Sunday, August 23, 2009

Okay - haven't been here in a while. LOTS has happened since I last posted.

Wow, okay - the last time I posted, I had the first surgery, but not the second. Well, I went home from the surgery and hobbled, it sucked, I was on crutches, walkers, in wheelchairs, more suckage. It just sucked, sucked, sucked for about 6 weeks. Then I got the cast off. And that was GREAT!!! RIGHT??? Umm... kinda. I had the cast off, and was sitting in Olive Garden with what felt like some weird appendange hanging from my right leg. I was used to sitting a certain way to account for the cast, I was used to hopping, and not putting ANY weight on the foot. And now that the cast was off it was a) hard to break those habits, but b) I was ready to try to get back to normal. However, my surgeon informed me that since I had "the Pin," even though the cast was off, I was not able to put ALL my weight on the ankle, lest I break the pin and cause complications. AND the pin was necessary because my ligaments weren't healed yet. SIGH!!! In the Olive Garden on the way home, I cried and pouted like a 5 year old.

But things got better. Even in the Olive Garden parking lot, where I FORCED a sneaker onto my purple and swollen foot, yes, there was pain, but I was so mad, I didn't care. When I was sitting in the car with TWO shoes on, that psychological victory was pretty big and cheered me up. I hadn't had a shoe on in 8 weeks!

I was still on crutches/walker, because my foot was not ready for anything serious and because I couldn't put my full weight on it yet. But! A walker when you have two feet on the ground is WAY easier to manage than when you're hopping on one foot, so it really wasn't THAT bad. I did exercises, put the thing (it just didn't feel like my foot!) down on the floor, and made sure that I didn't baby it too much. It was hard at first, I was so used to it being protected by a big hard cast, that it felt scarily vulnerable when I came home. But, as someone informed me, it would get better and better everyday. And it did.

I had a trip to Atlanta/Miami/San Diego that began July 28 - but according to the calendar, I was supposed to be in surgery getting the pin out on the 31st. That wasn't going to work. So, three weeks after the cast was removed, I asked my doctor if he could take the pin out a week early. He said YES and actually took it out TWO WEEKS early! The irony of this was that when I broke my ankle on the 23rd of April, I waited two weeks for my surgery, so I always felt like those two weeks were wasted time and that I was two weeks behind in my recovery from where I would have (should have) been if they would have rushed me in to do emergency surgery on my ankle (inotherwords, if I would have had insurance). So when he did the surgery two weeks early, I felt like I got my two weeks back!!!! Woohoo!

This was perfect! It gave me two weeks of walking to get my ankle up to snuff and for the wound to heal, so I could wade in the pool, and get myself together for my trip. I wasn't a walking machine or anything, walking was laborious and a bit exhausting, but I think I did great in Atlanta and Miami (I didn't do a lot of walking in San Diego)!!!

Well now, it's been about 5 weeks since the pin has come out and my ankle is getting better EVERY day. It's amazing to see the things that I can do now that I couldn't do 2 weeks ago. It just gets better every day.

As for 5" heels... I'm getting there. I wear heels periodically around the house to condition my ankle, but there's something about the flexion that I need to do to take a step with the right foot, that I'm unable to do yet. I can stand in them, I can walk sideways in them, but it's the flexion that I need in order to take a forward step that I'm unable to do fluidly yet. But I'm practicing and working on it, and I'm thinking that in no time, I'll be back in heels!!!

So it's pretty much over. The ordeal is pretty much done. God has blessed me in a myriad of ways and given me a better perspective on what I should be focused on and I'm listening. Everytime I'm able to walk up and down the stairs, or walk through the mall, or get up from a kneeling position, or whatever... all things I could NOT do just months ago, I am grateful.

So don't take your ankles for granted. Walking is the greatest thing ever. When you get up to go into the kitchen, it seems like the smallest thing and not a whole lot to be thankful for, but when you don't have to reach for crutches, a walker, get in a wheeling office chair, or hop, in order to do it... it's a beautiful thing.

Aaaahhh, I think my catharsis is complete.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

So... the surgery. My good Lord.

