Thursday, March 27, 2014

Surgery Follow-Up Today

I was allowed to leave my house today for the first time since I had surgery. It was almost exciting! I was FINALLY  allowed to see it for the first time (thanks mom!).
He had taken pictures when he operated and he showed them to my mom and my fiancĂ© and my mom says “She doesn’t need to see that”. Mind you mom has a very hard time with anything that looks painful. When I woke up after surgery and spoke with the surgeon I was told the files had already been sent over to his office. WTH Doc? I didn’t find out until the next day he didn’t show them to me because my mom told him not to. Really? I mean I am a 33 year old woman who ran fire and rescue for many years for many counties. I like the weird and gory stuff. More importantly I want to see what you did; after all I am the one paying you! Steaming mad Rant over.
So here we are two weeks later on my first venture out of the house and my fist time using the knee scooter since last May. They called me back before I got bored. Nice nurse lady unwraps the outer bandages but leaves splint and all the still wrapped gauze and goodies before getting me on the x-ray table. x-rays were crazy looking as usual they had replaced the butterfly plate and all of the screws. There are also the fittings where external fixation device was drilled into the bones.
Then came the moment of truth. Doc comes in unwraps and cuts and pulls and … most of it comes off and what I see is not as bad as I was expecting. Took quite a few bottles of water, some pulling, and some serious work to get the one blob of gauze that was under the top rod and cemented to my skin. Little bit of cleaning, checking stitches, and adjusting the pins with a wrench- yes boys and girls, he pulled out his tool and started playing with my nuts.

I expected to see this big scary thing, but it reminds me of an erector set I had once. Mind you this is the outside piece.

It still looks like this on the inside. But with the addition of the pins from the outside that are drilled into the bone too.
2013-02-06_18-50-15_464 2013-02-06_18-50-03_630
This was not an easy surgery. It was the most painful by far. The good news is, he decided to hold off on the hard cast for another 2 weeks since I did everything I was supposed to (which was a whole lot of nothing). I was fortunate when it comes to the bone stimulator that I expected my insurance to deny as they have every other piece of medical equipment I have needed over the last 5 years. Turns out they expected this too which is why they ordered it before the surgery that we had to postpone. It’s approved and I was sent home with it. This is amazing news because I looked these things up online and the cheapest used one I could find was almost $600.00, new they run well over $1200.00. All it is is a tiny ultrasound machine with a 1 inch diameter electrode.
When it comes to the bone stimulator, I have to go into a hard cast because it needs direct skin contact and the doctor doesn’t want me unwrapping my foot every day and risk causing damage. The hard cast is built around the stimulator port… essentially it’s a cast with a port hole. Really wishing they had thought of this when I broke my back in all of 6 places that never healed correctly.
I follow up in two weeks and get my cast then.

MS is killing my sex life! (warning, TMI post)

After several years of being on the high dosage of Ambien it stopped working for me. My doctor refuses to put me on anything else as the three other ones we tried did nothing for me. As a result, he decided we should add Elavil to the mix. This was also ineffective. We then increased the dosage of Elavil each visit until we found a combination that worked to help me sleep. Added to my 10 mg of Ambien is 150 mg of Elavil. This combo works most of the time yet I still have nights that I don’t sleep and I have to take it on a pretty empty stomach or it doesn’t work at all. Unfortunately with my family’s schedule I am not always eating dinner before 6 pm.

One major drawback of taking Elavil that I have never had happen before is a lack of sex drive. It got up and walked away. So my options are do I choose sex or do I choose sleep? Because I can’t have both. It’s very odd. I have been on Elavil before but at the lower dosage and it didn’t change anything. Sadly between the MS and the broken foot and the 2 kids most nights I am more inclined to want sleep. Plus there is the added issue; if I don’t fall asleep before my fiancĂ©, I am up all night listening to him snore. And let’s face it, men become comatose after sex. So when I say I have to choose between sex or sleep I mean if I choose sex I get zero sleep that night.

Plus I had surgery 2 weeks ago and I now have 2 external fixation devices on my foot. These are to apply pressure to the outside to hold the bones while they heal around the inside hardware. It was not an easy surgery and it hurt like hell. So my foot is wrapped in these bandages and I am to elevate it and try not to move it too much. We were supposed to do this surgery last month, but thanks to one idiot dr we ended up cancelling last minute (because it was the pain management dr, so he was refusing to get my refill straight with insurance co).

The stress of fighting with doctors and being tested for EVERYTHING within a 2 week span lead to yet another MS flair. This meant waiting a month after cancelling surgery to reschedule it. After surgery of course was another flair. My body doesn’t like being cut open and drilling into my bones; Go figure!

