Thursday, October 13, 2011

Foot surgery

Let's just gloss over the fact that it's been two months since I posted anything and just jump right in, shall we? Okay? Okay =)

For this post, I want to talk about my foot surgery. Yeah, on September 9th, I got up at 5:30 a.m., and went in for what is called a "Modified Lapidus Procedure". Basically, my first metatarsal and my big toe had a 36 degree angle to each other (see the pic below), so it caused me to walk funny, has affected my back, my knees, and god knows what else. They broke they metatarsal, cut some of it off at the base (so my big toe wouldn't look super long), screwed it back into my foot, and corrected my big toe.

The whole procedure took about two hours, then they woke me up and took an x-ray, ran down some post-op recovery procedures, gave me crutches, and I was on my way. Luckily I had Megan to drive me to and from the hospital. The block they had used to numb my foot was pretty dang strong - strong enough that I didn't have any idea what was in store for me that night. Worst pain of my life.

Now, I'm a fairly tough guy (not being egotistical, bear with me). I've been raised on a ranch, done plenty of manual labor, played football in high school... I've been knocked down, trampled, kicked, dragged around, and usually got up laughing afterward. But this - I ended up experiencing what felt like 12-14 on the 1-10 pain scale. A lot of pain. The block wore off around 8 p.m. that night, and I couldn't deal with it. My family was all here, so people were on the phone with Kaiser, trying to figure out what to do, and Megan was next to me the whole time. A lot of it is a blur, because I was seeing white. I think it was about 12:30 a.m. when we decided to call an ambulance and get me to the ER. The local fire department showed up pretty quickly after that, as the ambulance was coming from Petaluma, and they said it would be about a half an hour. The fire department administered 5mg of morphine pretty much straight away, and that didn't do much at all. 5mg more, nothing. Another 5mg, starting to feel my arms relax, but the pain was the same. A final 5mg - making a total of 20mg - got me relaxed enough to transfer me from my bed to the ambulance, and I was on my way back to San Rafael.

The firetruck, and the ambulance in the background. Can't really see me getting loaded up, but I'm there in the background too.

The entire ride, my mouth was so dry that it felt like leather. I guess that's a side-effect of morphine. The drive seemed to take forever, but I think we finally got there at about 2 or 2:30. Now, keep in mind that I've been up since 5:30 the previous morning, so I'm pretty dang tired by now. First, they started out by administering 5mg of dilauded, which is 8x stronger than morphine. That didn't do much either. 10mg of something even stronger than that, and finally the pain started calming down. 35mg of heavy pain killers, and my pain was down to about a 4 on the scale. So, they opened up my cast took a look at my foot to see if anything was wrong, and everything looked fine. They wrapped it back up, a little looser than it was, hoping that would help relieve the pain a bit. I also came away with a prescription to dilaudid, and zofran for the nausea it would cause. I slept for the entire car ride home, and finally got to go to sleep at around 6 a.m..

One heck of a day, but the trouble wasn't over yet. The pain started cropping up the next night, but it seemed to settle down. I think some of the drugs they had given me the night before were still in my system, so that helped to relieve the pain a bit. The day after that, though, the pain got really bad again. Back on the phone with Kaiser, and debating about another trip to the hospital. But, the advice nurse said I could take both the dilauded and the norco (which they had originally prescribed for the pain. Not nearly strong enough!) at the same time, and it wouldn't harm me. So, naturally, I did. For the next three days I was on a schedule of alternating the two medications every two hours. They both needed to be taken four hours apart from each other, and this way there was no 'down-time', so the pain would be much more manageable. This was the final solution to the pain, and I was finally able to recover in peace... Well, mostly.

Since then, I've been mostly just sitting around the house. I got 12 weeks off of work, and I go back on December 3rd. It's been a huge benefit that I only have one physical class this semester too. I'm taking two online classes as well, so I only have to go into town twice a week for just a few hours at a time. I definitely didn't go to class the first week after the surgery, though. At first, sitting in class was tough, because I was supposed to have my foot elevated, but now I'm able to go without taking pain killers, and with only minor discomfort.

Four weeks after the surgery, I went back in to get the cast removed, and get a walking boot cast. I'm still not allowed to put weight on my foot, though, not until the 27th of this month. Anyway, above you can see what my foot looked like then. Straight! Perfectly straight! Though, I wasn't able to enjoy looking at it at first. I had what is called a "vasovagal response". Basically, when my eyes caught sight of what my foot looks like now, my nervous system went "What? That's not my foot! But it's on my body!", and I almost passed out. Luckily I told the doctor, and he had me lay back and not watch while he cut the stitches out. It was the craziest feeling, seeing a body part modified like that, and looking back I'm not surprised that I had such a reaction. It's also weird to think that it wasn't a conscious reaction I was having, but just that my nervous system had no idea what the hell to do, so it started shutting down. If you want to know more about it, here's a link with more information:

I think that pretty much covers the highlights of the ordeal... I've just been getting around on crutches since the surgery, going on 5 weeks tomorrow. I've actually started getting callouses on my hands from them... But, only 14 more days, and hopefully I'll be able to walk again! Just when I started mastering the one-footed-shower, too...

Thanks for reading!