Local Heart, Global Soul

March 30, 2015

A Shocking Accessory Is Gained At Himself’s Expense…

Filed under: An Accidental Franken-Foot,LIFE,PHOTOGRAPHY — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Yet another update on the Frankenfoot Saga because I’ve been busy with medical appointments: pain clinics and work Doctors.

Himself and I have been journeying back and forth around the country to the hospital where I had surgery and on this occasion the non-walking cast was coming off.

When we arrived in the paster department we joked with one of the staff that after twelve plaster casts I must have had most of the available colours by now, at which point a plaster cast colour chart was whipped out so that I could choose my next colour.

Before I could choose, Himself loudly exclaimed with disguest that the bright pink one was horribly loud and “who  on earth would want that?“.

Just to wind him up I immediately said “I do!”  even though anyone who knows me will know that I not a “girly girl” and don’t, and wouldn’t ever possess anything pink in my wardrobe.

The staff member helping us burst out laughing at the horrified look on Himself’s face and struggled to compose himself again as I told him “I would like to take your best and brightest pink please!“.

The old green cast was cut off with two long cuts down the sides, rather like cutting a baguette in half horizontally and there was a specific reason for this: it was because I was due to go for x-rays and my foot needed to be supported whilst I went there and back.

Once my foot had been gently semi-cleaned it was re-bandaged and put back into the lower half of the green plaster cast shell, which was in turn wrapped up for the journey to radiology.

Just the outer layer of bandages and the protective green cast were removed for the photos to be taken, and then everything was re-wrapped for the journey back.  I asked if it might be possible to see the images that had just been taken and the friendly staff in radiology wheeled me around into the staff booth to see the screens.

The six titanium screws were clear to see, and although of course during conversations with the surgeon I’d been told about them,  I was surprised because they were quite a lot bigger than I’d imagined.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

It was also nice to have photographs on my camera that I could show family and friends because they too were curious as to how my new hardware had been placed.

Back in the plaster department they bought out a white plastic block and placed it on the bed, explaining that “walking cast” was not quite the right term, rather I was going from a non-weight baring cast to a weight bearing one.

The purpose of the screws is to hold the bones together and the idea is that whilst I’m in plaster the two sets of bones knit together to become one.

It’s this new formation of bone that will eventually take my weight, not the screws: they are only there so that things stay where they should be.

The little white block will allow me to put weight on my heel, but not yet by my toes because the bone-knitting process is not far enough along and  putting weight too far forwards at this stage will break the screws.

The second reason for not allowing weight near my toes is the dystrophy problem, since movement this part of my foot is seriously limited and very painful.

I first get a white plaster layer into which the “block” is anchoured and after that the sickly hot pink that made me laugh, not least because of Himself’s eye-rolling, head shaking and expressions of “wait until everyone at home sees this  one!” .

I can’t say that the drive of several hours home was an easy one or that the whole procedure of touching my foot wasn’t painful, because any touch to the lower section of my foot brought me to tears, but the hospital staff were as gentle as possible and I’m trying desperately to see the “bigger picture” where this is one of those things that just have to be endured in the quest to make things better in the long run.

I will be honest and say that there were tears during the procedure and on the way home, that it was a hard day and I hope this is the very very last of the plaster casts… at least the squeal that Kiwi Daughter let out on seeing my new colour and her laughter at the joke played on Himself helped put a smile back on my face.

Little Mr, who could care less about fashion, clothes colours etc as ten year old boys are apt to do, just looked puzzled and asked “what is Kiwi Daughter laughing about? ”  and when told he replied “I don’t get it” , shrugged and walked away. Another month in this cast… and then hopefully it will be the last I see of plaster of paris in my lifetime.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

February 4, 2015

Put A Sock In It …. Or A Hat, … Or A Sock Hat!

Filed under: An Accidental Franken-Foot,Funny,LIFE,PHOTOGRAPHY — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I have some wonderful friends… one came to visit shortly after I arrived home from hospital and asked if there was anything she could do for me and I replied that maybe there was.

One thing that anyone who has been in foot plaster will tell you, is that your toes get really cold.

If I’m going outside then I have a thin blue elasticated plastic slip-on ” shoe cover” , of the sort that people wear over their shoes in  indoor swimming pools if they  have to be pool-side with their street shoes on.

