Friday, April 09, 2010
I not a huge proponent of whining. While I think it has its place every now and again as a means of venting, too much of it is a sure way to drive people away. So I'll be brief - I just endured 48 hours of chronic pain that even Vicodin wouldn't relieve. In an effort to distract myself at 3:30 in the morning I was surfing through SP, reading blogs, motivational spark pages, articles, etc.
All of a sudden, it hit me. I'm going to be 50 this August. That means in just 4 months! I have no idea what I weigh right now since I haven't wanted to weigh myself with a cast on, but I think I'm pretty close to the same number I've been maintaining for the past year... which is just about halfway to my ultimate goal. It only took me 4 months to lose the first half of my excess weight, why not take the next 4 months to lose the remaining half?
Sure, there are challenges: I'm on bed rest; I'll have to start walking with only partial weight bearing and gradually rehabilitate; I'm starting a job with the Census bureau (temporary) that will take up 40 hours a week and I'm not used to working full-time... BUT... surely I can work towards that goal, right?
I think the revelation I had was that I could continue to maintain, or I could start moving towards my weight loss goal at the same time that I move towards my recovery goal.
No real news flash there, but at 3:30 in the morning, it just clicked.
Now I just need to hang onto that!
Wednesday, April 07, 2010
Today marks the 1 month mark since my foot surgery; since its 1:35 in the morning, obviously I'm not sleeping much yet but I do feel a lot better than I did 2-3 weeks ago. I got my 3rd cast on yesterday and it is the best one so far, at least as far as casts go LOL.
This morning I had my son take me to Sam's Club before they opened to the public (business hours). I went to buy a walker with a seat on it, thinking maybe I could return my knee walker and use this one instead... since I have another surgery in my future (to repair my tendon) owning vs. renting could save me a lot of money. Unfortunately, I found it wasn't as easy to get around on so I'm going to keep renting. The other thing I realized was that I am not yet strong enough to start doing things. I'm supposed to be on bed rest for 2 more weeks but I've always been the type to push my limits a bit... unfortunately, my 30 minute outing wiped me out for the next 5 hours! How in the world did I loose so much stamina in 4 weeks???!!??
I have thought about doing some bed exercises but other than moving enough to prevent blood clots I find I just don't have the motivation or the energy to push myself. I hope that taking the time off to heal properly will serve me well once I do start working out again. In the meantime, I have realized that all this inactivity has stolen my mojo! Its so hard to get motivated to do anything -- pay bills, return phone calls, post on the boards -- I'm not feeling depressed (although I admittedly was a few weeks ago) but I do feel like I'm stagnating here. I'm realizing that this recovery is going to be more challenging than I originally thought - I not only have to deal with the challenges of my surgery, but there is the total loss of energy, muscle tone, and mindset that I must re-establish. When I saw my foot yesterday it was still red and swollen, bruised, and raw around the stitches. I guess I thought that cast would come off and it would look nearly normal...
My Sparkfriends on the daily chat and the Silver Spies have been keeping me going. I know I'm not posting, but I want to assure you that I am checking up on you guys . That helps me to feel like I am still connected, and helps me to keep moving forward to my goal of running again one day. Thank you!
Monday, March 29, 2010
Today is the 17th day after my surgery, significant because it was my first post-op visit to the Doctors. My monster cast came off today and was replaced by a much smaller, albeit tighter, cast. My daughter drove me to the appointment and helped me out, and acted as my photographer (so blame her if the pictures freak you out!)
Not long after arriving we were taken back to the "Cast Room" and Rosa, the doctor's assistant, started removing the tape and stocking off the top of my cast. She then returned with a saw and told me not to worry, the saw worked on vibrations and wouldn't cut me -- good thing she explained that because I was a little freaked out by the thought of her sawing on my leg! She cut the fiberglass cast from my knee down to my ankle and then from my toes to my ankle on both sides of my leg and then just pried the cut section off, like lifting a stuck lid off a pot. I held my breath, not sure what I would see... which was totally unnecessary, since all I saw was a ton of cotton wrapped in gauze. Rosa started cutting the gauze away, then the cotton, layer by layer, opening the layers up like a book, until she got down to my leg. As she pried the sides of the cast away I lifted my foot out. My foot itself was still wrapped in yet more gauze, which she then proceeded to remove. I have to admit, I got a little green around the gills when I saw all the stitches and the pin sticking out of my foot... I had to lie down and look away, and practice my Lamaze breathing! I'm including some pictures below since some people are interested, but if you're like me and they make you sick rest assured that they will be "bracketed" by simple pictures of my casts and you can quickly scroll past them without looking...
