Monday, February 20, 2017

Day 1. The operation

Day 1 - February 20 2107.

The operation.

At 63 years of age, my big toes have experienced quite a bit of wear and tear. I have done a great deal of hiking, both in my home country (Australia) and overseas, often carrying a weighty backpack.

However, this doesn't explain why I have developed arthritis in my left big toe but not my right, which is in good shape. Most likely it was due to dropping the corner of a heavy bookcase on the toe in 2002, an event I can still recall clearly. In my journal I wrote: ' has gone black. Extremely swollen and excruciatingly painful...' If I could go back I would advise myself against moving furniture in bare feet. But I already knew how stupid that was, and did it anyway. Knowing there could be unpleasant consequences has never stopped some people from doing dumb things.

Since then I have experienced minor discomfort in the joint when walking long distances with a pack, but I put it down to just being tired on the day. Then last year I began to experience increasing pain whenever I walked, not severe (maybe 2 on a scale of 1 to 10), but as I like to walk, it had become a significant annoyance and a cause for concern. My doctor sent me for an xray last August which showed osteoarthritis. The radiologist's report stated it was moderate to severe.

This was followed by an appointment with an osteopaedic surgeon, who said I still had movement in the joint and it was not quite as bad as the radiologist had stated, but that cleaning the joint out (a cheilectomy) should get rid of the pain.

I ummed and arred about the surgery for several months. But every time I walked, and I do a lot of walking, I was going 'ouch, ouch, ouch' every step I took. Not big painful ouches, but annoying. I have also been getting a bit pf pain in my hip, which I suspect may be related to adjusting my gait to minimise the ouch.

My wife has also secured a three year posting to Shanghai commencing early next year (I have a blog about my previous posting experiences in Moscow - see opposite) and I wanted this sorted before we went.

So I have taken the plunge.

Yesterday was the surgery.

I arrived at the hospital at 6.30am, went through the formalities, had my toe shaved, donned the funny green gown and was under general anesthetic by 9am. An hour later I woke in the day ward with my foot heavy bandaged and totally numb from the ankle down. I was fed a couple of sandwiches (I hadn't been permitted to eat or drink since midnight). A lesson on the use of crutches and then my wife arrived at 11am to take me home.

My instructions are to spent the next fortnight with my foot elevated for 95% of the time.

Yesterday afternoon I spent on the bed with my foot propped up, a little dopey from the anesthetic, but able to read and listen to music.

I have been given some pretty heavy duty pain killers, and I took one last night before lights out. By late evening the foot was still quite numb. I can sort of sleep on my back, but prefer my side, but it wasn't great laying there with my foot on a pile of pillows. Still I slept through pretty well.

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