The Details and the After

by Ginger on July 5, 2015

in Random

I’m now more than a week out from my surgery. It was a good thing, although I’m at the point where I’m over the whole nonsense & kind of wish I could either undo it or just fast forward through this recovery phase. But let me back up.

One of my biggest concerns prior to surgery was that they’d get in there and then say, “eh, we didn’t really need to do this.” Well, that fear turned out to be unfounded, as they actually did MORE than anyone was expecting. Instead of just repairing the torn tendon, they ended up: repairing the torn tendon, tightening the ligaments in my ankle, removing a neuroma from between my toes, and removing & filing down a bone spur. Somewhere in all of that, I now have a couple of titanium pins in my ankle, though I’ve been told I won’t set off metal detectors, so what’s the fun in that?

All told, it was clearly a case of “there’s some messed up nonsense going on in here,” so I’m glad I did it, and now it can all heal, and yadayadayada.


(Flowers from friends and coworkers help brighten the recovery bedroom.)

On the flip side of that though, this recovery is…not easy. I wasn’t exactly expecting it to be, but the thinking and experiencing are two different things.

I’m in a big ole cyborg boot.  It’s better than the cast I was supposed to get, because I can adjust the straps, and even take it off for brief periods of time, even though I don’t actually like to do that (it feels very unsupported and weird). But even still, it’s hot, and massive and has a tendency to migrate during waking hours so that I have to painfully reposition my foot at least once a day. It’s weird to sleep in the equivalent of a giant snow boot. And it’s so bulky, and pretty heavy, that I feel like I’m trying to navigate a cement block around, blindly.


I’m supposed to stay totally non-weight bearing on that leg, which is both easy (I literally cannot fathom putting my weight on that foot right now without screaming white hot pain) and incredibly difficult, given that you kind of use your legs for a lot. I have a scooter to help me (because crutches are the devil), which has been a godsend.


But it’s also challenging to maneuver the scooter around, without running over my own toes, bumping into things, running into walls, and scaring the animals. Again, better than crutches, by far, but still not easy.

I spent most of the first week in bed.  

  

Variations on the view were limited.

In the past few days, I’ve been venturing upstairs, to do some work/be around the rest of the family. Slightly different view.


I have to be careful though, because it’s still really easy for me to overdo it–even simply sitting up instead of laying (lying? my grammar nemesis strikes again) down can wear me out & have me paying the price that night. I still need to keep my foot elevated above my heart a good chunk of the day, & it’s easy to let that slip when I’m upstairs working or hanging with the family. I still haven’t figured out the exact right balance with pain pills vs Tylenol vs nothing. And now, I’ve got some nerve pain happening, which is a good thing as far as healing, but definitely tricky as far as pain & meds go.

Beyond that, it’s been hard, because I still need help for everything major. I can’t get up or down stairs without someone to help me on the other end (I do the actual stairs by scooting on my butt). I can’t shower without lots and lots of help. I can get some stuff on my own (basket on the scooter ftw), but have to have someone bring me all my meals, my drinks, my pillows. I don’t like asking for help, being a burden, adding stress to my husband’s already crazy stressful plate.

That’s another thing. I planned this surgery terribly. I had some control over when, and chose now for a variety of (valid) reasons, with N.C.’s input. But now also is a shit storm of nonsense for N.C., and the burden I’ve put on him right now of all times weighs on me, heavily. Hindsight being what it is, I kind of wish I had waited it out a bit more, if only to help alleviate the burden to him.

But it is what it is, and the train has left the station, so all I can do now is keep chugging forward on the getting better trip. I’ve gotten a good rhythm for some things, and while I’m kind of over the whole thing, it’s moving along the best it can. Twitter and text buddies help keep me company, Netflix/Amazon/Hulu help keep me from being totally bored, and I’m at least getting plenty of beauty sleep ;-).

Tomorrow I head to the dr to get the stitches out (gag, let’s hope I don’t pass out, which I almost did when they changed the bandage 5 days post surgery. Stupid vasovagal response). We’ll find out then what the next steps are–when I start weight bearing (hold me, I don’t wanna!), when I start pt, etc.–and hopefully get a better picture of what the recovery process looks like for me specifically.