Okay so I told you I was terrified, and I was. I came into the hospital in the afternoon and they got me all checked in, undressed, ready to go. I was in the pre-op area and the surgeon was late. So I just waited. And waited. And watched the scheduled time for my surgery come and go. The nurses, the anesthesiologists, everyone milled about talking about their lives, etc. while I lay petrified on a gurney with a painful splint (a new one poorly done after the X-Rays) waiting to be wheeled in.

One of the nurses was VERY nice. She was compassionate and talked to me and tried to allay my fears. Didn't work. And I waited. The waiting was awful.

The anesthesiologist introduced himself to me and I told him I was terrified. I told him why. He leaned in and said, in a calm voice, "You are one of those patients who needs to have every detail explained to her. So I'm going to explain every step we're going to take." He then went on and explained everything that would be happening, including the administering of a drug called Versed. He said that Versed would not only make me happy and calm me down, but it would also give me amnesia about whatever happened after I got it up until about the recovery period. Great. So to me, that meant, even if I felt the entire surgery, I'd never remember it. That was a bit of a relief, but I was still scared.

So then the surgeon gets there. He introduces himself, and then it's time to go in. So the Circulatory Nurse comes, introduces herself and off we go. I get wheeled into the OR and I can't believe this is where it's going to take place. I go into full-on panic mode, the tears are just flowing. Meanwhile the Anesthesiologist, the Nurse and everyone seems to be having conversations all around me, about barbecue grills, cookouts, etc. And there I am BEYOND terrified. The Circulatory Nurse finally looks down and sees my tears and says, "OH! Are you okay?" And the Anesthesiolgist sees my tears and says, "She's scared." Then he leans into me and says, "You ready for the Versed?" And they put the Versed into my IV.

God Bless America. Versed is the greatest drug on earth. A second after it was administered I was involuntarily grinning ear to ear. The Anesth. asked me, "You feeling okay?" And I held my thumbs up and said, "This is better than Maker's Mark." They all fell out laughing and that was all I can remember until I was being wheeled into my room.

The PAIN!!!

OH.MY.GOD. Okay so I'm being wheeled to my room and my mother had been there waiting. So I call to her, and she comes over and says, "How are you." I don't remember what I said, but she later told me I said, "Bad." Straight and to the point.

Okay back to the PAIN (see it in all caps). Well this surgery I got the ORIF - is an ambulatory procedure, that means I get up to 23 hours of recovery - see how that's less than a day? That means I go home the same day. But thank you Jesus, my surgeon had some sense. He told my mother, "I would never send her home now, the pain would be unmanageable and you would be very upset with me if I sent her home." Hallelujah and thank you Jesus.

Let me tell you something. Anyone who sends a patient HOME to hop on crutches to the bathroom and whatever else, is EVIL. Sheer and utter evil. The PAIN that I experienced after that surgery was indescribable, so I won't even try. I wouldn't wish that pain on my worst enemy.

Thank you God for Morphine and clocks that tell me when 4 hours is dwindling down. My anesthesiologist tole me to keep the Morphine at a steady level in my system and not to let the level drop so that the pain couldn't kick back in. That was my life's mission while I was in the hospital (and they kept me for two days!) - to stay on Morphine for the entire time, every four hours like clockwork. There were times when the pain tried to poke through, and other times when I thought the itching (a side-effect from the Morphine) would kill me. But for the most part the Morphine was great and being in the hospital was not bad at all.

Now I'm home. No morphine. The pain has been bad at times. When I first got home, I had to take FOUR... yes I said FOUR percocet. I just had to.

But it's not as bad right now. We'll see how this goes down.

I can't be popping Percocet - I have a final to take tomorrow. Sigh.

Yep. You guessed it. This sucks, man.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

I can't sleep. My mother's in there knocked out, but I can't sleep at all. I'm so terrified. Today's the day of my surgery.

