Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Fanklestein

(This is my third post in My Fankle Journey.)

I was anxious the night before I went in for my posterior tibial tendon surgery. To combat my anxiety, I prayed a lot! :) I prayed for good mental health and my body's efficient and safe healing. I prayed for my podiatrist, that he would be capable in every way and do a phenomenal job for my ankle. (Hey, I might as well go all-out in my prayer requests! Ha ha.) I prayed for the anesthesiologist that he/she would give me the correct dosing and that I wouldn't have any negative effects from the anesthesia. I prayed for the nurses that they would be able to assist in every way my doctors needed. I especially prayed that my body would stay infection free!

You might chuckle at all of my worries, but I had a brother-in-law who recently became a below-the-knee amputee due to a life-threatening infection in his foot. He doesn't have diabetes, it was just a random, terrible infection that didn't respond to IV antibiotics. His antibiotic-resistant infection spread so quickly that they had no choice but to amputate. I honestly can't imagine the trauma my brother-in-law went through—it brings tears to my eyes! And I certainly didn't want any complications anywhere near his unbelievable/serious issues. Thus, I prayed!

*Speaking of prayer, I highly recommend watching War Room. I loved it so much that I bought it on Blu-ray the very next day! (By the way, no one is asking me or compensating me in any way to write my happy feelings about War Room. I'm sharing it with you because it's honestly one of my favorite movies!)

Following my podiatrist's orders, I drank a lot of water before midnight. I got my outfit ready for the next morning and took a shower. I tried my best to stay calm, but my mind raced as I thought about everything that was about to happen in 12 short hours. I didn't have a problem going to sleep, but I definitely had a problem staying asleep. All of the water I drank kept me returning to the bathroom throughout the night—it was awful! As I think back about it now, my podiatrist's advice for me to drink as much water as I could probably wasn't the best strategy! I mean, I know my podiatrist was just trying to have my veins nice and fat for the benefit of the nurse giving me an IV, but not sleeping well the night before an important surgery probably isn't the best idea for a good recovery.

I awoke on time and took another shower, washed my hair, dressed, brushed my teeth and put on makeup. I blow-dried my hair without gel because I knew it would be a longer time-frame than normal before I could wash my hair again, so I wanted it squeaky clean and fluffy! :)

Greg slept in a little bit that morning, but he was totally ready by the time we had to leave. That's one of Greg's wonderful traits: he can always be counted on to be on time! (It's also a little frustrating when I want to be a little late! Ha ha.) I was happy he was able to sleep in because he works so hard and doesn't get enough sleep. :) I double checked my list of things I needed to bring to my surgery and wrote a little love note to my children. I also made Greg take a photo of me standing on both of my feet before we left. It may seem silly, but I wanted to document my "before gimpy" self. :)

Let's do this thing!
I held Greg's hand as we drove to the surgical center. The sun was shining so brightly, and the sky was a lovely shade of blue with puffy clouds! I was happy it was a beautiful day. For a minute, the smiling sun and having my Gregor drive me around almost made me forget that I was having surgery within the hour. As we neared the surgical center, the van in the right lane behind us wouldn't let us merge over. It was a scary moment thinking we almost got in a wreck! Even worse, the man in the fat white van shouted a string of obscenities as he drove past us! I was truly embarrassed for him.

Thankfully, Greg got us to the surgical center safely, dropped me off, and parked the car. I walked in the front door wondering how it would go—especially since we were there 15 minutes early. Yet I'm glad we arrived early, for the registration receptionist got me started filling out paperwork. Suddenly, Greg was standing next to me, which I enjoyed greatly! Yeah, Greg has a habit of doing that. :)

Everything was fine until the receptionist asked me if I had an advance directive? I looked at Greg and was like, "What? I don't have one of those!" but she didn't worry about it and just checked the box that I didn't have one. Greg quickly said, "Do everything you can to save her." My mind started racing, thinking about the fact that I was about to be the star of a medical procedure where the doctors and nurses actually needed to know what I wanted them to do if I was near death, or if I were to actually die! I thought to myself, "I've seen too many Grey's Anatomy episodes! I'm sure I'll be fine!" Ha ha.