 

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Yup, another ankle post

by Ginger on June 19, 2015

in I'm a Disaster

The ankle saga continues.

Quick recap: sprained my ankle in March. Figured out in May I had torn peroneal tendon. Did a month of physical therapy to see if it would help.

Spoiler–it didn’t help.

And so, the order came in for surgery. Which I’ll be doing next Thursday. As in, less than a week from now. Followed by 2 weeks of non-weight bearing, then (hopefully) progressive weight bearing depending on how recovery is going for the next 4-6 weeks. I’ve been at a work retreat all this week, so I haven’t had (too) much time to freak out about it, but now that the retreat is winding down, my anxiety is ramping up a bit as I think about all the logistics (and my fears). I’m SO SO SO glad to finally have a plan, and a schedule, which has been a real frustration with this whole “wait and see” approach, but now I have approximately 5 days to catch up on the last 2 months of wait & see-ing.

I’m also trying to work through (and by work through, I mean totally ignore) my fears. Or maybe worries is a better word than fears. I’m worried we’ll do the surgery & they’ll find it’s not bad enough to have warranted it and I’m just a big ole baby. I’m worried that the cost is going to be a financial setback on top of all my healthcare related financial setbacks last year. I’m worried that it’s going to be a bigger burden on my husband than he realizes to have to pick up almost all of the slack for at least a few weeks. More minor worries include getting to the restroom while non-weight bearing and on pain killers, how to keep the 5 year old from bumping the cast the first few days, and “Stairs & your gimpy leg: a tutorial.”

I’m also pretty bummed about missing good chunk of the good stuff about summer: the fair, the beach, the pool. We were going to take J to the Legoland waterpark this year, now I won’t be able to go. A friend is getting married & I won’t be able to go. We were going to do a roadtrip, now that’s off the table. It’s just…lame. (Get it? Lame? Hahaha…yeah,ok not my best)

Anyway. The situation is what it is. We’ll figure it out (we always do), and we’ll make it work (we always do). It’ll be here fast and then it’ll be over, and then it’s just time to heal. I’m in a good situation for recovery since I work from home (I’ve been warned that elevating the foot is pretty much mandatory for the first few weeks), and N.C. will be there to help, & I’ve got some family coming in to help some as well. Plus I’ve got Netflix & OnDemand, and the internet & Twitter to keep me company.

And most importantly, this is the thing I need to do to get full use of my foot back, so let’s do it and get that show on the road. It’s easier to think about all the hassle/pain/irritation when I know that on the other end of this it’s better.

 

 

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Let’s catch up, shall we?

by Ginger on June 5, 2015

in Random

I keep wanting to come here and write, but then the only things I think about lately are 1) my foot and 2) work and 3) money and 4) my kid and I can’t make words happen about anything else, so let’s just go ahead and catch up on those things, shall we?

1) My foot. I’ve got one more week of PT before I see my doctor again. I’m not necessarily encouraged, mostly because I have seen little to no improvement in pain in 2 of the 3 areas (the 2 that are directly related to the torn tendon), and in fact have seen some pain getting worse in 1 of those 2 areas, so. Yeah. We’ll find out more next Friday, and I swear there’s a countdown clock in my head to that day.

1a) So one of the things I’ve learned, and whoo boy is it inconvenient in this case, is that NSAIDS can actually hinder tendon healing. So those 2 months I was hobbling around and gulping down Advil & other NSAIDS actually may have been doing me a disservice. I stopped a while back because they were upsetting my stomach, but probably would have just kept at it otherwise. Add this to the list of reasons I’m mad at the first doctor for completely dismissing me.

1b) I’m really tired of a 15 minute trip to the grocery store to pick up limes and milk and bread (because we’re now a family that goes through at least 2 loaves of bread a week, when did that happen?) hurting me for 2 days afterwards.

1c) No really. One of the goals written in my chart for PT is “able to go to grocery store with no increase in baseline pain.” So far, I’m nowhere close to that goal, AND IT’S A LAME GOAL.

2) Work. My new job remains awesome, and working from home is all that I imagined and more! That being said, I am DEFINITELY stretching brain muscles I’ve either never stretched or not in a long time. In a lot of ways, I’m working harder than I’ve worked maybe ever, but in really good ways that make me feel like I’m accomplishing things and learning things and it’s good, but oh my brain is mush by the end of the week.

