Sunday 13 November 2022

October-November, 2022 | Post-Op Recovery: Short Dispatch No. 4 - Home. Stretch.

Title is misleading, dammit. This dispatch ain't short.
October 20th, 2022.
                                So, I've been home as the recovery continues. I've been sitting at the kitchen table during the week, with my feet propped up on two chairs tucked in under the table as I go through repair quotations and send them out to customers. This resulted in some back-ache after a couple of hours of being seated, but was alleviated considerably when my son gave me a cushion to put behind my back. 
WHY didn't I think of that?
This has been my desk set-up while working from home. Laptop computer to my right, notepad to my left, keeping track of what I've done for the day and how long it took me. With the odd coffee break here and there. On this particular day (18th), I wore the RADO Golden Horse while I prepared repair quotations to send out to customers. 
Some watch brands are incredibly busy at the moment and their repair turnaround times are anywhere between fifteen to twenty weeks. That's just how it is. No way around it. Mind you, the customers are informed of this when they receive their quotations, but it is buried in amongst all the other information.
So, to make it clearer, I have been outlining the repair time-frame in a box located a third of the way down on the first page. 
Despite that, I still get customers emailing me for repair updates six or eight weeks after they've given the go ahead on a repair which will take say, twelve to fourteen weeks to complete. There's no real update that I can give to these customers. The repair is underway and going along according to schedule. Once it's completed, AND subject to it successfully passing final testing, the customer will be notified to come and collect their repaired wristwatch.  

Anyway, I've tried to move my toes a little more this week, to see if there's been any pain and yes, there has been some pain. I've got an X-ray appointment on the 25th, and then a follow-up consultation with the surgeon a couple of days after that. 
I downloaded the paperwork related to this whole adventure and saved it to my hard drive. The surgeon's Orthopaedic Letter to my GP contained this information, that I had forgotten about, since it dates back to January last year (2021);

                                                      He will require a day in the hospital and will need to strictly elevate for two weeks. He will be in orthopaedic shoes weight-bearing as tolerated for six weeks at which stage he should be getting back into his own shoes. It would take a year to get the full result from the surgery. He is aware as he has some arthritis of the toes there is a risk this may progress to more severe arthritis requiring a fusion of the first MTPJ in the future. 
I did some reading up on MTPJ (metatarsophalangeal joint) fusion.

From what I gather so far, this fusion will restrict the bending of the toe, as a metal plate will be screwed in across the top of the first joint. This transfers the weight of each step up towards the top of the foot and the ankle, which can lead to other issues later on. 
Having said that, though, there's some conflicting information to be found on this topic, depending on what sites you land on.
Either way, my aim is to avoid this kind of surgery for as long as I can. First step is a slight modification of diet here and there. My wife has ensured that we all eat healthy. Although, I still falter when it comes to things like white bread and sugar. The idea is to eradicate as many processed foods from my diet as possible, as these have an inflammatory effect, thus adding to the causes of arthritis. 
So, for starters, less sugar wherever possible. But, the damn stuff is in just about everything. Like peanut butter, for instance. 
Still, I dropped my sugar-in-coffee intake down to half-a-teaspoon about four of five months ago, and at work, I go to a coffee place that makes such a good cup of coffee that I don't bother adding any sugar to it. So that's a start. 

Tuesday the 25th

A 4:30pm appointment to have some x-rays taken.  I got there way early, expecting to sit in the waiting room and read a book until I was called, but things actually happened pretty quickly. I only had to wait about ten minutes before I was led into the Radiology Room (I forget the number) where I hopped up onto the table and had four x-rays done. I asked if it was possible to have copies emailed to me. I was told that I could ask at the reception desk for a DVD copy of them. 

The young lady at the desk told me that it would take about ten or fifteen minutes to organise the disc. That's cool, I could wait. I had been home all day, plowing through emails and repair quotes. I wore the 1969 Seiko Skyliner. Just nice and simple. Time only. The DVD disc was ready and the receptionist came over and handed it to me. I thanked her and headed for the exit where I called for a cab. Got home in time to beat the rush-hour traffic. 

Here's my right foot, showing the three titanium screws that were fitted. I don't know what to look for. Let's just hope that these screws are where they ought to be. 
Two days later, it was time for my follow-up appointment with one of the doctors. I got to the main entrance of the hospital and then detoured towards the path where the Outpatient Consulting Clinic was located. It had been raining all morning, but had now stopped. I hobbled along on my crutches, with a satchel slung over my shoulder containing a black Clairefontaine notebook with some questions in it. 
I got to the desk and gave my details, after answering the array of Covid-related questions from an orderly at the door. Fifteen minutes in the waiting room before I was called in by the doctor who had re-dressed my wounds a couple of weeks ago (see Post-Op Recovery: Short Dispatch No. 2 for details of that little episode).
He directed me to the examination table and I hopped up onto it and removed my Cam-shoes. Meanwhile, he looked at my x-rays on his computer screen and was happy with what he saw. He put on blue rubber surgical gloves and checked my feet, gently pressing and prodding them in places and seemed satisfied with how they were healing.
Any questions?, he asked. 
Actually, about five or six, I replied, as I reached for my satchel and retrieved my notebook.  
I also asked about the possibility later on of the above-mentioned MTP Joint fusion. 
I always get the impression that no doctor wants to commit to a definitive answer to some questions. And that's cool.  I can't blame them, to be honest. He said it's hard to tell. 
I already know that once osteoarthritis begins, it can't be stopped. Although, it can be slowed down, through exercise and diet. 
Now, we eat pretty healthily in our household, thanks to Lady Teeritz. Oh, wait a sec. I've already mentioned this, haven't I? 
So, aside from the questions here on the left, an obvious one was; Is there anything I should be eating more of?
 Turmeric, was his answer.
Well, we already use a fair bit of it in some meals, I replied.  
Should I start sprinkling it on my feet?, I added.
We began using it less in our cooking when the kids complained about it. 
Mind you, they put chicken salt on almost everything. Chicken. Salt.

