Wednesday, April 21, 2010

I-N-D-E-P-E-N-D-E-N-T do you know what that means?

It means I can walk! Woot! So let me fill all of you in on what has happened this week. I'm back at my apartment, up 17 stairs to my bedroom. My GINORMOUS arm bruise is healing, although still ugly after two weeks. What else is there? Oh yeah. So my ankle. I went to the doctor on Monday, and he didn't even show up to my appointment. Some lousy excuse about "emergency surgery" and whatnot. Him not being there just meant that I needed to take control of the appointment. I know what we had discussed last week, so I informed the nurse that she needed to order my bloodwork (a full Rheumatoid Panel), start me on steroids (RAAAAAWWWWRR), get a prescription written for physical therapy in the water, and have my stitches taken out. I also told her I would be starting a calcium and vitamin D regimen. Since I wasn't really giving her options here, she paged the doctor and verified everything, so I was good to go. Oh, and the stitches coming out? Which had been a panic attack inducing thought for the last year? It was no big thang. She probably took out about 15 sutures, and there were 2 or 3 that just didn't look ready to come out. They are dissolving, so it doesn't really matter that they are there. We were chatting the entire time. I don't know what kind of butcher they sent in last year, but I no longer fear suture removal. This is a good thing. Perhaps I'll stop taking my own stitches out now. Maybe. So after I was de-stitched, I had to go to ANOTHER facility to get my blood work done. Lame. But the cute guy who took my blood and patiently listened to my story about how this was the place I had come the first time I was diagnosed with a sprained ankle told me that now that I have a boot I should wander around and put it up someone's rear end for the way I was treated. Thanks for the laugh Cute Blood Taking Boy. After that was over, I had to go pick up my steroids from the pharmacy. Came home, removed boot and proceed to take a few steps boot-less. I'm "transitioning out of the boot". Meaning, I wear some kind of support (from my wide array of fashionable ankle braces) when I leave the house, but inside I go free as a bird. Other things you should know: I had my first physical therapy appointment (well, for this round of PT) this morning, I took 12 pills (!) yesterday, and I'm currently going back and forth between being so tired that I fall asleep in inappropriate places to so wired that I sweat like crazy, my heart rate increases and my blood pressure goes up and I wake up at 4:45 in the morning. And also consume twenty 8oz glasses of water a day. But these are all stories for a different day. Stay tuned!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Because I'm an Attention Whore...

I just took my first steps. No crutches. :)

Tiny Tim

Today has been a good day. I'm walking (limping? crutching? idk) on one crutch right now. This is such a huge step (lol) for me mentally. Whereas yesterday I could actually see myself confined to a wheelchair for all eternity, today I can picture myself as independently mobile. I'm now taking a 10 day course of Lyrica, which is normally a fibromyalgia medication. When the surgeon took the rope of scar tissue off of my nerve, the nerve got pissed, and understandably so. So yesterday was my first day of trying to put any weight on that foot, and I noticed some nerve issues starting. The ball of my foot feels like it fell asleep, and it feels like that constantly. Occasionally that feeling moves around to other places in my ankle. I called the doctor and spoke to the nurse, but we all knew this was a possibility from the beginning. While I'm not overly thrilled at having to take Lyrica, due to it's crazy side effects (1 in 500 people notice severe depression/suicidal thoughts), I know that this nerve damage can be permanent if we don't nip this in the bud. So the Lyrica is supposed to calm this nerve down. Today I've noticed that while the feeling is still there, it has diminished. I can also add another "pain" to the list of body tissue I'm aware of. I can now distinguish between ligament, tendon, muscle, fascia, bone, and nerve pain. I credit my massage therapist for this. With his help I have become very aware of what I am feeling, and I can then translate this to the surgeon. Way to go Team! I also haven't needed any pain medication so far today, which feels great. I have now brushed my teeth for three consecutive days. Major turning point. I still can't understand how people (myself included) have the energy to shower daily, but I'm working my way back there. I'm also focusing on doing my range of motion exercises on the ankle. The more I can keep it moving, hopefully the less scar tissue that forms. Last night I wore my elderly person compression sock for a few hours. This is also supposed to help calm that nerve down. All in all, I feel like I'm right on track.
"God bless us, every one"

