Local Heart, Global Soul

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
Tags: , , , ,
(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
Tags: , , , ,
(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)

(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)

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.

February 9, 2014

Inspiration In Gold As A Parting Gift…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Two days ago I made a post about the amazing  interior decoration of the former winter Palace of Queen regent Emma of the Netherlands,  located on the Lange Voorhout in The Hague.

The M. C. Escher museum has been fabulous and visiting friend “Velvetine” and I have drooled over every room and exhibit… in fact there is so much to see in these complex works of art that I think if I came every week I could still discover new details each time  I looked.

Now, for my final post here in the museum I’m returning to the architectural detail of the rooms that hold these ingenious artworks, the beautiful detail that is so different to, and yet matches and compliments the detail found in M.C. Escher’s works.

Carved marble, wood, ornamental plasterwork and gilding are full of ornate detail and exude craftsmanship of a bygone age and as usual I’m adding these images to my  electronic “inspiration” files so that I can use them to inspire me in future artwork projects of my own.  I love patterns and shapes, I love how the fluid images in nature have been transformed into fluid images in plaster, the acanthus leaf decorations and the perfectly formed marble flowers.

I’m not too mobile at the moment, but if I had been then I would surely be tempted to be here often, very often, and maybe one day in the future  I might be found here with a sketchbook in hand, trying to capture details like the marble blossoms in one the fireplaces… One day when my concentration skills are better and when my foot is less  painful and in better working order. Until then I will look at these photographs and dream.

(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)

April 15, 2011

Putting my Best Foot Forward… the Progress Report.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Time for a quick update on the Foot Front. I’m pleased to say that we have progress…

To fill you in, first we had moi-middle-name “dangerous”   https://kiwidutch.wordpress.com/2010/12/03/new-197/ getting into trouble again as one of the most accident prone people on the planet.

This was followed by https://kiwidutch.wordpress.com/2011/01/12/new-289/ the Franken Foot, and pain of blissful ignorance and a not so nice series of seven plaster casts.

Finally I was  Free at last https://kiwidutch.wordpress.com/2011/02/06/new-307/ after the final purple, then red plaster casts  were cut off and was given a pressure sock to wear.

We left the hospital with instructions from a very young Doctor to try and put lace up shoes on and try and walk with crutches…

Ha, it was clear once we got home that none of my shoes were ever going to fit in a million years, and the pressure sock seems be be causing an unnatural amount of pain so we called our  physiotherapist who is also a friend and she said she would pop around in her lunch break.

She took one look, felt around my foot to check things out and declared that the pressure sock was not the way forward.  Nor, with this amount of swelling  were shoes at this moment or any time soon, and proceeded to teach me a few new words.

The first word I learned was “edema” which means swelling of the tissues. In many cases a pressure sock would be a good solution towards helping reduce edema, but in this case elevating my foot would probably be a better idea in view of the second word I learned, which was “dystrophia“.

Dystrophia is when ligaments and muscles degenerate because they haven’t been used, and not only do they degenerate they also kind of freeze up, so had I tried to walk on a foot where the muscles and ligaments are all locked up, I could have done quite a lot of damage.

(photograph © Kiwidutch) (Then)

This is only time when the hospital Drs. have been less than helpful… but apparently dystrophia isn’t too common so my physiotherapist wasn’t too surprised that a junior Dr. got this one wrong.  We are not using the pressure sock for the simple reason that we need to teach these lazy frozen muscles and tendons that they have to thaw out and move, so if we wrap them up tight they might not get the message strongly enough and be comfortable enough to keep on snoozing in their lazy state.

I also learn this one of the complications of this ailment is that your pain receptors malfunction. Pain is one of your natural protection agents, the blaring red light and siren that yells “Stooooooop!” before we can  inflict more damage or self destruct ourselves any further.

Touch and Pain are more closely linked than I could ever have imagined…

Here’s how this was explained to me: you bash your elbow or stub your toe and your instinctive reaction is to hold the affected part. Apparently this is because Touch is one of your bodies natural anti-pain mechanisms and  touching the bit that hurts helps switch off the pain receptors who are busy sending strings of pain messages to the brain… wow, that’s a pretty cool bit of engineering don’t you think?

With Dystrophia this bit malfunctions, touch actually amplifies that pain instead of reducing it, so it’s like the pain receptors are hyper sensitive and they certainly aren’t receiving the “hey, dudes calm down” message.

So part of the solution is for the physiotherapist to find the very fine line between enough touch though the pain to get  receptors somewhat used to reacting normally again (and to loosen things up millimeter by millimeter, therefore less pain source)  and overloading the pain system and putting the patient into complete agony and causing the body to raise the level of the pain alarm.

