the swelling I'm having are directly over this suture. He thinks my body is rejecting the suture as a foreign object, and literally trying to push it out through my skin. So, two weeks from today, he is reopening my big incision to remove that suture. He's also opening my smaller incisions to remove scar tissue and inflammation. And while there is nothing "hilarious" in this post, this is the current state of affairs. I'm allowing myself a small ray of hope, but also mentally preparing myself to go back on crutches, back in a cast, and back to my un-showered, dignity-lacking, post-surgery self. So no worries....hilarity will ensue.
Friday, March 19, 2010
So after sleeping through Christmas and New Years, another sacrifice I had made in this whole ordeal, I expected to pretty much feel amazing. After all, I had already been through a PRP treatment, so I totally knew what to expect, right? (wrong.) At one point just after New Years I almost emailed Dr. McGorgeous to ask him if I was ok. I didn't feel anything like I felt the first time. I felt awful. I was still on painkillers after 10 days! After getting back from my parents, I made an appointment with my massage therapist, DJ MT. I always feel like I'm at my wits end until he drops some piece of knowledge about my anatomy that I don't even know. So during this massage, we keep pinpointing this certain part of my ankle. Apparently, my anterior tibialis is very angry with me. I wikipedia'd the crap out of anterior tibialis, and found "It functions to stabilize the ankle as the foot hits the ground during the contact phase of walking."
Hmmmm, anterior tibialis seems important. BUT, since we are finding the hilarity in chronic pain, I am willing to both copy AND paste my favorite line:
"The anterior tibialis aides in the activities of walking, running, hiking, kicking a ball, or any activity that requires moving the leg or keeping the leg vertical"
Way to sum it up, Wikipedia. Seriously.
At this point, I'm just a few days away from my follow-up appointment with Dr. McGorgeous. I've also just passed the one year anniversary of my injury. I wish I could have invited all of you to the pity party I threw myself that day. It was a riot. Because by this point, I know that my second PRP isn't working. The pain is back. So what does Dr. McGorgeous have to say when I see him next? He says that we are going to do another PRP and we are going to focus on my anterior tibialis. And I am about to be the first patient he's ever done 3 PRP treatments on. Ummmm, do I get an award for that? But towards the end of the appointment, I kinda......lost it. Like, I have always tried to be really cool around the surgeon, because I have the emotional maturity of a middle school girl. But the end of this appointment was different. I told him I was scared that the time we spent marking my ankle pre-op went too quickly and that maybe because we were marking so quickly, we weren't finding the exact right spot. He asked me to go see DJ MT the day before my surgery, and have him mark me!!! Talk about teamwork! So that's what we do. And on Feb 4th, I show up for my 3rd PRP treatment and my 4th overall surgery. As I was sitting on the hospital bed waiting, I saw one of my old nurses walk past. She disappeared out of view and then reappeared. "Mary! You're growing your hair out!!!" For future reference, here are three ways to know that you spend too much time in the hospital. 1. They recognize your face. 2. They remember your name without a chart. 3. THEY HAVE SEEN YOU SO MANY TIMES THEY CAN TELL YOU ARE GROWING YOUR HAIR LONGER. Geez. Here's another funny for ya. Dr. Grinch recognized me and still tried to deny me the anti-nausea drugs. And I still got them. +1 for me! So we do it allllllll over again. And I take another week and a half off of work. About a week after the surgery a co-worker invited me to her house for a party. I had been trapped inside due to my surgery and the nasty Midwest winter weather for awhile, and I was excited to go. But more than anything I was excited to meet one of the other guests. According to my coworker, this girl was about my age, had the same injury, and the same doctor. This was going to be interesting.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
So what does a PRP injection feel like? Well, other than sleeping 20 hours a day, it was more fear of pain than actual pain. Don't get me wrong, I'd definitely choose a spa day over a PRP injection, but on a scale of 1-feeling.your.ligament.snap.and.ankle.bone.break, it's registering down around a 4 or a 5. Four days after the surgery, the swelling was down and I had DEFINITELY noticed a change in the amount of pain I was feeling during the day. A change for the better!!!! The real test would be going back to work. Tuesday was my first day back. Things were OK, and for that whole day I let myself wish and dream and hope that this was the end of my journey. I mean, Tiger Woods had this therapy, and it helped him! It didn't help with the whole cocktail waitress situation, but whaddya gonna do? Wednesday comes and goes, then Thursday, and by Friday I was back to square one. The swelling hadn't come back, but there was that pain. My old familiar friend. The pain that is so much a part of my life that I truly can't remember what my body used to feel like before the pain moved in and forced me to carry it around. And so I wait. And I plot. I don't see the surgeon until mid-December. In