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?
Yes, 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 bands.com 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.
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!