Turmeric is a spice that is well-known for its anti-inflammatory properties. An anti-inflammatory diet is beneficial in keeping your joints healthy and delaying  osteoarthritis, which is what caused my bunions to begin with. I did a little reading up on it and found that it's also available in a concentrated liquid form that can be added to a glass of juice or water and the body absorbs it more thoroughly. So, I'll do a little more research on that. 
Once I had finished with my questions, he arranged one more follow-up appointment in five weeks with the surgeon who performed the operation. 
I was now free to go. I thanked him and he left to go attend to his next patient while I put my shoes and socks back on.
I then made my way to reception. It had been pouring with heavy rain all morning. I stood at the desk, supported by the crutches that I'd been using since September 15th, with my feet in the cam-shoes that distributed my weight towards the heels rather than the toes. The receptionist looked out at the rain and then turned to me and said; Oh, it's awful out there. Have you got a car?
I replied. In my driveway at home.
After she gave me a copy of my next appointment details, I made for the door. A nurse told me how to get to the main entrance without walking through the rain.
I ended up slowly making my way to the main entrance, using covered pathways that led to a staff entrance where a lovely nurse, who was a few paces ahead of me, used her key-card to buzz me in. I thanked her and shuffled over to the main desk, where I handed in the crutches.
I then called a cab (I don't do Uber) from the foyer and waited. 

That was Thursday the 27th. I wore socks and slippers for the next couple of days. Then, on Saturday (29th), one of my toes had a blister on it and a reddish rash was forming on top of the left foot. Allergic reaction to something? I popped an antihistamine, usually used for hayfever. Visited a chemist later in the day and asked a pharmacy assistant for some over-the-counter Ibuprofen after explaining my symptoms. 
Man, these feet are going through the wars. 
I wore the Tudor Ranger on the last day of October.
November - A Brief Rundown, Interspersed With Some of the Watches I've Worn Over the Past Eight Weeks
1 -  I called my Manager and told him I'd be back at work mid-month. So, I had about two weeks to get some shoes, tie up some loose ends, and get prepped to return to work. 
Over the past couple of months, I would open up the car and start her up every day, to keep the engine ticking over. Well, I didn't start it for about five days. So, on day six, I got behind the wheel and turned the ignition and rrr, rrr, rrr, click, click, click. No luck. Battery was out. 
Later in the day, I hooked up the jumper cables to my wife's car and we gave it a crack. No go. My car still wouldn't turn over. 
Spoke to the watchmaker that I work with. He's into restoring cars, so I figured he'd know what to do. He said if both cars are 4-cylinder (they are), then the donor car needs to rev its engine in order to provide some grunt for the dead-battery-car. 
We tried that about a week later and bingo! I took it for a 15-minute spin around the neighbourhood. 
Early October - The Seiko SKX009K got a bit of time on the wrist. Day and date function came in very handy, as the days began to blur into one.
2 - During my last medical follow-up, I was told by the doctor that I could get back into my own shoes, but they were making my feet ache. There was a store a few suburbs away that specialised in semi-orthotic shoes. Basically, they sold a few brands that made extra-wide running shoes. 
So, I headed down there. It was quiet on that Saturday morning, so the young sales dude had time to give me the full consult. I stood on this platform, which gave him a readout of which parts of my feet were making the most contact with the floor. The results were quite varied. The heel of my right foot covered more area than that of my left. The ball of my left foot was greater than my right, etc. 
Another machine took a 3D scan of my feet and offered up the numbers regarding arch height, heel to toe length, heel width, etc, etc of each foot. Well, my left foot is a size 10.0D and my right is a 11.0C (US sizing).
I tried on a few different pairs of shoes and ended up buying two pairs. I'd be wearing them for the next few months at least. 
Mid-October. Aside from taking a daily calcium supplement with Vitamin D, I was also trying to get some sun on my feet, to help boost recovery. On this particular day, the early '90s Tudor Prince OysterDate was the watch of choice. 
3 - I have my mobile (cell) phone and our home internet plan bundled with Optus, one of the telcos here in Australia. Well, they suffered a huge data breach last month and the personal details of millions of their current and former customers were compromised. This included email addresses, phone numbers and, of greater concern, drivers licence numbers, for fuck's sake! 
About a week after this breach appeared on the news, I received an email saying that my licence details were part of the breach. I was directed to the VicRoads website which had set up a special page explaining their reaction to this issue. VicRoads is our state's version of your DMV and DVLA. It would seem that they were doing more about this problem than friggin' Optus. 
I've always had a bug-bear with this telco. They make it almost impossible to contact them online. So, for me, this is the last straw. 
I'm switching my phone to another company when I get a chance, and I'll start shopping around for another Internet provider who also has land-line options, so that I can make and receive calls from relatives overseas.
I can't begin to tell you how ticked off I am about this fiasco. Optus has not exactly been bleeding apologies over this. Assholes.
Late October. The Oris Divers SixtyFive on an adjustable NATO strap. Being adjustable means that it's not a true NATO strap. It has an overly-complicated (IMHO) buckle on it that requires some fiddling around in order to shorten the strap for your wrist if desired. Annoying. 
4 - The bathroom renovation saga ended last month* and it was time for the big cleanup. I organised a skip (dumpster) to be delivered to our driveway, so that we could throw in everything that came out of the old bathroom, such as the bathtub and all the wall tiles and sheets of plaster that were removed. Man, so much timber! I spent an hour in the sun carefully loading stuff into this skip. I took my time with it. Last thing I wanted to do was drop something heavy on a foot. 
* The  final stage of this bathroom renovation was the frameless shower cubicle. Two sheets of glass with a door hinged on one of them. I did some price comparisons. First place quoted me $2,400.oo supplied and fitted, without even coming 'round to my house to measure. It was all done via text messaging, which I thought was sloppy. 

Second mob quoted me $3,600.oo. Were they fucken' insane?!
Third place quoted me $750.oo for the shower and the glazier who would be doing the installation - referred to me by them -  quoted me $450.oo to put the whole thing together. 
Well, I didn't take too long to make a decision. 

5 - We paid the builder and saw our savings account take a sharp drop, and we're now waiting for the plumber and electrician to send us their bills. All good. The bathroom looks great and the wife and I will slowly start socking money back into the account. That's what it's there for, after all. 
It would be nice to take a holiday somewhere, but I have no leave time left over, thanks to this medical leave. That's cool. Head down, tail up for six or eight months and she and I may start thinking of a trip then.
6 - Sean Connery died on October 31st two years ago, so I wore my Bond watch for a week. Actually, I wore two. The Rolex Submariner on a single-pass Regimental strap from CNS watch and the Tudor Black Bay 58 on a brown alligator strap. These two combos were similar to what Connery wore in his first four Bond films. These Regimental straps are very comfy. I have three more on their way to me. 

