DISCLAIMER: I am writing this so that others who are, have been, or will be in this situation have some insight into what it may be like like. Everyone’s experience is different, this is just mine. I am not a doctor. I’m simply going with what my doctor has told me and my own personal preferences. I try not to get too graphic, but some of this subject matter may still be quite unpleasant to some people. Please consider yourself warned. This is a lengthy post!!
I have to admit, I’ve been feeling the urge to blog frequently, but my energy levels have just been totally depleted as of late. Maybe it’s the healing process, maybe it’s the awful heat, or maybe my body is just trying to catch up on all the rest I’ve missed for I don’t know how many months. I’ve been more active on Twitter than I have on here because, let’s face it, it’s easier to scroll through Twitter with your phone in your hand and one eye open than it is to type out a blog entry from your phone. On top of that, WordPress for Android and I, we haven’t been getting along so well.
This has been an interesting couple of weeks!
August 7th was the date that was settled on for my surgery, and I was one big giant mess to put it nicely. The closer the surgery date got, the more frantic I was. I was trying to clean like a madwoman, make sure all sorts of things were taken care of, and changing my nail polish on an almost daily basis. Yes, I’m weird. I do that when I’m stressed.
I ended up having to fast the night before which did not make for a very happy girl. Seriously, if you deprive me of my coffee or my tea, things have the potential to get ugly. But somehow, I managed with everyone around me remaining unscathed. I was scheduled to go in at 6 a.m. to prepare for surgery at 8 a.m. I was told to go in in comfortable clothes, with no nail polish, makeup, lotion or jewelry. I understand all of these requirements entirely, but talk about a blow to my girlishness, yeesh! I was the first patient to arrive at the building, and it didn’t take long before they were leading me back to change and get an IV started. The IV process, I’ll tell you, was not pleasant. The first attempt by the nurse to place the IV was on the top of my left wrist. It just didn’t go well at all, (lots of bleeding) so she moved the IV placement to the top of my left hand. Again, it wasn’t very comfortable, but it seemed to work at least initially. After some time though, they started to administer medication through the IV and that’s when we ran into trouble. I noticed a very strong burning sensation on my left forearm and looked down to find that it appeared to be swelling. Well, it wasn’t so much swelling, as medication was leaking into the tissue. Not fun folks, not fun at all. They finally switched the IV to my right hand, and all was well with that.
By this point I was pretty nervous, and the nurses could tell. I’m truly thankful that they were so sweet and patient with me. I waited for a little while, but it wasn’t too long before the anesthesiologist came in to speak with me before the procedure. She was very helpful, answered all my questions, and explained how everything was going to work. She determined that they were going to do a nerve block for me, and would only resort to something like general anesthesia if absolutely necessary. She preferred not to do that, and felt I would be just fine. (Thankfully, she was right, so no general anesthesia was necessary.) The nurse filled in the anesthesiologist on the IV incident, so the anesthesiologist decided to go ahead and give me my versed before I was wheeled in for surgery. She told me not to be nervous, and that “this will make you feel like you’ve had three margaritas” which of course, wasn’t a bad idea to me at the time! After a few moments I mentioned to her that I could feel a slight burn around the IV site. She said that’s the versed, and the burning will pass. The same moment she said that I suddenly started to feel pretty good. I remember saying “Woah. WOAH.” grinning, and that was it folks. That was it.
I seriously don’t remember a single thing from that moment on, until my mother came to get me in recovery.
Versed does not just cause sedation, but it causes a period of amnesia, so I still have no memory of the surgery or parts of a few hours afterwards. I know I was very sleepy, and a little uncomfortable, but I wasn’t feeling any pain. All I remember is immediately wanting coffee which was luckily already on the agenda for my mother (even though when we pulled up to the Starbucks drive-through, I was in the passenger seat snoring. Apparently it gave the server quite a giggle.)
I was not really in pain initially when I got home. My mom immediately helped me get into bed and we got my foot elevated. The majority of my foot was still numb from the nerve block (which actually lasted a few days). I had been prescribed ibuprofen and some hefty pain medication. Though the instructions said “take every 4 to 6 hours for pain as needed” I did not take it consistently. If I started having quite a bit of pain, I would take it, but it would knock me out or make me incredibly loopy so I didn’t like that too much. (Note: Always determine the medication routine that is best for you with your doctor. I’m not saying to do what I did, as I only did what worked best for me and my stubborn streak.) There are times when I probably should have taken it, but didn’t, because I didn’t want to sleep during the day. I wouldn’t suggest following in my footsteps.
