Snow

Blech, I hate snow. Why on earth did I decide to have this surgery in January in Colorado?

We’ve gotten around 15 inches of snow where I live, and of course today was the one day of the week when I have to go to work. The boyfriend was wonderful and cleaned off my car for me this morning as I was getting dressed after my shower, and I got there and through my work with no major issues (except the espresso machine wasn’t working - too cold!). Going to the (quite dark) bathroom on my way out though, one crutch landed in a bit of water and slid out from under me, and I ended up putting more weight than I’d like on my op foot to catch myself. Thank god I was in the handicapped stall and was able to grab the handle on the wall before I went down completely. Got in my car and went home with an achy heel but not seriously hurt.

My apartment complex has a little concrete ditch between the parking lot and sidewalk - easy with two feet, treacherous on crutches with more than a foot of snow. I tried to swing over it and the toe of my boot caught on the sidewalk or some snow or ice, don’t really know. My good foot landed a little too fast on solid ice/packed snow and I went down hard on my hands and knees. Thank you martial arts training, I rolled and avoided a potential broken wrist, but now I have bruises on both knees and a scrape on my good knee.

I’m planning on spending the rest of the storm sitting on my couch with ice packs, hot chocolate and netflix. I’ll play in the snow next year. Blech.

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TMI Time! All those things that no one wants to hear about

You’ve been warned… This post will be very long and contain, at the very least, discussion of my period, depression, and irrational fears.

So, first off, I’ve had my period since the day before surgery, and it’s finally over! Just a day shy of four weeks, it’s thankfully and wonderfully over! I even went to my GYN, who confirmed it was because of the blood thinners, then I was actually bleeding all the way through my cycle and had another normal period. Lucky me.

Not so TMI, but the crutches are now irritating the thumb that I sprained last spring, not to mention my hip and back are killing me. I have way more pain from those than I do in my heel.

My biggest issue right now is my depression. I’ve struggled with severe depression for my whole life, but I generally manage okay, at least when circumstances are as normal as possible. I’m one month post-op today and I feel like my life has completely fallen apart. I can’t cook, I can’t clean, I can barely shower on my own. I break down crying at least twice a day right now because I feel completely useless and my boyfriend is… well… a guy. He has his dissertation to write and workouts to do and a diet to follow, I can’t expect him to clean up after me and cook for me too. He probably would, I’m just tired of having to ask explicitly for everything. One of these days I’m going to take the boot off, strap on the iwalk and clean up the apartment, then sleep for the rest of the day.

The problem with falling into another depressive episode is that it kind of feeds off of itself. Now it takes me at least an hour to get out of bed, because getting out of bed and into the boot is exponentially harder than it was to just stumble out of bed with two working legs. It also puts me behind on homework which makes me feel like a complete failure. I can’t do enough yoga to make me feel better. I end up eating either complete crap or nothing because I can’t even carry a microwave dinner to the living room. Seriously, today I’ve eaten pretzels and cheese, a protein bar and a cup of coffee. The only good thing I can do for myself is take a bath but that is a pain and takes a lot of effort to get set up, so it’s rare too. I’m just so ready for it to be over, but being only a month in, I know I still have a long recovery ahead of me.

I also can’t get around easily right now because my car has been in the shop, being fixed from a hit-and-run 18 months ago. I thought this would be a great time to get it fixed, but I didn’t realize that the fix/waiting on the parts and insurance company would take three weeks. I hopefully get it back in the next couple days.

On top of all that fun stuff. I also find myself concerned about my incision and my circulation. The OS said I could shower with the boot off, but after he left the nurse told me to “not get it too wet”. What on earth does that mean? I’m not about to try and submerge it (at least not without a waterproof bandage - my vacocast is waterproof, you can bet that means I’m going swimming), but the OS said showering with it uncovered was okay. Nonetheless, I was able to shave and get all the dead, dyed-orange skin off the sole of my foot. It’s also hard to tell how healed my incision is between the marker that’s still there (and will likely be there for a very long time, given the “not too wet” thing) and the steri-strips covering 90% of it. Surprised those haven’t come off almost two weeks later, anyway. It’s been a month, it should be at least partially healed by now, shouldn’t it? Funny story, in the shower the last time I freaked out when I saw a dark streak under the top steri strip, until I got out of the shower and realized it was the same color as the marker, must have just started spreading from the water.