I've spent the last six weeks checking  emails, writing quotes, and calling customers and repair centres, all from the end of the kitchen table, with my feet propped up on two chairs underneath. My boss (the watchmaker) and the Girl Friday (who's actually in on Mondays and Tuesdays) have held the fort while I've been away. The Service Centre has hobbled along, like myself. 

November - Back to the Seiko SKX009K, but I've put this NATO strap onto it and my plan is to leave it on the watch until the end of Summer. I'd like to put it through its paces.

I'm going back to work on Monday the 14th and there will definitely be some spot-fires to put out, such is the nature of this industry.  As the Christmas and New Year period approaches, things will slow down a little more and I'm expecting that I'll be dealing with a few irate customers. However, since I usually cross my t's and dot my i's, any complaints regarding repair time-frames will be dealt with by reminding the customer that it was all outlined in the quotation that was sent to them, to which they agreed.
It's gonna be a busy time and I'll be in no mood for any shenanigans. 

November 12th.
                          I have another x-ray appointment scheduled for later this month (man, I bet my feet will glow in the dark soon) and then a follow-up with the surgeon. I'll need to sit down and see if I have any questions or concerns before I see him.
The big toes are still slightly numb and still slightly swollen, which is normal. Might be another couple of months before they return to how they looked. Left foot hurts a little with each step. 
I bought a walking stick from a thrift store a couple of weeks ago. Figured I'd use it for the walk from the train station to my office when I go back to work. My wife warned me not to let the cane overcompensate for my foot. I reckon I'll use it for the first week or two back at work, to ease my way back into walking a little further than around the block of my neighbourhood. I think I just may be doing a little more walking on a daily basis than I have for a while.
Some other dull aches here and there. The arches feel tight, my Achilles heels ache when I get up in the morning and, throughout the day, my feet feel like I have duct tape stuck underneath them, stretching from my toe to the heel. Feels weird. 
Everything from the ankles down needs a good stretch here and there. There's a podiatrist nearby and I just might schedule an appointment to see if there are any exercises I can do to help the recovery process along. 

One more watch photo. This was the Tudor Black Bay 58 on a brown alligator strap. Similar to the set-up of Connery's Rolex Submariner in Dr No. Also in the frame is the circa 1946 Smith-Corona Sterling, a pair of Moscot Lemtosh sunglasses, and a 1965 Minox B camera. Oh, and the Folio Society copy of Fleming's From Russia With Love.

Sunday, November 13th. 
Okay, time to wrap things up here.  My wife told me that I handled this whole recovery pretty well, given that I can be prone to complaining about the slightest thing at times. 
I AM my mother's son, after all.
I told her that I wanted to show a little stoicism throughout this process. No point grumbling about things that can't be helped. You just have to put your game-face on and get on with it. That's my dad's side in me. He seemed the more pragmatic parent. 
Nice to know that I inherited some of the good traits along with some of the crummy ones. 
I hope you've all been well over the past couple of months, and I hope these posts haven't been too cumbersome for you. 

Take care, and thanks for reading!

Saturday 22 October 2022

October 13th, 2022 - | Post-Op Recovery: Short Dispatch No. 3 - A Scar Is Born?

In our last thrilling episode, I had a slight mishap that required me to go to hospital, just to play it safe. They sorted it out, gave me some antibiotics and scheduled an appointment for me to come back a week later for follow-up. 

Well, today (Monday) was a week later and off I went. The cab driver got me to the hospital with time to spare. Man, I've caught more cabs in the last three weeks than I did throughout the '90s! I owned a 1970 Mercedes-Benz 280S (manual!) that spent more time on my mechanic's hoist than it did at the kerb outside my house. 

I shuffled to the reception desk, confirmed my details, then parked myself in the pretty crowded waiting room. They called out my name ten minutes later. Impressive. I thought I'd be sitting there an hour or more. I approached a nearby corridor and was directed towards Room 4. I made my way in there and was seen by one of the surgeons who assisted with the operation three weeks ago. That was good. I thanked him later on and I asked him to pass on my thanks to the others who were part of the surgical team, assuming he sees them again anytime soon.

Once up on the examination table, he removed the adhesive bandage that was covering the wound. I gently gripped my calf, expecting to feel a little pain as the bandage peeled away, but it came off without any resistance. 

I thought the wound still looked a tad shoddy, but the doctor seemed happy with how it was progressing. He placed a thumb on either side of the wound. I cringed. He gently pressed down with his thumbs. I didn't feel any pain. 

"It's looking okay. It might heal a little rough, or that could just be some tissue that will flake off as it heals", he said. 

"So it might scar a little more noticeably? I can live with that", I replied, almost adding Chicks dig scars!

He put a small patch of absorbent gauze over the wound and then a rectangular patch of clear adhesive. This was a waterproof bandage and I was instructed to leave it on for a week or so. 

Oh yeah, the wristwatch I had on. One that I haven't worn much in recent years. The classic Omega watch which will celebrate its 30th year of production next year, the Seamaster Professional 300m. I don't wear it as often as I used to, but whenever I do, I'm reminded instantly of what a well-made watch it is.

And so, this follow-up consultation drew to a close. I put my cam-shoe back on, thanked him again, and made my way out of there. 

About an hour after I got home, I was reaching for a box of tissues located on the bottom shelf of the bathroom cabinet and I heard my shirt rip. Yes, the shirt in this photo. The one with the penguins on it. I must have put a strain on the fabric. Either that or my massive rippling biceps were just too damn big for this shirt. A closer inspection showed a long tear along the seam of the armpit. Irreparable. Time to say goodbye to it. 

I didn't bother changing shirts. I wasn't going anywhere else today. I put on a chore jacket and settled myself at the end of the kitchen table. After cranking up my work laptop, I made myself a latté and then sat down and began going through some emails  and repair quotations that had come in over the weekend. I had one foot propped up on one chair on my right, and my other foot resting on a chair to my left.