3) Money. Let’s just leave it at: I kind of hate people who pay freelancers/contractors/artists late. That is all.

3a) Also, being a grown up is super lame, and the IRS is super lame, and medical bills are lame, and yeah. Lame lame lame.

3b) I cannot WAIT to not be paying for J’s school every month. It’s gonna feel like a major raise!

4) My kid. My kid is awesome. His school is winding down, and he is just this awesome little dude who likes to read books, and do math, and “actually mommy, I like all the parts of school, except when I get consequences for doing things I’m not supposed to. But all the learning things, I like that all.” His next year situation is EXCEEDINGLY frustrating, which I may do a rant about sometime soon if only because OMG IT IS DRIVING ME BONKERS, but man, this kid is just…he’s a cool little dude.

4a) As awesome as he is, he’s also a complete pill sometimes. Right now, we’re in a fairly robust backtalk & complete disinterest in complying with requests phase & man does it challenge my patience. And I’m a pretty patient parent, but having the 5 year old say, “Um, nope, I’m not going to do that.” makes me twitch. (He is learning that, ahahhaha, yeah that doesn’t fly, but I do wish he would learn just a smidge faster).

4b) He’s a little barnacle lately, particularly to me–he wants to cuzzle or sit on my lap or sit next to me or lay on me or in some way shape or form be touching me ALL the time. There’s a balance I try to strike in my head between “ahhh, I’ll enjoy this while it lasts, because it won’t be forever” and “DEAR GOD CHILD STAAAHHHPPPPP TOUCHING ME!” When I’m not completely touched out though? Yeah, cuzzling with a little boy who lights up when he sees you, really is kind of the best.

So! What’s up with you?

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Ankles are stupid, the sequel

by Ginger on May 12, 2015

in I'm a Disaster

Have I mentioned before that ankles are stupid?

Lemme back up. (warning, venting & processing post ahead)

***

In early March, I turned my ankle. It was dumb, I was just going to sit down cross-legged, and something gave out. I heard and felt a big pop, and it hurt like hell. I figured I sprained the stupid thing (again. Yes, it’s the same ankle as before).

But I noticed the pain was in a couple of weird places. It hurt on the top of my ankle, like my last ankle sprain, yes. But it REALLY REALLY hurt behind my ankle bone, and on the outside middle of my foot (what I would come through google images to figure out was the base of the 5th metatarsal). Those two spots hurt to touch, and the one on the outside of the foot kind of felt…well the way a bad stone bruise feels, kind of?

Anyway, after a couple of weeks of this, I went to the dr to get it checked out. I got the first appointment I could, with a sports med doctor. The dr spent exactly 3 minutes with me, said I had a grade 1 sprain, and tried to dismiss me. When I pushed about the other two outside spots, he said, “oh, you probably have some peroneal tendonitis.” My instructions were ice, a lace up brace, and some exercises to keep my ankle from getting too stiff. He said I should start to feel better in a few more weeks.

Fast forward a month and a half, and the pain is not getting better, but instead getting worse, to the point of keeping me up at night. It’s swelling more, and as an added bonus, my two little toes are starting to feel a little numb on occasion. I think that was the part that pushed me over the edge & I finally decided to go see a specialist.

I found someone online who specialized in feet & ankles, who was in network for my insurance, and who could see me the day I called. That was May 4th, almost exactly 2 months since I injured it.

When I went, he took an xray, listened to me explain all my pain and discomfort, felt around on my foot and ankle, did some manual manipulations, then said, “well, I think you probably have a torn peroneal tendon.”

I left with an order for an MRI, instructions to use my boot (new doctor was pretty pissed at first doctor for not having me in the boot already) and try to stay off my foot where I could, and his email address to let him know when the MRI was done so he could keep an eye out for the scans.

There was some nonsense w/my insurance getting the MRI, but I finally got it done & the results came back today:

Torn peroneal tendon.

Peroneal Tendons Figure 2

I forgot to ask the dr whether it was the peroneus brevis or the peroneus longus, but it kinda sorta doesn’t matter which. It’s a torn tendon either way, and both those tendons are apparently pretty stubborn about healing.