the meantime, I decide that going back to work too soon was the reason the procedure didn't stick. So I continue to plot. And my appointment with Dr. McGorgeous finally rolls around. He takes a peek at the ankle and tells me it's a good sign that the swelling went down because it means that my body does respond to this therapy. When you're dealing with an experimental procedure, any sign that it works is a good one. So I explain the pain and ask him how close to Christmas he's performing surgeries. This guy knows me pretty well at this point and he gives me a "Cut the bullshit" look and asks when I want my surgery. I tell him December 22nd. He tells me he needs to leave the hospital to catch his plane by 11:30am, and asks if I can be there at 7am. Seriously, I would let the guy operate on me in his kitchen if it meant this thing would get fixed. So I agree to show up 3 days before Christmas so that I can have 11 straight days of recovering without having to stand on it at work. It also means another round of pre-op phone calls, another physical, more paperwork and all the other boring stress that goes along with an operation. And sure enough, I show up on December 22nd for my next procedure. Same room, same nurse, same smells and sights and sounds. Same x marks the spot on my ankle, same signature on the paperwork. Same initials from the surgeon reminding him this is the correct leg to operate on. Same pinch and burn of the IV. The familiarity and routine of undergoing surgery definitely registers somewhere in my mind. Until Dr. Grinch shows up again. Of course. And tries to deny me my anti-nausea drugs. I tell him what happened last time and tell him to check his records and order my drugs. He doesn't argue. Have I ever mentioned how much I absolutely love getting my way? Well, I do. And keeping with the routine, I wake up in the same recovery room. I get sent home to sleep. I manage to wake myself up the next morning and forgo the drugs long enough to drive the 2 hours to my parents house. Once there, I take my drugs and proceed to fall asleep for 7 days. Seriously, Christmas day I was only awake for 2 hours. But these are the sacrifices I'm willing to make if that's what it takes to heal my ankle. And this has to work. It has to.....
Sunday, March 14, 2010
Ahhh, the Pre-Op room. This room, along with the doctors, nurses, scheduling department, billing department, physical therapists, massage therapists, and pharmacists are all quickly becoming first-name-basis friends. So I'm in my bed, wearing my gown (this is all so familiar) and trying to keep my dad amused while we wait for this show to get on the road. So in walks my anesthesiologist. Although this procedure doesn't require a fully intubated-type of anesthesia, I will still be out for it. I tell him that every single drug I've ever been given, from Tylenol 3 to straight up morphine, makes me vomit. A lot. As in, in my purse I have packed bags for me to throw up in on my way home. And I ask him for some anti-nausea drugs in my IV while I'm having the procedure to prevent it. So the doctor....we'll call him Dr. Grinch, explains to me that drugs have side effects. Um, really? And that I should avoid taking them if I don't need them, and in his 394803404 years of practicing medicine, he has never seen anyone get sick off the type of anesthesia I am about to get. So my dad jumps in and tries to explain that if anyone would get sick off of it, it's me. He starts to disagree with my dad (you would think he's gotta pay for anti-nausea drugs out of his own paycheck or something) when I interrupt. "Ok, so WHEN I wake up vomiting, can I just have the drugs then???" And Dr. Grinch gave me his best evil stare and told me yes. So it's just about time to go. Dr. McGorgeous comes in to make the marks on my ankle, where my blood products will be injected. I'm surprisingly not nervous about this. If I got through last May's surgery, I have no doubt I can handle it. So we head back to the very same operating room, and the next thing I know, I'm awake in the recovery room. Being an old pro at the surgery thing, I did not throw a temper tantrum over having to eat crackers, and I received some very lovely drugs. With my dad sitting next to me, I reached for the cup of water to wash down the drugs when it hit me. The nausea. Like none I had ever experienced. I literally threw my head back into the bed to force the room to stop spinning, and we got the nurse to push the anti-nausea drugs Dr. Grinch swore I wouldn't need. 2 doses and an extra hour in the recovery room and I was wheeled to the car. Back in my black boot, I was nervous about the pain and walking. The only thing I have to compare the situation to is what happened before. So I go home and sleep for all of Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and half of Sunday. I'm not kidding, 20 hours a day, I was OUT. I wasn't in nearly as much pain as the first surgery, but it seemed like my body needed the recovery time, so I called in sick to work on Monday and slept some more. By Tuesday, I was out of my boot and back at work full time. I wasn't set to see the doctor for 4 weeks. He said the therapy can take that long to start working. I had noticed by the day I went home from work that the swelling I had in my ankle had changed. It wasn't as widespread as it had been before, with the main swelling over my big incision. A good sign??? I had to wait 4 weeks to find out!