It's now 10:44pm Thursday night, October 13th. Tomorrow will make one month since I had the operation done. Recovery time-frame is six to eight weeks. I've just clocked up Week Number Four. I hope last week's little hiccup hasn't caused a major setback. 

Wait and see. No point worrying about it for now. 

Thanks for reading!

Saturday 15 October 2022

Early October 2022 - | Post-Op Recovery: Short Dispatch No. 2 - Heel, Boy, Heel!

So, it was now almost three weeks since I'd had the bunion operation and the feet seemed to be healing okay. I was taking an aspirin a day, to deal with potential blood clots, a calcium tablet, to help with bone healing, and a Vitamin C supplement, to assist with the wound healing. 

It was Tuesday morning, October 4th, around ten am, and I was going to take a shower. I had taken off the cam-shoes and I was gingerly standing in the en-suite bathroom, which is about 2 and-a-half feet wide by about six feet in length. Basically, a shower cubicle one one side, a vanity basin in the middle, and a toilet at the opposite wall. 

The cam shoe is like a sandal. The Velcro fastenings lift away completely so that you can put your foot into the shoe from above. The inner sole of the shoe is a flat neoprene rubber which does not bend at all. It's designed to keep the foot and toes on a flat surface so that the toes don't bend or flex. These shoes are quite bulky, so they need to be removed prior to putting on or taking off trousers. 
Anyway, I was going to remove the thin adhesive bandage that was applied after the stitches were removed five days earlier (see previous post). 
I crouched down to pick something up off the floor and felt an unpleasant tightness in my left foot where the stitches had been. I noticed also that I had lifted my left heel off the floor. These cam shoes are designed to distribute your weight and balance towards the heel, thus preventing any pressure on the toes, but I had lifted the heel. I straightened up and took the two steps out of the en suite and sat down on the edge of the bed. 
Slowly, I peeled away the bandage and saw the wound had opened up a little. No blood, but it didn't look great, either. I removed the bandage from the other foot. That one looked okay. I took a shower and then got out and gingerly dried off the wounds. I then placed some non-adhesive gauze pads on both of them and wrapped a light bandage around them. 
The left foot gave me some sporadic bursts of light pain for the rest of the day. 

By the time my wife got home from work, at around 5:30, I had already decided to go to the hospital to have the wound checked out, just in case. I told her I'd take a cab, knowing how that would go down with her. 
Within a few minutes, I was in her car and we were headed for the hospital. We got there a few minutes before six pm and the Emergency Department was doing a brisk trade on this seemingly quiet Tuesday evening. 
After explaining my situation to the nurse behind the reception desk, she explained that, since I'd had the procedure done there a couple of weeks ago, she try to rush me through a little faster. 
She asked me how bad was the pain, on a scale of 1 to 10? I told her it was around 4.
I suggested to my wife that she leave, as she had brought me here straight after getting home from work and she hadn't eaten yet. She told me to give her a call once I was done and she would come back to pick me up. 
I was seen to about 90 minutes later. I apologised to the nurse who was dealing with me initially. I felt like I was wasting their time. She said better to be safe than sorry. Made sense. If there was any infection starting, the wise thing to do would be to deal with it sooner rather than later. 
She checked out the wounds and said she'd get a doctor. I was escorted to another room and got myself gingerly onto the examination table. 
I have to say, if I haven't said it already, that every one of the doctors and nurses that I've dealt with so far have been wonderful. One or two of the reception staff could do with some customer service training, but for the most part, they've all been great. 
The doctor came in and had a look at the wound while I explained how I thought it may have happened.  He made a quick call to one of the Orthopaedic specialists, who turned up five minutes later. He had a look at the feet and prescribed a 7-day course of antibiotics and a fresh dressing. Then he bid me farewell and left. 

Okay, this post needs another picture. I wore the Seiko SKX009J that day. Sleeping has been a little difficult, as my feet are propped up on a cushion under the covers at the end of the bed. It's a very tight fit, and moving my feet is awkward. As a result, I'm finding that I only move the position of my feet two or three times overnight and my lower back is certainly feeling it. I asked about this sleeping arrangement and was told to keep my feet elevated as much as possible. I have been doing so, but as I write this (on Sunday October 9th), I wonder if I still need to keep them elevated above the level of my heart, as I was instructed to do at the outset. 
Toes above nose is what they told me after the operation and I made sure that my feet were level with my face whenever I was lying down. 
Although, when I go back in a week for the follow-up, I'll ask again with regard to how elevated my feet need to be.

The nurse started cleaning the wounds and patted them dry while the original doctor typed up his brief report and scheduled an appointment for me to return in a week to have them assessed again. Then he said his goodbyes and left also. 
The nurse deftly cut out a patch of thin adhesive gauze, like the one I had on the wounds originally and then she trimmed the corners so that these patches were a soft rectangle. For the open wound, she applied a small strip of gauze, like those little band-aids they use in boxing movies, to close up an open cut. Then a small patch of padded gauze on top, followed by the thin adhesive patch to hold it in place. I was told not to get this wet. Over on the right foot, three small strips of gauze and then the adhesive patch on top. My feet looked like they'd been through the wars. Dry and rough patches of skin, as well as the light bruising near the bandaged areas. As soon as I'd be able to, I'd give them a thorough cleansing, and maybe some moisturiser, to get the skin a little more supple while they recover.
Once the nurse had completed her sterling work, I was good to go. She said goodbye and left, to go and attend to the next patient, and I strapped my cam shoes back on and left the room. I made my way past the reception desk, wanting to thank the ladies there, but they were busy dealing with new arrivals. 
I got a text message from my wife as I was heading for the door. I replied, telling her that I had just finished up and she responded, saying that she would be on her way shortly. It was around 8:20pm.
I sat down at a bench outside in the cool Spring air and waited. With my feet elevated.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday 8 October 2022

Late September 2022 - | Post-Op Recovery: Short Dispatch No. 1- Footloose & Frankenstein

Oct 6th, 2022

I might just do the odd short post here and there as I recover from the bunion operation that I had a few weeks ago.

Thursday, September 15th. 

