Friday, December 23, 2016

It's the little things

X-rays of Terri's TAR
A soaking hot bath. To get up in the middle of the night and walk (not roll) to the bathroom. To sleep on my side.

Total ankle replacement (TAR) is keeping me from the little things right now. But soon, I hope, like 842 other people who are on a closed ankle replacement Facebook group, to walk with no pain. Of course, that will come after my second ankle replacement on my right foot.

On Dec. 9 at Rush Orthopedic Hospital in downtown Chicago, I put my trust in a young surgeon and his team to totally replace my ankle. I stayed over night one night and was drugged to the hilt. I do not tolerate pain killers well and spent the next couple of days in vomitus.

In hospital, a physical therapy team made me practice on my crutches and one of them had to carry a vomit bucket behind me the whole time. It felt like they made me walk to Indiana and back, but in truth, it was to the third exit sign, which was far enough. Believe me.

Blisters from surgical tape
I went home with a nerve blocking pump taped to my left thigh. And that was the worst of my problems after I quit taking the pain pills on Sunday. Turns out (which I knew and conveyed) that I am extremely allergic to surgical tape. The pump malfunctioned on Sunday, and luckily a home health care nurse was there to pull it out. By that evening, blisters were forming on my thigh. In two days, after emailing the photos to my doctor, he told me go to an urgent care center to the blisters looked at. Infections following joint replacement surgery are frowned upon.

My question is, how much am I paying for a pump that malfunctioned and then sent me to an urgent care center. That's a question for the insurance company, I guess.

Off comes the dressing

Candy-cane cast

Within a week of my surgery, I was back at the hospital getting a cast. I asked for candy cane because I had seen it on my above mentioned Facebook group. Sadly, I'm not going out much to show it off.

In case you wonder, I'm writing this for me. So I can know what will happen the next time I get this done. Think of this as a diary. And you are just reading it, you little sneak.

My husband is taking good care of me. When the housecleaner came on Wednesday, we had to get out of the house. We drove to get my handicap sticker, which he went in and picked up, and then to a movie. (La La Land; very whimsical.)

I was sitting with my leg up in the back seat as instructed, but you know, that made me car sick. Probably because I was looking at my phone. I rode in the passenger seat on the way back, which I think suited both of us better.

Here's what I know:

  • I suck at crutches.
    Bonus photo
  • I'm pretty damn good on a knee roller, though long distances can be difficult.
  • I feel I might be losing my upper body strength, and certainly my left thigh and calf look like a noodle.
  • I feel like I can eat anything I want and not gain weight, but that is so untrue because I have seen myself in the mirror. 
  • I can get by with a shower about every three days. (But this is not my preference.)
  • I am not good at keeping up with my home health exercises. Never have been; never will be.
  • I haven't gone to the gym since Dec. 2. How can I really?
  • I'm a good patient (according to Bob).
  • I'm dreaming almost nightly that I'm walking with my cast on and hope my doctor doesn't find out.
  • I'm not as young as I used to be when I've had ankle operations. Just as I can no longer whip a 40-pound bag of dog food over my shoulder, I find it tough to lug a one-hundred-and-muffled-sound woman around on crutches, off the couch, off the toilet seat.
  • A toilet seat with hand holders is an absolute must. (But be sure to use both rails, lest you topple over, which I've done twice.)
  • A good man/woman/relative/friend/service animal is necessary to survive.

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