Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Not Feeling Thankful (Surgery Update)

 Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and, I won't lie, I'm struggling a little bit this year to feel thankful. 2021 has been a hard year, I've had a hard few months, and it might just be that my mental health (despite the anti-depressants) has taken a hit. Even so, knowing why I feel low doesn't really seem to be helping me feel better. Add to all the chaos that I seem to have lost interest in most of my hobbies of late and I'm a bit of a thankless mess.

My surgery recovery is still slow and when I talked to my doc last Friday (11/19) he said that it can take up to 3-4 months before most people feel even 80% better, and up to a whole year before most people are completely back to normal. While I kind of knew that because all I have to do lately is research every little tiny thing on the internet until I fall into a never-ending internet rabbit hole, to hear it come out of his mouth was tough. 

They did take out the staples, so that's positive, but that process is painful. The nurse who took the staples out said some people pass out, others ask to go to the OR and be put under for the staple removal (which they do not do), while others still cry. I sat and took it like a champ, or at least she says so, though maybe they say that to everyone so they feel better about the situation. She did happen to mention to me, when she had just two of the 31 staples out, that the lower extremities (legs & feet) are the most painful for staple removal, so that's fun. Here she is passing along that info when they still had 29 staples to go. At least they're all super nice and knowledgeable in that office, which always manages to make me feel better.

I got a removable splint, which it turns out is just the same thing as all the other splints, just without the annoying cotton padding. It's still like a million layers of stuff... okay, like five, but it feels like more than that when we're taking it off so I can shower. And, hubs is having to remove the steri-strips from the wound, which is super ouch, and replace them with new ones every time I shower. That hurts as much, if not more, than having the staples pulled. It is gruesome. 

And, just for shits and giggles, my foot is literally flaking away. The top layer of skin has been white and dry and cracking since just after the surgery, but now it's even worse. I put lotion on it and my foot just laughed... like mustachio villain laughter, and proceeded to try to shed the whole top layer of skin. It looks, and feels, pretty disgusting. So yeah, fun times.

Overall, I think my recovery is actually coming along pretty nicely. Most of the pain is just about gone, except the aching in my right side when I move my leg certain ways, but that's where the plate and screws are, so I'm guessing that's normal. I go back on December 10th for the 6 weeks post op appointment where they'll take 3 more x-rays and see how it's healing. If it's healing nicely, they'll put me in the walking boot and I'll transition to partial weight bearing. And... I. Am. Terrified. 

When the splint was off so I could bathe, my foot felt so wobbly and unstable. I've also read online that a lot of people who have this procedure have pain when walking after prolonged non-weight bearing. By that point, I will have not put much/any weight it for almost 8 weeks, 6 weeks of which were total non-weight bearing after my surgery. So yeah, I'm looking forward to being able to put both feet on the ground again, but I'm scared to actually put my surgically repaired foot on the ground again.

Add the whole broken leg, surgical repair healing, to the fact that the year started off with having to put my dog to sleep, then in the summer I spent almost two months with a severe upper respiratory infection, then we planned a trip to AZ which we ended up having to cancel, and this year has been something of a dud. So this Thanksgiving, I am struggling hard to feel anything but depressed. Especially when you consider that being a little bit helpless for the last almost two months has got me feeling some kinda way about life. I can't put up my Christmas tree, I can't stand up in our tiny kitchen long enough to cook a Thanksgiving meal... or almost any meal, really. It's got me down.

All I can think to be thankful for is my amazing husband who has been so loving and supportive, taking care of me through this broken leg ordeal. He really is my hero. And, of course, for my friends and for having an online, part-time teaching job that I really enjoy and that allows me to continue working through this time of healing. Finally, I'm thankful that this year is almost over. Hopefully next year will be better. Fingers crossed. For now, I leave you with another gruesome picture of my healing foot.

4 weeks post opp, after the staples came out

Monday, November 15, 2021

3 Weeks Post-Op

Tomorrow has been 3 weeks since my open reduction, internal fixation ankle surgery and I'm still in pain, which is a little bit surprising to me. I know it takes longer than 3 weeks for a bone to heal and my leg has to heal around the 10 screws the doc drove into my bone, but I'm a little concerned about the continued ache that doesn't seem to be improving much day-by-day. With that said, the pain is actually so bearable that I'm not even taking Tylenol for it at this point. So, that's a blessing.

My little sister went home on Saturday, so it's just me and Matt again, but he's doing such an amazing job helping me. He's even taken Friday (11/19) off work to take me to my next orthopedist appointment. They're going to take out the 31 staples and give me a removable splint, so I'm pretty excited for that appointment. Scared, too, about the pain, but excited. I think that some of the continued pain I'm feeling is actually the staples, so the sooner they go the better. By that appointment, those staples will have been in my leg 24 days.

