Surgery - Monday 15th August 2016

I have an irrational fear of doctors and hospitals.  I faint when I give blood.  My blood pressure shoots up as soon as I enter a hospital.  And I already had one arm in a cast.  The cast on my left arm managed to cause huge confusion all day - as everyone assumed I was there to have my arm operated on.

The hospital was excellent.  The nurses were excellent.  The surgeon laughed when he saw my arm was in a cast.  I booked in at 12 noon and had a long wait until the op took place around 4,30pm.  The op was scheduled to take around an hour.  When I do general anaesthetic I get my money’s worth and do not regain my senses for hours.  Around 8pm I remember re-joining the world.  But, without any feeling in my left leg as they had put a nerve block in.  I had never  heard of a "block" before.  There was also a cage over my legs to protect them from the blankets.  The open ward was very entertaining with 4 drugged up men, incapable of doing anything for themselves.  A microcosm of life?

I had an okay night’s sleep but, was surprised / alarmed that I could still not feel my leg when I woke up.  The nurse asked me to wiggle my toes and I couldn’t even wiggle my leg.  But, she confirmed that my toes were still there.  Feeling in my leg gradually returned during the morning.  The surgeon later mentioned that in some cases the block can take much longer to wear off.  That must be quiet concerning.

A physio came to talk to me mid-morning.  She organised a smart crutch for my left arm as this is also in a cast.  The smart crutch puts the weight on the forearm instead of the wrist.  It take a few seconds to put on and take off which becomes  irritating, but might be an option where the patient has weak wrists.  She then gave me the 60 second introduction to the use of crutches and gave me 3 exercises to do to keep my muscles active.

Around lunchtime the surgeon appeared and told me that the procedure went as planned.

He then told me something that improved my mental state dramatically.  He mentioned that there were signs of degradation on the tendon and that it could have snapped at anytime.

I immediately thought back to the previous few months when I had decided to do some park runs.  A quick 5km run to do a bit of cross training.  During these runs I would get a very sore calf, but would just run through it telling myself it was just a fitness issue.  I have never been a runner.  So on any of these runs the Achilles was probably seconds away from popping.  All the warning signs were there, I just didn’t realize.  I had never previously met anyone with ATR, although now that I have ATR all my friends know of people that have.  There needs to be a "before you get your ATR" blog site.  I now bore everyone about stretching and eccentric calf muscle exercises.  Though if you were to plan your ATR, you would also move to a house with no stairs and get an automatic car, as well as a total bathroom re-design.  And never play tennis, squash, basketball or whatever sports racquet ball or shuttle something may be.

So after lunchtime day 1 I was wheel chaired out of the hospital and on my way home to get used to 4 weeks in a cast.  The first 2 of which are to be NWB.  So, I went home and slept.  On days 2 and 3 I also slept.  Fortunately there was no pain.  Despite having been warned I became horribly constipated after 3 days.  A combination of the drugs and the lack of physical activity.

3 Responses to “Surgery - Monday 15th August 2016”

  1. Robert,
    I really like your humorous attitude in your writing! I chuckled few times reading your entries. I do not envy you - with both of your left limbs injured, but it looks like you got some good care with the smart crutches/PT daughter and wife. It’s also interesting that they kept you in the hospital after your surgery. From what I read most places do it outpatient. Keeping patient overnight, especially after applying nerve block, seems logical to me.

    Hope you are doing well and your recovery is coming along!

  2. Hi Agnes,

    Thank you for the feedback.

    Into week 3 (post op) now. And I am starting to feel more “normal”. I started using the iwalk 2.0 on Friday and can now manage 90% of things for myself. I am enjoying not feeling totally useless. It’s horrible when you are totally dependent on everyone else. Its surprising nice to be able to cook a meal and then also be able to carry it to the table.

    I found that coping with this experience is 90% mental. I really battled to accept what was happening during the first week. After the operation I managed to accept what lay ahead over the next few months and have been far more positive since then. I must just accept it and move on.

    Compared to some of the awful experiences that I have read on the website I am lucky - only 2 limbs in casts! I am also lucky that I work from home, so haven’t had any pressure of having to be at work.

    I have my first follow up visit on Thursday. I am expecting to be in a cast for another 2 weeks (4 weeks in total). The PWB discussion will be interesting. I feel that the protocols in South Africa are more conservative.

    I have started to try and do some exercises everyday. This is helping the mind as much as the body. I am surprised how tired I still feel during the day. The body is still recovering.

    I hope that you are doing well. You are a few weeks ahead of me, so I find your blogs a motivational goal for me. Apart from mowing the lawn.

    Keep the recovery going.

  3. Glad to hear that you are getting hang of things. Things are really getting better after the first few weeks. 2 limbs in a cast that’s quite an experience. Kudos to you for hanging in there!

    You can always discuss with your doc other protocols and he/she might adjust your timelines based on your progress of healing. I know we tweaked things here and there in my protocol.

    And the tiredness will slow down. I felt it too in early weeks. The workouts definitely helped with that, but listening to the body in the early weeks is important and take as much rest as possible will help. Especially that your body is fighting 2 injuries at the same time.

    Good luck this Thursday!

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