What am I afraid of, you might ask. Well, let's go down the list. I'm afraid of so many things. I've never been cut into before, so I'm afraid of infection. I'm afraid that the sterility won't be on point and I'll get some horrible staph infection, or that I'll catch some ridiculous communicable disease. Ahhh but those are the little worries. My big, huge, unrelenting worry is that when I'm put under, I won't be put ALL the way under. That I'll be under enough for me to be paralyzed, but not enough for me not to feel the entire surgery. I'm afraid of that, and that I'll have nightmares about hearing the drill and feeling them cut me open and setting my bones for the rest of my life. I'm TERRIFIED.

TERRIFIED. And then I have another final in 4 days. Great.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

So my exams are over (the pre-op exams) except for the one on the 11th. I did it!!! I'm so proud of myself. I had to pretty much do it alone because I couldn't get on campus alone and everyone was studying themselves. I can't ask anyone to come get me and drag me around on campus in my wheelchair.

So I'm done for the most part. LOL I'm talking like I didn't have the ONLY meltdown thinking I was going to fail Bus Org. But I didn't. I didn't fail. I was able to say SOMETHING on that exam that made sense, so I didn't fail, even though I would have BET the FARM that I was going to.

I have got to start going to church more, because God is so great. He looks out for me ALWAYS. Whether I deserve it... or not. Sigh.

And yeah this still freakin' sucks. Horribly. But my ingenuity knows no bounds!!!

Monday, May 04, 2009

Today's my first final. I feel pretty good, believe it or not. My friend (who was there when I fell) has been great about getting me on campus and this accident has made me call on my ingenuity.

I'm ready for my Con Law exam. I'm scared as hell, but I feel more confident this semester than I did last semester and when I talk to other students, I can actually have a conversation. *shrug* I'm going to be fine. Uggh, I have another tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

So I didn't want to bore mySELF with tales of how horrible this experience is. But the good news just keeps on coming.

So I go to the clinic. And of course I need surgery. But not only do I need surgery, but I'm lucky enough to need "the pin." Woohoo! Yes, yes, the pin! How exciting! So here's the deal. I have two breaks in the fibula, and apparently the fracture is unstable. Therefore, I need an open reduction internal fixation to correct all the damage I've done. The surgeon will set the bone and then put a plate and God knows how many screws into my ankle so that it heals properly. But here's the fun part, since the ligaments are also damaged, and the ligaments support the bone, I need a pin that will hold my ankle together (picture a toilet paper dowel running across the length of my ankle holding the bones together) so the bones don't spread while the ligaments are healing. Now why, you might want to know is that the news that beats all other news? Well, because if I didn't need the pin, I'd be healing in 6 weeks, but... since I DO need the pin, I'll take 12 weeks please. Yep. Me... the one who was crying about ONE week, is now sentenced to 12. That's just great.

I don' t know how I'm going to get through this. I'm not even kidding. I mean I know I logically will, because I have to, but you can't understand what this feels like. I'm soooo very upset. I don't understand why this had to happen. I have my first final on May 4th, the second on the 5th, the third on the 6th. The surgeon scheduled my surgery for the 7th - and then of course I've got one more final on the 11th.

This is just fabulous. If it weren't so damn sad I'd laugh.

And I spoke to an insensitive idiot, who, after I told them I needed surgery, said to me, "Well, there goes your summer." Thanks Captain Obvious. And fuck you. And then as if that weren't enough, when I told them I had a final AFTER my surgery, they said, "You're not going to be able to take that test." Again, I say fuck you - I might cry, but you know nothing about my resolve. I WILL take that exam. Yes, I will.

But for now, I'm worried about my FIRST exam. WTF, how the hell can I study - I fall asleep every two seconds, my body is WORN OUT.

But I'm studying the best way I can.

And yeah, this sucks.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Okay - so I didn't want to post about my bitch-ass moments where I would hop and pant and struggle to do something, only to burst into tears with frustration at how hard EVERYTHING is.

It's hard. I HATE crutches. They suck more than I can tell you. Picking up your entire body weight and pulling it around is NOT by any stretch of the imagination, a fun time.

I cry like a baby now over dumb shit. I hate this more than anything. I really hope I don't need surgery.