So I am immobile, in pain, broken, in another MS flair, and my own body is kicking my ass. Sex? Not exactly high up on my priorities right now. This really is out of character for me. It took me 3 days of thinking about HOW we could have sex while keeping my foot out of it… and not jolting it in the process. Logistically, it’s damn near impossible. Alas, I did finally come up with a yoga like position that worked. It was like hitting the lottery.

Except… thanks to my stupid MS I am numb down there… but only on one side. So it was weird. It’s just frustrating. It’s also frustrating for the man because we went from a minimum of 3 times a week to once every few weeks. Hoping after I am done healing from surgery things will return to normal. Also going to have to try decreasing the dose of Elavil and hoping it works, though it didn’t in the past. Wish me luck!
Wonder if they make a female version of Viagra?

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Post Surgery Review

Hello everyone. Surgery #4 was done last week and it’s time for an update. This was the surgery that removed and replaced the internal butterfly plate and 7 screws. Then he went on to attach external fixation devices (2 I believe) which looks kind of like this:

external fixationexcept I have one on each side of my foot. I can only guess what it looks like until my follow up appt next Thursday because the doctor was told not to show me the pictures so he sent them on to the office before I woke up from surgery.

This was not an easy operation, it took around 5 hours. This was my second in-patient surgery on this foot. I am pleased to say that I had a great team of nurses with a clean hospital. This was the opposite of the horrible night I spent at St. Mary’s Hospital (Richmond, VA) for my last surgery.

There are no words to describe how thankful I am for the amazing nurses at Mary Washington Hospital (Fredericksburg VA). From my 3 a.m. request for coffee to my being able to use crutches to go into the bathroom they were on the ball.

I was pleased to see that my doctor (Dr. Facaros Ortho Specialty Clinic) hung around after surgery to let me know how things went. (My last surgeon: Dr. Brown at West End Orthopedics left after surgery and I didn’t know how it went until the next day.) And compared to the the last hospital, Mary Washington’s Operating room was clean and up to date with their equipment.

Okay time to stop comparing my old surgeon and his crappy hospital to the new guy and my new hospital.

As far as surgery goes, I was warned this was going to hurt more than anything I have been through. Not that I didn’t believe the surgeon, but I experienced a level of pain I never knew existed.

Thanks to my awesome nurses the first 2 days of pain was manageable. I was not doing too bad when I got home on Friday afternoon. I was exhausted because I couldn’t fall asleep in the hospital, the few times I did I jerked awake and that caused the foot to move so I gave up. Friday I slept when I got home. And I slept through the night. I noticed a lot of my MS symptoms popping up which I knew could happen after surgery.

Saturday however was the day I woke up in so much pain that I wanted to die. Every inch of my body was swollen and painful. I knew my leg/ foot would hurt. I did not expect my face to be swollen and painful. I was miserable and that was the day I discovered child birth paled in comparison to this surgery. It was hard to determine the difference between my MS flare up and an infection of the surgery. It was a miserable day that got worse as it went on.

Sunday I woke up with less pain in my body and ended up spending the day in bed reading a book and doing a whole lot of nothing (which is what I needed to do). The MS crap started to ease up some and I was not as miserable.

Here we are day 9 after surgery and I am still not allowed to do anything but sit around with my foot elevated. The new thing that sucks is that I can go all day with no problems aside from pain which is expected, then around 5 pm EVERY DAMN NIGHT, my foot starts swelling and getting very uncomfortable. This leads to more pain meds and having to lay flat on my back with my leg straight up in the air… yeah not very comfy. Soon as I put down my leg onto my wedge pillow, it swells again.

One thing that has popped up I wasn’t expecting was what appeared to be a UTI. After my kids both got sick and ended up sharing their sinus infection with me. Discovered today that the cloudy/ weird smelling urine is actually a side effect of Percocet. Who knew?

I am going in on Thursday next week to follow up with the surgeon. if all goes according to plan, after 8 weeks we will schedule surgery #5 to remove the outer hardware. Then another 12-16 weeks recovery and hopefully I will be walking again. No amount of pain in the world would have stopped me from having this surgery. I am terrified of being in a wheelchair, and it was a no brainer at the time because my foot was literally falling apart.


That being said, had I known the amount of pain I woke up in Saturday, I would not have gone through with this surgery… but I am glad it’s over and I hope with all hopes that this works. My surgeon was great. I am hoping this continues. I was impressed with the hospital and the nursing staff at 5 west (zone I was in). Though this whole thing has sucked, I am hoping the worst is over.