Saturday, May 7, 2011

Always Disappointment, Never Contentment (well, a little. . .)

So, Thursday I visited 'the mad scientist' for my 11 week post-op check-up.  I had been feeling so good the past two weeks that I came braced to win him over with my "I'm gonna walk outta here in sneakers" argument.  Before he even entered the room, I had unpacked my shoes and put them on the floor beside my bare foot as a visual reminder; I was prepared!

Luckily over the nearly two years that I have been Dr. W's patient, I've been able to train him on how and when he should listen to my pleas, so it didn't take too much case-making on my part.  However, even as late as a year into our relationship (and yes, I call it a relationship because we really act more like an old married couple now than we do a doctor and patient), he would still peer over his clipboard with his all-knowing arrogance (even he won't deny he is arrogant) and tell me how he knew best and how I should only follow his instructions.  We've come a long way since then. . .

So to celebrate the "balancing act of expressing all the excitement of walking with not overdoing it" and the wedding I am attending in two weeks, I decided to attempt a "pretty shoe" shopping excursion today; a first in a long time.  I had my morning perfectly planned!  I rose early, knowing that I needed to try on shoes early in the day to avoid major swelling (or else there was no hope of even getting them on) and of course the large crowds at the store.  Needless to say, my plan was foiled on both accounts.  It only took a matter of minutes for the right ankle to become the size of a grapefruit while I stood in the kitchen making my pancake breakfast.  I did manage to constrict the swelling a bit with an ace bandage, but by the time I had eaten, showered, and dressed, it was nearly 12pm and I was running late!

I arrived at DSW shortly after noon and the store was swelling with springtime shoppers.  Today was the first day of really good weather this season so everyone was out (everyone, their babies, their dogs, and their cousins, that is).  I strolled the sandal aisle dodging fellow shoppers here and there in the hopes of finding an open-toed beauty that would both match my brightly colored dress and also have enough room for my larger than life foot and tightly wound ace bandage.

After a few attempts, I quickly figured out that my only viable choice was a glittery pair of thongs.   And, I wasn't prepared for one minute to pay more than $40 for a pair of thongs!  So, after shoe style reductions and price restrictions accounted for (making a choice truly is easier when your selections are narrowed down for you, wouldn't you agree?), I had found two pair that I could actually fit my foot into and that seemed to be a match for my dress.  I took the boxes and walked over to the register line.  Unfortunately, I had to keep walking and walking (well, limping and limping) because it appeared that the line was now wrapping around the entire store!  Knowing there was no way that I could stand in that line long enough to pay for my purchase, I had no choice but to leave without anything in my hands . . .

Reluctantly, the pursuit continues . . .

Friday, April 29, 2011

The Open Road . . .

I continue to feel good in the boot, really good. . . I took my first post-surgery trip this week to Toronto for business.  Luckily, the flight is only a short hour from New York, so the swelling remained low.  I opted for wheelchair service, not because I can't walk well enough, but only because the Toronto airport, with its long hallways and distant gates, could probably be considered training grounds for marathon runners. . . in fact, their wheelchair transport staff seem to be in training for a relay event.  I felt like a baton being passed from driver to driver around every new corner and elevator bank.  It took 4 different persons to bring me from my gate to the customs arrival area!

After a long delay at La Guardia and lots of sitting and waiting between relay runners at Toronto, I finally made it past customs and out to the rental car desk. . . yes, I was not only taking my first flight post-surgery, but I was also going to attempt to drive a car for the first time--in a foreign country no less!

After chanting to myself non-stop for the previous 24 hours "don't forget to pack your right sneaker", I dug it out of my suitcase, laced it up, and climbed into the Ford Focus.  "Well, let's see how this feels" was all I could think to myself as I started the engine, gave the car a little gas, and backed out of the parking space.  And, as I entered the highway and reached higher speeds, it turned out I had nothing to fear after all. . . my foot was strong and I felt confident the entire time I was driving, even in stop and go traffic.

God, I miss driving!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Walking on Sushine

The last few weeks of living in the boot have been relatively easy.  Knowing exactly what to expect this second time around has definitely helped to keep my patience in check, but overall the healing process has been both faster and easier on the right foot too, keeping my happiness meter tilting all the way to the right as well!

With the left foot last year, 'the mad scientist' had instructed me to use crutches for the first two weeks in the boot to gradually increase my weight bearing, enabling me to walk the third week without any assistance.  Things did not go as planned. . . I was in so much pain that third week that I eventually had to go back to the crutches again.  In preparation for this same scenario, I informed him that I would be going for the full three weeks this time around.  But, it turns out I didn't need to!  Thanks to some mentoring from my fantastic new therapist John, I successfully trained my foot to hit the ground after only two weeks!  I'm continuing to use the cane for longer jaunts outdoors on the hard concrete, but for all intents and purposes, I am walking!

I'm continuing my therapy sessions and we've had a few breakthrough moments this week like picking up marbles with my toes!  Exciting, I know?!  (Well, it's exciting for me anyway . . .)

Friday, April 1, 2011

Most Definitely Blog-Worthy . . .

The day finally arrived yesterday to have the cast removed--yippee!  And, the day couldn't have arrived soon enough; I had been sitting at home Monday night after work and suddenly smelled something rancid.  After desperately searching the refrigerator and trashcan for what I swore was some seriously rotten food, I finally realized that it was my foot that was wafting something nasty toward my nose?!

Luckily the nurse was still hung over from a massive case of food poisoning, so she managed to locate a handsome resident to remove my cast.  After peeling off the cement and finally freeing my toes from their dark, humid chamber, I was in/out for a quick x-ray and examination from 'the mad scientist'.