I go to the Ortho Clinic on the 29th. I'll know for sure then.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

This sucks.

No, no, I mean this REALLY sucks.

I can't walk. I know that seems obvious to everyone else, but it's kind of a revelation for me. You know, when you've been healthy all your life, never been hospitalized, never had so much as a stitch or more than a band-aid... you don't see things the same way. I knew I broke my ankle, knew I'd be immobilized for the next week in this splint, but it didn't dawn on me really, fully, truly, that I can't walk and all that was going to entail. Oh, I got a taste of it when I was huffing and puffing trying to get to the table at the Mexican restaurant. Believe me it was hitting me like a ton of bricks then, but these past few days??? The realization that EVERY TIME I have to use the bathroom, I have to go through extreme drama to get there... and just ANYTHING I want to do is going to require maximum effort - that was kinda lost on me until I got home.


This sucks. A lot.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

It was the penultimate Con Law class of the semester. We were feeling good. It was almost all over and we were discussing summer, finals, and study strategies. But before we dove head-first into all the study madness, we wanted some nachos and margaritas. I had been craving Mexican food for a while. We walked into the staircase and within seconds the whole day took a nasty turn.

I stepped down the first step, fine... but the second step I took had me on my ass... BAM!!! I felt a terrible pain and looked to my right at my leg, which was bent at the knee in a weird 45 degree angle. As I reached around to pull it in front of me, the pain shot through my leg like a lightning bolt and I turned to my friend and said, "Shit. I just broke my ankle."

Sigh. Let the games begin.

I sat on a step in the stairway unable to get up. I was hoping that it was temporary and that I'd eventually jump up and limp to my car, laughing at my clumsiness on the way to the Mexican spot. But I knew better.

The pain.

So crazy that it deserved its own sentence... shit, its own paragraph. The pain was like nothing I'd ever experienced, and whoever was in the classroom right by that staircase experienced it too. I was screaming obscenities like a drunken sailor. "SHIT!!! FUCK!!!! GOD DAMNIT!!!! FUCK!!!!" I was cursing my ASS off!!! But the pain would NOT let up. It was so intense, so unrelenting that at one point, I remember having the urge to grab my leg and say, "STOP!!!" I just couldn't believe that it was still hurting like that.

When something like that happens, you kinda lose all perspective of time. So I can't tell you how long I was in the stairwell, or how long it took for the endorphines to kick in, but I remember there was a girl that poked her head in to see what all the screaming was about, and she called Public Safety. Thanks girl. LOL My friend stood there horrified and shocked at what was happening, but I had a clear head. I told the girl NOT to call 911, because all I could see were dollar signs and commas dancing in my head. Then I rewound to a conversation that I had with a friend before coming to school... when I was considering my career change. "So you gonna buy insurance?" the friend asked. I responded, "Nah... for what? I'm young, I don't even use my insurance now. What could go wrong in the next 3 years?" I swear I'll never ask that again.

So I lay there, screaming and clutching my leg. And I knew. All along I knew. But I rode the wave of hope that other people seemed to be surfing on. "It's just a bad sprain," "You'll be fine," they said. Meanwhile, I was in such pain that I broke out into a prickly, cold sweat - which I later found out was a sign of shock. But eventually, the pain started to subside. The endorphines were kicking in and as I sat calmly on the steps, my body started talking to me. "Lay on your back and hold your leg straight up in the air," it told me. I had no clue why my body wanted me to do this, but I have learned that when your instincts tell you to do something, you don't question it, you just roll with it. So, in the staircase, I lay prone, with one leg straight up in the air. It seemed to relieve some pressure and it actually felt better. I stayed that way for a while.

Public Safety came. By this time, some weird sort of euphoria had kicked in, I was laughing, joking... I was the life of the party. I had my friends, the Public Safety Officers, the Police that accompanied them, everyone was laughing and amused by my quick wit and smart ass comments. All I could do was sit there. Until the Public Safety Officer said, "Well, we've called an ambulance. It's on the way." AMBULANCE??? That terrified me. The last thing I needed was a huge medical bill for no reason. So I responded, "Wait, wait, no ambulance, I'm going to see if I can stand." I made a valiant effort, yet, I never really tried to put weight on my right foot... because I knew. I knew I couldn't walk. I sat back down... defeated... hung my head and waited for the ambulance.

