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


Christina Berry said...

You're feeding me great research for my WIP, except the man has two broken legs. Clean breaks, though. ;-) So Brandilyn, you've got to tell me about the smell!

sbaar said...

Ooh - Brandilyn, this gives me all kinds of ucky memories. I've broken my left arm - twice. And I can still remember the feel of that saw going through the cast.

And Christina? You really, really don't want to know about the smell. You know that smell that your winter gloves can get sometimes...because of the skin and the moisture and the heat and everything...? It's like that but 10 times worse.


C.J. Darlington said...

I'm so glad to hear you got the boot, Brandilyn. So, if it's elective, are you planning to have the plate and screws removed?

Kristy Dykes said...

You got the boot? Hurray! Now you can do the Boot Scootin' Boogie. It's not hard. I learned how to do it when I took line dancing classes last year. Seriously, I wish you the best. You have such fierce determination and a positive outlook. It's (you're) refreshing. God bless--

Ed J. Horton said...

Hi Brandilyn!

I have enjoyed reading your blog for many months now. I was particularly sorry to read of your accident and resulting trials with your ankle.

I'm kinda a Big Honkin' Chicken about reliving my experience with a hip surgery gone-bad. After six months with crutches and a cane, I elected to keep all the extraneous hardware that was implanted--even the stuff that looks like knitting needles and baling wire. It's been twelve years and only a slight squeak when I walk reminds me of the hardware. Okay, I'm kidding about the squeak! Only airport x-ray scanners and friendly blog entries remind me of my mechanical parts.

Wishing you the best in your continued recovery!

Nicole said...

Remember my husband broke his femur in half after being drug on the racetrack, and they had to put a stainless steel rod in it the length of his thigh. It was supposed to come out, but Doc ever so slightly cracked the femur sliding it in, and it's there to this day reporting (with a little ache) the low pressure of upcoming rain after a dry spell . . .

You really hurt yourself, girl. Continued blessing on your healing.

Susanne said...

Yay, for getting the boot. Ugh, to more surgery. Now don't go overdoing the first week in your new foot fashion accessory.

Christina Berry said...

Thanks, Sarah! Maybe I'll quote you...give you an acknowledgement at the beginning of the book--All smells provided by Sarah.

D. Gudger said...

Girl, I feel with ya! I've broken and torn my right ankle to shreds and did the cast thing more than once. A sadism expert, uh, I mean Physical Therapist made me "write" the alphabet in script letters w/ my big toe to rehab those stiffer than steel tendons and ligaments. Perhaps you can write a chapter in the next Kanner Lake novel with your big toe?

Funny story - my mom bought Coral Moon to read when my sister has her baby this week. She's decided to read it all now b/c it's soooo good. She fears she'd tell the doctor to "bug off" when he announced it was time for her to go to the delivery room!

~ Brandilyn Collins said...

Okay, just to set the record straight. I admitted my foot looks horrible. And my leg. Even gave you some not-so-lovely details. However, one thing my leg did not do--it did not smell. Not even a little bit. Go figure.

A girl has to have SOME pride.

Darcie--gotta love your mom.

Sally Bradley said...

Yippee for the boot!

Had to laugh about Nurse Blade. I met her in junior high. She told me the saw wouldn't cut me. I told her it felt like it did. She assured me I was wrong.

When the cast came off a week later (infection), there was the scar and dried blood!

Glad you just got the vibrations. :)

Amy Wallace said...

Your cast story has me cringing with memories. I've been in a full cast and those lovely boots twice~ I have a gray one and a red one. The first time was because I played hero and got between my toddler and the pavement, ripping tendons in the process. After six weeks in a cast (That's how I wrote my first book that's releasing today!) my leg looked like a big white prune.

But the muscles all came back nicely, praise God!

Praying for you, Brandilyn!

Dineen A. Miller said...

A pox on snowmobiles.

LOL! I've got the willies for you. You poor thing. It's a conspiracy, you know. The cabinets found a way to strike back... ;-)