Friday, March 12, 2010
Now that you've met my full cast of characters, lets get back to the results of the second MRI. I spent the whole night trying to figure out what I wanted them to be. Because, you know, I can control things like that. I certainly don't want the results to show some massive problem that sends me back to the operating room. That would be devastating. But if the results come in and show there is nothing wrong, and this is just the amount of pain I'm expected to live in for the rest of my life, I'm going to drive out to the country, dig a hole, and live in that. So I'm sitting in Dr. McGorgeous's office again, looking for red flags. How long have I been waiting? Not too long..... How many doctors are here to tell me the news? Just one..... He's here and he has things to show me. He pulls up my MRI on the computer and shows me the osteochondral fracture. It's still visible, it's healing slowly, but that's what bone does. See this empty circle in your fibula? That's the bone screw that hasn't finished dissolving yet, give it another 18 months. The ligament looks GOOD, blah blah blah. I'm tuning him out. Until he gets to THE PROBLEM. Duh duh duh....I have.........................................................INFLAMMATION AND SCAR TISSUE in the ligament and all the surrounding tendons! Um, I know. I have inflammation and scar tissue BECAUSE I'VE BEEN WALKING AROUND ON A SCREWED UP ANKLE FOR 10 MONTHS! THAT'S YOUR CONCLUSION???? THAT'S NOT A DIAGNOSIS! THOSE ARE MY SYMPTOMS! COULD YOU BE MORE VAGUE?! Anyways, I'm obviously not saying any of this to him, because he's adorable and it would be awful if he thought I was crazy. So I just ask him what we are going to do about it. And he tells me about a new procedure that's still experimental, but has shown some promising early results. Now, I have a degree in Molecular and Cellular Biology. I DO research. This intrigues me. So he explains Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy, or PRP for short. My surgeon, unbeknownst to me, is one of the pioneers in his field, and has won numerous awards and honors. I knew I liked him for his mind, and not just his looks ;) Here's the Cliff's Notes version: When you cut yourself, you form a scab. The cells in the scab (the platelets) tell your body "HEY! LOOK OVER HERE! WE HAVE A PROBLEM! FIX IT!". And your body kicks into action and repairs the injury. So we are going to draw my blood, take out the platelets (and the plasma, the juice your blood cells sit in) and inject them directly into my problem ligament and all the tendons showing inflammation. This should trigger my body to go fix it. I will be under anesthesia, no knives or cutting, just a couple needles. It's a short procedure, and I should only be out of work for a couple days. He says that I may only need one treatment, or I may need two treatments. Regardless, we are going to get pre-approval from the insurance for 3 treatments, just to be on the safe side, although he's never done 3 treatments on anyone. I'm beyond excited! In just two shorts weeks, I go through ANOTHER pre-op physical (they're only good for 30 days) and find myself back in the pre-op room waiting to see if this experimental treatment is the key to my recovery!
