Thursday, May 22, 2008

Two years already?

Today, May 22nd, marks 2 years since the open reduction/internal fixation (ORIF) procedure to correct my shattered ankle. Two whole years! I remember it like it was yesterday. As I prepare to turn in for the night, I can imagine exactly where I was at this time two years ago - in the hospital bed following surgery, complaining through 3 different nurse shifts about the numbing sensation that was working its way up from my ankle toward my kneecap. I remember persistently pushing the button on the PCA machine that administered my pain medication. I remember finally breaking down in tears just after midnight when the 3rd nurse took over for the night shift. I was starting to panic because the numbness was moving its way up my leg. I was having horrible thoughts of losing all feeling in my right leg and having to have it amputated. Imagine my surprise when the kind nurse who finally took time to listen to me (and had already changed my bed pan) turned on the overhead light and I realized she was a girl I went to high school with. Wow! Nothing humbles you quite like looking a childhood acquaintance in the eyes after she changed your bed pan and witnessed you having an emotional breakdown. Bless her heart - she listened to me. I told her that I thought the wrapping was too tight around my ankle and was causing me to lose feeling. She called the surgeon, explained the situation (and my self-diagnosis), and he gave her the okay to re-wrap the ankle. Ahhh...relief!

I can easily picture myself in the same spot two years ago where I now lie - then with my ankle resting atop a stack of pillows, heavily wrapped in postsurgical gauze, and my mind swimming in Vicodin and sleeping pills. I remember the early days well - the frustrating nights of uncomfortable sleep; flipping and flopping, trying to find a position that would allow me to sleep for more than a few minutes before having to move again. I spent the first several days home in a Vicodin-induced stupor. You know you're in a lot of pain when you can't think of anything else.

But flash forward 2 years - 24 months - and while the memories are still crystal clear, I feel almost normal again. Having the metal removed last October was absolutely the right decision. I only occasionally suffer from the painful aching when the weather is wet. I have a good amount of flexibility in the right ankle. It isn't perfect, but I'm managing. The scars are still ugly reminders of what I've been through, and I don't think I will ever be completely healed (physically, mentally, emotionally) - but I've certainly come a long way from where I was 2 years ago today.