The ambulance came. The police officer was hitting on me in all my broken legged glory. There I was broken and defenseless, unable to move and he was offering to cook me dinner, clean my house, etc. The offers came with a phone number that he slipped my friend as I was being loaded into the back of the ambulance. Amazing. Just amazing. *shaking head*

So I'm in the back of the ambulance and my friend, the driver, everyone is laughing at my quips and silliness. My friend and I laughed at a classmate who recently updated his Facebook status when he was in the Emergency Department, saying he was in excrutiating pain. I thought it would be "funny" to update Facebook while in the ambulance, so I did so. There was so much silliness and laughing on the way to the hospital. A mixture of denial, endorphines and adrenaline.

So I get to the Emergency Department. And I wait. I sit there and think of all the reasons why my ankle can't be broken. "Look, I can move it like this," I said, rotating my ankle. "And I can do this," I said, trying to flex my ankle. "It can't be broken!" But no matter how I tried to convince myself, I knew all along.

Then it was off to X-Rays. The radiologist took the first picture of the top of my ankle. He came back and said, "I don't see a break." And I responded, "Well if you're going to see one, it wouldn't be there." And he said, "So where do you think it is, let's see how good you are." And with pinpoint precision, I said, "Right here." And touched the painful area on the outer side of my ankle. He took a picture closer to that area and came back and said, "Yeah... I see something now, but it looks like a hairline fracture, so you might not need a cast." Then... he took a picture of the actual area I pointed out, came back into the room and said, "Yeaaahhhh... nooow I see it. And it's more than a hairline. There are actually two breaks." Great. Great.

So now it was confirmed. I had broken it. Then the ED doctor mentioned an ortho clinic where they'd let me know if I needed surgery. SURGERY!!??? The word shot through me like a bullet. What do you mean surgery? It's a broken bone, there's no surgery with broken bones, you get a cast and go home!!! But apparently that's not the case. And since I wasn't going to the ortho clinic for a week, I need to temporarily immobilize my ankle, no cast yet.

The splint.

I needed a splint. I didn't know that this would be one of the worst parts of this ordeal. Insane. The doctor and the intern told me to lay on my stomach and put my leg up at a 90 degree angle, bent at the knee. My foot is up in the air, and they were going to mold... MOLD (that word is important) the splint onto my leg/ankle. So they start and all I can say is that the pain up until that point had been outrageous, but never had I cried. I screamed, yelled, exclaimed, but I had never cried. The doctors had to insure that while my foot was immobilized, the achille's tendon was in a good position, so they had to first put my foot flat, at a 90 degree angle... Jesus Christ. My ankle was broken and they had to take my foot and flex it to a 90 degree angle - and hold it there - a position that became clear my ankle didn't want to assume. Then, once they got the foot right, and held it... they then had to mold and form the splint material around my ankle. OH.MY.GOD. I can't even describe the pain that put me in. I still didn't cry, but my body went into overdrive with the pain and I felt tears come to my eyes as they pushed and squeezed and positioned me. I thought my heart was going to beat out of my chest. When they were finally done, I felt like I had run a marathon. I was sweating and out of breath.

Then it was over, and by now my friend and I were starving - not having eaten... so my mother drove my friend and me to the very Mexican restaurant we intended to go to that day. And despite all the drama, we had our nachos and margaritas. And as upbeat as I tried to be, I don't know that I hid my despair very well. I struggled on the crutches. Struggled. Sweated. Panted. Plopped into the seat and the days, weeks, months ahead of me ran through my mind. This was going to suck. Bad.

And I'm home now and I feel like I can't do this. I have a week in this splint and then they're going to tell me what the next step is. Sigh. I just hope I don't need surgery. That would be the worst thing in the world to me.