I also keep freaking out at the very normal swelling and redness in my foot and toes, because the way I knew about my DVT nine years ago was that my leg was swelling and changing color. Really, nothing is going to make that paranoia better except continually telling myself that it’s normal, it’s normal, it’s normal - that and doing calf pumps, compression socks, etc.

I think this rant and post is long enough by now… Tomorrow I’m going to leave the house, get a haircut and eyebrow wax, and maybe go dress shopping for the annual Kung Fu awards banquet that’s at the end of the month. I just need to find something that goes well with my crutches and boot ;-). I also have a KF private class which means a workout I can do, and I get to see my teacher and his wife, aka my best friends. I’m determined to make it a better day than today. Writing all this crap out helped. Thanks for following if you got this far.

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Vacocast Pro arrived today!

As I mentioned in my last post, my OS wrote a prescription for a vacocast, so after two days in the big clunky aircast, my new boot arrived. It’s about ten times more comfortable, but I’m a little concerned about circulation in it. I had a DVT because of birth control about nine years ago, and I have a narrowing in my left iliac vein (same side as my surgery) because of it. I haven’t had issues other than slight swelling occasionally because of it and have no risk factors now that I’m off the birth control. I’m on daily aspirin, wearing compression socks, doing exercises several times a day and sleeping without a boot. Logically I know I’m at less risk of DVT now than when I was in the splint, but the heat (vacocast, while softer, is definitely warmer than the aircast) and odd cramps (I assume from, you know, a new boot and weight-bearing status) keep freaking me out. It also doesn’t help that part of my foot is still slightly numb (which the OS said was normal) and for some reason I can feel where it’s numb consistently now when I couldn’t in the aircast.

I’m just ready to be done with this whole stupid thing and I’m only three weeks in :-\. At least the vacocast is a lot more comfortable.

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Day 19 - First post-op appointment

Hello everyone! I haven’t been updating because I didn’t think much had changed, but now that I look back on the last two weeks, every day was a little better. I finished my blood thinner, Xarelto, after fifteen days of feeling exhausted and weak. The switch to aspirin has been amazing. I have my energy back!

My new big issue is the incredible tension in my shoulders from the crutches that has been causing daily headaches. Fortunately the aspirin helps with the headaches too and, as of today I’m PWB, so my shoulders get a break.

On day 16 (Sunday) my splint was loose enough due to swelling going down and calf atrophy that it shifted in the night, and I had to go in to have it rewrapped on Monday. I felt silly going in to have that done, but I wasn’t allowed to take it off and some of the dressing bunched up under it, so it saved me two days of serious discomfort.

I had my first post-op on Wednesday the 4th. My splint was removed and I had an x-ray of my heel taken. Holy crap, half my heel bone is gone! My calf is tiny (3/4″ smaller diameter than my right one) and still quite yellow from the betadine, plus I haven’t shaved my leg in a month. It was definitely a sight to see.

Doctor came in with a med student, so everyone got to see my crazy hairy leg. He looked at the incision and told me it looked really good, and described the next month for me. I can be PWB as tolerated, up to 50% - standing on both feet but no walking. So far I’ve only gotten to around 25%. He put me in a boot at 15% plantar flexion. I requested the vacocast pro and took my old aircast (from when my mom broke her ankle) to wear for the first few days until the vacocast arrives tomorrow. OS had never heard of it before and was intrigued, wrote me a prescription for it so hopefully my insurance will cover it.