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Deja Vu

So I'm in the process of learning how to walk again. I went back and read the previous post I had done about it, and I realized something. There is NOTHING funny about this at the moment it is happening. Apparently, my humor only appears in hindsight? So bear with me here, because I am not currently feeling hilarious. I spent today with my boot on, but still using the crutches to carry 90% of my weight. I remember panicking last time and thinking I would never walk again. So I'm while I am, in fact, panicking that I'll never walk again, I'm not mad at myself for panicking. Ha! Does that even make any sense? I guess the good news here is that the pain and fear are taking up a lot of the space in my brain that had been devoted to worrying about Rheumatoid Arthritis. You should all be grateful that I didn't try writing earlier. Before I showered, it had been 5 (yep, seriously) days since my last shower. I was stuck on the couch, eating apples and watching Martha Stewart. That was seriously the peak of my post-surgical depression, so far. I hope that was the worst of it! That's not something I would normally talk about (the depression part, I mean. I laughed about the Martha Stewart part with everyone) but for some reason I feel compelled to share this process in its entirety. Yes, I am a truly hilarious human with what I feel is a generally good attitude towards everything (including myself, apparently!). BUT. I've also been in pain every day for over 15 months. I've gone through 5 surgeries. I've been worn down and given up and lost friends. I would be doing the universe a disservice if I at any point implied that this was easy. I wake up every day and feel like I'm preparing for battle. Today I don't have any "moral of the story" advice. I'm not desperately looking for the light at the end of the tunnel. Today is just a day to be. It is what it is, and I've just about survived it. Maybe tomorrow will be different. And maybe it won't. There aren't any guarantees with this.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

What I've Learned

I suppose I should post another update. I mean, sitting here with my leg elevated is super time consuming, but I'll do it because I love you. I showered today. For the first time since Tuesday morning. I'm not even the slightest bit ashamed of that. Drugged up me + balancing on one leg + slippery wet shower = DISASTER. So today I was able to cut down on the drug use long enough to get clean. (hahahaha, get it? get "clean"?) I even managed to put on clean clothes (yes, I was in the same shorts and t-shirt from Tuesday). I'm actually really surprised at this recovery. Maybe I've just done this enough times now, but I'm getting REALLY good at this! My leaking, drooping, sagging ziploc bag of ice has been replaced with a refreezable cold pack that velcros in place. The metal folding chair in the shower has been replaced with a homemade bench. The broken garbage can I rested my leg on while I peed has been replaced with the same sturdy bench. These upgrades may seem silly to you, but that's just because you don't have a clue. :) Seriously though, come talk to me when your life involves emailing your immediate family to tell them that you managed to poop after 3 days instead of 11. Oh yeah.......I was pretty proud of that. Prunes, baby. I live a pretty shameless existence. I don't have too many complaints at this point. Yes, I hurt, and my incisions are starting to itch. My hands are sore from the crutches. But honestly, I'm really reluctant to make those complaints. This is much, much easier than what I was expecting. I guess I'm just waiting for the other shoe to drop....
Since I'm not in a cast, I'm trying to move my ankle a little bit every day. I can see that my calf has shrunk, but today I was able to move my foot to almost 90 degrees! This is good, because Monday morning I'm going to have to get my ankle into The Boot, and it will need to be at 90 degrees to do that. The other good thing about my leg shrinking is that now I can peek under the bandages. Not for the faint of heart, but I'm the girl who made the surgeon give me a jar with my suture and chunks of scar tissue. I'M not for the faint of heart! If I could just get that nagging idea of Rheumatoid Arthritis out of my head, I would be a happy girl right now. Speaking of The Boot. I now have a matching set. I pretty much wore the other one to the ground. Considering I've worn it for 3 of the last 11 months, it's had about all it can handle. I got a new one, and it's most definitely The Boot 2.0. It's smaller, lighter, more streamlined. And now that I have two Boots and can theoretically wear them as a pair, I have an Official Most Expensive Pair of Shoes, ever. Coming in at a grand total of $1800.00. So your Manolos can eat it!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Made it!