Hospitals issue the same sort of shoe covers to protect plaster casts from rain, puddles and dirty pavements and they are excellent at doing that (for a while at least) but in winter, these little plastic slips do nothing to keep your toes warm whilst outside during trips to hospital etc.

My toes have been freezing cold since I made the journey home from the hospital, so, knowing that this friend is able to knit, I asked her if  it might be possible that she could knit me some sort of sock that would fit around my cast.

She came up trumps and within a week or so I received a lovely “sockette”, or maybe I should be calling it a”foot hat” that is doing wonders in keeping my toes warm both inside and out, and I’m totally loving it!!!

This person knows who she is, she’s a fabulous knitter as well as a fabulous friend!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

 

February 2, 2015

The Frankenfoot Diary: Gritted Teeth As The Embroidery Work Is Unpicked…

Filed under: An Accidental Franken-Foot,LIFE,PHOTOGRAPHY — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

One week after I got out of hospital I was back in the passenger seat of the car with my foot propped up on the dashboard as Himself and I made our way back to a hospital in a different part of the Netherlands to get my stitches out.

The weather threatened to be bad so we allowed plenty of time for the journey but in the end the forecasters appeared to have gotten it wrong and the traffic on the motorways was light so we arrived with plenty of time to spare.

We have several appointments today, not  just getting the stitches out but also an check in with the pain specialist and the physiotherapist and we are pleased to find that there too, our appointments are quicker than we expected.

There is still a way to go on the pain front but with instructions to not cut my extended morphine intake for at least six weeks and several telephone appointments in place we head off to the plaster room to face up to the most difficult part of the day.

The staff are very professional and super friendly but there is no getting around the fact that the removal of the stitches was a painful ordeal that  I just had to try and get over and done with as quickly as possible, and once again I realised that it’s hardly easy to look dignified and composed when tears are streaming down your cheeks.

Once again the colour of the area around the wound is raising some concern, so during my next appointment they want to make some extra checks to see how far it has improved. I’m impressed that the staff in the plaster room know the entire procedure of what’s been done in my foot,  rattling off  technical terms and promising that Himself and I will be able to see the x-ray photos next visit so that we can get a final tally of the number of pieces of titanium inserted (around six) and see for ourselves just where they have been placed.

Of course, after the snip and extraction of thread procedure, there is encasement in plaster cast number eleven in a colour that Kiwi Daughter picked out for me when she saw the selection of possible colours in the basket from photographs I took the last occasion.

It’s green this time and this cast will say on for a further four weeks, at which time I can transfer from a non-walking plaster to a walking one for four weeks after that.

I have an uncomfortable trip back, there is nothing wrong with the new plaster, it’s just that I can’t seem to find my favourite part of the dashboard to park it on any more. We just leave the hospital when the bad weather that was promised for the morning closed in on us for the journey home but as luck would have it traffic was also light on the way home and we ran out of the bad weather near the outskirts of Den Haag (The Hague). Win win…. now with the stitches out I’m counting down the weeks until I will be plaster free.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

January 30, 2015

The Frankenfoot Saga, It’s Time To Take A Risk And Go Under The Knife…

Filed under: An Accidental Franken-Foot,LIFE,PHOTOGRAPHY — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , , , ,
(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I’m taking a short break from my German archive posts so that I can give you a series of posts updating you on my “Frankenfoot saga”, the long recovery process after my 2010 accident that has played havoc with my left foot.

Warning: a few of the photographs might be a little graphic for the feint of heart.

2014 has been spent getting x-rays, CT and nuclear scans, visiting orthopaedic, general foot surgeons, a multitude of doctors, several revalidation doctors, two pain clinics and finally one of Europe’s top foot surgeons.

With increasing levels of pain and decreasing ability to cope with it, concern about effects of high levels of morphine, lack of mobility and decreasing quality of life, Himself and I came to the conclusion that all non surgical options had been exhausted and that despite the risks and lack of guarantees, surgery looked like the only option left..

I have multiple problems in my foot:

Two rows of displaced bones out of place, loss of cartilage between these rows of bones and the resulting pain as they grated upon one another, standing on the displaced bones causing stress to both the displaced bones and others in my foot.

