Tuesday, April 14, 2009

April 14, 2009 - A journey of a thousand miles

I actually slept well last night, better than I expected. Turns out to have been a harbinger of good things to come…

I am writing this from my Roper hospital bed. Back when I was looking into ankle fusion I read all sorts of stories from people who had horrid experiences in the hospital and subsequent stays. The people providing my health care are their polar opposites, caring and helpful and just good people.

We arrived at 6 am; got a little paperwork done and maybe 20 minutes later I was taken to the prep-op room. The nurse there got the IV started and soon we met with Dr. Ohlson. We went over the Ertl procedure and discovered his mentor was a doctor at Union Memorial, one I had read about when I was first looking into foot and ankle reconstructive procedures. That seems just like the way everything was falling into place today. He decided I could have a 7" residuum with my amputation which will give me more area for the socket. I had research the optimal residual limb length quite a bit and this definitely fell into the quite acceptable range.

I mention this because as my prosthetist Larry Wiley, with his engineering background, knows we can spread the pressure from the future socket over a larger area. We runners can appreciate having less chance of developing hot spots that would lead to the skin breaking down and causing all sorts of owies and nastiness.

The anesthesiologists were superb. We discussed pain management in detail, I believe three things were employed but two were nerve blocks - they are nothing short of miraculous! Only wish I had had one with my first surgery as it would have prevented any anxiety about waking up in pain post-op.

Once we got in the OR I was moved to the operating table and I don't remember much until I woke up in the recovery room. I wasn't loopy or in any pain whatsoever!

Jennifer was there shortly after I opened my eyes and later my brother Mark and my mom Betsy visited for a few minutes. One thing my mom noticed was how calm I looked. I can say all day I have been in the best spirits and I believe it is for two reasons. First and most obvious, I'm done with the surgery and it went extraordinarily well. But for the first time in years I had NO pain whatsoever. I knew that the almost constant discomfort made me feel impatient and irritated at times with all things and everyone. I finally had a little peace and quiet in my body.

Dr. Ohlson was pleased with the surgery and told me he had spoken with the prosthetist. They plan to change my dressing and put a shrinker on the stump on Thursday. FYI, "residual limb" and "stump" are different terms for the same thing. I imagine I will go home Thursday afternoon but right now I don't know for sure.

I do have phantom sensations of my dearly departed doggie. Prior to the surgery it always had a dull numbness if I was just sitting and I feel that same thing right now. I can feel my heel resting on the bed – my stump is on a pillow - and have felt tingling in the arch and ball of the foot. But nope, those little piggies have gone to the market for good. I want to impress these are sensations, not pain and should dissolve over time as the brain figures out the nerve endings reside elsewhere.

Jennifer has been with me most all day except when she left to feed the pets and decompress a bit at home. She is still recovering from the residual effects of a nasty bout with pneumonia and I guess the inflammation really wore her down. She came back this evening and we watched a little teevee together before she left. Hope she feels better soon; the fatigue factor has prevented her from training and enjoying life lately.

So that’s my first day as an amputee. I have had amazing support from so many people, indeed, some who hardly know me. Blessed? I don’t know why but I do know I have had a day like no other. I can’t think of a better start to this new chapter in my life, and it will inspire me to the end of my days.

The new me

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