Friday, October 14, 2011

Kathryn, meet your new ankle

Employing a complicated car exchange, my husband Dave and two sons had planned to converge at the lake on Labor Day for one reason: to arrive with one extra driver so we could get my mother and her car home before my fall Writing Partner retreat for women the following weekend. Now, my ankle broken and the retreat canceled, we would all be heading home.

First, however, I had to get my staples removed. I'd seen the x-rays of my foot, and knew about the fibula plate and the fact that I was now quantifiably all screwed up, but it wasn't until eight days later that I'd see what kind of incisions had been made.

I looked forward to the big reveal. As a former modern dancer, my feet had been the subject of much scrutiny. So when the nurse pulled away the layers of surgical wrappings and exposed all that had been hidden, my first thought was:

What the hell is that?

I'm sure some of my female readers will relate to the first thing I noticed: leg hair. I had never before put this particular aspect of my personal growth to the test, so it was interesting to see what it looked like. The skin beneath was yellow from the Betadine wash they'd used to sanitize my skin, pre-surgery.

As for my foot? The color and shape were simply all wrong.

I had a small incision on the inside of my ankle and a much longer one on the left, where the plate went in.

Dave was a real trooper with my cell phone: "Can I snap a few more photos before you take the staples out? My wife is going to blog about this." I include this next shot because I think it speaks best to the Frankenstein-esque nature of my experience: it looked to me as if someone had removed my foot and tacked on someone else's. Someone...purple.

The beauty of the fall colors I sported notwithstanding, the outside of my ankle was as tender as a rotting plum. To that the nurse applied her staple remover.

The staples they used look something like this before they're crimped:

After they're crimped, the sides of the staple pull together beneath your skin. To remove them, the nurse used an instrument that looked like this:

One part of it slips under the loop at the top of the staple, and side pieces press down on the wire in a way that raises each side, effectively releasing the staple's hold on the skin. On the inside of my ankle this was relatively painless. Where the skin was so mushy on the outside, though, each removal delivered a sharp pinch that resulted in some oozing. I'd had so little sleep in the past week that my tolerance for additional pain was nonexistent. The nurse kindly gave me time to recover between staples. After, she applied ster-strips to the incision, first swabbing each ankle with more Betadine to help them stick. She covered all with a Jones bandage, a tube stocking wrapped with gauze and then Ace bandages, that would stay in place for the next four weeks.

Dr. Perrier agreed that I wouldn't heal well if I couldn't sleep. In addition to instructions to continue follow-up care with an orthopedic surgeon back home, I left with two prescriptions: a refill for my Percocet, and one for a nighttime muscle relaxant.

That night, for the first time, I got a couple precious multiple-hour blocks of sleep.

The next day, we went home.

One trial was over, and another just beginning.


Marie Gilbert said...

Well, the worst has passed,thank God. Don't break anything else.

Kathryn Craft said...

Marie: With all that hardware in there, I'm sure never to break it in the same place again! As for "the worst had passed"--keep reading future posts! Depends on how you look at it.

Elisabeth Hirsch said...

Wow! I hope you're feeling better. I'll be back to read more.

Kathryn Craft said...

Thanks for stopping by, Elisabeth. Between our most recent blog posts there's conflict enough for all: you fight with your husband, I fight with my body. ;) Best of luck with your upcoming book launch!