Stage two osteoporosis (bone deterioration: side effect of corticosteroid/ steroid use for my COPD and asthma), dystrophy between my ankle and my toes due in part to the displacement of the bones and partly to the 12 weeks in plaster from the first operation after my fall.
There are two pain sources to contend with: from the displaced bones and from the dystrophy.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The hard facts are: surgery and the resulting 10 weeks of plaster afterwards risks making the dystrophia worse, may / may not reduce the high levels of pain and (to a lesser degree) may restrict movement in my foot to the point that I may not be able to walk properly and have rely on crutches /wheelchair for the rest of my life.

On the upside, surgery to correct the position of the displaced bones may also eliminate one of the two pain sources, help me to wear shoes again (orthopaedic support shoes) instead of the brace, may allow me to walk without crutches, and gives some hope that with bones back in their correct position the dystrophy problem may improve at least to some degree.

The foot specialist warned us the “getting my foot to a state where it is functioning “as best as it ever will” will probably take 1-2 years. ”

Without surgery there is no hope of the dystrophy ever getting better, at least with surgery there is hope.. I have reached the end of the line with non-surgical options, my pain effecting my family life (limiting movement, problems with stairs, moods etc) so it’s time to take some risks and see if the future holds some hope for recovery.

After being on a waiting list since March 2014, a first consultation at the last days of October 2014, we were told there was also a waiting list for surgery, so expect it to happen between March and May 2015. I was therefore delighted when I was bumped up the list and the operation took place in the first days of January 2015.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Surgery would involve a four day stay in hospital, a catheter  inserted into the nerves by my knee to make block to the brain and reduce  pain (second photograph) and there would also be a morphine pump (Third photograph).

The 3 hour operation went well: bones repositioned, on the right side where the cartilage is gone, they fused bones together to stop them grinding together, screws on left side where the bones are damaged: I sport around half a dozen pieces of titanium hardware in my foot now, which I hope should do the job.

The first six hours after the operation was great, zero pain, felt wonderful. Himself, who had been waiting at the hospital the whole day  called the friends who were back at the hotel looking after our kids to say I was definitely up for a visit.

Sitting in bed, chatting, happy and pleased to see them because I knew the kids had been worried, Himself told me later that after the visit he and our friends we rather taken aback by my chirpy appearance and agreed that “surely that can’t last”. Sadly for me, it didn’t.

The the operation anesthetic wore off six hours later and the shock was like falling off a cliff. Not feeling so great at that point. Seriously not good. I had expected not to have much pain at all for the first days with the block in and then to have to face the music after when it was removed that so was disappointed that despite tanking enough morphine to knock out a horse I was still in serious pain.

I know I have a very low pain threshold but this was ridiculous. Daytime was slightly bearable due to distractions, night time wasn’t. I tried to grin and bear it , failed and cried a lot.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Additional morphine shots started to come one after another, the head of the hospitals Pain department came to see me, and even the busy surgeon dropped by late in the evening to check in on what was not going to plan and what needed to be done about it.

He decided that the pump needed to stay in longer and I would need to stay in hospital for a further four days.

My foot seemed to swell despite being raised halfway towards the ceiling and with terrible pain in the wee hours of the third night and  toes  not a colour that medical staff were completely happy about, the cast (with a slight gap in it) put on in the operating theatre had to be cut open. (cast at left photograph.

It took several nurses a few goes to do it and despite their greatest care the pain was so bad whilst they worked that I bit on my fingers to stop myself from screaming and tears poured out of my tightly closed eyelids. Once cut, the feeling of intense pressure was relieved but the pain remained.

The next morning I got a replacement cast (Number 10 in the total of this foot saga) ,and in the few minutes that the old cast was completely off, got to see what the incisions looked like (nurse helped take the photos) and they decided that the morphine pump needed to be kept in for longer.

I’d just had another top-up morphine shot before I went down to the paster room and managed a few jokes with the staff, telling the nurses on the ward that I was popping out for a quick holiday and asking the plaster department staff if they had any postcards that I could send to their colleagues upstairs.

Two “mature” staff took my bed down to the plaster room and the man got the floor wrong as the lift doors opened, resulting in a comical tug of war with the bed by him at foot end and the lady at the head end. The lady was correct so I joked to the lady that it was all right, her gentleman colleague was still “on stage” (work experience) which amused his lady colleague no end. Poor man, I suspect he’s still  getting ribbed about that one.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

There’s been quite a lot of blood leakage around the wound (we already knew that because it had seeped around the plaster by my heel), this soaked the inner layers of bandage, so when the nurses cut the cast open they were pulling on stuff was also attached to the wound,  apparently it wasn’t a surprise that it had been a nightmare to get off.