He told me I can sleep and shower with nothing on, as long as I’m comfortable with it and I don’t get the incision too wet, and make sure it’s completely dry before putting the boot back on. Last night I tried to jury rig a splint that would be comfortable and smaller than a boot just for comfort, but I ended up taking most of it off and sleeping in just a sock and a gauze pad. It went better than expected and it was nice to sleep without a splint or boot or anything.

I had the stitches taken out, which was not the most fun thing I’ve ever done. I’ve never had stitches before and the feeling of having them pulled out made me kind of nauseous, even though I’m pretty good with pain. The nurse cleaned it up and replaced the stitches with steri strips. It’s a little more irritated now than it was before, but it’s not even to the point where I’d call it painful, and I think that’s to be expected, going from a well padded splint to just a sock in a boot.

After some fiddling with the wedges, the nurse got me in the old aircast, which is what I’m still in right now. Next challenge - shower without getting the incision too soaked. I’m thinking using the cast bag over my foot and ankle until the very end. That way I can finally shave and make my leg be the right color again! I think I covered everything for now. I’m going to attempt to make another post with the photos I took yesterday, but we’ll see how that goes. For now, here is an imgur album with all the pics I’ve taken so far. Bonus pictures of my splint and happy toe from surgery day.

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Day 6 - out and about!

I wore jeans today! Between the splint itself and the space/padding they put around my heel and incision, I’ve been too nervous about the pain to try and tug anything but loose pajama pants over my foot. Today, my boyfriend and I went to the grocery store (yay for electric carts!)  and I wore jeans!

Aside from the store, I did some schoolwork at a cafe yesterday, since it’s next to impossible for me to work while lying on the couch. I only lasted an hour but it was great to be out on my own - I’m even driving since I’ve been off pain meds since day 3. We also did some shopping, again with me in an electric cart, on day 4, but that was rough and I got a bit irritable at my boyfriend by the end. On day 2 I definitely overdid it - I had friends taking care of me while my boyfriend was working, and “I’ll buy if you take me to a cafe to pick up coffee” turned into, “let’s go on a 2-hour adventure that includes shopping, lunch and coffee” and I’m too non-confrontational to say anything. Tired as I was, I got through that day with no ill effects.

One thing I have to say, I’m REALLY glad and grateful to my Sifu that I’m in good shape. I’ve been doing martial arts for two years now, and I’ve realized that being able to get around, including getting up off the floor, using my arms and one leg is not something that everyone can do.

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Question - asking my doctor about a different boot?

So this is a potentially stupid question. I’m currently 4 days post-op and am in a posterior splint, and will stay that way until my first appointment in 15 days. At that point I will most likely transition to a boot, and my OS uses the Aircast Select Elite, however I’ve been in an aircast before and absolutely hated it. I’d love to try the vacocast, but honestly I don’t know how to ask my doctor about it. I’m going to assume that they don’t have them in the office there and would have to order one if he’s okay with it, meaning at least a few more days in a splint, but he’s going to have to remove the splint to check the incision, right? Will they re-apply the splint for a couple days? Should I somehow call and ask about it before my appointment? How exactly does that work?

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Post-op day 2

Yesterday was uneventful - my boyfriend had a Kung Fu class so my mom came down and we went through a coffee shop drive through. I learned quickly that I need a pillow under my foot to ride in the car, at least for right now. The vibrations from the road are incredibly painful, and I can’t hold my leg up in the air for terribly long. Fortunately I have quite the stock of pillows. Aside from that, she painted my toenails and we watched a movie. Pain was bearable because the block was still partially working.

Recovery is going better than expected. Block is probably 90% worn off now, can move my toes and flex my calf muscles, and have minimal tingling  still, mostly in my toes. I figure I probably shouldn’t be moving and flexing too much, but it feels nice to while I can. I’m pretty drugged up on my wonderful combo of Percocet, Valium, Zofran and Xarelto.