Let me interject here: I’m utterly thrilled to have an actual diagnosis. I’m not thrilled that I’m hurt, but I’m glad there’s an actual reason I’m in pain, and that it’s not just that I’m a wimp or making it up. There’s this thing that happens when you have had dealings with doctors without any resolution where you just start believing you’re a nutjob about everything. It’s part of why I didn’t fight the first doctor more, even though I was pretty sure my pain wasn’t a “typical” ankle sprain, because I clearly am just a hypochondriac with a low pain threshold. So yes, while I don’t want to be injured, at least I’m not crazy.

So the plan now is one month of physical therapy, to make sure we’ve covered all the conservative treatments. If there’s no improvement after that, then it’ll be surgery. The surgery is apparently not the easiest recovery: 2-6 weeks totally non-weight bearing on that leg, followed by another 2-6 weeks of an aircast, followed by physical therapy for some amount of time.

According to the dr & my research, physical therapy doesn’t have a super great success rate with this particular injury (pre-surgery). Something about lack of blood flow to the area or something like that? But as my doctor said, you can always have surgery, but you can’t go backwards and be conservative once you’ve done surgery, so he wants to give it a chance.

Fine fine fine. But also…

I’m not in a hurry for surgery, but at the same time, there’s a part of me that’s like…if physical therapy fails for this injury so much, could we just fast forward to the part that’s going to get me fixed? Plus, there’s a bit of a scheduling nightmare with something that would keep me with such limited mobility for so long. Also also, it’s a bit demoralizing to think that IF the physical therapy doesn’t work, I’m looking at anywhere from 4-6 more months of pain and discomfort before this is all done.

BUT. I also don’t want to have surgery if I can help it. I keep thinking of being non-weight bearing, in a 2 story house, with a five year old, over the summer, and whoooooo boy does that sound like a massive headache. I don’t want to be laid up in bed for weeks (though the working from home would be a bonus in that regard). I definitely don’t want to pay for surgery if I don’t have to. DO NOT WANT ANY OF THIS. So I’m going to go to physical therapy, and I’m going to be a model patient, and do whatever they tell me to, and not do whatever they tell me to, and wear my boot, and not overdo things on the weekends, and give my ankle every additional chance to heal and cross my fingers that I’m in the percentage of people who ARE PT success stories for this injury.

***

Anyway, like I said, ankles are stupid.

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Once a Year

by Ginger on April 22, 2015

in Random

This past weekend I found myself in Seattle, for my 3rd Blathering. It was as fabulous as it always is for me, and as usual I came back with my giggle meter totally full, along with my heart.

A photo posted by Ginger (@rambleginger) on

At this point, I know enough people who tend to go to The Blathering that I don’t get nervous going anymore. It feels more like going back to summer camp than meeting strangers, even when I don’t know everyone who will be there. I settle into an easy rhythm with some old friends, with a little bit of nervous energy with new ones. I’m a hugger (unless you don’t want a hug, then I’ll wave like a spaz instead), and it’s always nice to put my arms around someone I haven’t seen in a year (or ever). I’ve also found my rhythm at these events. I don’t care as much about sightseeing as I do talking and giggling. I don’t care as much about sleeping as I do staying up and being rowdy. I get a scant 3, 4 days with all these lovely women and as awesome as the cities we visit are, and as lovely as sleep is, those things aren’t what sells me on this event year after year. It’s the women, and the laughter, and the connections (and, ok, a little bit, the booze & the food. But mostly the women).


At the end of it all, I’m always more than ready to come home. And it, inevitably, takes me a few days to recover (seriously, staying up until 2 am drinking for 3 days straight? I’m way too old for that, and yet…). But mostly, at the end of it all, I just miss everyone. I can hear their voices in my head when I read their words on Twitter, and I can hear their laughter echoing in my ears, but it’s not the same. (Why haven’t we mastered that whole teleportation thing yet?).

I’m lucky to have found this tribe of ladies, and even luckier that it grows every year. And I’m grateful, oh so grateful, to be able to spend time with them in person. Even if it’s only once a year, it’s still at least once a year.

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