I’m told that even though the plaster has been loosened, the swelling is still more than would be expected so I need to get my foot even more elevated than before so that the excess fluid can drain away.

Over the next days the morphine pump was removed and replaced with pills so four days later I come home to the Hague with more than double the amount of morphine I had before the operation. but since I’ve been on morphine based medication for more than a year, I’ve probably developed a resistance to it, ergo the higher doses needed now.

The kids have already been back at school since the beginning of the week and although Himself travelled mid-week  to visit me, he could only come again at the end of the week when he came to pick me up,  so to say that I was itching to get home was an understatement.

It’s not easy being in a hospital several hours away from home, I was at least lucky that we have two friends in a city close by and they popped in to visit on the days that Himself could not.

It also took big chunks out of Himself’s working week, not to mention that he still had to organise the kids, cook and get the household ready for my return.

There is a Dutch organisation called “thuiszorg” where you can hire or buy hospital beds , wheelchairs and all manner of bits and pieces for making a temporary or permanent disability easier to live with.

Amongst other things, we’ve hired a hospital bed for the living room because the paster on our 1930’s walls makes for a shaky handrail on the stairs and with a non-weight bearing cast for six weeks, followed by a walking cast for a further four, and the prospect of teetering down a set of stairs that has a spiral at the end of it to go to bed each night seemed to be tempting fate.

No-one needs reminding more than me that I also have a woeful reputation for falling over that I’d rather not continue to uphold.

No matter how good the hospital or wonderful the medical staff, nothing can compare to being back with Himself and the kids so getting home again was wonderful and more than welcome.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

This little white button is my new best friend, it’s just a shame that the morphine only arrives three times an hour no matter how many times you push it…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Spot the pen marked arrow on my leg (one of the many many safety checks done throughout my stay)….

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Going homeward…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

March 31, 2014

Casting An Eye On The Possibility Of A Boot….

Filed under: An Accidental Franken-Foot,LIFE — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , , ,
(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

It’s time for yet another update on my “franken-foot” saga.

Last week I travelled across the Netherlands to a hospital to see a team of specialists and hopefully achieve some “joined-up-thinking” between the team members so that we could determine the best way forward.

A short fall down a staircase could never seem to be so complicated, but the steroid medication I take for my asthma have made my bones significantly thinner in density and have been one of the biggest contributing factors to the amount of damage I managed to inflict on my foot.

The other significant factor was bad luck: apparently it can happen that more damage can be done in a short fall than a large one because even on an involuntary reaction level you have no time to try and save yourself or prepare for impact.

Ok, it happened, already with a long record of being accident prone I managed to tick all the boxes at one time: wrong place, wrong time (check), bad luck (check), stupidity (check). Believe me, after three and a half years of being on crutches and in near constant pain I cannot regret that I can not re-wind life by a crucial few minutes more than I do.

In January 2014 after failing to cope with the pain, changes to medication, tying and failing to intensify my physiotherapy regime in order to rectify the reversal of healing over the previous summer, and generally falling to pieces, I went back to the surgeon in The Hague who confirmed that the fact that the bones had not moved back into place was not at all normal.

The new team of specialists were horrified at just how far out of place things were and after some very painful prodding and poking they already determined a completely new idea of what they thought was the root of the problem.

Up until this point we have been trying to alleviate the dystrophy (freezing up of tissue) that takes place as in my case, after many months in plaster. The various specialists in the Hague told me that once the tissue “thawed out” in a figurative sense, they would regain function and pull the bones back into place. Now we see this hasn’t happened and the top half of my foot is still completely stiff and useless. The new hospital specialists take a different view: they believe that the bones are the problem, not the tissue function.

They believe that every time I stand up the displaced bones are taking the full responsibility of taking my weight and therefore no amount of supporting tissue will ever be able to compensate for the strain these bones are under, let alone move them back into their rightful position.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

This stress on the displaced bones was in all likelihood a huge portion of my pain source too. The Rehabilitation specialist looked at the “roll” shoes I had been given and said that in his opinion, despite the addition of orthotics, they gave negligible support, and that since pain relief is my first priority that he thinks he can do something that will help me fairly quickly.

