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!