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Before I get to the results of the MRI, I have one more person to introduce you to. My massage therapist. And don't even roll your eyes. I know what you're picturing. Hot stones, creepy relaxing music, dim light. OMG, sounds amazing. That's not what we're talking about here. Way back in the beginning of time when I first found out about my surgery with Dr. McGorgeous, I was limping around the back of my house to throw the trash in the dumpster we shared with a few other houses. One of these houses had a few Big Ten football players living there, and one of the linemen saw my ankle brace and limp and asked what happened. We'll call him SanFran, since he now plays for the 49ers. So I tell SanFran what happened and as it turns out, he has THE SAME EXACT INJURY! And he also had surgery with Dr. McGorgeous! Small world, huh? He tells me not to worry, that I'm in good hands and if anyone can get me back to normal, it's our surgeon. He then tells me that the most important thing I can do for myself after surgery is find myself a massage therapist. Apparently, the football team does it for them, but I would need to hire my own. And if it's good enough for a now-pro football player, it's good enough for me. So in August, as physical therapy started to progress, I found myself a massage therapist who specialized in sports medicine. Well, I actually found two. The first one needed a book to figure out where the ligament I tore was, was afraid to touch my ankle, and then tried to take my top off. Please, you gotta buy me dinner if you want to take my top off. The second massage therapist I found was THE ONE. Our first meeting was wonderful. He wasn't afraid of my scars, he got right in there and started to feel things out and ask me questions about my injury, my surgery, and my pain. He moved up from my ankle into my calf and started loosening muscles and releasing trigger points. FYI, "trigger points" is Latin for "tiny spots of Satanic pain". Seriously. At one point, the massage therapist (lets refer to him as MT. No...that's boring. How bout DJ MT? Yup, that's a winner) tells me that my calf muscles are so locked down from having to protect my ankle for so long that he doesn't know how I can walk. And standing up from the table and trying out my ankle again, I wasn't sure how I had walked before either. I think my visit was $35 and I would have paid him $35,000 for what he did for me that day. So DJ MT became a regular stop on my weekly rounds of ankle-getting-better-ness. And while he hurts me nearly every time I go in there, I know that the pain is helping me get better, and that he only likes hurting me a little bit. Kidding. Kinda. He did make me puke once. He taught me what "referral pain" is. Did you know that I have places near my knee that you can push on to make my ankle hurt? It meant that some of my ankle pain wasn't actually ankle pain, and he could fix that. Anyways, DJ MT plays a crucial role in upcoming chapters, so I wanted to introduce him now. But back to McGorgeous's office, where I'm waiting for the results of my second MRI. Stay tuned....
PS- that's what my ankle looked like 4 weeks after surgery. I figure we're good enough friends now to share.
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
As September progresses, I was also progressing. Range of motion, strength and balance were all making a return to my life. Anyone who asked how I was doing got a sunny, cheerful response. I bought myself new shoes to celebrate moving out of the brace (omg, I felt naked without it!). I should have won an academy award for the amount of acting I was doing. The only people who knew I was still in a LOT of pain were my physical therapists and my surgeon, who prescribed a topical anti-inflammatory to help with the pain. I guess as far as everyone else was concerned, I just didn't want to talk about being in pain anymore. I was at the 9-10 month point, and starting to notice the changes in myself from the chronic pain. I wouldn't call it full fledged depression, but I did notice that while I might PRETEND to be interested in a friend's story, in my head, I couldn't believe some of the things people were complaining about. The pain was starting to change my perspective on life. And whether that's a good thing or not remains to be seen. So back to the pain. Ever since the day my ligament was repaired, all I had heard was that the pain was "normal". Normal, normal, normal. But as October began to slip away, and the topical prescription was having no effect, I bumped up my next appointment with my surgeon. If there is one thing that I plan to take away from this experience, it's to trust my body, and trust my brain. My body was telling me that my ankle still hurt. And I don't mean like, oh, maybe I'll take a Tylenol. I mean, pain no different from BEFORE I went through that surgery. Nothing was different, and nothing was better. And my brain was telling me that something was still very, very wrong. Dr. McGorgeous came into the exam room where I was prepared for a battle. And he took the words right out of my mouth. He said when he saw my name show up on his patient list that day, he thought about canceling the appointment and just sending me straight for an MRI. And this is why I love Dr. McGorgeous so much. Because even when I doubt myself, he doesn't. He BELIEVES me when I say it hurts, and I've seen enough doctors to know that he honestly wants me to get better. So at the end of October, I ended up back in the MRI machine. Only this time I was at a different hospital. No soothing music, no warm blanket, no nice nurses. I was so cold, and shaking so hard, that the tech came over the speaker and told me to "quit moving, the pictures are coming out terrible". Awesome. This is after they ran 1.5 hours late, and told me to "go for a walk". Hilarious. And I spend another night wondering what those pictures were going to show, and waiting for Dr. McGorgeous to tell me my fate.