He knows of an excellent maker of custom orthopaedic footwear, apparently what I need is not a shoe, but a boot, something that goes up to my knee, gives support to my foot and entire leg and relieves the displaced bones in my foot of a large part of the responsibility of taking my weight.

This should have the added effect of greatly reducing the pain I’m in, hopefully even enough to reduce the morphine based pain medication I am currently taking. The only problem with all this is that it’s just a theory at present: and the making of a custom made boot will be an experiment costing in the hundreds of Euros.

Fortunately there is a way to test this theory out first using the same idea but a far cheaper material: plaster of paris.

So yes, dear friend this is how I managed to finish my day with the team by visiting another hospital department and gaining a plaster cast (cast number eight in this whole foot saga).

The good news is that we try it for three weeks and if the pain is reduced then we will go ahead with getting a custom boot made. This should help my foot transition from it’s current unstable state to a more stable one, from which we can start to look at long term options.

The bad news is that the long term options will probably involve an orthopaedic surgeon and another operation because these bones are probably not walking back into place by themselves any time soon   ever. Still, one step at a time, plod, plod (I’m getting good at that) and at least we are trying something different and who knows what the future holds. One thing is for sure, any and all progress will be most welcome.

June 20, 2012

A Kitchen That Mangles My Heart and Churns My Emotions…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The Kauri Museum in Northland New Zealand is a bit like Dr. Who’s Tardis…  it looks small on the outside but once inside, you keep finding a new bit that extends further and branches off  just around each corner.

Around this corner I discover an entire section devoted to Kauri wood incorporated into kitchen equipment… a topic as a Foodie that is close to my heart.

From butter churns to washing machine mangles, rolling pins to decorative shortbread and butter forms, I’m captivated.

Now there were a few extra non-Kauri items sneaked into the display too… and yes,  those gorgeous cast iron pots and pans had me drooling  just as much as the woodwork items did.

Foodies amongst you will understand the diversion and forgive me for it… the rest of you I will box around the ears with either the Kauri rolling pin or  a cast iron skillet… your choice !

(of course I’m only joking, Family Kiwidutch are not  a hitting family). Once again I find myself sighing wistfully at the beauty of the workmanship of these tactile tools… they were once the hard working workhorses of the “modern” kitchen and how little we appreciate not having to churn our own butter!

(but I bet that butter churn wouldn’t have looked too beautiful to the poor lady of the house who had to labour over it every day… and of course going to the gym was never a necessity for her, since she got more than her fair share of workouts in her house every day just keeping up with the housework).

Let’s take a look around…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

February 4, 2011

Just Hop’in-a-Long… Ensembles in Purple and Red.

Filed under: LIFE — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

It’s week 10 and I’m still in plaster.

When Cast Number 5 was removed  in week 8 we had a little while to see how healing was progressing… things seem to me to be going well, so we wait for the Doctor to arrive with a verdict.

I had been talking myself into the idea that the fluorescent yellow cast would surely be the final one.

I mentioned this to the Doctor when he walked in and the look on his face and the fact that he laughed before looking at me to check that I was serious,  told me that I had definitely been wishful thinking.

Reality check.

That’s how I ended up in Cast Number 7.  A nice Purple little number,  thinner version of the previous ones and shorter too.  A rubber sole straps on underneath, and so I can practice standing and taking steps.

It’s always rather painful for at least 24 hours after a new cast is put on, so I wasn’t surprised when the Friday was not an easy day… but by the end of the day I know something wasn’t right and that was confirmed over the weekend as I had a band of intense pain around the back of my leg. The cast felt really tight and the skin there was really hurting.

I stuffed cotton wool balls  down the there with difficulty even though there  was not really any gap and whilst it alleviated the pressure for a while, once the cotton got flat the pain was back with a vengeance.

I couldn’t sleep much and poor Himself had me jiggling and turning every night trying to get comfy to no avail. I sat with my leg raised as high as possible an constant supply of ice-packs  against the plaster to relieve pain (yes, they work!) and waited for Monday morning.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

We phoned the hospital  Monday and were back in the plaster department soonest to fix the problem. They cut the purple cast off and it revealed an ugly red band of skin around the back of my leg,  it was clear that it had been too tight to take up the swelling that came every time I stood up.

