And just like that a whole week has already passed.
First, a quick status report for those who are not one of the three regular readers of my daily musings and minutiae. As best I can tell, my heel is healing pretty well but I really won’t know how the incision looks until my appointment next week. By 24 hours after surgery, the swelling in my foot was way down and has remained that way. I never had pain that was greater than a mild to moderate soreness. I took Tylenol for only the first 3-4 days and never used Percocet. I did everything I was told and kept my leg elevated above my heart almost all the time, including when sleeping, and iced the back of my knee the first few days. I’m now up and about much more, have been on daily knee scooter walks and have got an upper body strength/core routine on the floor going on. Most importantly, my spirits have been pretty good all week and I’m feeling positive about things.
Week 2 is going to look much the same just with longer scooter walks. Typically most people have a follow up appointment one week post surgery where the incision is examined and a fresh cast put on. This was going to be complicated for me given that my doctor is in Lakeland but Husband has to do Essential Things Without Pay this week in Jacksonville while the shutdown drags on. My doctor however didn’t think I needed to come in unless there was a problem. He’s away this week anyway, so my first follow up isn’t until January 29. I’m incredibly excited about the idea that I might be cleared to get in the pool next week if the incision has fully healed. At a minimum, I hope I can transition to a boot and be allowed to put my right leg in the shower. I should probably however go in with the expectation of another cast for another week. In any case, I still have another 3-5 weeks of non weight bearing to go.
Now for a few thoughts from Week 1….
You Need Someone to Help. This is the single most important thing by far if you are going to have this kind of surgery. Ideally, you need someone who you are totally comfortable with hoisting your naked (except for your cast) body out of the shower when you can’t get out. After a few days of non weight bearing, you figure almost everything out, but the first day or two is rough. You’re a little in shock and hazy from the surgery and that affects motor skills and confidence. The adjustment period is quick but for the first day or two, you need someone to help you get up and down and around and get your food ready. I can’t overstate how much Husband has helped me this last week. I’m totally independent in the house now and just need him to help me down the steps and drive, but the first couple of days he did almost everything. It also helps that he’s my favorite person in the whole world.
Good Physical Fitness Helps. Once I started moving around more, I realized how fortunate it was that the rest of my body is in great shape. Having the strength to stabilize and lift yourself up with just your upper body makes getting up and down and getting into vehicles much easier. My good left leg strength and stability has been huge too. All those yoga tree poses and strength moves lifting weights above my head while balanced on one leg have paid dividends when it comes to maneuvering around. There are multiple situations where a rock solid single leg squat makes things easier and more efficient.
Everything is Going to Be More Difficult. Even non-physical things are harder the first few days. I’ve been lucky enough to have some not too taxing work to do. Things that mostly involve reviewing and monitoring what other people are doing but which are necessary and fill up time. The sort of work that we to refer to as “easy billables” to distinguish it from the brain strain stuff that lawyering involves but only periodically. Still, it has been harder to focus even though everything I need is right there on my laptop or on the other end of the phone. I have also been much more bothered than usual by the dog barking and the mess that quickly accrues around me.
Surgery and General Anesthesia Involve Incredible Trust: I’m stating the obvious here, but undergoing general anesthesia involves an astonishing amount of trust. It’s something we take so much for granted these days, but when you think about it, it’s pretty wild. You allow perfect strangers to render you unconscious so that other strangers can do all manner of things to your body. It is a complete, albeit temporary, surrender of autonomy.
I wrote previously about having my legs marked “yes” and “no” before surgery. I also had an IV in my right arm before I went into the OR. When I got home, I discovered multiple pieces of tape on both arms and evidence of other needles being inserted. (We discussed beforehand that I would have an IV with antibiotics during the surgery and also blood drawn for a PRP injection so I assume that’s what they were for.) When I showered later that day, I discovered two markings on my upper right leg that had been done with a marker and then mostly scrubbed off. I’m guessing the markings designated arteries. My right leg from the knee down through my toes had an orange tint. I discovered evidence of other items being stuck elsewhere on my body. Yet, the absence of memory related to any of these things is absolute. I could have been flown to Madagascar for all I recall. There are of course tremendous oversight procedures in place for any surgery and we do sign forms consenting to all of this. It’s still amazing though, that in a world where autonomy over one’s body is such an deeply rooted assumption, we, as a society, are almost nonchalant when it comes to turning our bodies over for surgery. (I should make clear that in no way am I uncomfortable with anything that happened during my procedure. I was very impressed by the surgical center and the care I received. I’m just fascinated by all of this.)
I’ve had a lot of things to think (and write) about this last week. Let’s see what Week 2 brings.