                                         I was discharged from the hospital that morning, as mentioned in my previous post. The following day, the big toe of my right foot looked bruised and felt numb. This is normal, I was told. My feet were still fully bandaged up and I was wearing the cam-shoes, which are basically a pair of velcro-fastened sandals with a very stiff sole. They're made to prevent you from exerting pressure on the balls of your feet, thus keeping the toes in one position. All weight is distributed to the heels when you walk. And I had a pair of those forearm crutches that are all the rage these days. I asked about the old wooden armpit crutches, 'cos they're a little more old-school, but was told that they don't really use those anymore. 

I wore the cam-shoes all day and into the night. Two cushions positioned at the end of the mattress, the covers lifted out from underneath my side of the bed. It has made for awkward and uncomfortable nights of sleep. Despite the numbness that I felt in my right toe, I still felt this sensation of a razor blade cutting into the toe from time to time. Putting on a pair of pyjama pants could be excruciating if the cuff brushed lightly against the top of my toe. Bloody weird sensation.

I was given a prescription for a five-pack of heavy duty painkillers and was told by the hospital pharmacist to just take plain old paracetamol tablets for pain over the first three to five days and to use the prescribed painkillers for strong pain only. In the end, despite some sharp - but brief - moments of pain here and there, I didn't use the painkillers. 

The paperwork that I was given upon being discharged from hospital stated that I should go see my GP five to seven days after the operation. So, I made an appointment for the following week.

Tuesday, September 20th. 

Four days after the op. The pain had subsided greatly. Although, as I shifted position in bed that night, my elbow slipped off the edge of the mattress and I reflexively tensed up. And curled my toes. My feet felt like they had just caught on fire. Did I just tear the stitches? Both feet hurt a little over the next few days. I was scheduled for a follow-up appointment at the hospital on the 29th. I kept an eye on the bandages. No visible bleeding. 

Meanwhile, I had the appointment with my GP the next evening. It was for after 6:00pm, so it was gonna cost me $101.oo for this consultation.  He was running late with appointments. I didn't get to see him until close to 7 o'clock. I hobbled into his office and took a seat. 

"Now, what can I do for you?", he asked. I showed him the hospital discharge paperwork which stated that I was to make an appointment to see him. 

"The hospital didn't contact you?", I asked.

"Nope. That's slack", he responded, pointing at the paperwork in my hand. And there I sat, thinking that I was paying a hundred bucks tonight to chat with my doctor about nothing in particular. It would seem that the hospital's discharge paperwork was a generic one that they hand out to most patients. 

Not to have made this visit a complete waste of time and money, he wrote me up a referral for a yearly-scheduled blood test, to be done after the first week of November, and took my blood pressure. Once this consultation was done, I headed to the reception desk and paid. Our public health insurance body, Medicare, would reimburse me $35.oo for this visit. Still, though...

I started writing a typecast, so I'll just paste it up here, shall I? Disregard the dates. That's when I wrote them, not when the events occurred.

Oh. Wait a sec. I've jumped the gun a little here. Let me bring you up to speed. I had a follow-up appointment at the hospital on the 29th. The night before, I got online and booked a cab for nine am the next morning. I'm old-school. I doubt I'll ever catch an Uber. My appointment at the Orthopaedic Clinic was for 9:45 and, while it would only most likely be a 20-25 minute drive, I was allowing for any possible delays. 
The taxi cab arrived at my house at 9:06am. 

October 8th
                 I needn't have worried. The doctor flooded it with saline and it peeled away easily enough. To my untrained eye, it looked like the stitches were still in place. The slight mishap a week or so earlier didn't appear to have caused any issues.  
The doctor looked over both feet and then made a quick phone call. A few minutes later, one of the surgeons who assisted during my operation arrived. We made our quick greetings and I asked him to thank everyone involved in the operation on the day. Whether or not he will see these same nurses and staff anytime soon is another matter. 
He had a look at the sutures and said it all seemed to be healing nicely. He then turned to the younger doctor and explained which stitches to cut first and in which order. He then bid me goodbye and left. 

The young lad soon got to work. He had a small tool that he would use.
He tore open the sealed plastic packet containing the stitch cutter and positioned himself over my left foot. I wondered if he would be comfortable hovering over my foot like that. Did he want to sit down? Was there sufficient lighting? 
I, meanwhile, grabbed the lower section of the chore jacket that I was wearing and scrunched it up in my closed fist. He got to work, and I felt a slight pull against the thread, followed by a sharp burning sensation. I gripped the jacket. It took him a few minutes to remove all the sutures. 
In one foot. I felt the sharp burn on a few occasions.  
"This your first day, Doc?", I wanted to ask him, through gritted teeth.
Then, he shifted over slightly and I placed my right foot in front of him. I gave some thought to including photos here, but thought better of it. This is a reasonably family-friendly blog and we don't want to frighten the youngsters. So...

<-- This pic is from; To Draw Feet

There were more sutures running along the outer edge of my foot, but for the purposes of this demonstration, these ones illustrated here were the problem. Specifically, the last, very tightly knotted(!), thread, which proved difficult to slide the cutting blade underneath. Needless to say, it took him almost as long to remove this one last knot as it did to do the entire other foot. 
By the end of it, I had a slight sheen of perspiration on my forehead and my knuckles ached from gripping the jacket. FYI, the skin on top of the foot is very, very thin. 
Once he was done, I started breathing again while he cleaned the wounds with saline and applied a thin adhesive bandage on both feet. 
"Leave these on for a few days and then remove them. It's okay to get them wet, Just pat them dry afterwards", he informed me. 
That was good to know. I had been taking showers wearing these long plastic leggings with elastic cuffs. The whole process of showering was taking me around 30 minutes from start to finish. 

Anyway, They reminded me that I had a follow-up appointment with my surgeon on the 27th and I was then free to go. I got my crutches and got out of there. There's a cafe situated a little ways up the street from the hospital. I decided to grab a coffee. 
My wife sent me a text message. I replied and sent her a photo of my feet. She replied, saying they looked grisly, and she asked a couple of questions regarding the bandages, etc. While I sat in the cafe with my latté, I quickly jotted down some notes regarding my next appointment. I wanted to make sure I had everything covered.

Okay, so much for a 'short dispatch'! 
Oh, and since this blog of mine is about watches, as much as anything else, I wore the 40mm Hamilton Khaki Field Automatic to the hospital. I wanted something that could could withstand a knock against a doorway or something.
I finished the coffee, slowly made my way back to the hospital entrance, figuring it would be easier for a taxi driver to find me at a hospital rather than outside a street café, and called a cab. 
The taxi arrived about fifteen minutes later. I climbed into the back-seat and gave the driver my address and headed home. 
Thanks for reading!

