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Friday, January 4, 2013

Twice is nice!

     So it is finally here!  Monday (in three days) is my second foot reconstruction surgery.  Yes, I am doing it again!  I knew from the moment I committed to have the first one done that I would have the other done within a year.  No question, no discussion. 
     I felt that I was only half finished when I had my right foot done last June.  I said to someone the other day it would be like carrying twins and giving birth to one, knowing that the other one was due to be born.  I have to be honest,  I am not thrilled with going through the surgery, post op, recovery and rehab but I know full well that in order to have this process completed it has to happen.  I have to simply DO IT!
   No putting it off, no excuses.  The time has come and I am ready...I guess....No matter how well prepared I am I am still finding myself getting anxious.  Mostly I am not looking forward to the confinement of the 8 week recovery, 4 of which involve no weight bearing on my foot at all.  
     As is true for many of us with RA, crutches are not an option so that means I had to come up with another alternative or sit for 4-8 weeks...not an option if you know instead I got a wonderful device...a knee walker.  I credit this "scooter" with keeping me sane!
     I intend to make good use of this once again and will be calling upon family and friends to take me on some excursions.  The biggest difference this time around is that my last surgery was in the summer and this one will be the middle of winter in Vermont.  Right now we have about 18 inches of snow on the ground and today it was 12 degrees.  Last time we had sunshine, 80 degrees and I had a screened in back porch to enjoy while recuperating.  So I suspect that my ability to go out and about will not be as easy as the last time....
      That said, I also will not be looking longingly outside wishing I could go for a walk. I will be perfectly happy to sit by the fire while the snow flies and the temperature falls.  It will be interesting to compare the two experiences afterward.  As similar as they seem to be I am certain there will be circumstances unique to each surgery.
     I partially base this on the fact that last spring, in consecutive months, I had eye lens implants done to correct cataracts that had formed prematurely thanks to prednisone.  Each experience was different from the moment I arrived at the hospital.  The recovery was very similar but actual surgery was different so I expect that to happen again this time.  I guess we will see....I do feel much better prepared this time around thanks to a couple of things I did which I would highly suggest other folks consider if they are having surgical procedures done.
     I made sure to write a "tip sheet" filled with items to help me get through this a second time.  I updated it, added to it, adjusted it, etc. until it was all set to be used for this procedure.  I have everything on it from what to eat before taking pain meds. to the use of kinesio tape to help reduce swelling.  I actually feel better each time I review it.  It is like having a How To manual and it really does give me a true sense of comfort.

     In some respects having to manage RA for 15+ years has given me the confidence to tackle this with the same deliberate approach that I have used for so many years to deal with the ups and downs and uncertainties of RA.  Not unlike the "RA Toolbelt" I so often reference in my blog, having surgery requires its own unique set of "tools" to get through this experience.
     I believe I am as ready as I can be.  There was much to do to get prepared...from work related tasks to something as simple as making sure we had enough water and paper products to last a month!  I tend to be a bit of an "over organizer" so I may have covered a few extra bases but since that gives me some degree of calm I am OK with it.  
     My goal through all of these surgeries was to have them done before my 60th birthday which is still over a year away so I am pleased to be achieving that!  In addition, my son is getting married next August and I want to be able to dance all night at his wedding and now I will be able to, God willing....


Wren said...

Nan, I love your attitude regarding this next surgery. I think it's really important to plan ahead so that the recovery period is as care-free as possible, given that you'll have plenty both physically and mentally to do when you come home from the hospital. You're so upbeat about the whole thing! You've put a smile on my face.

I do have a question, however: what happened to your feet that they both needed surgical reconstruction? Was this because of your RA?

I'm wishing you the best, m'friend, and sending lots of warmth, calm and patience your way. I'll be thinking of you.

Nan Hart said...

Wren: The surgery is both due to RA and simply my foot structure. The bunions are just a result of poor foot mechanics but the need to have the joint fused and the other four toes to have bone/cartilage removed is likely due to the RA. I had reached a point where my feet were both painful and so misshapen I needed to do this. I was basically carry my weight on three toes per foot so it was time. I was not in horrible pain unless I walked too much but because I like to do some pretty active exercising the limitations were becoming difficult for me to handle. So, I decided to do it sooner than later and I am very pleased with the results from my first foot....looks entirely different! I hope this one goes as well! Nan

Jane said...

what a great post. I have never heard of the tape to help reduce swelling. I need to check it out! I will be interested to find out your thoughts on the differences between cold & warm weather surgeries. For myself, there is no contest. I would take open windows. But I had to go thru both to make my choice. :) Also, my cold weather experience was unplanned so that didn't help. Love your kneeling scooter, wish I'd heard of one about 8 weeks ago. I wish you the very best for your surgery and recovery.