Unfortunately, right about the time I was getting queasy Rosa left and told me the uber-doc would be in to recast me shortly... wrong. I figured I might as well take advantage of the cast-free time and had brought my home scale with me... I hopped onto it and weighed myself!! I am up 2.4 lbs over my low weight, which is OK by me since this was after breakfast and while fully clothed! Almost 40 minutes later uber-doc did finally come in said everything looks very good, and proceeded to speak to my daughter about her studies and her time in China. He was thrilled to be able to speak to her in Chinese and have her reply. Most of the new casting was done with me lying on my stomach, away from the action, so the pictures helped me to understand what was done.
Phase 2 will now consist of more of the same... house arrest, toes above nose, no weight bearing, etc. for another 4 weeks. Then the pin comes out and I get a walking boot and crutches! My foot swelled up a bit in the time I was cast-free and that has made the rest of today rather unpleasant, but I'm hoping it will be better by tomorrow. The new cast is also a little tight just below my calf and if that discomfort persists i'll have to ask him to redo it...
OK - now for the pictures... I will put a break in between the cast shots and the pics of my foot, so that you can skip the graphic ones!
The cut section will lift away like the tongue of a ski boot:
Graphic pictures, followed by more cast shots:
End of graphic pictures
The new cast:
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Most everyone I know here on SP already knows that I have had my surgery. I've even posted graphic pics on FB, inspired in part by LIGHTNINGRUNNER's blogs and pics about her surgery. I've just been a bit slow at writing this blog, wondering whether or not I should even bother. In the end I've decided to do it; mostly for myself, so that I can have an outlet for my feelings as well as a record of what I'm going through.
It's 3 am and I've had about an hour's sleep tonight. Night time is the hardest for me... I get tired but the pain I feel is always worst at night. Or maybe its just that I'm able to distract myself during the day but at night I'm alone and have to deal with it more? I'm pretty good at managing pain, having had more than my share over the years... I've suffered from migraines, back spasms, torn muscles, dislocated kneecap, torn tendons, tendonitis, bursitis and assorted broken bones... but I've tried to never let those things stop me from my day to day life, or from chasing my athletic goals. This past year alone, while injured with fairly significant injuries I've run 2 marathons, 5 half marathons, 1 duathlon and 1 triathlon. Stupid? Probably. Determined? Definitely. Which makes me frustrated that the pain I feel now is interfering so much with my sleep. But enough complaining, I really set out to document what I've gone through, and to distract myself from my discomfort and insomnia.
I have torn my peroneal tendons in my left foot. As I wrote in earlier blogs, I decided to correct the alignment of my foot before I proceed with repairing the tendons - as my surgeon said, you don't put new tires on the car without having an alignment done, right? This surgery required cutting a wedge out of the bone in my heel in order to straighten it (it was strongly curved inward toward my other foot) and then cutting a bone in my big toe in order to lift it from a downward angle. The final step was cutting all of the soft tissue in my arch (tendons and ligaments) in order to flatten my arch a bit. My condition stems from being born with a club foot that was only partially corrected as a child.
I showed up at 6 am the morning of surgery at the doctor's private surgery center (of course, not covered by insurance!). The nurses were great, very calming, which was good, since I was a bit nervous. They took me back to a pre-op/post-op room, with about 8 beds and curtains between them. A few other patients were there as well getting prepped for their surgeries. I changed into a gown and they gave me a compression stocking for my other leg, which I needed help getting on. Man, was that snug! Wish I could run in that, it felt better than my compression socks... They started a saline IV and gave me a pill to minimize acid reflux, which I guess is a common side effect of anesthesia (who knew?). An aide washed my foot and leg up to my knee with a betadine scrub and then the anesthesiologist came in to talk to me. I met my surgical nurse, a kind woman named Melissa, and then the uber-doc arrived. Would you believe the first thing he asks me is whether or not the minivan in the parking lot which is for sale is mine? It was, and he starts talking to me about buying it! I told him I'd give him the price only after the surgery, provided all went well, which was good for a laugh.
