Monday, April 16, 2007
I Got The Boot
In this case, gettin' the boot ain’t such a bad thing. Well, now it isn’t. I wasn’t exactly thinking that as I sat in the doctor’s office Friday morning. Doc wasn’t around at the moment. Ever notice how they get the nurses to do their dirty work?...
So I’m sitting on the same gurney where I got my cast put on over four weeks previously. Mark’s in the same chair over by the wall. A pleasant-faced nurse in a blue-and-pink uniform approaches with her handy-dandy tool. Looks like a vacuum cleaner hose with a saw blade on the end. I look at Mark; he looks at me. One side of his mouth rises. He knows what I’m thinking.
My eyes pull back to Nurse Blade.
“So, uh.” I rub the underside of my chin. “You’re gonna demonstrate that thing first, right? Like on your own arm.”
“Oh. You’ve never had a cast taken off before?”
I shake my head. My eyes are so wide, the motion takes extra energy.
“No worries. This can’t cut skin.” She turns the blade on and whirs it back and forth over her palm. “See?”
I lean in close, squinting for blood. Not a drop.
I straighten. “Okay.”
The tremble in my voice says I'm not totally convinced.
She starts in at the top of my blue cast. “Now you’re going to feel the vibrations, but that’s all.”
The blade cuts into the cast and moves downward, toward my foot. I’m feelin’ those Good Vibrations all right. I don’t like this one bit, but I’m not about to show any fear.
I start singing the Beach Boys song. Mark rolls his eyes.
Nurse Blade cuts all the way down one side around my foot and up the other. Then she uses a wedge tool to crack the cast. Slowly it comes apart. She lifts it away.
Is that my foot? That swollen, scarred, purple shoe box? And the leg. It’s ghostly pale, covered with two inches of dried skin. My calf—that huge runner’s muscle I used to have, hangs like jelly clinging to an upturned bowl. I raise a tenuous finger, give it a poke. It jiggles.
Fifteen seconds later, it’s still wiggling.
I look at the nurse, swallow hard. She smiles. “Don’t worry. It’ll come back.”
I crutch off dejectedly to take X-rays. Doc appears to read the results. Good news. The bone has healed nicely. He puts me in this gray boot thing that I can take on and off. Says I can start putting weight on the leg, as long as I’m wearing the boot.
My face lights up. “Really? I thought I’d have to wait weeks for that!”
Immediate weight-bearing is the good news. Bad news is—6 weeks in the boot. That’ll put me near the end of May. June 25—another surgery to take the long screw out that goes clear through the ankle. “You can wait longer if you have to,” Doc says. “But eventually the screw will break, and then we got to go in from both sides to take it out.”
The only thing worse than one new hole in my ankle is two. I say June 25 is just fine. Doc says recovery from that won’t take too long. Let’s hope not. Ten days later I’m supposed to fly to Atlanta for the ChiLibris retreat and ICRS. I’m imagining those humongously long convention floors, wondering if I might better rent a wheelchair for the day…
Now, three days after seeing the doc, I’m walking around with the boot, using crutches for support. Soon I think I can get rid of the right crutch. It’ll be nice when I don’t need either of them. When the boot is off, I’m exercising the ankle. Stretching it right, left, up, down. It’s a weird thing, feeling the ligaments under my skin. They feel like inch-thick rubber bands. With attitude.
As for the plate in the ankle and all the other screws, they can come out in another year and a half or so—if I choose. That’s another major surgery, followed by crutches all over again. All those holes in the bones could make for an easy new break until they’re healed. Great thought--yeah, let's start this process all over again
A pox on snowmobiles.
Read Part 10