25 August 2015

I Finally Had Surgery!!

I am finally starting to come around after undergoing my first ever surgery last Thursday and I thought I would write a post to share my experience with you.


As I mentioned before in my Living with Freiberg's Disease post, I have been waiting for quite some time to have surgery on my right foot. In mid 2014 I was diagnosed with a rare joint disease following a trip over some plastic, which caused severe damage and pain to my forefoot. Crazy to think something as simple as a stumble would completely immobilise me, but it did and I have spent the past 20 months maintaining my pain through a combination of very strong pain killers, a walking boot and a crutch.

Since my diagnosis, I have been anxiously waiting the day my foot would finally be sorted out, so I will admit - the fact that my surgery is now over still seems very surreal to me. Even though I had received my admission date by mail, I was still nervous to actually acknowledge it would be happening for the fear that the date would be cancelled for any reason. 

I am happy to say that is not the case and last Thursday I was finally admitted for my procedure.

Checking In

I attended the hospital with my husband Shane for a 7am check in on Thursday morning, after having an incredibly stomach twisting sleepless night. My anxiety however was not so much about the surgery, as it was about the possibly of it being cancelled for any reason. I had also never had surgery before, so my mind was spinning with hundreds of questions I was trying to remind myself to ask. 

After check in and receiving my hospital bands, I was led to a ward where all of my pre-surgery testing was done. During this time I was attended to by three nurses and three doctors who were so amazing. They talked me through the testing and explained what my procedure would entail as well as letting me ask any questions about any concerns I may have had. They were so thorough about everything and made sure I was as comfortable as possible. 

The Long Wait for The "Call" 

With all my testing done by 8am, I simply had to wait to be called to theatre for my procedure. The policy in the hospital I attended was to phone up for the patient, who would then walk down to theatre which was a short distance from the ward. Ready and waiting I sat in my hospital bed, and tried my best to stay calm. I was relieved all my testing had came back okay, but time ticked so slowly waiting to be called. Shane sat with me the entire time, trying his best to keep my mind off things, but I could tell he was nervous for me too. I had been fasting since the night before which didn't help the wait at all. We laughed over the whale noises my stomach was making and by 11am when we still had no idea of when I would be going in, Shane finally decided we should go for a walk outside in the beautiful hospital grounds. I popped my dressing gown and slippers on and grabbed my crutches, but I couldn't manage more than five minutes outside. I was so scared they would come looking for me and not seeing me there, cancel the surgery. I know - silly right? So after no time really, we came back in an I hopped back into bed. I finally convinced Shane to go for a walk himself, as I had a comfy hospital bed to lie in while he had an uncomfortable chair. He was so adamant to leave me in case they came in and took me down before he could see me off, but I finally got through and he went for a short stroll. 

Within two minutes of Shane leaving me, I heard the ward phone ring and the nurse say my name along with the words "cancelled". My heart started beating out of my chest! I was here, I was ready - how could it be cancelled?? I waited anxiously as the nurse came around the corner and flinched before she said "are you ready - they're calling you now?" I don't think I have ever jumped out of bed so fast! Shane came back in just as I was getting myself together, and we started laughing at how ironic it was that he had waited all morning, for me to be called in the two minutes he had strolled off.

General Anaesthetic | Finally Some Sleep

I hobbled very slowly down the hallway, blankets in hand, following the ward nurse to the sterile theatre doors. Shane gave me a kiss goodbye and I walked through to another curtained area, where I was met by another nurse and an anaesthesia intern. I was given a hat to put on, and the nurse confirmed all my details once more, checking my arm band and triple checking my medical history. She then explained my procedure to me once more and confirmed that I understood everything. With the checks done, I was led from the curtained area and down a hallway with three rooms marked Anaesthesia 1, 2 and 3.  

I entered a tiny very cold room with a small bed in the centre and medical machines and equipment everywhere. I could feel my heart racing as I was told to remove my dressing gown and lie down on the table. Once I had lay down, that nurse removed my slippers and started to hook me up to blood pressure and oxygen monitors. She was so lovely and had a wonderful manner, she tried to relax me by joking with me and just chatting in general. Within a few moments the anaesthesia doctor came in from the surgery side of the room. I remember it being the surgery side because I am 90% sure I could see a surgery wrapping up through the port hole windows beyond the doors, as I was about to lie down. Of course seeing someone else in there before me (even if it was just their face I could see) made me incredibly anxious, and I could tell the nurses were trying to distract me knowing I had noticed the person ahead. 

The doctor came in and sat beside me. She was a lovely American woman, with a very comforting voice who reassured me not to be nervous as she noticed my "little bunny rabbit heart" was blowing the machine up. She asked me what form of anaesthetic I would like - epidural or general. Since this was my first surgery and I knew saws and drills would be used - the idea of staying awake did not appeal to me, so I asked her to put me to sleep. She then explained the whole process to me, no sugar coating before installing my IV. Once my IV was in they then covered me in an amazing blanket, which my husband said I wouldn't stop talking about after the procedure. It was a disposable sleeping bag type blanket that filled with hot air. I was the definition of a bed burrito on that table. 

