Sunday, July 28, 2013

Do the Right Thing

Readers who go back a loooooong way will remember that Valerie had neuroma surgery on her left foot in 2010.  (For those who don't remember, or would like to take a stroll down memory lane, click here to read My Left Foot.)   The surgery worked out so well - that is, no more pain in that foot, and the additional bonus that she no longer had to wear GREAT BIG FAT STUNNINGLY UGLY shoes - that a few weeks ago she had the same surgery on the right thing.  Uh, foot.  (See right thing, above.)  The neuroma on the right foot was not as bad, but when enflamed, as periodically happened, it felt as though the infant steely-toothed Alien was inside trying to gnaw its way out.

John Hurt knows exactly how this feels.

As you may know,  part of coming prepared for surgery includes having a responsible adult to take you home when you're all groggy, right?  Here's Valerie's responsible adult, below, photographed in the waiting room.   Extra special credit goes to Valerie's responsible adult for meeting Valerie at 6:30am so they could show up exactly at the hospital's specified 6:45am arrival time (you know - so you can fill out all the forms, answer all the questions and put on the silly clothes) to be ready for the scheduled 7:30am surgery.  (Jean would like to remind everyone that one of the advantages to wearing dark glasses is being able to catnap in the waiting room without drawing attention to oneself, unless of course, one is a snorer!)
And here's the patient herself, showing off the right thing in question.  Valerie shows many signs of being prepared.  She's got her cane from last time, so she can hobble away from the hospital; as instructed she's wearing clothing that's easy to put on and take off over a bandaged foot; and stashed away in a nearby bag is her black surgical bootie from last time.  Waste not, want not! She is also wearing no foundation, lipstick or nail polish. That's so they can monitor your color on the operating table. Black toe nail polish may be fun, but during surgery is not a good time for your doctor to have to wonder if something has gone terribly awry. Valerie's instruction sheet indicated that makeup can be a doctor-patient decision. We'd love to know what patients try to negotiate for, and what doctors are inclined to allow.
Surgery was initially scheduled to take place in the same hospital where the left foot was done, but things happen, and at the last minute, the date was changed and along with it the venue.  This turned out to be a wonderful plus, because instead of a large impersonal place with a million people, security guards and rules, rules, rules, we were surprised and delighted to find ourselves in a little boutique hospital that must have once been someone's turn-of-the-century townhouse.  Here's the marble spiral staircase and checkered marble floor,
a view from the base of the staircase to the starry skylight,

a close-up of the stained glass rosette at the top of the dome,

and let's just throw in the ornate gilt metal detailing at the base of the staircase.  If you studied architecture, and know if this has a highly specific name (something exotic, like plinth, or pergola), let us know.  (We know it's not a plinth or a pergola.  Those are just examples of exotic words.  At least they're exotic to us.)

After filling out all the paperwork, Valerie was led away to the Silly Clothes room.  Here she has documented, in a mirror, the gown without a back (now, really - isn't that silly?  especially at her age?), and one of the little blue foot things.  There's another similar picture taken without flash, but with flash Valerie seems to be holding the Hope diamond, rather than a digital camera.  That seems more appropriate in a Gilded Age town house.

So one minute she's on the operating table, joking with her podiatrist and the anaesthesiologist, and making sure they're going to do the right thing and not the left thing; and then, as far as she can tell, the next minute she's being escorted back to the Silly Clothes room, where she can put almost all her regular clothes back on, except she has to keep the brand new black bootie, Ace bandage (unseen), and stark white sock that she woke up with.  In the boutique hospital, they spare you the indignity of wearing the very bad hospital hat (you know - that thing that looks like a shower cap) - or if not, they take it off before you wake up and accidentally see how you look in the mirror wearing a very bad hospital hat.  The anaesthetic was amazingly light.  Valerie was warned she might wake up or hear people talking during surgery, but as it was she just awoke when her name was called, and sat up. Way cool!

Regretfully, we neglected to check our watches, but this after photo might have been taken as early as 9 am.

Jean, again above and beyond the call of duty, escorts Valerie back home,

and, having seen her charge safely back home, goes off to spend a full day at work!  (Jean says there is absolutely no truth to the rumors that the pope announced her beatification along with John Paul's.)

Having the same surgery twice might be comparable to having your second child.  All parents say they take a gazillion pictures of the first baby.  First minute, first kiss, first pic with mom, first pic with dad, first sleep in crib, first car trip home, first washing, first hair, first clothing, first solid food, first tooth - okay, you get the picture.  And then they have the second child, and there are half as many pictures because now the parents take everything for granted.

Similarly, while the first surgery was documented well enough to be archived in the Library of Congress, there are far fewer pictures of the second surgery.  Been there, done that.  Below, a perfunctory picture of the swaddled foot, with Ace bandage and super clean white sock open at the toe.  Yes, those are bruises on the second and third toes, and the fourth toe has its own swaddling cloth.  Just to show we're not making this up.  There were two days of mandatory bed rest, round-the-clock leg elevation, and cold compresses - actually, bags of frozen peas - every 20 minutes.  Then there were twelve days of really minimal activity, more peas, and foot elevation as much of the day as possible, but there has never been any pain at all, and Valerie is thinking of donating her meds (prescribed and purchased in advance to avoid hassling after surgery) to Rush Limbaugh.

Below is the mandatory shower photo, with the style-free plastic boot (saved from the last surgery) that must be worn to prevent infection.  One unexpected consequence of showering with the boot is decreased water consumption.  The very tight rubber opening of the boot (not shown here) is super at preventing water from entering, but since the boot is three years old, Valerie worried that it might have begun to lose its resilience.  Whenever she can, she stands with her right leg bent on the edge of the shower, but when she can't (when she was to soap down her left leg, for example, and has to stand on the right leg), she turns the shower off.  This way, there's no chance that water hitting the rubber opening will eventually let in a drop or two, since there is no water coming down.  It's been an inadvertent lesson in the efficient use of water.

And here is what the two feet look like now on a daily basis. (Shown here at their post-op visit to the podiatrist.) The old bootie (you can see remnants of the polka dots that once adorned the toe area) came in very handy.  Valerie has a surgical boot on both feet so they are more or less at the same height to minimize limping. And of course there's something to be said for visual symmetry, too, although the single white sock is... well...  Anyway it's temporary.  And in keeping with the black theme, a little fun with nail polish is in order.

When asked, by the way, the doctor estimated that the neuroma was about the size of an ovoid pea. That's a pretty big thing to have stuck between your third and fourth toe for over a decade. (Jean helpfully points out that it was no coincidence the fairy tale was about "The Princess and the Pea".)

So far so good.  More adventures with feet to come.

1 comment:

  1. Although I recognize it is exceptionally odd to envy someone's surgery, I do. I have seen orthopaedic surgeons who swear the surgery doesn't work; now I'm thinking it probably doesn't work when THEY do it! xxoo