I also still have little zings of pain here and there, little twitches and stabs. I read that's normal and my doctor didn't seem too concerned about that, so I'm trying not to worry about it. One of the biggest problems I'm continuing to have is the painful skin on the top of my foot which is not at all improving, but seems to be worsening. My doc says it's the packing, which I absolutely believe. With the staples out and the removable splint, I'm hoping that I can put some lotion on my foot and start the healing there. My skin is so dry on the top of my foot it's white, cracking, and flaking. It's pretty gross.

Overall, I'm trying to keep everything in perspective but being in constant pain for the last 6 weeks since I broke is has been tough on my mental health (thank goodness for the Fluoxetine!). I'm just looking forward to the day it's no longer hurting, until them I'm hanging in there.

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

I Had Surgery...

My little sister, Candi, is in the kitchen frying bacon for the mac and cheese and it smells amazing. She's been here since last Thursday afternoon because I'm a bit of an invalid right now. I'm in my bed with my leg up and can't really do much more than that since my surgery. I'm kind of stuck in my bedroom since the stairs that broke my leg are holding me hostage. Let me explain.

I met with the sports med doctor about my broken ankle and he was very helpful. Not only was he nice, but he was able to explain to me exactly what was wrong and why I would need surgery. It turns out the break is much worse than they told me in Instacare. It's broken in two places and disassociated in another, and my tendons are messed up. So, I made an appointment to see the surgeon the following Friday when he's back from vacation. 

Well, on Monday, October 25th, the surgeon called me personally and told me he doesn't need to see me for a consult. He said, "Come on in tomorrow and let's do this." So, I had surgery on the evening of October 26th with a very lovely surgeon who apparently does this surgery several times a week. He says it's pretty common. I was absolutely terrified, but I managed it without much more than a little hypertension and anxiety. It was outpatient, but we ended up being at the hospital's same day surgery unit from about 2:45pm until about 11pm and I felt awful when I went home. 

I had an Open Reduction, Internal Fixation procedure. They cut my leg open on both sides, installed some titanium hardware (Stryker plate and screws) to get everything back together, and then stapled me closed. The surgery went well with no complications and they did a nerve block in my leg so I wouldn't have any post-op pain until the next day. Let me say right now, the nerve block was just gross. Not being able to feel your leg at all is extremely uncomfortable. I would have to think pretty hard about whether I'd do that again.

For the first almost two weeks, I was in a serious amount of pain and on some pretty strong painkillers. After that, I just dealt with the pain and took a little bit of Tylenol, but I've been in bed with my leg up for almost two weeks, except when I have to use the restroom. Thank goodness I had the foresight to buy a knee scooter early because there is no way in hell I could crutch around here. 

But, since the surgery, I've also been stuck in my bedroom most of the time because I'm not allowed to put any weight on my leg for 6-weeks. That doesn't sound that long, but not being able to walk on two legs for a month and a half is proving to be a challenge. I can't clean my house, cook meals, do my laundry. I can't drive myself anywhere (right leg break). I can't even get into the shower by myself. It's ridiculous. Necessary, but ridiculous. 

Of course, Matt doesn't clean and can't cook, so my house devolved into a total disaster and we were eating a ton of DoorDash, which is crazy pricey! This is where Candi comes in. She offered to come stay with me for a week to help clean up my place, cook meals, and take care of me. Thank goodness she's here, she's been amazing help. She even took me to my follow-up doctor appointment this week when Matt's work schedule changed and he wasn't able to take me. She cleaned up my house, so it isn't super gross, and has been great company. Since she lives in Arizona, I hardly see her. And, since our trip to Arizona got cancelled on account of this broken leg, I was so bummed about not being able to see my family. So, this has been great!!

At my follow up I found out that I'm healing up great, they took new x-rays to see how it's progressing, and I don't have any infection or swelling anymore. They re-splinted it with a lighter splint, so that's all good news. Turns out I have 31 staples in my leg, though, that's going to be taken out at my 4-week appointment next Friday. I'm scared about that because I feel like it's going to hurt, but also excited to get the staples out so I can be more comfortable. After the appointment, though, I was sooooooo exhausted. Turns out, if you're not doing a damn thing for weeks, getting up to actually do something is rough! 

Sadly, Candi is leaving to go home to Arizona on Saturday afternoon, so I'll be on my own with Matt again at that point. I'm a little scared about what we'll eat, or the house devolving into chaos again, but I'm hopeful that it'll be just fine. Matt's been amazing through this whole thing, taking such great care of me. The care he's shown me through this whole ordeal (and it has certainly been an ordeal) has gone a long way to healing some of the wounds I've been feeling about him working on our milestone anniversary (20th anniversary!). He loves me, it's clear he does in the way he's cared for me this past month. He's a great husband. 

With that, I leave you with this lovely image and the hope that the pain will really start to subside in the next few weeks!