It did not take long for me to start experiencing some serious discomfort and swelling though. I have the benefit of having an Ergo bed, which made adjusting my position incredibly easy without needing someone to grab some pillows to stack under my feet. For the first several days if I even kept my foot below my heart for any period of time, it would start to swell back up. One day it even had me a bit scared, because the entire foot was hot to the touch, painful, and felt hard as a rock. I could hardly even move my toes. Constant elevation and an ice pack were what finally brought it back to normal. Strangely enough though, a few days later it was just the opposite. It became incredibly painful, and frigid, as if I had stuck my foot in the freezer for a few minutes. Even after wrapping it in multiple extra blankets, it took a good bit of time for the temperature to return to normal. The most surprising part of both instances were that I had done nothing differently. I was in bed, relaxing, the temperature in the room was nice, and I otherwise felt fine.
During the first week and a half especially, I had to use an ice pack frequently. They did send one home with me from the hospital that I could strap to my foot, but be careful with those, as mine started to deteriorate after the first couple of days, and you really need to keep the dressing on your foot dry. (Tip: To keep your dressing dry when using an ALWAYS wrapped ice pack, place the ice pack under your knee so that it cools the blood flow to your foot without potentially getting your dressing wet. This made a world of difference for me and was much easier than trying to balance the pack on my foot. – Do NOT use an uncovered ice pack by itself!) I experienced a burning sensation at the incision site, some random painful spasms now and then, and throbbing off and on. I can’t tell you whether you will experience these things or not because, again, everyone is different. Though my doctor told me this was all normal, if you do experience something that feels strange, it is really better to call your doctor and be sure. I was not allowed to remove the dressing the first week I was home. After that I went in to the doctor and he changed my dressings and checked on the incision. After that, I was allowed to (gently) wash the incision, and to redress it myself.
Now if I haven’t said it before, I’ll say it now. I am not a graceful person. At all. I can trip on flat surfaces with nothing around, and if there is something that can be run into, some part of my body will likely discover it by accident. That being said, being on crutches just makes me one big (sort of) walking disaster waiting to happen. I have lost my balance a few times and landed on my healing foot. The first time, I caused it to start bleeding again. Thankfully after about the first four or five times I landed on it (I told you I’m not graceful!), I managed to start getting the hang of walking on crutches. Sort of. Mostly. I think. (Note: If you will need crutches, and purchase them ahead of time, I would suggest practicing with them if you’ve never used them before!) I definitely, definitely should have practiced first.
I’m now just past the two week mark from my surgery date, and things are certainly better. I still have pain, and some days it’s enough that I need to take the heavy duty pain medication, but those days are less and less now. However.. I have not made as much progress as I was hoping to have made by this point. Despite the podiatrist saying the entire healing process would likely take two months, I for some reason had it in my head that maybe, just maybe, it wouldn’t be that long. I had planned on being back up and moving around frequently, cooking, cleaning and tending to my usual mom/wife activities. Well, it hasn’t quite worked out that way. I have a pretty dark and ugly bruise on the top of my foot, presumably from the trauma of the surgery. Though the enormous green and yellow bruises from my IV spots are finally fading. I have always been a slow healer, so you would think I would have taken that into account.
Eh… not so much. I am still stuck in bed quite a bit, or on the couch, or in the recliner. I tried walking on my still healing foot for the first time two days ago. I’m not proud to admit I was tearful through the process. It hurt. It was uncomfortable, but I did it. I’m taking it slow, despite the fact that that drives me nuts to do so. Slow or not, I do see progress, and that’s what’s important. I’m truly grateful that I have my family to be there and help me out. Things would certainly be far worse without them. Despite my frustration at being out of work, I remind myself that everything happens for a reason, and on the upside it does make it a little easier to focus on recovering. Luckily my incision is healing up nicely, albeit slow, and it looks far better than I thought it would. You know, minus the pen marks the doc left there from surgery time. ;)
The best advice I can give is let yourself heal. Call your doctor if you have a question. That’s what they’re there for. If you need help, ask for it. Your health is important. I hope this was at least a little helpful to those of you dealing with this same thing. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to comment or send me an email!
Links to my other posts regarding my Morton’s Neuroma experience:
The Back Story
When It Rains It Pours