All he could do was go on and on about how beautiful it had turned out and how that is how a foot should look!  And, I have to admit that once I got home and had the chance to scrub off all those layers of muck from the last six weeks that I couldn't believe what I was seeing!  It's absolutely gorgeous--the incisions are healing nicely and will probably have minimal scarring and the swelling has remained relatively low throughout this entire process!  (I would post photos from last year's cast removal  for comparison's sake, but I wouldn't want to frighten any of you; let's just say it was not a pretty sight.)  I can already wiggle my toes and rotate my ankle freely--I couldn't do that with the left foot until we had already completed 3 weeks of physical therapy?!  For whatever the reasons, this entire experience has been light years from what it was last year and I couldn't be more pleased . . .

Friday, February 25, 2011

Medieval Torture Treatments?--Surely Not!

So, yesterday we removed the stitches and set the cast.  I truly had mixed feelings anticipating this day. . . Last year, between tweezing 50+ stitches over 45 minutes and then attempting to push a swollen, broken foot upward into a 90 degree angle, I shed quite a few crocodile tears.  I knew the day would not be complete without a lot of pain, but I also knew that getting a cast also meant ditching that bulky, heavy splint and the prospect of more mobility (and showering, who wouldn't endure a few moments of discomfort for a long, hot shower, right?)  But, surprisingly today was easy-peasy!  The only torture I experienced were a slew of zingers Dr. W kept slinging my way . . .

In what seemed a matter of seconds, Dr. W's new surgical resident had removed all the stitches and was asking me what color cast I wanted?!  I opted for boring black.  (After all, I have to return to a place of business in a few weeks; I have to appear somewhat professional and the scooter and backpack don't help the cause any, believe me. . . I mean, I look more like a 3rd grader than a Marketing Director!)  A few minutes later and with dry eyes, I sat up, viewed my new cast and wiggled my toes.  And, the good news I told Dr. W is that I am already feeling better than I did at the same stage last year!

After getting myself up and wheeling myself out of the exam room, I asked him if I could go bother his assistant Karen (my other BFF, by the way . . .).  He bid me adieu by saying, "Yeah, just stop bothering me!  Will you just leave already?"  Did I mention that my appointment was nothing but an onlsaught of zingers?  But, even funnier than he was his entire staff today.  From the x-ray tech to the nurses, every person I encountered kept asking me, "Is this another surgery?"  Yes, indeed; it seems I have not had enough of his torture--either physical or emotional--yet!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Surgically Speaking . . .

Well, Tuesday, February 15th came and went without a hitch!  I was first up on the OR schedule at 8am, which meant a very early arrival at the hospital, but also a limited window of hunger pains! After checking in with the nurses, redeeming my frequent visitor rewards with the QA consultant, and getting a warm "welcome back" from the anesthesiologist (we've practically become BFFs after the number of times I've visited her operating room over the last year), 'the mad scientist' finally arrived to greet me at 7:58am.  I had joked with the rest of the OR staff that he wouldn't arrive until 7:59am, so you can imagine our surprise when he showed up so early!  Of course, when I saw him approaching my bed still wearing his white coat and carrying a pile of about 10 patient files, I exclaimed, "You're not even in your scrubs yet?!  Are you going to be the one to make us late today?"

Luckily he managed to make up time, shaving about 45 minutes off his normal procedure time.  I woke up in Recovery just in time to nosh on a tuna salad sandwich for lunch and to take a short nap--fortunately, I had just local anesthesiology, so I avoided all the awful nausea and exhaustion of last year's surgery!

By dinner time, they moved me to my room on the Orthopaedics floor.  And, with all the gym time I put in over the Summer and Fall, I was able to successfully lift and transfer my body to my bed all by myself!  The nurses continued to be amazed at my adept "bedpan" skills during the remainder of my stay.  But, despite my need for independence, they continued to check on me every few hours, making sure my pain was under control and my belly was well-filled during my stay.  I couldn't have asked for a more attentive nursing staff; they were amazing!

After a rest-filled night, Dr. Weinfeld surprised me with a quick visit to my room Wednesday morning before he left for the airport.  "Did you really think I wouldn't come and see you today?" he said as he entered the room.  He ordered me to return a week later to have my cast set; and, feeling virtually pain-free and full of energy, I was glad to be released home a few hours later.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

New Beginnings

The new year has brought with it a renewed focus on CMT and my overall health.   I was fortunate enough to finally find a neurologist who specializes in neuro-muscular diseases in December and he's been making it his priority to identify all my symptoms of CMT, to properly diagnose me, and to also find ways to hopefully identify and suspend the degeneration rate.

We've done tests, then we did some more tests, and in the coming weeks, we're going to do some more tests!  13 vials of blood, 3 MRIs, an EEG, and a reflex test have finally and positively confirmed that my neuropathy is directly related to CMT and that my overall health is quite good.  My muscles are strong, my degeneration rate seems to be slow, and the surgery has improved my overall flexibility and ease of movement!  I could not have asked for a more positive report just one year after receiving the shattering and alarming news of my diagnosis!

So, this new beginning continues with plans for a genetic test to identify my unique strain of CMT and reconstructive surgery for the right foot!  Frightened that I would get too comfortable with the luxury of self propulsion and postpone the surgery indefinitely, I hurried to schedule it before I even had the chance to second-guess my decision.

So, come February 15, 'the mad scientist' will finally have the chance to begin the final phase of his "Perfect Podiatric Pair" Project and to help me get one step closer to finding that perfect pair of pretty shoes. . .