Cast number 7 is again a short walking cast, this time in Fire Engine Red.

The colour seemed like a good idea at the time but now every time I look at it , it looks like I sneaked into Santa’s  wardrobe and thieved part of his ensemble.

I also got more padding around the back of the cast so the good news is that I have been standing an walking more and more and although short bursts go better than longer attempts, it is at least progress.

A suggested alternative to the rubber sole was that I might try on one of Himself’s shoes.. since for ladies, their men-folk’s bigger shoe size could accommodate the cast quite well and be more comfortable than the strap-on rubber sole.

Well we tried it, and giggled a lot before totally  and completely abandoning that idea.

Himself has abnormally massive feet, to match his overly tall length. Size 47’s  to be precise and even with a cast on, my size 38’s were swimming in his shoes. We tied the laces tight and there was still room everywhere inside LOL.

We agreed that attempting to walk  in loose small boats would be an unwise recipe for disaster,  so rubber sole it is.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I go back to the hospital at the end of this week and will see the trauma surgeon who did the operation in November, and if he is happy with progress then maybe I can finally leave hospital without  plaster for the first time in months.

Please cross ya fingers and ya toes! …Here’s hoping!

January 12, 2011

Cabin Fever, “Franken-Foot” and the Pain of Blissful Ignorance.

Filed under: An Accidental Franken-Foot,LIFE — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , , , , , ,

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I probably have the lowest pain threshold known to mankind. You figure that out fast enough when the dentist puts in half a dozen injections in your mouth (a procedure I handle badly enough anyway) waits a short while,  starts poking around and asks if you can feel something.

Invariably I can.

So she adds one or two more shots, the work starts and then she shifts slightly left or right and  suddenly I’m leaving finger nail imprints in her expensive dentist chair armrests  and making it perfectly clear in dentists-chair-speak that the anesthetic missed a spot.

I parted my firmly shut eyes long enough to wipe away the tears squeezing though them and saw the look of  shocked amazement on the dentist’s face that I could still clearly feel pain despite how many injections had been given already. Fortunately she used to this by now and probably gets a discount on her bulk orders of anesthetic before my visits.

If you’ve ever sat in a dentist chair then you will know what dentist-chair-speak is. It’s when your dentist tries to put you at ease by asking you a question, so here I am, being asked where I went on holiday…  Come on!,  I have my mouth open, most of my mouth is doped up to the nines and in happy-land, my tongue can’t make sense of where anything is to make normal speech  and they are busy working whilst you “open wide” , but  alas social etiquette demands that I trump common sense and logic and requires  me to at least attempt an answer,

So I try and reply “Portugal” and naturally it comes out as “agggh aahhh alll”

I swear all dentists have a warped sense of humour.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

My insurance company has paid a small fortune for the work, but probably if they look closely at the bills then in amongst the list of dentist techno-jargon they’d see what looks like a severely inappropriate number of anesthetic fees. If they are investigating this now, “Yes I am still alive and well, Thanks!”

My husband, knowing this from the off,  wondered how on earth I would survive the year and a half year procedure getting  implants. (The complete and utter truth is that I was blissfully ignorant if what the full procedure would actually involve.)

My Best Friend had it done and described it all… in layman’s terms. Sounded a little grim, but not  too bad.  I didn’t find out until afterwards that she was having a section of her top teeth done, and that I needed work on almost all my teeth top and bottom.

The Implantologist described it all again, more in dentist-speak (yeah yeah, of course I know where my “Lateral incisors” and “Second premolars” are! Come off it, who am I kidding?) I was too cowardly to own up, and nodded a lot.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I was spurred on by the fact that my regular dentist had outlined the necessary plan of action via the non-implant route. In detail. Really in detail,  there is definitely such a thing as too much information. It wasn’t pretty, and I mean seriously not pretty. And worse, it wasn’t nearly so permanent, so there was very possibility that this plan needed redoing every decade or so.

Had I been ninety years of age it might have looked like the better option.

I’m not ninety so I got though the Implantology saga on the basis of two thoughts, (A) It will all be worth it in the end (B) Too late,  they’ve started, there was No going back. Both thoughts turned out to be correct.

By now, you may have realised that I’m a Wimp.  Yes, that’s with a capital “W”.

