Just Call Me Bionic (Toe) Woman

I remember the surgery.

Mostly.

They did give me Versed (how mean) so I don’t remember it all. And sadly, I can’t really recall quite what my toe looked like all sliced open, but I remember some. Here’s the play by play:

Walking to Foot Surgery

Obviously, I couldn’t drive home after the surgery so I didn’t want to drive to work and leave my car there. Instead, I left my domestic tank (a.k.a. Volvo) at my parents’ and my mom gave me a ride to work. In order to only take one day off, I scheduled the surgery end of day on Thursday with Friday slated for recovery. After an exciting day in the office, I left a little before 3:00 to walk over to the Orthopaedic Center. It was the last walking I would be doing for some time.

Check-in and WAIT

Why would they have a waiting room if they didn’t want you to wait? I checked in, paid my co-pay (ouch) and sat down to read the paper. The assistant who checked me in said that I would be prepped for surgery around 3, and then be in surgery from 4-5, recovering for 30 minutes after and then my ride could come. I gave them my mom’s numbers to call when I was ready to be picked up (kind of like a take-out meal). After five minutes in the waiting room, a nurse came to get me and I thought, “Great, not much waiting.” Silly me.

She brought me in to another room and told me that the surgeon was THREE HOURS BEHIND. I waited for her to laugh and say, just kidding. It wasn’t a joke. He really was behind. This required me to send texts to my mom to try and arrange another ride. They wanted a name of the person who would pick me up before I went into surgery. I guess they didn’t want to send me home with the wrong person.

The next estimate of when I’d be done and in recovery was 8:00 pm and Mom recruited Laina to pick me up.

Now that I was all gowned-up, flapping in the wind (lots of wind in surgery waiting rooms), I pulled out my crossword puzzle, of course. However, the anesthesiologist interrupted me before I had filled in more than a couple. What happened to three hours behind?

My First Ultrasound

I asked the anesthesiologist if we could just do local. Of course he said sure. I’m the patient and it’s my body, right? So we rolled into another room where he did an ultrasound on the back of my right leg (in my knee pit) in order to find the nerve leading down to my middle toe.

Silly me to have thought that they would just numb my entire foot. But, I can’t lie to you, internet. When I could still feel the inside of my ankle, I was worried that I would still feel my toe, too and then how was I supposed to hold still when they started cutting? Rest assured: I felt no cutting. They only numbed the nerves they needed to. Fancy modern medicine.

Don’t Forget to Breathe

Have you ever heard that blonde joke? About the blonde (obviously) who had headphones on when she went to the doctor’s, he asked her to take them off, she warned him that it wasn’t a good idea, but did it anyway and shortly after, collapsed (or possibly died). So the doctor picks up the headphones and listens: “Breath in… breath out… breath in…”

I felt like the dumb blonde.

But it’s the fault of the anesthesiologist, right? Whatever he gave me as we were rolling into the operating room, really made me drowsy. They put the oxygen mask on me and I remember him saying a handful of times, “Keep breathing.” Apparently, being under partial anesthesia doesn’t mean your brain remembers to breathe in and out. Eventually, I came out of my stupor and could again remember on my own to keep breathing. It was at this point that I saw the monitor.

Surgery is NOT Delicate

“Hey, can I watch that?” That’s what I asked the anesthesiologist. (By the way, it’s rather annoying to keep typing that word.) He said of course and even pulled the monitor closer.

I watched my surgery, ate some popcorn and jujubes, and chatted with the numbing doctor (so much easier to type than anesthesiologist). He told me about his dog, I pointed out how well you could see the hairs growing out of the surgeon’s ears.

I remember when they took at least one picture and I’m pretty sure it was after he had cut open the toe and bent it in such a way that the bones were protruding out where there once was a joint. I’m going to ask for a copy of that picture.

I also remember the holes in the bone, but I don’t recall hearing them drill them. They did fill up with blood pretty quickly, but they soon stopped that by sticking blue titanium devices inside the holes. (I have no idea what the specific term is for a new, permanent, titanium toe, but that’s what I have.)

The surgeon had a slightly difficult time getting them to snap together, though. Okay, maybe they weren’t quite like Lego’s so they didn’t snap, but it didn’t look like it was very easy trying to hook them together. They twisted, pushed, shook my leg some, used a handful of tools, twisted some more, and eventually got the male titanium piece in the female piece. It was something to do with lining up the hexagon shape. Ask Jarv. He could probably explain it better.

I couldn’t really see when they were stitching me up because their heads were in the way so I talked with the numbing doctor about his weimaraner. (I want a dog.)

Chocolate and Recovery

They rolled me into the recovery room where the nurses were waiting.

“You’re awake?” She sounded so surprised.

“Yes, and she watched the whole thing,” the numbing doctor said, sounding proud.

And by then, I was STARVING. They brought me my stuff and I asked if I could eat the chocolates I had in my purse. So while they tried to find out who was going to pick me up, I ate chocolate-dipped pretzels.

It was just before 6:00 p.m. Remember how the previous nurse said I would be out by 8:00 p.m.? Clearly, they SUCK at time estimates. It was too early for Laina, too late for Mom and I didn’t know who to call. Thankfully, my family took care of me and eventually, Tracy was called into duty and pulled up shortly after I had changed out of my cozy little gown. Hooray for family.

Dependent on Others

The biggest thing that I learned from this (besides that watching surgery on my own toe was beyond cool) was that I’m excessively blessed with friends and family. PLUS, they’re the friends and family who pick you up, take you food, bring you movies, etc.

I started making a list of all of the things that people did for me in the last few days and realized it was getting very long and if I forgot somebody, I would feel awful. Lots of people checked in on me, gave me rides, brought/bought me food, kept me company, etc. Thank you! Thank you!


Political Link of the Day: “Does Bernanke Realize What He’s Doing?

Afraid to look passive, policy makers risk making things much much worse.

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4 comments

  1. Okay, so first off I just have to say that it is so sweet that you were able to watch your own surgery. Kudos to you. Second, I’m glad that it’s over with and that you were able to get home. I hope you heal quickly.

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