Monday, March 8, 2010
So two months after surgery is right around the time things got really exciting. I transitioned from the boot to an ankle brace, which was an a-ma-zing upgrade in August in the midwest. I looked less gimpy, and I was giving it my best shot at walking less gimpy. Overall, I guess you could say that I was hopeful. August is my birthday month, and it just finally seemed like I had turned the corner from surgery. Physical therapy was.....going. Maybe not great, but it was going. I was receiving a fun treatment called "electrotherapy", where they hook electrodes up to your ankle and literally run a current through you. I've never stuck my finger in an electrical outlet, because I have common sense, but I'm thinking that's a lot like this. Also involved was icing. And I know what you guys are thinking. Icing.....mmmmmm, cupcakes. But seriously, we are talking physical therapy here. And I'm about to give you all an icing lesson, free of charge. Because I'm just that kind of person, and also because I can guarantee none of you know the theory of icing. So you're all doing it wrong. So lets get started class. Phase one of proper icing is fleeting and pleasant. Your skin feels cold (duh). Phase two is where all of you quit, guaranteed. Why?? BECAUSE IT FREAKING HURTS. I mean, full on rage, don't talk to me, I'm not going to survive this pain. That's why you all quit. And phase three, where my lovely physical therapists got me each time, is the point where your ankle actually goes numb. It takes a good 15-20 minutes to get there. So we combined the electrodes and the icing. And don't think I didn't question the sanity of the therapist the first time she wanted to combine electricity and water. But I never died, so I guess it's fine. Except, don't try it at home. Or try it, but don't bother suing me. I'm broke, I have a $100,000 "sprained ankle". So as August turns into September, we reassess my ankle for the insurance company. You know, so they can see if I've recovered enough to quit paying for PT. And I'm progressing on strength. And range of motion. Balance is the next thing they ask about, and then that one pesky detail about how much pain you're still in. So it's nice to see from week to week how much better I'm getting at moving it, and the strength that's coming back. Balance is a huuuuuuuuge challenge because it requires both range of motion and strength at the same time! And pain. Oh pain. There's no improvement. But I am being reassured at this point that pain is normal for the first 6 months. So, I keep calm and carry on. For now.
Sunday, March 7, 2010
"I always knew I had the answer
But I never understood the question
Lacerated to the bone
And now we've realigned the edges
I'm doing very well I thank you
All this empathy is starting to wear me down
I wish I was someone else"
-A Life Less Ordinary/Need a Little Help, Motion City Soundtrack
But I never understood the question
Lacerated to the bone
And now we've realigned the edges
I'm doing very well I thank you
All this empathy is starting to wear me down
I wish I was someone else"
-A Life Less Ordinary/Need a Little Help, Motion City Soundtrack
Saturday, March 6, 2010
Literally and figuratively. The doctor said to take 6-8 weeks off of work, and seeing as how 1) I'd only been at my job 1.5 years, and 2) I had no idea what I was getting myself into, I chose to take 6 weeks off. So I went back to work the Monday after 4th of July weekend. The first day was nerve wracking. Would I even remember how to do my job? Did they mess everything up without me? Did they figure out that work is better without me there? It was exactly like your first day back at school after summer vacation. I tentatively explained things to my boss, who had kindly asked me in an email 3 days after surgery if "I was walking yet". To this day I don't think he thinks there is anything wrong with me. But anyway, it seemed like everyone was happy to have me back. And I was happy to be out of the house and "normal" again. Except that I was exhausted. Now, I was very careful not to turn nocturnal with all my time off, but there's really no comparing staying home all day to rest with being at work 8 hours a day. The week was EXHAUSTING, and I tried to sit as much as possible. It made me feel pretty crappy to be back in the laboratory, and still pawning off work on the people who had covered for me for a month and a half. They were all so good about it, but it just doesn't sit well with me to need that much help. That's kind of the story of my life in this blog. I resent needing so much help. I'm a horrible person! Whatever! :) So in the midst of all this back to work stuff, I am also starting physical therapy again. I got the same two girls as the first time, and we jumped (LOL, that's hilarious!) right back into it. My philosophy on physical therapy is that I had ONE opportunity to rehab my ankle, and if I slacked off, I would probably regret it the rest of my life. So I did everything they asked.....again. And I dealt with the pain as best I could. I was so excited at this point, because I had dealt with this situation for 6 whole months. Six months of chronic pain, doctors who didn't listen to me, surgeries that terrify professional football players, all while trying to live my life. And if you do everything right, and you play by the book, everything works out perfectly, right?
