Wednesday, September 27, 2006

No Longer on Pins and Needles

Yesterday I had an appointment for a checkup with the orthopaedic surgeon who has taken care of me ever since I hurt my foot so badly. We met in one of the curtained off sections of the emergency room. After looking at the new x-rays of my foot, he declared that the pins could come out this very day! This was news to me and I wasn’t psyched for the pain and trauma but agreed to go ahead with it anyway just because the pins were quite uncomfortable.

Four out of the five pins in my foot were sticking out so that they could be seen. The fifth, off to the side by itself, had been closed over by skin so it was not visible, although one could feel it beneath the surface. The doctor declared that the four visible pins would just come out without any anesthetic but the 5th needed a small cut in the skin so he’d put some pain killer in that area. I tried my best to believe that I didn’t need more pain relief than that. So far, he’s been right.

I lay down on the stretcher as he lathered my foot all over with Betadine, an antiseptic that looks like soya sauce, so my foot turned a nice tan color. Then, while I wasn’t looking, holding Arthur’s hand, he started yanking on the first pin. His little pliers keep slipping off the pin. It felt as bad as I expected it to feel. (Imagine someone yanking out pins that were in your bones.) Arthur made a comment about the pliers being to small so half-way into pulling out the second pin he called from a larger tool. This time it was a wrench. (Yes, tools that one would use to fix pipes or motorcycles.) All pain and relaxation strategies and techniques that I know were used to their fullest. Arthur was sorry he hadn’t taken off his rings because I really held onto his hand! The whole thing didn’t take very long but I sure was tired by the time it was over!

I now have the pins in my purse -- which feels way better than in my foot. They are all a different length (3.5 to 7 cm).

The next steps:
  • There will be no steps for that foot in the near future. I am still wearing the splint and tensor bandage and I have to keep all weight off the foot for the next 3 weeks.
  • I can take off the splint for night and, once the wounds have scabbed over (3 or 4 days) I can have showers where both feet get wet!
  • The muscles and ligaments are still very weak and need to get used to being where they belong. Until they heal, I can’t put any pressure on them.
  • My mobility hasn’t improved but my comfort level has.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

An Update on Those Displaced Bones

I went to Bangkok for a meeting and decided to get a second opinion on the surgery and the 5 pins in my foot while I was there. The evening we arrived Arthur and I went straight to the hospital from the airport so that I could get x-rays and make an appointment to see the orthopaedic surgeon the following day. That evening we looked at the x-rays with a "regular" doctor who had time to explain the x-ray. All five bones in the mid-foot were displaced and now the pins were holding them back where they should be except for the 2nd bone (not the one connected to the big toe, but the next one) which had a small gap.

The next day I saw an orthopaedic surgeon who said the x-ray with the bones and pins looked "good enough". This alarmed me. I was thinking " What kind of good enough? You are 43 and likely to die soon anyway.... or You aren’t that athletic or anything so this will be good enough for walking around your house and neighborhood." At first I thought it was a language mistake because his first language is Thai. So on Sunday, I asked my doctor friend from church about it being "good enough" and she said that my foot will never be the same again. But she said it will work, I'll walk, and it may just be 95% (or whatever) of what it was. So I guess that's good news. I take it as good news.

This all reminds me of a story. A few years ago we were following up on a 3 year old boy with a club foot. He had surgery where a long pin was put in from his big toe down to his heel. His parents were not very vigilant or obedient to the doctors' orders and they didn't make him wear the special shoes that he was supposed to wear. They said he didn’t like to wear them and they didn’t want to force him. One afternoon he was having a nap. When they noticed him again a few hours later, he had woken up from his nap and taken the pin out his foot all by himself!
It's only now that I have 5 pins in my foot that I understand why/how he did that. It's actually not very comfortable to have these pins sticking out of my foot. It's not painful either, but I just think that it would feel a whole lot better if I pulled them all out.

Don't worry. I won't. But have to admit I’m tempted.

(Sorry no photo!)