Unfortunately, those have some annoying side effects, including nausea, which is what the Zofran is for. Another really annoying one is pretty TMI - I started my period the day before surgery, making this day 4, and it’s still remarkably heavy because of the blood thinner, Xarelto. That one is not optional, though. I had a blood clot at 18 and I don’t want to risk another one. I’m also exhausted and dizzy from the percocet and valium. I slept like the dead last night though.

Today I went “out” with a couple friends, husband and wife, and took a pillow this time. By out, I mean I sat in the car and chatted with him while she returned a pair of pants, then we had lunch at Noodles and Company and coffee at a good local shop. I walked with my normal crutches for maybe three blocks total, then fell asleep in the car on our way back to my place. When I got home, I fell asleep for an hour or so and woke up to take more percocet. I’m still learning a good balance of meds that will keep me from being in too much pain, but not cause too much zombie-ness or stomach issues. So far it’s worked out to take Zofran every 6 hours, 1 - 1.5 percocet every 4 hours, Xarelto daily as prescribed, and Valium when I go to bed, partially to help me sleep and partially to keep my leg from twitching while I’m trying to sleep.

Something kind of unrelated, but it affects my healing is that my depression seems to be on the upswing. That’s why I’m trying to get out and do things with friends, to take care of myself mentally before I sink too deep. Depression has been huge in my life and I’ve been doing better with my injury to distract me. In a few days when I’m past the constant elevation/ice stage, I’m going to try out this video for yoga in a cast. The teacher is one week post-ATR, so I’m hoping to have some luck and a way to get a little workout. I’m also starting the last semester of my AA in two days. That should keep me busy too.

My depression is telling me that I’m talking too much and I need to shut up, so I’m going to listen this time and end this before I ramble more. Good night!

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Haglund’s Surgery Day

Well, it’s done! I had my Haglund’s excision surgery at 7:15 this morning, and was out and home by 10.

I arrived at the surgery center with my boyfriend at 6:15 and had to sign the last few papers, mostly making sure I had followed pre-op instructions, had a ride home, and was asked for the first of many times what they were operating on. My mom arrived a few minutes later, then a very sweet nurse named Carly took me back. She weighed me, had me use the restroom, then had me change into a gown and get in bed. She gave me a pill for acid reflux, which they ended up having to give me through the IV because I’m terrible at pills. She went over my medical history, took vitals, asked what they were operating on, and placed an IV. She also marked which leg they were doing, including adding a smiley face to my big toenail on that foot :). I have no idea why, but that made me feel a lot better.

While she was placing the IV in my hand, the anesthesiologist came in and, again, asked me what they were operating on and how I was. I’m afraid I was a little rude, trying to make a joke about how I’d be better when she was done with my hand. I’m not good with needles either… stupid veins. He explained that they were going to do a two-part anesthesia - general during the surgery, and a nerve block he would put in the back of my leg to make my lower leg go numb. As appreciative as I am of the block now, I freaked out a bit because of the size of the needle. The nurse gave me something through the IV, my mom thinks Versed, that helped calm me down and from that point on, things start getting hazy. I also got a local anesthetic. Apparently I bled a lot from the block, and it scared me when I saw that on the bed sheets.

My boyfriend came back to give me a kiss (aww), the OS came by, though I don’t remember seeing him, and a nurse introduced herself and said she would be the one in the OR. I remember being in the OR and moving from the stretcher to the table, then someone telling me to readjust, getting a pillow, and the anesthesiologist putting a mask on me. After that, I woke up in the recovery area in a nice big splint, got something for nausea, some ice chips, and before I knew it I was getting dressed and on my way home.

The surgeon went out to talk to my boyfriend and mom as I was waking up, and told them that the bump was larger than he expected, so he removed more bone, but he didn’t have to lift much of my tendon, so I should be walking earlier than the original estimate. I’ll call that good news.