Thursday, March 4, 2010
Babies are difficult. Anyone who is a parent will tell you this. And I know why. Let me fill you in. It's because they know they are going to have to learn to walk. Having been through that a quarter of a century ago, I have been nothing short of an expert walker until that fateful night last January. And after spending 4.5 weeks on crutches after my surgery, there is nothing I wanted to do more than walk on my own two feet. Oh the freedom! The places I could go if I only had two feet. Over grass, up and down stairs, through the rain!!! The problem, as with babies, is that there is a learning curve between walking and not walking. And IT IS FRUSTRATING!!! Ok, lets start at the beginning here. My beautiful, bedazzled, hot pink cast came off. People saw what my leg hair looks like after 4.5 weeks of not shaving. Remember, cleanliness and dignity jumped ship quite awhile ago. And they put me in a walking boot. A WALKING BOOT! I still get happy when I think about my boot. Why? Well, the first word is walking. And second of all, it is removable. Meaning, I can wash and shave my leg, and my leg can feel the breeze on it's face again. So after the nurse cut my cast off, they slap this thing on, and she tells me to walk. Just like that! And the learning curve starts.....So I crutch out of there, trying not to get down on myself because I still couldn't walk yet. My entire leg had atrophied from the weeks of not using it. The muscle was all shriveled up inside my skin. Don't panic, don't panic, don't panic, don't panic. I tried to focus on the positive (shaving my leg....omg!) and I tentatively tried this whole "walking" stuff. As is, with 90% of my weight still on the crutches, I set my foot down. Now, as we have all learned, I have a high tolerance to pain. And I spent the rest of that day not eating because I was literally scared that if I put food in my mouth I would throw it up from the pain of trying to walk. So I formulated a plan. The nurse said I needed to be walking again in three days. So the first day I would "walk", but I would set my crutches down with each step. Day two, I'd lose one crutch and go all Tiny-Tim style. Day three, crutch free. And so I started. I celebrated making a lap around the kitchen table. And after a couple days of not eating a single thing, I COULD WALK. And I was just as proud of myself as I was the first time, all those years ago. I'm not sure if anyone else thought it was that awesome, but I think it's just because those people haven't had to take breaks from being independently mobile. Either way, I was a walker. Ok, I was more like a limper. It wasn't pretty. With a lot of the muscle gone from my leg, I kind of had to swing that whole leg around instead of bending it at the knee and picking it up. De-light-ful. And this, my friends, is why they created physical therapy. Which I was set to begin, again, in a short few weeks. Would it be as much fun my second time around?