Friday 30 September 2022

September 2022 - Park your dogs*...for the next six to eight weeks. | Got My Foot Operation Done.

*My dogs are barking is a phrase that simply means my feet hurt. In this case, the word dogs means feet and the word barking means hurts. The expression my dogs are barking can be traced to journalist T. Dorgan, who worked for the New York Evening Journal. He coined many phrases, often using rhyming slang. Supposedly, the phrase dog meat became feet in this idiom. The term my dogs are barking was popularized throughout the world by American servicemen. Dogs Are Barking 

It might have been in a Raymond Chandler novel where a couple of goons with gats bust in on Philip Marlowe at home and one of them says to him; Park your dogs. Meaning 'sit down'. 


So, my bunion operation was scheduled for Wednesday the 14th. My wife started a new job about a month ago. She could either take time off to drop me off to the hospital or pick me up once I was ready to be discharged. 

I told her I'd get a cab to the hospital. That would make it easier for everyone. Besides, I knew that seeing her when I was discharged would lift my spirits no end.

I wore the Submariner 5513 on the Tuesday, the day before the op, since I figured it would be a while before I wore a nice watch again. Looking back, I should have probably taken one or two days off before the date of the surgery. Things felt a little rushed as the fateful day drew nearer. I've been in this new job of mine only since late March, so I haven't clocked up enough leave time to cover the 6 to 8 weeks of recovery time that I'd need. Ahh well, couldn't be avoided. If you read my previous post, you may recall that I was called by the hospital and given two dates to choose from for this operation, one in August and one in September. I'd been on the public waiting list since mid-2019 and, while it would have been more convenient to have had this procedure done in December or January, I really didn't have a choice in the end. My boss was very understanding, told me not to worry about work. It would all get done in the long run. It is what it is, as my wife will often say. Good news is that I tied up as many loose strings as I could before I took the work laptop home with me. I won't crack it open for the first two weeks, but I'll tackle emails a few days a week after that.

Our bathroom renovation is still ongoing, and I should have been a little more productive with organising the shower installation, but that's okay. It'll get sorted while I'm at home recovering. It can all get arranged with a mobile phone and internet access.

I began packing my overnight bag a couple of days before. Thought about taking a book along, but wasn't sure if I'd have enough time or energy to read any of it. Would prefer short stories, to be honest, so that I could stop and start where required without interrupting the flow of a longer novel. In the end, I didn't take The Thin Man with me. I did, however, mix up a Dry Martini, one more thing that I wouldn't be doing for the next month or two. As far as a wristwatch goes, I decided to bring along the Casio MRW-200H-1B. All plastic case and strap, quartz-operated, plenty enough water-resistant, and with day and date function. Robust enough (I think) to take some knocks and cheap enough ($38.ooAUD off eBay) to replace if it breaks or disappears. I was a little wary of hospitals. My mother had her wristwatch and transistor radio disappear on two separate hospital stays back in the Seventies and Eighties. I'm sure things have changed since then, but I was just playing it cautious. Last time I was in hospital was back around '94 when I had an endoscopy procedure for a stomach ulcer. Prior to that was 1971 when I had my tonsils out as a kid. So, hospitals make me a little nervous. 

Okay, so I took a cab to the hospital, tipped the driver - 'cos he got me there in good time - and made my way to the Day Procedures building. Gave my details to the lady at the desk. Sat in the waiting area for about 45 minutes. I'd gotten to the hospital at 11:20am. The procedure was to be done in the afternoon sometime. 

I checked my phone. There was a text message from my wife;

Wednesday 10:06







Please take a photo of your lovely feet for me.

She meant post-op. My feet were gonna look a mess pretty soon. I sent her a quick reply, along with hospital rules regarding visitors;

                                                                                     No visitors 😞. Covid rules still in place. 

What wtf!!! Can't I do a covid and come in








                                                                       Nope. You're to go to Main Entrance tomorrow morning around 9:30 and they'll contact the Day Procedure Centre and bring me round.  


Is you there now?

I guess we could face time 

                                                                       Yep. Here now. And we can face time! Good call. 

Forty minutes later... 

                                                                                    Going in. Radio silence for now. We'll see how I go once I'm out of the theatre. See ya 

Good luck

I began to feel alone and a little nervous. I wished my family was here. I compartmentalised this feeling for the time being. Put it in a box, slot it away for the moment, teeritz. Deal with it later. 

As I sat in the waiting room, a young nurse approached and introduced herself. She then escorted me to a small office where I was given a mask, a Covid/RAT test and my blood pressure was taken. A plastic medical strip was put on each wrist. I would lose count of how many times I would be asked for my name and date of birth during my stay.

I re-signed a consent form, since it had been over a year since I last did so. Looking at the info regarding the risks of the surgery, it listed possibilities such as infection and ongoing pain. There was a third item listed also, but doctor's handwriting being what it is, the nurse and I couldn't make out what it said. She then led me to a bank of lockers and handed me a hospital gown and basket. 

It was happening. 

I was pointed towards a row of changing rooms and slipped out of my civvies and into the gown, with those annoying string-ties at the back. Off came the Casio watch. I put it inside a shoe. Along with my wallet, which contained my Medicare Card, my ATM card, and a $20 note. I crammed my socks in after them. My mobile (cell) phone went into my other shoe. I made sure to put it on Silent mode. My wedding ring was being a little stubborn. I left my underwear on and asked the nurse if these needed to come off as well. She said that it would be okay to leave them on, since they'd be operating down at my feet. My ring, which refused to come off, was wrapped in masking tape. I was then led back to the office, where I glanced at the wall clock on numerous occasions for the next forty minutes or so. 

Pretty soon, it was time to move location. They asked if I wanted a wheelchair. I declined. This would be my last smooth walk for a while. It was a short distance from the office to the ward of beds near the operating theatre. I lay down on the bed, with its raised section where the pillow sat, and one of the anaesthetic nurses approached and asked me my name and date of birth. She asked about allergies and such. I explained that I'm a mild asthmatic who smoked for 35 years and quit in January last year. I use Symbicort (a preventer) from time to time and Ventolin (a reliever) from time to time. 

