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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Different yet the same....

     Just like these coffee cups are all the same, they still have their own unique color and that pretty much sums up my experience with the 4 surgical experiences (two eye and two foot) I had over the last 9 months.
     I am 2 short weeks away (March 5th) from being able to fully weight bear on my foot following the surgery in January!  I am so happy to be at this point I am almost giddy with excitement.  I feel like I have come out of a tunnel into the light of day...
     I truly had not realized until this fourth and final surgery within 9 months was completed, just how heavy the mental burden was knowing after each procedure, whether for eye or foot, that there was yet another one waiting in the wings.
     But when I had the last "major" part of this final foot surgery completed I felt a sense of relief and elation that I had not known in a long time.  The foot surgery itself was over, the stitches out, the pins out, the 4 weeks of non weight bearing completed and now I am, for the remaining two weeks, able to partially weight bear and use forearm crutches. YEEHA!  
     Of course the fact that all of the surgeries were totally successful is as much a part of my joy as the relief that it is behind me.  I am thrilled that the eye lens implants as well as the 2 foot reconstructions are now a part of my medical history and not my medical future!
     I have been asked a number of times if the second foot surgery was easier or harder or different or any combination of those?  The fact is that one was done in the summer and the other in the midst of winter (in Vermont).  You might think that the one in the summer would be the easier for obvious reasons. First of all because the second was simply the last one that was a key factor I had not anticipated.  I believe wholeheartedly that despite how well things went overall the first time around, I knew in my mind as each stage passed that I would be doing it again in a few short months and that weighed more heavily than I imagined. I think it colored my overall sense of the whole surgical experience.  Secondly, I learned SO MUCH from the first surgery..what to do and what not to do...and that led me to create a "Tip Sheet" which was 2 pages long and had everything on it from how to prepare to shower to what to eat before and after pain medication!  It was invaluable and made the second time around go more smoothly.  
     I have also realized that as glad as I am to have these surgeries done, I would not advise doing 4 procedures in 9 months.  I think it was more trying than I realized when I first set the plan in motion.  Frankly, just preparing for the care and work arrangements for 4 separate periods of time was exhausting let alone the actual event itself.  And, of course, life goes on while you are recovering which means that you either miss out or your adapt and participate and/or attend with some limitations or you stay home...not an option I liked at all.  That said, I probably pushed myself a bit more than was wise the first time around.  This time I was a bit kinder to myself which made for a better overall experience.
     Something of key importance which was distinctly different from one foot surgery to the next was my level of fitness and stamina which was far more significant than I imagined.
     The first time around with my foot surgery I had not been able to do my normal fitness routines because I had just had two eye procedures 4 weeks apart that precluded my ability to swim or doing any strenuous activity until the eyes fully healed.  So I entered into that surgery with 8 weeks of very little activity.  In contrast, I worked out fully right up until my second foot surgery so my fitness level was distinctly better...thus so was my stamina when I came home.  I cannot tell you how important that was to my recovery, both physically but equally as important, mentally.
     I slept better and more restfully, I had energy to get all the work done I had planned on and then some and I did not make poor food choices which I think was because, among other things, I felt stronger and more content from the moment I got home from the surgery.
     So in the end, despite the fact that both foot surgeries were virtually identical they were, for me, distinctly different experiences and that is a lesson I will carry with me as I make my way down the RA path.