I took my unfinished paperwork and we went and sat down. As I scanned the room of chairs, looking for a place to sit, I decided that the surgical center really needed to reupholster their chairs because they were outdated. Even though the fabric looked new and nice, the design was highly distracting and somewhat uncomfortable to look at. Yet in that moment, I wondered if my dislike of the fabric had more to do with my nerves than the actual style? As I've rethought about the effect those chairs had on me, I'm resolute in my opinion: they either need to purchase new chairs, or recover the ones they have! Ha ha. Either way, their surgical waiting room needs to help create a calming effect, and it all begins with the style of their interior design! :)

I thought I would have time to finish filling out my paperwork, but my name was called shortly after we sat down. The admitting nurse took us into a room and took my vitals. My blood pressure was really low: 93/66! She was a little concerned and asked, "Is your blood pressure always this low?" I replied that I have low blood pressure anyway, but added that I was also really hungry and drank a lot of water the night before—meaning that my sodium levels were probably really low, thus the low blood pressure. Greg said, "Just make sure you use the paddles on her if needed!" That got a laugh out of our demure nurse! My Charming Greg has quite the happy effect on older ladies! Ha ha. She took notes about my medical history and said I could keep filling out my paperwork in the next room. Then she put my admittance bracelet on and added a sticker with "Sulfa" printed on it—to make everyone aware of my allergy. I'm grateful they're so careful with their patients!

We were then shuttled to another area of the surgical center to weigh me and do a urine test. I was happy that I totally had my weight listed exactly right on my paperwork! I know that's silly, but it's important to tell the truth—even when it's about something as mundane as our weight! :) (Plus, I was happy I hadn't gained any weight since my yearly physical.) I was then taken to their pre-op area and told to change my clothes and lay on the gurney.

After I changed clothes, the nurse started my IV with fluids and antibiotics. She asked if I was nervous, and I replied, "A little." She said, "Your palms are a little sweaty." I said, "Yeah, my palms sweat when I'm nervous...I come from a long line of sweaty palms!" Ha ha. Relieved, she said, "Oh that's good to know. I was worried I had terrified you!" I said, "Nope! I'm good."

Yet the IV did not feel good in the least. I'd forgotten just how much they hurt to put in because I haven't had one in 12 years—since my youngest baby was born. I laid back on the pillow because I was so tired from my night of visiting the bathroom every two hours! I tried to be chill even though I was still nervous. Greg sat in the chair next to me and we chatted. We couldn't help but listen to the other pre-op patients' conversations in the curtain-rooms next to us. One lady was getting cataract surgery. It was fascinating listening to her kind and patient doctor explain how her surgery would go. After listening to his explanation, I have zero worries about cataract surgery—if I ever have to have it in the far-future!

This was taken before my podiatrist came in to chat with us. Greg made me take two photos because he said I look ill in the first one! Ha ha. But hey, I was very sleepy!
My podiatrist finally came in with his surgical notes of my chart. (I have no idea if that's what it's called, but it sounds good! Ha ha.) We chatted for a minute and then he examined my foot. He put a sharpie smiley face on the top of my arch, then asked me to point out where my tendon hurt. After we came to an agreement of the location of my pain, he drew a line right next to my ankle bone that resembled a slight smile. While I instantly and semi-nervously thought, "Oh my goodness, he's going to cut my foot open right on that line!" I was simultaneously happy knowing that my ankle would have a "smile" on it for the rest of my mortal life! Ha ha.

My podiatrist then explained how the surgery would go and what to do during my recovery. Greg and I then played the waiting game. It seemed to take forever before it was my turn for surgery—even though I have no idea how long it actually was! Ha ha. Just when I was getting antsy, my number was up!

The anesthesiologist came in and prepped me for what was about to happen, injected my IV line with anesthesia, and the surgical nurse began rolling me out of my room and down the hall. It was really fun when they spun my gurney around in a circle to get my head facing the right direction. I didn't say this out loud, but inside my mind I was like, "WHEE!" and I'm pretty sure that was the anesthesia talking. Ha ha. They put my gurney next to the surgical table, helped me transfer, and I laid down. The last thing I remember is them talking to me as they adjusted my gown and situated my body in the correct position.

Because I'm utterly fascinated with all-things medical, I love knowing how quickly the anesthesia took effect on my body. I'm not exaggerating when I say that it took probably only two minutes—if that—before I was completely knocked out from the IV anesthesia! And even more fascinating is the fact that they said they weren't even giving me full anesthesia. I've always thought that medication really affects me—I can get by on smaller doses than most people—and I think this is proof of my theory being correct!

The next thing I remember is being in a dim room with high ceilings and Greg standing on the right side of my bed. I vaguely remember someone walking out of the curtains of my "room," but it's a fuzzy memory. I also remember the recovery nurse talking to me and fiddling with my IV.


I told Greg of my experience being awake before surgery, and then suddenly being completely "out" after I transferred to the surgical table. Greg informed me that I already told him that and I was like, "What?! Whoa! I have no memory of ever telling you that!" He laughed and blamed it on the anesthesia.

