home at last

I’m typing this from the safety and security of the futon in my living room. It doesn’t have all the motorized adjustability of the hospital bed, and the futon mattress is pretty hard. But the blankets are much softer, the room doesn’t smell like bleach and antiseptic, and it is infinitely quiet here without the ongoing texture provided by monitor beeps, distant televisions, and the oft-deafening snores of my neighbors beyond the curtains. (One of them even talked in his sleep, constantly and loudly, his monologues punctuated by the sawing of proverbial wood. I couldn’t make out a thing he was saying.)

All I had to do was convince the physio that I would be able to climb stairs by myself on crutches, if necessary. It took some rehearsing, but I managed. Going down the stairs is a terrifying experience, because if you fall you know you’re right back where you started, only possibly worse. But confidence should come with practice. I had a bit more crutch rehearsal back here at the house when I had to go all the way across the room (I know, right? that’s like light-years away) to grab my phone from the kitchen table. Didn’t die! In real life Em and I have arranged for me to inhabit the ground floor of our shared flat, going upstairs only for showers, and she’ll spot me up the stairs when that happens.

Shortly before I left, the nurse took the boot off and changed the dressings on my surgical wounds. They weren’t pretty: staples and clips held the skin together on either side of my bloated foot, which could well have been the foot of Shelley’s monster sewn together from corpses. The surgeons had to make two incisions to get things cleaned up inside. The discharge papers note that I actually had multiple fractures in the body of the os talus (rare), rather than the neck thereof (50% of all talus fractures). It could have been worse, though: the broken bones never pierced the skin, there is no obvious nerve damage, and everything broke more or less in place, so that all they had to do was go in and screw it back together. They’re being cagey about giving me probabilities for complications, but apart from the particulars of the fracture, the variables mostly point in my favor: I’m still (relatively) young, otherwise healthy, don’t smoke at all, don’t drink much, eat well, and at least was pretty fit at the outset of this long period of sitting on my ass getting better. I’ll therefore remain cautiously optimistic about the outcome, and in the meantime will do exactly everything the doctors tell me to do here.

Emily’s parents drove me home, and Emily herself negotiated the pick-up of some equipment I’d need here: a gutter crutch for my left arm, a shower chair, and some handrails for the toilet. I haven’t given her nearly the level of exposure in this writing that she deserves (though that’s probably fine with her) — for keeping me sane through board games, reading, and snuggles, and for keeping my anxiety levels low by reminding me what an anxious boy I usually am and getting me to process those anxieties in a timely manner. She’s pretty amazing by any reasonable boy’s standard, and one of the best parts of being home is that visiting hours can be whatever we want.

So I’m now in the next stretch of this ongoing adventure I never particularly wanted to go on. I’ve been sent home with a limited supply of drugs: painkillers (paracetemol, oxycodone, diclofenac) and blood thinners (enoxaparin). I’ll have to arrange to get these refilled sometime in the next week. The oxycodone is the one I’m most anxious about running out of, since it’s severely restricted and I could imagine going through the current supply pretty quickly, but we’ll see how my pain goes over the next few days. The fact that on my second day post-op it already hurts so much less than it did my first day post-op is really encouraging. I’m just not quite out of the opiates part of the woods yet.

The velcro boot I’m in, the current best-practice alternative to a plaster cast, is removable, and I’ve been encouraged to take it off from time to time to perform non-weight-bearing rehabilitation exercises. This is the part which will be the least fun for me over the next couple of days, less fun even than sticking myself in the belly fat with a syringe full of enoxaparin, because I remember how profoundly painful it was just yesterday. Wasn’t too bad today, though, with appropriate doping, and I was surprised to discover that I had some range of motion (though not much); didn’t hurt much at the boundaries, just couldn’t get my foot to move too far. If I want to heal, this is the really unappealing part that I’m just going to have to suck up and do. I’ll have to keep my final goals, of cycling and dancing again just as I have been, crystal clear in my mind, and not squick out.

All right, that’s all for medical stories for now, folks. In the near-future times where I am doped up, I may post more about some past travel adventures which never made it here. If there’s especially interesting medical news I’ll post it as it arises. Stay safe and healthy!

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About Richard

I'm an American scientist who is building a new life in Australia. This space will contain words about science and math, but also philosophy, policy, literature, my travels, occasional rants, all sorts of things I find strange and awesome. The views expressed in this blog do not necessarily reflect the opinions of my employer at the time (currently University of Sydney), though personally, I think they should.
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One Response to home at last

  1. Dick Crocker says:

    How well I can understand, Richard – physical therapy – too often uncomfortable – under the direction and watchful eyes of a PT (Physical Terrorist ;;-)
    take care & be every day more well.

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