Do you get short of breath if you go up a flight of stairs?, she asked.

I told her that I work on the third floor of a building and when I take the stairs, I feel out of breath once I get to level three. She said that's pretty normal. Another nurse came over and fitted a cannula (IV needle) into the back of my left hand and fastened it down with surgical tape. 

It was happening. 

I was now beginning to feel alone, since it was some hours since I'd seen my wife before she left for work. And I hadn't seen the kids since the day before. I was a little nervous about this whole endeavour to begin with. My Dad suffered a stroke while under anaesthetic during an operation back in 1981 and he never fully recovered. A little imagination can sometimes be a dangerous thing, and I began to think about something going disastrously wrong during the procedure.

Five minutes later, one of the assisting surgeons came over and asked how I was doing. He said the operation would be taking place soon, and did I have any questions? A little late right now if I did. He took a Texta (Magic Marker) out of his pocket and drew a circle on my right foot and wrote an upper-case 'R' in it, followed by a long arrow pointing down towards my toes. 

Is that in case you forget which is which?, I asked.

About ten minutes later, the surgeon appeared, with two other doctors who'd be assisting him. 

Do you know what you're having done today?

I wanted to say 'sex change' for a gag. But instead;  Yes, you're gonna take one of those little electric saws, like you get from Bunnings (a hardware chain), and you're gonna make a long zig-zag cut through the bone. And I think some titanium screws are going in there as well. 

They would be performing an osteotomy. Specifically, an Akin and Scarf Osteotomy, to deal with the bunions on both feet. One big toe (L) would get a small wedge of bone cut away from it, the other toe (R) would have a bone cut and realigned and held together with two titanium screws. 

Is there anyone at home?, he asked. You know, to look after me once I'm discharged.

Yeah, I replied. A builder who's taking his damn sweet time to complete a bathroom renovation. And two kids who - I looked up at the clock on the wall. The time showed 1:17pm - are probably still asleep right now. 

I liked this doctor. I felt that I'd be in good hands. About 20 minutes later, they wheeled my bed towards the operating theatre, which was a short distance away. They lined my bed alongside the operating table and began to make moves to lift me up and across.

Do you want me to slide over to this one?, I asked. I felt like I wanted to help them, since they'd all be very busy soon enough. I lifted myself up and sidled over to the operating table. I glanced at wrists. A couple of Apple watches, natch, but nothing else to be seen. The anaesthetic nurse on my right told me to rest my head on the pillow. I looked up at the huge lighting array above the table. An IV tube was attached to the cannula taped to my left hand by the nurse to my left. I began to shiver a little, my lower jaw quivered. Was it cold in here or was I getting nervous? The nurse to my left gave the IV tube's valve a slight twist and a felt a slightly icy sensation inside the back of my hand. The nurse to my right placed the oxygen mask over my nose and mouth. 

It was happening.

Somebody's calm and soothing female voice told me to take a few deep breaths. I drew the oxygen deep, going for that abdominal breathing - where you fill your entire lungs by making your stomach rise as well as your chest - and made sure I breathed evenly and calmly. Despite the butterflies fluttering around behind my sternum.

That's good, just one more, she said. 

                                                                     I took another deep breath.

                                                                                                                       And maybe half of another.


I opened my eyes and looked at the end of the bed. I felt a little tired, but still awake and aware enough to know what had happened, and where I was. My bandaged feet felt numb, which was good. I slowly bent them towards me, at the ankle. My throat hurt a little. I had two thin cotton blankets over me and the room temperature was pleasant. I felt tired. I slowly reached for the basket on the chair next to my bed. It had my clothes in it. I reached for the shoe with the socks in it and fished out my Casio wristwatch. It showed 3:25pm, approx. I got my phone out of my other shoe. Checked it for emails and messages. All clear. Read an article or two on about the arrangements for Queen Elizabeth's funeral. Wanted to send a text message to my wife. She was still at work. I didn't want to disturb her, but I wanted to let her know things were okay.  She beat me to the punch about half an hour later;

Waiting for you to wake up
wondering how you are 💗
                                                                           Woke up in recovery/Post-Op about an hour ago. I'm lucid, but talking slowly, feeling a little punch-drunk. And sleepy. Otherwise all good. Please do not worry.
Love you glad okay rest
                                                                           They took my blood pressure a few times. Feet feel numb. Love you too. Thanks for all your help and reassurances. Staff here are great. Like 24 Hours in A & E.  *
*24 Hours in A & E is a British documentary series which follows 24 hour periods in one of London's busiest Accident & Emergency hospitals.
Everybody I spoke to in the lead-up to this op told me not to worry, but the only person I listened to was my wife. She knew of my concerns regarding the anaesthetic and she provided the soothing voice of reason whenever my worry surfaced.
I slowly drifted into sleep. 
Dinner was around five-thirty pm. The tray was placed on the over-bed table. I lifted the plastic lid off the main dish.

Warning - The following photo contains images of hospital food. 
There's that long-standing gag about hospital food being inedible. Truth be told, I wasn't all that hungry, but I felt it may be wise to eat whatever's put in front of me. Fuel the healing process wherever possible. If it tasted bad, I'd leave it be.
I took a photo of it and sent it to my wife. 
Mushy peas!!! was her reply. Diced lamb, carrot, peas and rice. Actually, the menu slip accompanying this meal stated that it was Braised Lamb with Mint, with diced carrot, steamed rice and, yep, mushy peas.  It was warm. Would have been nicer if it was hotter, but that was a minor quibble. It tasted fine. 
If anything, I was more in the mood for the cup of tea that was on the tray. Sometimes, a cup of tea works wonders. 
And, I think I shouldn't have had the Tiramisu. 

I was feeling tired after dinner, so I think I may have closed my eyes and had a snooze. Woke up at some point, checked my Instagram - why, I don't know - and quickly clicked a tab on my phone which landed me on a wristwatch forum. Just wanting to see that the world hadn't changed significantly while I was gone. Nope, all still the same. People still putting up pics of watches on their wrists and asking if they looked to big or small for them. People still complaining about how long it takes to repair a wristwatch. People still joining up on the forums to ask if their newly-inherited wristwatch was real or fake.

