In a city where gay marriage is no more taboo than jaywalking, where “green” is not a color but rather a way of life, where the political parties are Democratic and Progressive, conservative ideas are alive and well. Where? My orthopedic surgeon’s office at Kaiser Permanente. Oh no, no. Don’t get me wrong. Everybody who works there still embodies left-of-center ideals, still hates Bush with a passion. But when it comes to the healing process of my Achilles tendon rupture, they are probably more conservative than McCain would ever be!
Now, before I start offending any more people, I should explain. I went in for my third post-operation exam last Wednesday. After reading about all the varieties of treatments our bloggers have had, I was prepared to ask about the next step. My progress so far seems to be normal. A week after the operation, I went in, had the stitches removed, had my foot put in an “equinus” position (which makes me think of a horse for some reason, but in this case, means having my foot pointed downward), had a cast put on, done. Two weeks later, had the cast removed, had my foot pushed more toward neutral, had a cast put on, done. Rinse, lather, repeat. I had a feeling that my third meeting, which was 5 weeks after my operation, would probably be same, but I was hoping for something more. Obviously, I haven’t take a survery (but now I kinda wish I did), but based on everybody’s blogs, it seemed to me that a lot of people were moving on to partial weight bearing or a boot or whatever by the fifth or sixth week, if not earlier. I started to have fantasies of a boot, something I can remove, so longingly, I was like a man shipwrecked on a deserted island, fantasizing about the first thing he’d do once he got back to civilization.
After sawing off my cast, my doctor did a few flexes, a few squeezes, and said how wonderfully everything was healing. I looked back at my leg (I was lying on my stomach) and what I saw was anything but wonderful. It looked disgusting! Scabs. Swelling. Colored splotches. I knew he was probably right, but I still felt it kinda funny how anyone would look at my leg, in all its puffy scabbiness, and call it “wonderful.” But I digress. Since everything was looking so wonderful, I decided to talk about … the boot. With full confidence, I started:
“So, everything looks great, huh?”
“Yup. I did a pretty good job if I don’t say so myself.”
“Awesome. So, doc, you know, I’ve been reading online …”
“Uh-huh.” (with that “huh” part dragging out a little longer than I wanted to hear, and that dip in intonation)
“… and it seems like a lot of people move on to a boot or something by the fifth or sixth week, so …”
“Yeah, but we don’t do that.”
The directness of his statement almost stopped me dead in my tracks. A quick left jab I wasn’t expecting. I was hit, but not down, so I pressed on.
“Well, yeah, I know we’re not doing that today. But I’m thinking at the next meeting, we’ll be switching, right? By that time, it will have been seven weeks and …”
“I don’t recommend it.”
Another quick left jab, but this one quicker … and left-er (if that makes any sense) and harder. But I wasn’t finished. A change of tactic then.
“Huh. So, why is that? I mean, I’m sure there’s tons of ways to recover from this thing, but it just seems …”
“Well, it’s how the operation is done, for one thing. When we operate on your Achilles, we don’t depend on the sutures to strengthen the tendon. We make sure to connect the tendon well, but let the body heal itself. I think this works best. It’s organic. It’s your own strength, so you’re not depending on something we put in you. I’ve had years of experience on this and this way has been very successful.”
Each one of his statements were like blows to the head and the last one was the knockout punch. I was down for the count. Weakly, I tried to come back.
“In my opinion, it would be an unwise decision to move on to a boot so soon.”
My best defense at the time was wanting to say, “But I want to be unwise ….” But I realized how stupid that sounded. The bell rang. The champion was declared. I lost.
He said I would probably be in a cast, getting around with crutches for another 4 weeks, bringing the non-weight bearing total to 9 consecutive, excruciating weeks. Sensing my despair, he conceded that his methods were indeed more conservative, but they have shown excellent results. I know I should listen to him. The last thing I want is for something to go wrong. I think I really would go insane if I re-ruptured during this process and I felt so sorry, angry, and terrified when I read about that happening to a couple of our bloggers here. But at the same time, I really don’t look forward to 4 more weeks of climbing three flights of stairs in my elevator-less apartment building; 4 more weeks of this long shower ritual I now need to go through that I’m sure everyone’s familiar with; 4 more weeks of feeling the pain of my foot swelling against a hard cast. OK, time to remind myself: Happy thoughts! Happy thoughts! Sunshine! Smile! Celine Dion!
He said that at our next meeting, he’ll test me out. Mentioned something about a walking cast, possibly a boot if I can remain at neutral, but most likely not. Nine weeks in a cast and on crutches. Sounds extremely conservative to me. Has anybody else’s doctor prescribed that?
Oh, and by the way, after last week’s Get Smart, this week I saw The Diving Bell And The Butterfly on DVD. Wonderful story. Very inspirational. You get to see just how strong the human spirit can be. It’s the true story of Jean-Dominique Bauby, former editor of French Elle magazine, who suffered a terrible stroke that left him nearly completely paralyzed. Yet with optimism and determination, he was able to write a memoir using only blinking as his way of communication. A must see. It made me forget about my troubles for the day … until I had to shower. =P