The Backstory-what happened up to here


So there I was at the emergency room  being told I not only broke a bone, I broke 4, with the 4th metatarsal severely displaced, and that I might need surgery. Slap on a temporary cast, here’s a prescription for oxycodone, go home, have fun. Oh, here’s crutches, here’s how to use ’em. No weight allowed on the foot. No fear, that foot wasn’t going anywhere NEAR the ground. Fortunately, a friend who was with me is a physical therapist, so she made sure I knew how to crutch along. (Moral: if you’re going to break your bones, have a physical therapist along.)

Next challenge: Fifth story walkup with a stoop. How do you do the steps? Answer: On your ass. Crabwise. End of story.

Next challenge: The ER referred me to an orthopedist who specializes in feet. Yes! (If he takes my insurance…) But oops, he’s in Japan! You try finding a doctor when you have 4 broken bones pointing in all different directions, (note: when I wrote this I hadn’t seen the x-rays, just depended on what Paul said about them. Later, when I saw the x-rays, I realized they weren’t all going in different directions at all!)  your foot hurts like the dickens, you’re woozy on painkillers, and your insurance is hated by every doctor you call. Unless, of course, they are booked until next year. I finally ended up with the head of trauma surgery (physician referral nurse said: “he’s the doctor people go to if they need screws and plates.”)

Show up on the 28th with my x-rays in tow. Yup, he says, you need surgery. (Mutters to himself about my ligaments being in the wrong place, runs off to check with someone else)..two screws and a post..the screws come out, the post doesn’t. I swear he said that. Now he says he didn’t. (Moral: take notes even when you are in pain. Have a witness.) Ultimately, it doesn’t amount to a hill of beans, but I just like to know I remembered correctly…They put me in a boot cast, and tell me I will be in it when I come to after the operation.  I grow to hate it.

Show up on April 4 for surgery. Amazing, someone I did martial arts with 30 years ago is sitting there, waiting to get a hip replacement. Small world. Smart guy quit about 25 years ago!

Anesthesiologist helps drag the gurney into the operating room, to the delight of staff. I am terrified of the epidural, but as I am sitting on the table (it’s so narrow, how do they keep you from falling off? What if you weigh 300lbs? Do they have different sizes?) with the intravenous dripping into me, I am more scared I will pass out an fall off because no one is holding me. Apparently, I didn’t. And I must have been out before the needle went in.

Wake up. No pain, seems fine. Foot is in a temporary cast. Boot cast is by the bed. No foot in it, as far as I can see.

The staff does tell me to push the morphine bolus so it will be working when the epidural wears off. Ok, I do a bit. YOU DIDN”T TELL ME HOW MUCH TO DO IT!!!!!!! (Moral: Figure that the epidural will wear off suddenly. If you don’t like pain,  hit the morphine ahead of time…of course, if morphine makes you sick…well, maybe you could stand the pain.

So you figured it out…whammo! So then I start trying to get the pain killer to work, and they tell me I am trying to use it too much. What’s the problem? It only works every 10 minutes or so, and since I don’t have a watch, I can’t time it. They say they are going to take me off it, and have a pain management person come down. Guess they forgot, because it didn’t happen. (Moral: bring a watch)

Enough of the blow by blow…just to say that I discovered that morphine makes me feel really sick and dizzy, but since I was lying down, I didn’t realize it until I finally tried to sit up. I stopped using it, but the machine continued giving little bits on its own, (according to one nurse) and I continued feeling sick as a dog. So finally, the next morning I told the visiting teams of doctors that I wasn’t going anywhere, much less make their 11 am checkout, unless they got me off the stuff. They didn’t, until much later, and by 2 I was a real mess. Finally, the desk clerk (!) went and ordered me jello, my honey went out and got a six pack of liquid breakfast and then fed me bits of chicken from the hospital lunch, and finally I was able to wheelchair it out to a friend’s car, and hope I could make it up the stairs without passing out.

I did.

The next day I discovered what else an epidural can do to you. Urinary incontinence. Thanks for telling me, kids.

The surgeon had told me that I had the same injury as Chen Ming Wong, but the letter to my job mentioned the Lisfrac procedure.  First time I heard of it. (Moral: ask questions about things you don’t even know you have to ask about. I thought the operation was just to fix the bones.)  Usually, I ask questions, tho not always the right ones. I was in a lot of pain at the time…

Stitches came out after about 2 weeks. The foot was really sensitive, so I expected it to hurt a lot more than it did. At that point they took the temporary cast off, and wanted to put the boot on, but no one had told me to bring it along, so they put on a temporary cast and told me to cut it off and put the boot on when I got home. Scary

My heel kept coming up and out of the wretched boot, at the back. It turned out that this is acceptable. It’s hard to keep the foot really securely in there without cutting circulation. It was during the visit to check the boot that  I asked when the screws would be taken out, and he said that they don’t come out. Doesn’t remember telling me they would. Oh well..

First coupla weeks are pretty much a blur…uneventful. Oh, I found out after about two weeks that I was supposed to wash the foot…I was told that I HAD to keep the foot raised, and I found it hurt in weird ways and turned purple if I didn’t so the whole time has been pretty much lying on the couch, with the things I need within reach. Fortunately, we have a sofa bed that is comfortable. (Moral: If you have a loft bed with a ladder, have an alternative! Ours is a Castro Convertible, with their best mattress, bought for a hip replacement victim. )

Then my family got me a laptop. (I love it!). I worked out speech recognition and speech recognition macros. I don’t always use it, but it is really useful if you have to recline. Wifi and a remote login to the main computer competes the network. (I am still working out some of this stuff.)

Maybe some of this will be helpful to someone..

A year later: I decided to add a bit to this, because I have read some other blogs by now. I was given a prescription for oxycodone after the surgery. After the horror story with the morphine, it was heaven. At first, I tried managing on ibuprofen instead but finally gave up and took the drug. I slept a lot, and was probably more drugged out than I thought, but I didn’t have any nasty side effects. Every time I went to see the surgeon he offered me more, which I didn’t take. Silly me, I could have opened up a business on the side!

I also didn’t mention that the day before the pre-op I went into atrial fibrillation and was still fibrillating the next day, so they had to admit me overnight to get the heartbeat steady. I was terrified they wouldn’t be able to operate. However, the heartbeat finally stabilized, and a friend offered us her apartment (with an elevator) until operation day so I wouldn’t keep crawling up and down stairs. After the operation, however, I choose to return home. For the next few months, while the foot was healing, I went back into fibrillation mode occasionally, especially when I was under stress.

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