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The Story of the Second Surgery

On December 10, I got up at 6:00 am to eat breakfast.  That’s because my surgery wasn’t until 2:45pm, and I wouldn’t be able to eat any food after 6:45, and I wouldn’t be able to have anything to drink after 10:45.  So I got up, fried an egg (over easy, thank you) and toasted a piece of bread.  With a small bowl of yogurt, that was my delicious breakfast.

I had hoped that my mid-morning snack of Jell-O (cherry) at 10:00 would hold me over until surgery, but it didn’t.  I was so hungry by the time we left home at 1:15 that I was starting to get a headache.

The surgery center was familiar to me by now, so I was confident as I entered and filled out my paperwork, signing my name a billion times to consent for the surgery, the billing, the release of information to my insurance company, and probably my first born child.  (Ha, the joke’s on them on that one.)  Then the nurse called me back, gave me a hospital gown to change into, took my blood pressure and oxygen sats and hooked me up to the IV.

Not long after, Dr. Reising, the anesthesiologist, came in.  “I know we did this just a few months ago,” he said (he was my anesthesiologist for my first surgery), “but let me tell you how this will work.”  He reminded me about the nerve block in the back of my thigh.

“Yes, and that hurts,” I said.

“Well, it hurts a little bit.”

“No, that’s doctor talk for ‘It hurts a lot.'”

He smiled, sheepish.  “You’ve got me figured out.”

He’s a good natured guy, and I could tell he didn’t mind a little ribbing.

Then he reminded me about the nerve block down by the ankle, which he says also hurts, but last time I was already so sedated that I don’t remember that one very well.

After the explanation, he put the sedation medicine in the IV.  After that, I don’t remember much.  I recall flipping onto my belly, but I don’t remember either nerve block, which is fine by me since I know they didn’t feel good.  Apparently I was having conversations that seemed lucid, but which I don’t remember at all.  I vaguely remember seeing the surgeon, Dr. Herbst, before they wheeled me into surgery.

Interestingly, I seemed to wake up a lot once I got into surgery.  Dr. Reising assured me later that he gave me the same medications in the same dosages as last time, but I was much more alert during this surgery.  I remember seeing my foot all opened up.  I couldn’t see much (it was five feet away from my eyes, after all), but I remember that it was all red.  I’m not sure if I was seeing blood or muscle, but I suspect it was muscle because it didn’t seem to be liquid.  At one point, I was pretty sure I saw Dr. Herbst using a little saw.  “Did you just cut off the bone?” I asked.

“Yes, that was the bone bump,” he said.  “Do you want to see it?”

“Yeah,” I replied, a little surprised at the offer.

“Show it to her,” he told the nurse.

She took the piece of bone in a tweezers and brought it up to my face.  It was small, maybe about the diameter of a nickel, and maybe a quarter of an inch thick.  (Don’t trust my measurements, though — I was pretty alert, but I was still sedated, after all.  And my estimation skills aren’t great when I’m drug-free.)  The bone was smooth on one edge, but the face of it (the part that would have been touching my muscle or skin, I guess) was bumpy and irregular.  The nurse said it should have been all smooth.  “Why isn’t it?” I asked.  She didn’t seem to be sure — just that it grew that way, and that the irregularity of it was probably at least part of what caused me pain.

I remember seeing Dr. Herbst staple up the large incision.  “Why do you use staples?”  I asked.  “They hurt like the dickens coming out.”  (I’m pretty sure I actually said, “like the dickens” and not something more colorful.  I hope so, at least.)

“Stitches don’t feel much better coming out,” he said.  “I use staples for three reasons.  First, they go in faster.”  His second reason, if I understood correctly, is that the skin matches up more nicely and creates a better looking scar.  And the third reason is that the pain of removal is comparable to that of stitches.  “I’ve done it both ways on patients, and they said there wasn’t really a difference.”  Dr. Herbst then wrapped up the foot and I was done.

As I thanked everyone in surgery, Dr. Reising wheeled me out to recovery.  I got back into my clothes, drank some juice and ate some crackers (I was sooo hungry by this point!), they reminded me of my post-op instructions, and sent me on my way.

My first post-op appointment is today, December 20.  That’s earlier than last time (for my first surgery, the post-op check was after two weeks, and this time it’s only a week and three days.)  I think that’s because two weeks would be Christmas Eve, and I bet the doctor won’t be in that day.  I do hope, however, that he’ll go ahead and unwrap the foot and let me bathe.

A clean foot would be a nice Christmas present.

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About Karen Koch

I like the old-fashioned lifestyle. All this new-fangled stuff baffles me sometimes. I cherish living out in the country, raising chickens and rabbits, planting fruit trees, and enjoying a slow life filled with beautiful words and ideas. I don't always achieve a slow life. I teach middle school English and manage a little burgeoning farm with my husband, and somewhere in the midst of that, I try to find time for writing, running, knitting, reading, and playing the ukulele. And sometimes, I actually succeed.

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