I had my first follow-up visit after my ankle surgery today. My lower right leg got a half hour of pure heavenly release from imprisonment in the cast. On the drive down, I came up with a concept that I pitched to Jessica, the technician who removed the cast. A Cast-Away Spa. People who are between casts should get to spend a couple of hours cast-free, with massage, fans gently breezing the fresh skin, maybe a little aroma therapy...
When the cast came off, I wasn't sure what I was expecting, but it wasn't what I saw.
My foot was extravagantly red and tube-ish, swollen and still lacking in sensation. My ankle actually looked pretty good. Jay looked right at it, at the long scar, without flinching.
He asked, "Does your ankle hurt?" It kills me when he puts whole sentences together by himself. It's crazy watching him assemble his own world. I assured him.
No, honey. It looks funny. But it's fine. No hurt. He smiled.
The scar was impressive. It's about seven inches long, and starts smack in the middle of the top of my foot. It shoots straight up, through the ankle and slightly up my lower leg. It's a good thing Doctor DiPreta was doing this; I wouldn't have cut it anything like this. It was an effective reminder of just how much trauma was involved just in executing this procedure. There was old scar tissue to dig out. There was an old screw from the original internal fixation that had to be located and removed to make room for the new hardware. The ends of all the bones in the ankle had to be scraped clean of jagged edges and rough spots that had accumulated over the past decade as they rubbed on each other. Then, those ends had to be "freshened" so they would heal together in fused harmony. Then a plate was affixed using eight screws, to hold it all together in the right position. All of this happened in about an hour and a half on my surgery day.
Looking at the scar, I found myself imaging human fingers working in that small space, accomplishing all of this. I envisioned some yanking, some tugging, some "pushing stuff around", just to get in there and make it all happen. I had a greater appreciation for WHY I had so much post-op discomfort, why I was asking for morphine the first night. Why it was taking so long to feel better, to feel like working again.
The x-rays were good, and Dr. DiPreta was happy enough that he doesn't want to see me for four more weeks. At that time, this cast will come off and I'll get a walking boot. I was a little bummed; I was hoping for another fresh cast in two weeks (and another half-hour of oxygen for my leg). I'll take it, however. If the doc is that confident, I'll just stay home and keep healing.
Once the first cast came off, the sutures came out. The new cast wouldn't have those to scrape and bounce around anymore. Jess, the technician, asked what color I wanted for the new cast. I asked Jay to choose.
"Purple". He didn't hesitate for a second. He was quite happy to see the purple going on, and Jess was great, letting Jay help smooth it out, and helping him to make a little stocking for my toes. Jay was creeped out by the first cast; he got to help make this one. He loved it. It has since been christened with a kiss, and he likes knocking on it.
We spent some time this evening playing Jay's favorite game, "Springboard Daddy". I lie on the floor, face-down. He stands on my back, bounces a few times like a diver, and jumps off onto the carpet. His balance is astounding, and occasionally he scores some pretty impressive distances. And, I get 32 pounds of deep tissue back massage. Win-win. We finished with Curious George stories, and a reclining hug that stayed tight even once he fell asleep. I carefully stood up, hopped to his crib, peeled him off with a kiss and a final squeeze, and put him to bed.
Tomorrow promises to be challenging. We're expecting a foot of snow. It doesn't seem like a good idea for Laura to drive him a half hour to day care on her way to work, and to add that drive to get him in the evening. The alternative is that he stays home with me. Normally that's not a problem, but the whole cast/ non-weight-bearing-ankle thing makes it hard for me to intervene in his "creative endeavors" as fast as I sometimes want to. I'll have to be pro-active, and it's going to require a crazy amount of energy from someone who is still recharging the batteries.
My four favorite words will be on speed-dial tomorrow;
This too shall pass.