The nurse asked me if I needed anything, or if I wanted a snack, but I said no. She came back later and asked if I was ready to leave, or not yet? I told her not yet, and that I was cold. She brought me the warmest heated blanket and wrapped it around my head, shoulders, and upper body. It was absolutely heavenly! I think we should create "warm blanket therapy" for children and people struggling in life. Maybe it sounds too simple, but I think it would help anyone who's struggling to calm down! :)

See how peaceful I am?! :)
A little while later, I was feeling more awake and not as cold. I finally asked for some saltine crackers to go with my water. Greg did a great job feeding and watering me (ha ha) and we chatted for a little bit. I asked him what my podiatrist said about the surgery. Greg explained that Dr._____ had already come in and I had actually talked with him! Greg said my podiatrist put his hand on my shoulder, asked how I was doing, and proceeded to tell us how my surgery went. Apparently, I said, "Thank you so much, I appreciate it!" HA! I was like, "Whoa, what?! I have ZERO recollection of talking with him at all!" But as I really thought hard about my experience in that recovery room, I did remember seeing my podiatrist walk out of the curtains—I just didn't remember anything before that.

While Greg says I was completely fine and appropriate with all of my actions and words after coming out of surgery, it totally freaks me out knowing that I was actually acting "coherent": talking, moving, and interacting with others, and I have no memory of any such actions! And that, my friends, is precisely why I will never, ever do drugs or drink alcohol—even if I wasn't brought up as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and taught to obey the Word of Wisdom! I simply never want to be out of control of my mind/body! :)

The results of my surgery are this: my tendon had about a one-and-a-half inch linear tear in it that my podiatrist successfully repaired. Yay! Craziest thing is, I was in surgery for only 26 minutes—Greg timed me! Ha ha. I'm surprised my tendon repair went so quickly, for I thought I would be in there for at least 45 minutes, if not longer! I'm hoping that means my podiatrist is a rock-star surgeon and my type of surgery is like a walk in the park for him! :)

After about an hour in the post-op recovery room, I finally felt good enough to go home. I got dressed and the nurse helped me try and fit my Fankle into my new walking boot. It was ridiculously difficult trying to get my foot to bend enough, so we put the boot's Velcro straps together pretty loosely. The nurse explained about my recovery again and what to expect. I listened, and I can kind of remember what she said, but it's pretty blurry. Thus, I'm really grateful Greg was there and taking notes in his wonderful brain for me! I had to ask him more than once to remind me of their instructions!

The recovery nurse and Greg helped me into the wheelchair and we headed down the hallway. My nurse stopped driving me for a minute and gave me a little stuffed bear in a t-shirt with the name of the surgical center on it. She said, "You're not too old for a teddy bear, are you?!" I happily said, "Nope!" Besides, who am I to turn down a $3,500 bear?! Ha ha. Yeah, surgery is expensive! I'm beyond grateful our medical insurance deductible had already been met this year because there's no way we could have afforded my surgery otherwise. I shudder at the thought of what we would have done because even after our insurance paid its portion, my surgery was still very expensive and we only had to pay 20% of the allowable charges (that I listed previously)!

When we were in the surgical center's waiting room again, my nurse asked if I wanted a snack for the road. I said, "Sure! I'll have a brown-sugar Pop Tart!" I gave it to my youngest son because I'm not too hot for Pop Tarts. Ha ha.

As we went out into the parking lot, I was so happy to see sunshine and sprinkler raindrops on the pine trees! There really is something healing about nature—whether you're in the mountains, or the trees are brought into the city, the calming effect is the same. :) Greg helped me into the car and we said goodbye to my kind nurse. She is good at her job; I'm positive she's found her calling in life!

On our way home, Greg decided to pick up his new suit (by the awesome Alain Dupetit) from the tailor shop—he had his pants cuffed. (Again, my enthusiasm for Alain Dupetit is genuine! Nobody is paying me to recommend them!) We then stopped for a fresh strawberry slush—they are unbelievably divine! Lastly, we stopped at the grocery store and picked up milk, and ice for my foot. When we finally got home, I was exhausted!

I had Greg take my "after" photo, and I headed back to our room. Per my podiatrist's orders, I took my first oxycodone-acetaminophin pill, antibiotic, went to the bathroom, and laid down in bed. When I looked at the time, I was surprised to see that my entire ordeal, from start to finish (driving there/home; including other stops), only took about four-and-a-half hours!


And now, I'd like to introduce you to Fanklestein! This photo was actually taken right after I got home from my post-op appointment, five days after my surgery, but I'm sharing it now to get the suspense out of the way! Ha ha. Stay tuned for even more Fankle! :)

I focused only on my sutures and faded the rest of my photo to spare everyone the messy details. :)

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