Leading up to her surgery, the female DG spent considerable time on the internet trying to get a better idea of what she faced in her recovery from surgery to repair an Achilles tendon. (Looking back, she is somewhat glad that she didn’t spend as much time researching stage 3 glioma when the male DG was first diagnosed; she might have been more inclined to fold the tents – even in the good hands of the top-of-their-game UCSF neuro-surgery and neuro-oncology team.)
She found a ton of material about recovery from surgery following a Achilles tendon rupture – and it all sounded grim – but little about her less serious injury (severe deterioration and partial tear). So in the hopes of someone, someday, finding this post, she’s offering eight things she’s learned in the week since surgery.
1. Plan for pain but don’t be surprised if it’s more discomfort than real pain. That has been her experience.
2. Surgery takes the wind out of you – even if you’re fairly fit. She’s unclear if it’s the assault on the body itself or the anesthesia – or both. Don’t try to be a hero and do too much.
3. Do everything possible to make sure your spouse (or other caregiver) knows how really helpless you’ll be. Being restricted to non-weight bearing activity necessitates balancing on one foot and not having the use of arms/hands (if using crutches or walker).
4. Ask your surgeon very early on if he orders cold therapy following surgery – and don’t leave the surgical center without it. More about this here.
5. Order a knee walker. There are different models.The female DG ordered hers through RentAKneeWalker. It arrived as ordered, and the customer service staff has answered two basic questions with courtesy. The knee walker allows you not only get around easier and more quickly. You can literally do more. The female DG can stand at the kitchen sink and kind of toggle between the sink and refrigerator to put a salad together, for example
6. Be ready to say no and yes. No when you’re really not feeling up to it and yes when people offer to help.
7. Spend the money on an wedge pillow to make it easier to keep your leg comfortably propped up in the “toes above the nose” position. No combination of pillows would have produced the same results.
8. Hope for temperate weather. The rarely too hot, summery temperatures of Menlo Park have been a boon.
Something very, very cool arrived in the mail for the female DG today – a 1960 San Francisco Giants scorecard for a game played against the Milwaukee Braves at Candlestick, a thoughtful boost for her recovery sent by long time friend Carla McMorran. The lineup was filled out – Mays vs Aaron! – and box score neatly penciled in. Almost as fun was looking at the ads and remembering old SF restaurants and watering holes, most but not all long since shuttered.
The gift took on greater significance when she was reminded during the Giants broadcast that it was 50 years ago today that a young minor leaguer by the name of Willie McCovey make his major league debut, going four for four. The perfect tribute to the great Hall of Famer was Pablo Sandoval plunking a home run over the right field arcade into McCovey Cove. The female DG met McCovey once during the dark days of January 2007 and boy was it a bright spot.
The morning started with a kiss. Maybe that’s how many married households begin their day but in the land of the dual Gs (gimpy and grumpy), its a bit of a rarity. Not a whole lot of time for tenderness when it’s just a struggle to get out of bed and make your way to the bathroom.
But after the male DG’s walk (he reported extra wobbliness) and the female DG’s morning injection to ward off blood clots, it took on a semblance of normalcy, though nothing is really normal when you’re now together almost 24/7 and a marriage is used to breaks during the day. Work, lunch, more work. The comical clean up act performed in the kitchen because it really is the best sink to wash hair. And how many couples – gimpy or not – end their day getting dual manicures – and for the male DG, his first pedicure. With a few quick strokes Helen of SkyNails was able to disentangle his right toe nail, making him good to go. They couldn’t even contemplate what would happen if his right foot went south.
The male dual G (gimpy and grumpy) had just emerged from his nap when the UPS truck arrived with the knee walker (her selected model shown here). The female DG was elated – help was here if what she had heard about this scooter-like device was true. Male grumpiness followed almost immediately: “You didn’t tell this thing needed assembly.” She thought: “Yea, agreed, it’s not exactly how storks deliver babies, all cleaned up, diapered, and ready to go. But it’s not in a million pieces either.”
Thankfully the angels continue to descend, this time in the persona of Maggie Pringle who was delivering one of Trinity’s Manna Ministry dinners. Mother of three fairly close-in-age and now grown children, she displayed her Christmas Eve mechanical skills immediately, helping the male D G figure out what goes where and screwing various things in when two hands were needed. A former physical therapist, she helped the female DG onto the machine for test run. And away she went!
The intricacies of steering properly are still being learned as well as the necessity of keeping her right leg away from the turning wheels. (One gouge on the back of her calf will remind her.) And it will be a challenge to figure out how to get it and herself in and out of a car without help. But all in all she’s moving – and can even imagine a ‘knee walk’ around the block.
When the female dual G (gimpy and grumpy) wasn’t catching up on agency work or admiring her day-glo pink cast, she was looking longingly out the window. Sure, she was wistfully wishing that she could be out and about – to be normal and whole. Even yesterday’s car ride for the post-op visit was a bit of a thrill.
But the real reason for her outward looking focus today was waiting for the UPS truck to arrive with its promised delivery of drugs (yes, legally prescribed RX – the dual Gs just switched to mail order) and the much-anticipated knee walker.
Because the male DG was out a good bit today, some of the looking outward was practical. Even with a sign posted on the front door that this household was “mobility impaired” and slow to get to the front door, she lived in a state of anxiety that she wouldn’t make it there in time – and the much needed supplies, both of which needed signatures for delivery, would not arrive as promised. And if that’s not pitiful (hmmm, that word brings back long ago memories!), she doesn’t know what is.
With the blue tubing of the Polar Care 500 hanging barely in place and the surgical bandages starting to unravel, it was clear that the post-op visit with Dr. Oloff was coming none too soon. But when you’re a two gimp household, the prospect of getting dressed, into the car, out of the car, to doctor’s office and the reverse is a bit daunting. (We promise to forever spare readers the details off the sponge bath procedures currently in effect .)
It was also to be the most activity the female dual G (gimpy and grumpy) has had since Friday. She’s feeling good – clear headed and pain free as far as her Achilles tendon is concerned. She’d feel almost normal if it wasn’t for the reminder of the dreaded walker at her side and how much it hurts her hands and arms moving from one place to another.
Having reached the SOAR office, they were quickly ushered into, for lack of better words, the fitting room where there was three (or four) examining tables separated by curtains and every kind of orthopedic device you could imagine. A certified orthopedic technician by the name of Joe removed the bandages. And there, surprisingly, was something approximating her pre-injury foot/heel. There was no discoloration to signal the sniping that had gone on and minimal swelling. The male DG could see the four-inch long incision knitted together with sutures. Soon Oloff appeared to pronounce “looking good,” to encourage the daily injections that ward off blood clots (giving yourself a shot isn’t all that bad) and to give the go-ahead on the application of a cast. She’d never considered that getting a cast would be good news.
Nor had she known that today’s fiberglass casts come in a multitude of colors. She couldn’t resist day-glow pink. Mission accomplished – next visit in a week
The idea of having an angel has become more appealing to the female DG since she’s been watching Saving Grace on TV. Of course Earl (pictured left) is a pretty cool angel.
Since her surgery on Friday, there have been a parade of human angels, many of whom the male DJ has blogged about over on gulker.com. They’ve come bearing flowers and veggies, books and puzzles, meals and prayers.
Ever since the male DG was diagnosed with glioma almost three years ago, they’ve fretted about being the ‘pity couple.’ Now that they’re double gimps, the pity meter can’t help but ramp up. But if there’s been pity, it’s been accompanied by the most generous hearts, and for that, they are grateful.