More Ups and Downs (Mostly Ups)

Well, the lesson I’m learning is that really, it’s just one day at a time.

I last posted that I’d gotten off the big pain meds and was feeling good. That lasted until last Wednesday night; I passed a very painful night, tossing and turning, unable to get comfortable, and woke Thursday morning feeling beat up. To top it all off, I’d developed a stabbing pain in the bottom of my foot, almost like my foot was folded. I could stick my finger in the boot and it didn’t FEEL that way but it seemed to get worse the longer the morning went. And my toes were funny-looking, fat and orange like little puffy Cheetoes.

None of it seemed right and I was teary and hurting. So I called the doc. There was much discussion of pain meds with the nurse; he told me that I really needed to on the stronger pain meds, that having metal in my bones was painful, and I didn’t need to be in a hurry to get off. I explained how bad I’d felt under the influence of those heavy drugs, and he said we’d try a different type. He also said I should come in to see the doctor (well, A doctor, as my doctor wasn’t in) so they could check out just what was going on. He explained that the puffy Cheeto look was dye from the surgery and general swelling but still, they wanted to check out the foot before the weekend rolled around.

Seeing the Doc About Discomfort

We got in that afternoon and they unbooted and unwrapped my foot. It’s amazing how much muscle I’ve lost in two weeks — there is a visible difference between my left and right calves. My ankle and heel were very swollen and there was lots of pooled blood in dramatic colors. The incision was, um, bloody looking but simply in a “this thing hasn’t been cleaned up in a week” kind of way.

The doc came in and I practically swooned when he took my foot in his hands and proceeded to bend it this way and that. However, it was just the thought that it might hurt that had me cringing, as it actually didn’t hurt at all. I was shocked.

The other surprise was that the minute they unwrapped my foot, the pain in the bottom was relieved…and the longer it was out of the boot, cotton, and Ace bandages, the better it felt. The doc explained that I probably had some kind of pinched nerve and the PT gently rewrapped me, added some new padding under my toes and around my ankles, and readjusted the boot. Between that and the new pain meds, I was in heaven.

OMG, the difference was incredible. I also found out that it was okay to take my foot out of the boot and work on flexing it; in addition, I can even have it out of the boot for some general airing out (though I can’t sleep without the boot on or put any weight on it whatsoever). I was thrilled to find out that I had these freedoms and that, combined with the pain relief, made me feel like a new woman.

Happy Birthday to Me

I had a great Friday — it was my birthday, #49 — a lovely day, complete with breakfast in bed, a shower (it’s a tandem thing. Since I can’t get the cast wet or put any weight on my foot, my husband has to help me in and out, all with my left lower leg duct-taped into a trashbag), lovely gift, and an outing to Manuel’s on the patio for appetizers. (It was my first real public outing with the crutches and I am happy to report there was no embarrassing and painful face plant.)

Saturday was another great day. I’ve been so fortunate to have been treated to so many home-cooked meals by my good friends, and Saturday was extra special as my friend Jason stopped by with all kinds of yummy food and — get this! — a birthday cake, a gorgeous chocolate hazelnut torte.

It’s hard to top that but on Sunday, sweet Stacey Hamilton and her lovely daughter Ellie picked me up and whisked me over to a little past the 10-mile mark of the marathon so we could cheer. It was a perfect spot; we only had a little way to walk from where the car was parked at RunTex and there was a concrete embankment that I could lean against when I wanted to stand; Stacey had brought a chair for me to sit in as I needed, so I alternated sitting and standing.

Run Joanie Run!

And this was FANTASTIC — we saw Joan Benoit Samuelson! Stacey had mentioned she was in town and we saw this woman and man running together…we turned to each other and said, “Is that…?” and then I think we both started screaming (well, I certainly did), “Go Joanie!  Go Joanie!” The guy running next to her nudged her with his elbow and they both grinned back at us. I thoroughly and completely admit to being a star-struck groupie; she is my idol. Joanie heard me yell for her!

It was only later after hearing reports that she and Lance had run together that I realized I completely overlooked “that guy.” We cheered all of our friends that we could find and only left sometime after the 5:00 pace group should’ve gone by. It was a fantastic morning.

My extended family came over for lunch later to celebrate. James made burgers, Ironman Idaho potatoes, and Greek salad, and we had Jason’s torte as dessert. We wound down that evening with some Scrabble with my son and his girlfriend. They didn’t let me win but I still had a great time.

The Ankle’s Getting Better

Monday was my post-surgery doctor’s visit. Unfortunately, the office was running ‘way behind and the wait took its toll. I had misjudged and not taken any pain medication since 9:30 a.m. and, by 4:30 p.m., I was a bit uncomfortable. They X-rayed my ankle again. The doctor came in and showed us the X-ray; he said he was very pleased with the way things looked. In addition to the three screws, Dr. Hill had placed some sutures around the bone above the screws where the break continues (you can’t see the sutures on the X-ray, so this was new to us). He explained that the “Xes” marked on the other side of my foot were there in case he’d needed to make another incision for more work; thank goodness he didn’t need to do that.

Dr. Hill removed the steri-strips and cleaned the incision (which made me a little woozy) and retaped, telling me that I could now get my leg wet. I can shower without the boot as long as I can sit and not put weight on my foot — woohooo! He also told me that I can begin to put weight on my foot while I’m wearing the boot. Using pain and swelling as my guide, I can “walk” as much as I like…but only in the boot. And the boot will stay on until the end of March.

In four weeks, I’ll go back for a follow up visit and (possibly) a new boot. All good news!

Published by Leah Nyfeler

I'm a writer, editor, runner, and adventurer who is always looking for the next new story, exciting adventure, and good meal/book/movie. My focus is on helping people find their best, healthiest self through sharing what I know and how I've come to learn it. In addition to my blog "Enjoying the Journey: Observations on the Fit Life" at www.leahruns100.com, my articles have appeared in a variety of print and online magazines. You can hear me as part of the 2015 Austin cast of Listen To Your Mother.

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