I fractured my right ankle just a little while hiking in Moab three months ago on day two of a two-week vacation with Mike. Although I knew it was probably fractured, just a little, I refused a trip to the doctor until we got home. I bought hiking poles and walked gingerly at each of the magnificent national parks we visited, something a doctor would have told me not to do.
With an x-ray confirming the “stable” fracture upon our return home, I earned my first knee-high walking boot for two weeks, graduating to a short boot for another two before starting physical therapy. A couple of weeks into therapy, things got worse, and an MRI showed what the x-ray didn’t: torn cartilage. It would need to be removed, and a few little holes drilled in the talus bone to release new bone ooze (pretty sure that’s what it’s called) to repair the damage.
“No weight bearing for six weeks.” The verdict was made less heinous only because it was delivered by a cute doctor. The reason had something to do with ensuring the new bone ooze had time to reach the right consistency.
When I got home, I stared at the crutches Mike used for a couple of weeks last year after his hip replacement. I adjusted them to my armpits and took a few practice strolls around the house. It’s easy when you know you can put your foot down. After practicing up and down the stairs, I decided I’d be using the butt method instead.
The day before surgery I cleaned the house from top to bottom, removed all the throw rugs and things from the stairs, colored and trimmed my hair, did a bit more food shopping (marveling all the while at how easy these tasks were with two functional legs and free hands) and scrubbed myself with Hibiclens before jumping into my freshly washed sheets. For those who have not experienced pre-surgical prep lately, this 3-day special scrub-down is a new infection control measure against pesky things like MRSA.
As Mike was away for training, our good friend John ushered me to the hospital. I chatted his ear off for the 40-minute drive over the mountain, filling him in on all the prep I’d done including another Hibiclens that morning. After ensuring I was in good hands, he took his leave when my anesthesiologist entered, an Air Force man. We talked about the military and he told me he’d buy my novel. His unhurried visit with me was completed unexpected and took my mind off of the impending surgery. I knew he’d take good care of me.
After handing my “I used Hibiclens for 3 days” checklist to the nurse, the cute doctor came by to reassure me.
“I’m so clean you could eat off me,” I almost dared to tell him. But I didn’t. I didn’t want him to be distracted by that thought while he was fishing around in my ankle.
I wish I could remember what I was blabbing while they pushed me down the hall into surgery because I think it was profound. All I remember was a feeling of absolute bliss, and then a gentle voice asking how I felt.
It was over so very quickly, and the cute doctor told me he was happy with the procedure.
John drove me home, and although I remember being quite chatty for about 5 minutes, the after effects of the anesthesia hit me and I dozed until we got home. I’m pretty sure he was relieved when I finally shut up. He helped me into the house as I fumbled with the crutches, and I was happy to hit the couch until Mike returned a couple of hours later.
I didn’t have much of an appetite, but the lentil soup tasted good, and soon it was time to butt my way up the stairs and into bed. That was yesterday, September 1st, Day One of 42-no-weight-bearing days. What a way to start a new month.