(photograph © Kiwidutch) (Now)

So therefore this is how the bad news emerges: three months to heal the damage to the bones ( done!, check that box off…)

…and a minimum of another three months to work on the ligaments and muscles. It’s a notoriously slow process, and my dystrophia is not a mild case so I can expect to be on crutches for at least several more months yet. It might even take a year or more before I can walk easily again.

Grrrrr

So, the update is that the edema (swelling) has reduced enough to allow me to work several mornings a week at work, and I have physio treatment three times a week as we try and wake up some ligaments tendons and muscles that have been out of action and taking a holiday for the 10 weeks I was in plaster.

I can’t put weight on my foot yet, we are still working on unfreezing those ligaments and muscles and we will only get to give them some exercise once they are thawed out. The process is painful to say the least, and physio treatments are far from fun.

However the alternative to do nothing is not an option, since that will only compound the problem so it’s grin and bare it time.

Luckily My physio has also just attended a specialist seminar on Dystrophia, so I think I’m in very good hands for the recovery process. Yes, I’m  annoyed that  it’s going to take a lot longer than I ever could have anticipated. That’s frustrating on many levels, and some days are more ‘down‘ that “up”  but as with many things in life, you have to keep looking forward and to try and make the best of it all.

Even once I can walk again, there will be many restrictions: no heavy lifting, closed shoes that offer good support for many months and a big restriction on certain sorts of exercise. My treadmill is going to see some build up of dust, the second-hand cross-trainer I bought one day before the accident  will eventually see a lot of action because  at least on that, the feet can be kept flat.

Clearly any future career in extreme sports is doomed ( who am I kidding?  it was never going to happen at the best of times).

I’m learning to handle frustration and pain… there’s a life lesson  in there somewhere, or so I keep telling myself.

Some days are better than others, but at least this is temporary.  …only in a kind of long temporary way. I’m trying hard to be grateful for the good things I have but it’s not easy some days.

Thanks for listening to me rant.

February 6, 2011

Free at last!

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

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Free at Last!

Free of paster casts I mean of course  … anyone who has ever been in one  knows,  you are generally sick to death of  it within after day two of having it put on, so 10 weeks is mind-numbingly long even when common sense  (or in this case, Doctors) tell you it was necessary.

In case you’ve never seen one before, they use a small specialized oscillating saw to cut plaster casts off. It  rather defies logic by being capable of cutting hard materials but not soft ones,  and it does produce an unnerving buzzing sensation though which I can only best describe as semi ticklish. This sensation was at it’s worst when I still had the metal pins in… and whilst it’s not all together pleasant, luckily it doesn’t hurt.

The paster department people told me that it’s unusual that they have to do so many plaster changes on a patient for one injury but that’s simply because I managed to do some rare damage to myself.

Various hospital staff have asked if I would mind medical students and plaster technicians learning from my case (I didn’t mind), so there  have been lots of x-ray studies on computer monitors, and a heap of medical jargon that was the explanation to go with it as people learned something new, (so this stupid fall’s been good for something then! LOL)

Kiwi Daughter was very curious right from the beginning to know what was going on under the plaster works, where the pins were etc, so my pocket-sized point-and-shoot camera went with me to the hospital so that I oblige her curiosity… the plaster specialists were actually delighted by this and had a lot of fun getting into the photos, which helped to inject a little humour into (most) of the experience over the course of my visits.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Staff would ask when I came in if I had bought my camera and we documented progress.

On the desk where the plaster department  handle the administration, there was a wooden doll of the kid that artists use to practice figure drawing and getting proportion right. Their little model had different coloured plaster casts of various lengths all over it’s limbs. There was even one around it’s middle.

I have one of these wooden figures at home and jokingly told them that it needed a cast to match mine… they laughed and to my surprise said that this could be arranged. I needed to have x-rays done after my red cast was cut off, so whilst  I was away they decorated my artists dolly with a little reminder of their department. They even added an arm cast for fun too.

My kids thing it’s a riot that dolly now has coloured paster.

One thing that I didn’t expect is that my foot would be so swollen,  The Doctor said I’m supposed to walk with a pressure bandage for support and to keep my foot raised up at all other times so that the swelling can go down.  A good solid shoe for support is recommended as I start to walk with crutches, but I found when I got home that I can’t get into even my oldest shoes, and it’s hurting  far more than I anticipated so I’m back on maximum pain relief.

Luckily our physiotherapist is also a friend and she says it’s clear there is too much swelling at the moment, so a quiet weekend with my foot elevated is prescribed and she will come over on Monday to see what  the next step will be.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Today’s pain is less than yesterdays so progress comes in small steps, but it’s a good start…

February 4, 2011

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

Filed under: LIFE — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , , , ,

(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!

Blog at WordPress.com.