Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Recovery I

I figure I'm not going to have much to say for the next couple of months except for what's going on with my ankle.  Anticipating multiple entries about how things are going with the ankle, I am numbering entries titled "Recovery _" to keep track better.

Where were we?  Oh yes, boot instead of cast.  That was a week ago.  Now, I'm a week and a half post-surgery, a quarter of time I'll have to spend without putting weight on my foot.  Time is passing and I'm making progress.

Jessica went to a conference in Pasadena, so Sophie and one-legged I were home alone for two days.  With excellent foresight, Jessica arranged a number of play dates for Sophie.  That, plus her performance dance class and religious school, kept her occupied and made things easier for me.  So much so that Brian came over on Saturday and we went out to lunch -- my first ankle-unrelated outing in 12 days.  It was a beautiful day and we sat eating Latin food and drinking Sangrias at Cesar on Piedmont -- a great time.  Walking back to the car on crutches was absolutely exhausting.  Whether it was deconditioning after two weeks of complete inactivity, my lack of coordination on crutches, two Sangrias, or something else entirely but I was out of breath after hobbling for just over a block.  If I'm like this after two weeks, how weak will I be after six?

This was not a pleasant thought.  Worse, I fell climbing three stairs in the house the next day.  Not sure whether I tripped over the top step or the crutch tripped, but suddenly I found myself on my face, having banged my left elbow on the step and on the crutch.  Luckily, left foot was safe in the boot.  Much household commotion ensued.  I fell back into bed.  This was mildly frightening, embarrassing, and emotionally exhausting, so I took a nap.

After sleeping off that experience, next day I had an appointment with Dr. Jake and a resident, John Lynde.  Lynde saw me first. He took off my boot and unwrapped the ankle.  It looked a lot better than a week earlier.  The swelling I had on the shin was completely gone and the swelling on the ankle was greatly reduced.  It was almost back to normal size.  His second task was staple removal.  He asked whether I ever had staples removed.  No.  He said it's kind of an odd sensation.  I don't know whether I'd call it odd.  It's odd if you're looking at it, watching someone stick pliers into the side of your ankle, grab a staple and yank it out.  Otherwise, it stung and ached and bled a little, while he did it.  I didn't enjoy watching it, so turned away.  Removal couldn't end soon enough.  There were lots and lots of staples.  Twenty-one altogether; I overestimated the number in the earlier post.  Sophie came with us and she couldn't watch ANYTHING, she didn't even look at the unwrapped ankle.

Dr. Jake came in and looked at the x-rays taken 20 minutes earlier.  He was very pleased with the way the ankle was healing and the way the hardware (2 long screws on inside of ankle; 7 shorter screws and a plate on the outside) held everything together.  He was very positive and optimistic.  From his lips to God's ears.   By the end of the week, I can start flexing and gently rotating the foot for range of motion.  It'll be nice to be doing something with it.  I'm excited and a bit anxious about it.

At this point, I said to him, "You know, when I saw you a week ago to get my boot, I forgot to ask how you thought things went in surgery."  And he said, "You know, it's funny, patients never remember when I talk to them in the recovery room."  Huh? Apparently, he visited me in the recovery room and told me everything went very well.  I have absolutely no recollection of that.  So, yesterday he told me again.

During this visit, I had to go on crutches almost as much as on Saturday and this time I didn't tire nearly as much.  Jessica reminded me that being under general anesthesia is like being dead and takes a long time to recover.  Perhaps my exhaustion on Saturday was a symptom of a long and slow recovery from anesthesia?  I hope so.

Meanwhile, I'm feeling no pain in the ankle -- just two pain pills in the last three days -- and am optimistic about a full recovery.  Tentatively planning to return to riding doubles at Knoxville in October.


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