Installation of my IV was very interesting, I couldn't stop laughing when the three members of the anaesthesia team were all running trying to clean up my hand which apparently was like something from a Quentin Tarantino movie. Despite  my nerves this instantly relaxed me. They all had such a great sense of humour and I was instantly comfortable with them. The pinch of the IV did hurt, I won't lie, but once it was in - I felt no pain. Once the IV was installed the doctor gave me some Valium through the IV to help calm me down, which I felt work almost immediately. My body suddenly felt relaxed and weightless, but I was fully aware of everything going on around me. 

I spent the next ten minutes or so chatting with the team, laughing with them and just generally feeling comfortable. I hadn't met my surgeon since admission, and I was delighted to see him pop into me before the procedure to see how I was and tell me what they were going to do. Once my surgeon had gone through everything with me, it was time for me to go to sleep. 

My anaesthesia doctor sat down on the bed with me and explained that she was going to start the process and she would see me when I wake up. She also told me she would be with me the whole time I was in theatre so not to worry, which I will admit relaxed me more. An oxygen mask was placed over my face and the doctor attached some fluid to my IV. She told me to breath the oxygen from the mask in deeply until I could feel it fill the bottom of my lungs and slowly exhale out again. I started to feel slightly claustrophobic from the pressure of the mask against my face, but I focused my eyes on the nearby wall clock. It was 12:30pm and I  kept listening to her telling me to concentrate on my breathing - so I did. In and out, in and out until before I knew it I was awake in a completely different room, with a completely different nurse looking down at me.

Blink and Miss It!

I turned and looked for the clock out of confusion.  Oddly enough there was one close to me again, and I realised what had felt like a split second ago had actually made it's way to 3:05pm. I vaguely remember looking all around, and to my left was one of my anaesthesia nurses who told me I had done very well. From there is blurry. I remember being wheeled along and seeing Shane looking down at me saying well done. All I can remember after that is complaining about sharp pains in my ankle, and then it being pretty late in the evening waking periodically to see Shane sleeping in the chair beside me. 

I finally came around after a few hours, by which time my surgeon had came to visit me and tell me that they were very happy with how the procedure had went. They had to repair a tendon that had stretched across my damaged metatarsal, which had actually resulted in the paralysis of my third toe. As well as restoring feeling and movement in my toe, they also removed deformed bone (caused by the Freiberg's disease), loose bone fragments and reshaped my metatarsal, drilling into it to encourage healthy cartilage to regrow. I believe the procedure I had was called Weil's Osteotomy or a variation of it. My surgeon told me because of the rarity of my condition, most of what was done had to wait until my foot was opened to reveal the true extent of the damage. He was shocked that I was as mobile as I was, as there appeared to be quite a significant amount of damage that wasn't immediately apparent by x-ray inside my foot.

Hospital Sleepover 

With my procedure now over, I had a one night stay in the hospital. My family and good friend Sinead came to visit me (although I admit, I don't remember anything we talked about while they were there). Over the course the night I was kept very comfortable. The food wasn't too bad, although I didn't have a huge appetite after the general anaesthetic so they gave me some fruit, yogurt, tea and biscuits. 

I shared my room with a lovely woman called Maria who had just gone through a full knee replacement and was having a pretty hard time with the pain. In between being medicated, we chatted until we finally fell asleep before midnight. 

We were woken every two hours by the nurses, who would check our vitals, ask if we needed anything and give us some more pain medication if we wanted it. I really could not fault the staff in the hospital I attended. They were truly so attentive and amazing. 

The next morning, I was woken early as I was being discharged. The nurse gave me some morphine to help with my pain until such a time as I would be leaving and I was brought breakfast early. I had porridge, tea, fruit, egg and toast. They really didn't scrimp. I couldn't eat my massive breakfast completely, but they were happy enough with my vitals and the amount I had eaten to let me go home. 

Shortly after two of my surgeons came to see how I was, which I thought was really lovely, as my main surgeon who is also my consulting specialist attends several hospitals across the country and had "popped in on his way to work" to see how I was doing. Another surgeon from his team came in to see me shortly after and said they were very happy with how everything had went. Despite feeling exhausted and slightly woozy from my medication I was really happy and excited to get started with my recovery. 

Before I could be let go home, I had to be seen by the physio department. Thankfully I did not have to be put in a cast which was mentioned during my pre-op. I'm in a soft padded bandage which extends to my ankle and that is splinted with a comfy velcro ankle boot. This means I have yet to see my incision or how my foot looks physically since the procedure, but I am assured my Tinkerbell tattoo suffered no harm during the process! The physio team had me standing with their help the morning after my procedure and even walking over a step with the aid of two brand new crutches. 

Going Home

Once everyone was happy, the ward nurse went through my discharge plan. At the moment I am currently on two weeks rest, minimal weight bearing with my leg elevated at all times until my dressing change.

Time to Heal

I'm currently on day 5 post op and have to wait until day 14 for my first dressing change, but I'm feeling positive and motivated so far. I will admit, I'm already going a little stir crazy not being able to leave my house or stand for longer than a minute, but I know it will all be worth it in the end. 

I hope to be able to share more surgery updates soon, but until then, I'm going to look forward to resting, enjoying sleeping a full night for the first time in almost two years and watching lots and lots of Netflix. 
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1 comment :

  1. How is everything going, I am getting surgery done on June 15 for my freibergs Disease. little nervous,

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