Yesterday was the big day. Surgery #5. In some ways I was more nervous about this one than the previous 4. Not the same kind of nervous I used to get....will I wake up, will it hurt, what will the recovery be like? I've done this enough to know the answers to those questions. This wasn't fear of the unknown. This was fear of the known. I know EXACTLY how much I have at stake here. My day started pretty early. As in 4:45am. I woke up from a dream where I knew it was the morning of surgery, and I was eating breakfast. And halfway through eating my breakfast, I FREAK OUT because you're not allowed to eat that close to surgery. So I totally consider lying to the doctors and nurses and not telling them....and then I woke up. If anyone has any ideas what that dream means, feel free to share, I'm stumped. Not. So after waking up and NOT eating breakfast, I arrived at 9am. Unfortunately, Dr. McGorgeous was running behind schedule, so instead of starting my surgery at 10am, I didn't get taken back til about 11:45am. In that time, I managed to charm Dr. Grinch into providing me an adequate amount of anti-nausea drugs, as well as have so much of my IV drip into me that I needed to go to the bathroom in my gown, carrying my IV bag. I've told you guys before, dignity isn't really an option. So in addition to having that stupid suture removed, I also had my ankle scoped out to remove scar tissue and inflammation and my anterior compartment explored. Oh! AND I had a 4th PRP treatment. Because at this point, why not? Lets just throw every technique known to Foot and Ankle surgeons at this thing and see what sticks. In the extremely wise words of myself to Dr. McGorgeous "Just.Cut.Everything". The PRP this time was a little sketchy. The tube to collect blood in didn't seem to have any vacuum in it, so the nurse had to poke around a lot. I've included a picture for your enjoyment! So I get wheeled back to surgery, and they inject the stuff that killed Michael Jackson. It burns going in, like A LOT. They gave me oxygen again, only this time it didn't cause me to react with ANGER AND RAGE. The mask was slipping off, so I actually reached up and held it over my face for awhile. I'm such an angel. Then I woke up in recovery. And I didn't feel good. It's probably the most pain I've woken up in yet. The nurse gave me some drugs and brought my crackers. I politely tried to explain to her that I wasn't trying to throw a tantrum again, but at that very moment I hurt too bad to eat those. I'm adorable. She goes to get more drugs, and at this point I realize I have something on my head. So I reach up and pull off a towel. WTF? She comes back and sees me staring at this towel and asks if I'm warm now. Um, yeah? Was I ever NOT warm? Apparently. She tells me I woke up freezing cold. So now I know that I FOR SURE talk under the affects of anesthesia, and I now have to live my life knowing I've almost certainly hit on Dr. McGorgeous. After eating crackers and drugs, dressing myself and peeing, they cut me loose, and my mom drives me up to my parent's house where I'm recovering. Along the way my mom explains to me what the doctor found. First of all, he found excessive amounts of inflammation and scar tissue. Like, a surprising amount. So much that he said my ankle looked just as bad, if not worse, than it did a year ago before he fixed it! And I've seen the scar tissue, because he put some chunks of it, along with the stupid suture in a jar for me to keep. We had planned to start me on anti-inflammatories for about a month anyway, but after seeing the chaos and destruction my immune system is capable of, he's now including steroids in this regimen. So if I go all roid rage on you, you'll know why. He also didn't put me in a cast. I woke up wrapped in gauze and an ace bandage. I'm not allowed to walk on it, but he wants me to start moving it immediately. The last, and quite possibly most scary thing he said was that the amount of inflammation I was producing had two possible causes. One, just my body's response to the suture. Two, I have the auto-immune disorder called Rheumatoid Arthritis, and he's sending me to have a specialist to have bloodwork done to rule that out. RA is debilitating disease, so it's a little frightening to hear that. My appointment with the Rheumatologist isn't for a month, so let's worry about other things until then, shall we? So right this very minute, I'm just keeping myself drugged, iced and elevated.
In my next post I will tell you how all the tips and tricks I've learned along the way have made this the smoothest, most dignified recovery I've had to date!