Plates, Screws, and Bone Sutures. Oh My

Yesterday was quite the day.  Surgery day on my ankle.  Looking back on it now, it was quite the surreal experience.

We arrived at the hospital in the late morning for check-in / registration and waited around for about 90 minutes to be called up.  All the usual stuff here - some additional forms to fill out, gown on backwards, useless booties on the feet, IV put in, and another hour of waiting.  My Orthopedist came in, and we discussed what he was going to do:

An incision would be made on the outside of my left ankle - a plate would then be put on my fibula.  Two small incisions on the inside of my ankle would be made, where he would go in to thread bone sutures with the tibula from the plate.  He was, again, very upbeat and straightforward and told me in no minced words what the procedure entailed and what I could expect in the days to come.  We had another in-depth discussion around the topic of anesthesia and pain management.  While the Anesthesiologist hadn't yet arrived, my doc suggested, should it be offered (and he said it would be), that I get a spinal.  His rationale?  By doing this - and being numb from the waist down - it would require less sedative in the OR, and my recovery afterward would be easier as I would become awake and alert quicker.  I was a little apprehensive to be honest.  I can be a bit of a hamster at times like these.  More to the point, I'm sure it was more a mental fear of the unknown.

My wife Jerri Lynn was there with me as I was getting prepped.  While I was having these discussions with my Orthopedist, she could clearly see that I was getting a little overwhelmed.  We chatted a bit when everyone had come and gone and she talked me off the roof, so to speak. The reality of what was going on had really set in.  Everything had happened so fast over the past handful of days that, as I lay there, I was coming to grips with the fact that I was going to have a fairly significant procedure to fix a pretty significant injury.  All the fears that you can imagine were running through my head: What if it's worse than the doc thinks?  What if they can only do so much and my ankle will never be the same?  But, as I said, my awesome wife - always the voice of reason - kept me as cool and calm as she could.  She's a rock-star.

Anyway, it's all a haze from when I left the prep area to when I hit the OR.  They started doping me up in the prep area and I could feel it kick in pretty much immediately.  I remember getting the spinal in the OR (bizarre!) and then remember them start to put the tourniquet high up on my thigh - then that's it.  I drifted in and out at times, and they had a screen up so I couldn't really see what was going on (thank goodness).  I started to come around when they were finishing up the cast but only saw that for a moment or two.  I came to, officially, in the recovery room, and it was a bit disconcerting to not be able to move my legs at all.  They said it would take a couple of hours for the spinal to wear off - but in reality it took over 5! 

After about an hour in recovery, the "pain doc" who I met to discuss my earlier spinal, came by to do what my Orthopedist had suggested we do post-op.  Similar to the spinal, he was going to block the nerves in my lower left leg to allow for maximum comfort for the next 24 - 36 hours.  As I type this I still can't feel my ankle or foot, nor can I move my toes.  I have control of my left knee and the muscles above, but it's a tad weird.

My legs (well, right leg) finally began to tingle and come around shortly afterward.  I could start moving my toes and legs and was feeling okay.  But, in the interest of full disclosure, overall this was a bit of a humbling experience.  All the feelings and reactions that your body deals with as a spinal wears off can be odd and off-putting.  Even though all the nurses in the recovery room said that everything I was experiencing was completely normal and to be expected it was a very strange, and sometimes humiliating, 5 hours.  Finally, everything worked itself out, and I was discharged.  We started the day arriving at the hospital around 1030a ET and arrived home around 830p ET.  A long and crazy day.

I head back to the Orthopedist in two weeks to have the hard cast removed (originally one week, but now two....Hrmph) and then things speed up.  PT starting sometime in week three.  Swimming as soon as the surgical wounds heal (but no pushing off with the left leg for a while).  And cycling on the trainer (no resistance) in 3-4 weeks.  I'm told that my ankle will "blow up and be painful" through all this, of course, but the sooner I get back to strengthening things up the better.

So, I sit here on the couch - with my leg elevated up on pillows - trying to keep up with work.....sort of.  Mostly I'm surfing through bad daytime television programming, and managing discomfort from cast pressure points and pain from now returning feeling in my leg and ankle.  I have 4 prescription bottles lined up on the coffee table, along with a Sigg bottle of water, my mobile phone, iPad, MacBook, remote controls, Kindle, and - again in the interest of full disclosure - an apple core, a bag of nuts to munch on, an empty bowl of soup, and one very nosey cat.