I appreciate that I’m very lucky to be living in this day and age, since the stupid accident missing one single stair way back in November and the rare damage I inflicted on myself is only repairable back to normal use with modern day specialist surgical methods.  I’m very grateful to have not only had that surgery, but to have had it within 24 hours of rearranging myself into an unhappy mess.

I understand completely that all the work they have done is completely necessary but it’s still a source of frustration that some parts of recovery are still mind-boggling slow going. Mostly means the healing process, and I have to take one hundred percent responsibility for that one LOL, so Yes, I’m annoyed with myself.

When we visited the hospital just over two weeks ago, after a month in various plaster casts the Doctor announced that hopefully the pins in my “Franken-Foot” can come out next visit. ( I called it that by the way, not him) OK,  Just two weeks more. No worries. I’m cool. Two weeks is ages yet. All  in good time. Right?

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Wrong. The first week was cool, I thought happy thoughts, but at the start of the second week I started to worry. In the middle of the second week I started to sweat.  Himself noticed and told me not to worry. By the morning of the appointment he assured me that he would take the Dr aside and explain in no uncertain terms that pain and I didn’t get along well at all and ask for a local anesthetic to be put in before the pins came out.

He did, They wouldn’t.

The pins are embedded in the bones. and bones can’t be anesthetised, there  is such a small depth of skin that any injection would hurt like crazy and be useless. The Pink plaster cast is cut off. It’s grin-and-bare-it time.

I bore it, I didn’t grin.

I’m not squeamish and can watch any operation on TV etc, but this time I didn’t look. Himself said that they used a special tool around the pins and then just got a good grip and pulled very very hard. Yep, to say I felt it was an understatement.  I gripped Himself’s hand very hard indeed. He literally suffers being married to me sometimes. Sorry Darling, I promise to wipe your butt if you get old and incontinent.

The last pin was definitely the worst. The whole room figured that out, no doubt about it. I tried to be brave … and failed.  It bled like crazy too and the assistant pressed the swab really hard, as soon as the stars cleared I begged to do that myself.  Stupidly my brain said that if I pressed it hard myself it might hurt less. The intelligence of Brains is over-rated.

After the pins were out it was straight back into plaster. Cast number 5. I chose fluorescent yellow because it looked more cheerful than I did and I needed some of that to rub off.  I also scored a black rubbery sole that fits underneath it so I can try standing and walking soon, still with crutches but a start.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

They put the pins in a little bag for us to take home as a souvenir,  but the little sods are so sharp at the ends that one of them sawed a little hole in the bag and escaped.

I’m keeping the other two because Murphy’s Law says that if you have your own tools from the operation then likely you will never need them ever ever ever again. I’m not superstitious but well, may as well hedge my bets.

So here I am at the start of week seven in plaster and hopefully by the end of week eight I will have stopped supporting the plaster-of-paris industry. Today I have a severe case of cabin fever, since the only times I have been outside in the last six weeks have been for hospital visits.

It’s not just the crutches that are the biggest hassle, it’s more the two staircases I need to get up to get inside home, one stone and one semi-spiral, with triangular steps at the bottom, very crutch friendly (Not).

Staircase handrails have inherent design failure in that they end slightly before the last stair, or in the case of the lower staircase, three steps before the lower stairs so this makes every trip downstairs a potential accident waiting to happen. You know I’m accident prone don’t you? Best stay upstairs once I’m there and keep out of trouble.

I know that Cabin Fever isn’t terminal, I have more than most  to be Thankful for and I’m mending. Thanks for letting me rant, it certainly helps.

.. and if you are about to jump up from your computer to get yourself a cuppa,  (or throw up because of the photos) say a big “Thank You” for your mobility, you won’t appreciate it nearly enough unless you loose it.

I certainly didn’t.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

There are photos because  Kiwi Daughter was desperate to know what was going on under the cast (future medic?) The Photo above is the “Christmas Special” …  then  after some larking around, came the Hot Pink…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

…and my latest accessory, the sunshine Fluro Yellow delight… sans these little blighters.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

.. but with detachable foot ensemble for my first steps…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I must Thank both the Gijpsmeesters  (Plaster cast specialists) at the hospital, as they are experts in getting the five casts on and off with the least amount of pain possible and that’s much appreciated.  They also loved the photo taking procedure and got themselves into the photos pronto. They clearly have a great deal of job satisfaction. Bravo!

