Monday, September 19, 2011

Hospital Adventures: The Aftermath

So I'm home, and I'm pleased that it was a relatively short hospital stay. Because my doctor didn't actually have faith in the idea of IV antibiotics at home, he thought there was the potential for me to be transferred to a nursing home for continued treatment, as hospital beds should be reserved for people sicker than I. Thank goodness it didn't come to that.

Just over ten years ago, when I briefly lived in a homeless shelter, there was an older man also staying there, and he'd just had surgery to remove his big toe. It was treated like ambulatory surgery, so he was in and out on the same day. I was shocked by this. The big toe is essential to balance, so him being kicked out without any kind of physical therapy was wrong in my eyes. He also had no choice but to be up and about during his stay at the shelter, as there was no hanging around permitted during the day. My thought was that the hospital should be ashamed. They operated on a guy, in what had to be emergency surgery, (as I couldn't imagine a homeless man having regular medical care), and then dismissed him with only a wound care nurse to stop by once a day to change the wound's dressing. I am, by comparison, far better off.

And yet I'm going to gripe. Yeah, it's somewhat selfish, but his problems are now in the past (I hope), and mine are in the present.

Knowing that I was likely to face this amputation, I asked the special specialist treating my Charcot arthropathy if I could start weight-bearing on the affected foot. He said I could, and had the cast techs give me a weight-bearing cast. My instructions were to do as I pleased, as much as I could tolerate. As the weather gets colder, it would seem I can't tolerate that much. Joints that have been broken tend to ache during dramatic atmospheric changes, and I had plenty of microfractures in my talus. But at least I could do SOMETHING.

Now I've been ordered back into the realm of bed rest for the next two weeks, and I'd just gained a bit of freedom. Forgive the childish outburst, but...THAT ISN'T FAAAAAIR! (Reading that in the whining tone of a five-year-old makes it sound proper.) I had only a few days of being able to do the dishes, take out the trash...and now all responsibilities fall back onto Becky's shoulders. Like she didn't have enough to do already.

Speaking of my beloved, I was particularly astonished that my brief hospital stay had such a profound effect on her. She's said a number of times, "I understood the need for it, but that didn't mean I had to like it." She'd become so accustomed to coming home to receive affection from me that the lack of it bothered her immensely. I came home to an abundant amount of evidence that she'd occupied my side of the bed while I was gone, which somehow brought her comfort. And we've been making up for lost time by showing a great deal of affection - just a wee bit more than usual - since my return.

As for how my foot feels...? Well, it hurts a little. Not nearly as much as other aches in my body. Even though it's just a toe, I've been getting the occasional "phantom pain" in it. Because my toenails have come to grow like little mutations at the end of my feet, they sometimes have to be ground down instead of simply cut. It's the strange discomfort of having the toenail being attacked with a grinder that I've felt most, and it's more bothersome than anything else.

Emotionally, I'm just frustrated. It's been months since I've been able to engage in any normal activities. It's been ongoing with this bulky cast, and now I have the added "joy" of an amputated toe. Again, it's bothersome. I want to be able to shower regularly...to go for a walk without having to limp...to be able to do more around the apartment than play the role of vegetable.

What's more, it isn't going to end with my foot adventures. Next on the list is the mystery pains in my hips. My right hip hurts more than the left, but it's in both. It could be arthritis. It could be related to Charcot arthropathy. Whatever it is, it won't be anything that'll kill me...just make me miserable.

Oh well. One problem at a time. It's good to be home with my beloved taking care of me instead of a parade of nurses that alternated between pretty and not-so-pretty. The would-be nurse caring for me now is beautiful all the time. =)

Be well, all, and DFTBA!

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