He went over the details of the procedure and then marked my leg with his initials and a smiley face (was that supposed to make me feel better?). He left to get ready and the anesthesiologist gave me a nerve blocking shot just above my knee, which he said would keep me pain free for about 18 hours. I said good bye to my husband and Melissa wheeled me into the OR. My first thought was that it was freezing in there... I asked Melissa how she could stand it, and she told me they would keep a heated blanket on me during the surgery. The anesthesiologist came in and told me what he'd be doing as the nurses strapped my arms out from my sides (like in lateral shoulder raises, hehe). I remember that as soon as they did that I had an itch... luckily they let me free long enough to scratch it. We chatted a bit as they were setting all this up, but then they told me soon they would see my eyes get glassy... I don't really remember anything else, so I must have gone out pretty quickly. No counting to 10 or anything like that, just chatting and then... the recovery room.
I remember waking up from what felt like a dream... or being underwater (but without any panic)... just that feeling that I knew my thoughts were jumbled and my eyes were closed, but I really needed to try to focus and open my eyes. I could feel an oxygen mask over my nose and mouth, but I had been told that would be there so it didn't concern me. I shook the cobwebs out of my head and tried to take inventory of my body parts and my surroundings. Before a nurse could come over I realized I was in the same curtained area as I had been in pre-op, I wasn't freezing anymore, and I wasn't in any pain. I looked down at my foot and saw the biggest cast I have ever seen in my life:
(Obviously this picture was taken once I got home)
The surgeon and my husband came in and I was told that everything went very well. Once the doctor left my husband helped me get dressed and the nurses reviewed my post-op instructions one more time, and then they wheeled me out to the car.
Here are the pictures I posted on FB, taken in the OR:
My heel and arch, before:
My heel and arch after (the screws are permanent):
My forefoot before (my big toe is angled because my foot actually is turned inward and downward):
My forefoot after (the pin will be removed after 6 weeks):
My arch, after:
I was instructed to keep my foot elevated above my head ("toes above my nose" as the uber-doc put it) for 6 weeks, even when sleeping. Since my bedroom is upstairs and the doctor did not want me climbing any stairs my husband set up a bed for me in our family room. I had ordered a knee-walker instead of crutches, which arrived the day of surgery and allows me to get around but not climb stairs(also not covered by insurance, but at least its a rental). www.roll-a-bout.com/ The doctor was worried that my neck and shoulders would suffer if I had to use crutches for six weeks (due to arthritis and disk problems) and I'm glad I listened to him.
So here I am, 2 weeks post-op; I'm managing my pain most of the day but not as well at night; I'm able to get to the bathroom on my own, and I can bathe and dress myself. I can get food and drink, but I can't remain vertical for more than a few minutes at a time because I can feel my foot swelling rapidly in the cast. Swelling = pain, so elevating it is a must. All in all, not too bad. On Monday I get to go back to the the doctor and get this monstrous cast removed. They will replace it with a smaller one for the next 4 weeks. Still housebound, but at least it will be stage 2!
I'm sorry if all this bored you but I've managed to kill an hour writing it, and it sufficiently distracted me for most of that time. This was, in the end, just for me.
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
This week has been one of the more stressful weeks in a month of stressful weeks. I don't want to have a pity party of one, but sometimes life is complicated and sometimes its simple and joyous, and lately I've had a lot of the former and far less of the latter!
The thing I noticed tonight is that in spite of being on the verge of tears multiple times today AND having to bite my tongue rather than start a tirade that might not end, for the first time in a loooong time I didn't eat to cope. Wow. Let me say that again - I didn't stuff my face to stuff my feelings. Not that I didn't want to, believe me, I did. But I recognized that desire for what it really was and I chose not to act on it. That is growth. That is change. That is the miracle of SP.
I read Trainer James' blog today; I thought he wrote it for me. I read my friends' posts and thought about their problems, thereby getting out of my own head for a few minutes. I got words of encouragement from people I love (both at home and here!) and I got flowers, which made me smile.
You know what? I may not be able to erase my feelings just by wishing them away, but I don't have to pretend to erase them with spaghetti either.
I'm going to go relax with my family instead.
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