I then switched over to the tab and read some more news about the lead-up to Queen Elizabeth's funeral. I don't think I'm a royalist, but it really does feel like the end of an era, and the end of a certain type of monarch. You can say what you will about the necessity or relevance of a monarchy in this modern age, but there's no denying that Her Royal Highness took her role seriously throughout her 70-year reign. That alone is to be commended. The old-world term 'steadfast' - a word that really isn't used much these days - applies to Queen Elizabeth II. Certainly, she held those old-fashioned British values of 'show little to no emotion' and 'keep a stiff upper lip', but you have to admire her consistency. Also, let's face it, over the years, she did appear to show her humourous side from time to time, just to prove that she wasn't totally different to the rest of us.
Having read so much espionage fiction over the years, the term 'Queen and country' cropped up often enough to give the phrase a certain gravitas, in my view. A certain nobility and higher calling which goes beyond merely doing something for the benefit of one's government. The term holds that very old-world notion, which dates it back to an earlier era, be it the 16th, 18th or 20th century. 
Hmm, maybe I am a royalist. I've included this 1955 portrait by Pietro Annigoni, who was famous for painting in the Renaissance style. This portrait was briefly seen in the Bond film On Her Majesty's Secret Service (Dir: Peter Hunt, 1969), when - SPOILER ALERT - Bond hands in his resignation from the Service and raises a glass of Scotch to the painting hanging in his office. 

                                                                                          Wednesday 22:01
                                                                    Slept for an hour or so. Just had some antibiotics into the back of my hand, and an injection into my stomach to prevent blood clotting. Not feeling very sleepy right now, but the nurse may be back at one am to give me Panadol. If I'm awake. Nighty night!
- T xxxooo

Now I'm feeling a little tired...

Ok sweets won't ring sounds like you've got a lot in your system


I fell asleep shortly after and, sure enough, at around one am, the nurse came in and gave me some tablets. 
Here's the Casio MRW-200H, ticking along.
The next morning, three doctors came in to see how I was doing. By now, the numbness and painkillers were  beginning to wear off and it began to feel like somebody was slowly, oh so very slowly, slicing open the top of my big toes, at the first joint, just below the nail bed. The toe of my right foot was beginning to bruise also. 
How are we this morning?, one of them asked.
Well, I said, it feels like a razor blade is cutting the top of my toes. 
Yes, that'll be the anaesthetic wearing off, he replied. 
A few more minutes of chit-chat. They seemed happy with how the procedure went. That was that. Off they went. 
I was due to be discharged at 9:30am. Before that, I would be visited by the pharmacist, physiotherapist and I'd have to get another set of x-rays done. 
Things started happening a little faster. I had breakfast (corn flakes, two slices of cold toast, orange juice, a cup of tea) and then was put into a wheel-chair - on which I had to fold down the spring-loaded foot-rests myself, for fuck's sake! - and was whisked over to the Radiology room to get some sexy pics of my foot skeletons taken.
That done, I was wheeled back to my bed. Pretty soon, I got a visit from the pharmacist, who informed me of the medication. Firstly, I was instructed to take paracetamol tablets regularly for the first three to five days. I was also prescribed a five-pack of Endone, a painkiller, to be used only for strong pain.  She handed me the prescriptions for the painkillers and wished me well.
Okay, now to get out of this hospital gown and into my own clothes. This would take a while. Last thing I wanted to do was put any pressure on the stitched-up parts of my feet. I had a plan, though. The trick would be that, no matter what I did, I was to stay aware of the position of my feet at all times. And, I should ensure that I was 'anchored' properly. That is to say, I'd better not lean too far forward or back, to avoid slipping. 
Because that would really ruin my day. 

I had brought in a pair of Zanerobe ath-leisure (hated term) jogger pants. They had a draw-string waist. No belt. Good. One less thing to worry about. The cuffs were wide enough to allow my bandaged and swollen feet to get through. Good. 
I took my time. Got both feet into them without screaming. Then a T-shirt. Then a hoodie. I sat back on the bed and raised the pillow higher so that I could lie back a little more upright. 
It was around 9:30am by now. 

My wife had already sent me a text message to say that she had arrived. I told her of the delay. She replied, saying that she'd grab a coffee at the nearby cafe and text me back when she was on her way back to the hospital.

The physiotherapist arrived soon after, to ask if I'd need a chair for use in the shower once I was back at home. I explained that we had a metal stool that would work well enough. She then told me of a medical supply store nearby that sold the plastic waterproof leggings that I would need to wear in the shower, in order to keep the bandages dry. I took the address off her.
Finally, she explained the crutches to me. I would have free use of them for the first month, but after that, they'd cost me $8.oo a week to hire. No problem. I signed the paperwork for them. 
A few minutes later, I was good to go. I slung my overnight bag onto a shoulder and bid farewell to the staff, and especially the nurse who looked after me during my stay. Thanks, Lily! They asked me if I wanted a wheel-chair. No thanks, I figured I'd get used to the crutches that I'd just slid my forearms into. My mobile phone buzzed, to say I had a message. Another nurse walked me slowly round to the reception area and out the door where my wife was waiting for me. Man, she was a sight for sore eyes! 
She asked me if I wanted her to bring the car around. It was parked about four car spaces away from where I was standing. We walked over to it and she opened up the rear passenger side and placed the crutches in. I eased myself into the passenger seat in front. 
On the way home, we stopped off at the medical supply store and the pharmacy. Then we got home and I slowly worked the crutches along the driveway and got myself into the house and parked on the couch where there was a foot-stool with two cushions on it. 
That's where I stayed for most of the day. 
Finally got back into reading once I'd settled into a sort of routine at home. I finished off The Man With The Golden Gun and then promptly began Anthony Horowitz's third Bond continuation novel, With A Mind To Kill, which takes place two weeks after the events of TMWTGG. Forty pages in and I'm very curious to see where this story will go. 
The Casio still on the wrist.
These bunions first began bothering me sometime around 2008. They would ache from time to time during the day, but it was at night when I got into bed that I would really feel the pain. My feet would feel as though they had been run over. I knew I had to get them operated on at some point.
It's been a long time getting to this point and now, the recovery was just beginning.
I wanted to give it the best chance possible. 
Let's see how I go over the next few weeks.  

Thanks for reading!