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
When you can't take a shower. No seriously, the first three days after surgery are a blurry, drug-induced haze, but after that I remember everything clearly, unfortunately. The night of my surgery, I discovered that I could not, in fact, crutch into the bathroom and sit on a toilet. Without walls near enough to hold onto, I was attempting to maintain balance on one leg, lowering myself without using the crutches (since they don't bend) or a wall for stability. I know you all have a mental image, but it was even more dangerous than what you are thinking. Cut to a picture of the rolling desk chair. Which I began rowing myself into the bathroom on. Needless to say, since I wasn't even properly potty trained on crutches, a shower was not in the cards. Over the next two weeks, various forms of not using stairs and having my hair washed for me ensued. Cleanliness and dignity were long forgotten. I used babywipes to clean myself most days. An actual shower involved wrapping my cast in a garbage bag, duct taping the top, placing a chair in the shower, and everyone praying I didn't slip and fall getting in and out. I'd say I took three showers from surgery day to my next doctor's appointment two weeks later. I was so excited for that day. My cast was coming off! This could only mean good things. We sat in the waiting room for a very long time. Long enough for my zen-like patience (ha!) to wear out and me to ask the receptionist what the hold up was. She told me they were waiting for a seat in the cast room. W.T.F. The cast room? I'm supposed to be coming out of my cast, not going into one! But it happened. They took off my cast and removed my stitches. With a chainsaw. Ok, not really, BUT last week I cut my finger and got three stitches and took them out myself to avoid having one of these nice ladies do it for me. No joke. After the stitches were out, they asked me to bend my ankle to 90 degrees so they could put my fiberglass cast on. BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
Yeah, not so much. So I got yelled at for my lack of range of motion, put it a pretty pink cast, and I crutched out of the office exactly as I had come in. Two more weeks of waiting!
Monday, March 1, 2010
So I laugh at the lady on the phone. Seriously, I don't TRY to be a mean person, but after everything I've gone through to get ready for this day, and the fact that I am 2 stoplights away mean that this thing is happening, even if I have to do it myself. I check in, I change into my fashionable gown and one non-slip sock. The nurse tries to end my life while she was starting my IV. I'm only exaggerating slightly....after the bloody mess she left, we needed to change my blankets and then I had to reassure her that I trusted her to try again on my other arm. Fun stuff. But it was all worth it the second Dr. McGorgeous walked into the room to do my pre-surgery consultation. Looking at him in his scrubs, I wondered if he was a fake doctor, and this was not my real life, but a made-for-TV movie that would air on the Lifetime network. I wasn't even on drugs at this point, this is really how I think. Anyways, he starts making marks on my ankle and that's when it really hit me, that no matter what he found with the ligaments, I was not going to wake up with the same body I went to sleep with. I would permanently carry a reminder of this injury. That's about the time I hugged my mom, put my hair in a sweet hairnet and got wheeled down the hall. I moved onto the surgical bed and they started arranging me. Arms here and here, stuff on my fingers, something on my forehead. Something in my IV. They were trying to keep the mood light and were asking me questions about my job. The drugs in my IV burned my arm, and made me a little fuzzy. I saw something coming over my face and it startled me. My anesthesiologist explained that it was just oxygen. I remember thinking "THAT'S NOT OXYGEN, THAT'S ANESTHESIA! THAT JERK IS LYING TO ME! MY DOCTOR IS LYING!!!!!" And then I woke up in recovery. My leg was in a cast. My first question was about the ligament, and the nurse told me she didn't know. The same nurse then wanted me to eat. And my poor, drugged up, stressed out brain had had enough. Our conversation went as follows:
Nurse: What would you like to eat?
Nurse: Well, you have to eat something. We have crackers, bagels, muffins, dinosaur brains, coffee, tea, soda, water....
Me: FINE!@ I'LL HAVE CRACKERS AND WATER!
said crackers and water show up. I have no intention of eating them. 5 minutes pass...
Nurse: You need to eat those crackers.
Me: I'm not interested in your crackers.
Nurse: If you don't eat them, I can't give you your Vicodin
Me: How many do I have to eat?
(as a side note to my reader(s), I am not a toddler, although at this point I can see how you would be confused)
Nurse: 2 crackers for 2 vicodin
So I ate the two crackers and the two vicodin. And a muscle relaxer. :) They brought my mom in, who explained to me that yes, one ligament did need to be repaired. My expected recovery time from this surgery is 6-8 months. Even through the haze of drugs, I know this isn't going to be good.