April 28, 2010

Oops, Duh ….She’s done it again…

Filed under: The Hague — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , ,

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

If ever there was someone who’s middle name should have been “klutz” … it’s moi.

Gymnastics as a child/teen  (ligament damage and sprains galore) and snow skiing as an adult (extensive knee damage, broken bones) should have told me that my adventurous sporting days were numbered. Did I listen?

Nah… some years back I tried to resume another old hobby, Volleyball, we warmed up extensively, the match started, and a full 10 minutes into the game, I’m up in the air at the net and then down on the ground in a heap, my ankle turned over with a nice crunching sound and swelled up like a small melon in about 3 minutes flat, except it was a reddish blue looking melon and looking rather frightening.

Off to hospital, luckily nothing broken, but ligament damage, so all taped up and on crutches for weeks… and physio because it all went very stiff and unhappy in all that tape.  Fast forward some months, foot had healed, and not wanting to quit so easily, I’d like to re-start Volleyball. Both ankles nicely protected with special sport support bandages made for the purpose. What could go wrong?

Well, a little way into the game, I was diving  to try and block a spike shot coming mega fast over the net, the ball catches my thumb and next thing I know I’m without a thumb nail… yep.. ouch. First Aider’s were enough treatment that time, but the team were probably starting to guess my badly kept secret that I’m rather accident prone.

I gave up volleyball before they all got too nervous about me appearing on court a third time.

At the end of our trip to Maine USA last year, a friend of our hosts have us a ride on his jet ski… wheee hoo, now that’s fun! I’ve never done anything like this before… “Do I want to go fasterYou betcha!”  Hold on tight, ok.. now remember, I’ve never done this before, our life-jackets are wet from the spray so I slide my hands into the bands of friends life-jacket, it seemed like a good idea at the time in my ignorance. It definitely wasn’t good idea when several tight turns later I fall off, my left hand doesn’t some clean out of the life jacket and four fingers get bent backwards in the direction that Nature never intended. The local hospital staff were wonderful, even if the experience of getting my wedding and engagement rings cut off my very swollen ring finger was not.

I got a cast (above) because Dr’s said it was important not to inflict any more damage whilst things settled down and Himself and I had to get through several airports with baggage and tired kids to get us home from the States. Obviously they didn’t trust me to keep out of trouble. It was a wise precaution, some people really don’t look out for other passengers when bording or where they are flinging their things when aiming for the overhead lockers on planes. I got bashed not once but twice, the cast took the impact well.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

It’s gotten to the stage that when they dug up the footpath in our street  to repair a pipe, and left a trench with a plank over it for people to cross the trench,  I wanted to cross the street to navigate around it.  Himself asked ” where on earth are you going?”  I repiled ” Schaatje (sweetie) there’s a plank, there’s a hole… if one person in the whole wide world can fall in that hole who do you think it would be?”  He laughed, said “Very good point, walk around!

This weeks stupidity (left)  is that I have washing hung out on our balcony washing-line. It’s been a fabulous morning, but in the early evening I hear heavy spats of rain… I’m wearing slippers that have zero traction in the wet (several near misses with kitchen spills taught me that)  but it’s been unnaturally dry in The Netherlands of late, so I’ve completely forgotten this fact.

In my rush to rescue the laundry, I’m moving way too fast,  slippers hit the wet balcony floor and whoaaaaa, in an ungainly splat, I skid feet first and hey!  the solid balcony brick wall stops my slide rather nicely. Cr@p this hurts,  ow ow ow….

Himself brings me a bucket of cold water and it hurts even more, elevation …. OK, just don’t move, don’t even breathe.  I grit my teeth and focus hard so that I don’t say naughty words in front of the kids.

I try to go to bed, but even the lightest of blankets has me in tears.  Hospital time… this time it’s broken toes on my right foot… wonderful. (Not)

They have decided to park me in a plaster cast for a week because apparently this helps a lot with the pain and I have buckets of that.

If all goes well then next week it can come off and I might get a light cast if needed.

Oh Goodie, my Old friends…. crutches. Yea ! … and my New best friend?… Tramadol.

And what sucks most of all?  It only rained for 10 minutes. (sigh)  Moral of this story? I’m mulling over the possibility that it’s possibly due to Kiwi’s like me that the Kiwi is a flightless bird.

Walk with me at your own risk.

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