My discharge instructions are pretty straightforward, except for one thing - The paper says I can be PWB and may use crutches, but I was told NWB until my first post-op appointment on 2/4, and my splint is not exactly begging to be walked on. I have Percocet for when the block wears off, which has yet to happen. I have to admit, it’s very weird to not be able to feel or move my lower leg. I love that I don’t have narcotic side effects yet though. However, the muscle tiredness and random tingling are kind of weird. I wouldn’t even know I had an incision if I wasn’t told ahead of time.

My day since getting home has been uneventful. Lots of water and food, hanging out with my mom and boyfriend. Looks like there is a lot of that in my future. I hopefully move from the splint to a boot in just under 3 weeks, on 2/4.

That’s all there is to report for now. I saved as much detail as I could because I feel like my memory of the day is slipping slowly - I know I remembered the trip from pre-op to the OR earlier, but now I can’t recall. We’ll see how much of this I remember after a night’s sleep.

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Pre-op appointment and getting ready

After what seems like a lifetime of waiting, my surgery is in less than a week. My pre-op appointment was about a week ago, nothing terribly exciting to say about that. I got the paperwork for a temporary handicap parking pass and all my prescriptions: Percocet, Zofran (because the Percocet makes me sick), and Valium (for muscle spasms) to take as needed, and a blood thinner called Xarelto to take while I’m in the splint, because I’ve had a blood clot in the past. Those are all picked up and clearly labeled because I’m planning to be kind of out of it for a bit and have a variety of different people taking care of me for the first couple days.

My OS said he’s going to go in through the side of my heel and lift the tendon, rather than going through it, meaning ideally a shorter recovery. I’ll be in a splint for a minimum of 19 days (my first post-op), and depending on how that goes, I’ll move to either a boot or a hard cast. If all goes well and he doesn’t have to lift too much tendon, I could be PWB at that time.

In the meantime, my manager (I’m a barista) is putting me on his sitting down admin work so I can still get hours in, and I’m finishing the last few classes I need to get my AA.

I have a pair of crutches with wonderful padding - figured all that out when I was NWB during the “conservative treatment” phase. I ordered the iWalk 2.0 for time outside and on my feet - it drove me crazy to not have my hands. That should arrive in a couple days and then I’ll play with it and see if it will work out. I’ve cooked some freezer-friendly meals that I can just pop in the microwave when I’m hungry, and my apartment is on its way to being spotless and crutches-friendly. I have a schedule set up of who will be with me for the first couple days, and I have books, video games, TV shows and cross stitch to keep me occupied when I’m not sleeping or high on Percocet. I have a shower chair, hand-held shower head and a cast cover for showering.

All this while working 45 hours a week because half our staff  was on vacation over Christmas, which is why I had to wait so long to do the surgery in the first place - bar trained staff are in great demand for us right now and I would have left the store with a staff of two people if I had done it earlier. Needless to say, 45 hours a week on my feet is incredibly painful, especially since I can’t take anything other than Tylenol in the days before my surgery. Rather than cleaning or cooking, I’m currently sitting on my butt, typing a blog and watching Doctor Who with an ice pack on my heel.

I think this is probably long enough for the time being - I may update once more before my surgery but I think that’s all for right now. If anyone has suggestions for things I may be missing to make my life easier in the NWB, drugged up phase, let me know.

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Workouts?

It seems that a lot of people who end up with achilles injuries are very active people, so I can’t be the only one who is going nuts not being able to do my usual workouts. I have been taking the occasional Kung Fu class and doing just what I can (mostly working on technique slowly and gently, so not a whole lot), and I’ve been doing yoga at home but even the stretching and balancing - pretty much all of yoga - is getting painful now.

What have others done to work out when either NWB or PWB, or if anyone has been in the pre-surgery but in pain period like me, what can you do to at least get something in? I’m pretty good with upper body (can still do pushups, etc), but I’m concerned about losing strength in my lower body, and I always need cardio. I know swimming is recommended a lot and I could do that (I think), but I’m a terrible swimmer and I’d need some direction on where to start.

Thanks in advance!

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