Operation Number 4

Yesterday was the first part of a two part operation to rebuild my leg. While I’ve been floored with the infection, an eternal fixation has held my leg together. Five metal spikes, four in a row below the knee with the fifth in the ankle. Additionally, three lengths of wire, each driven through one side and out the other. Two of these were in the heel, one of them in the ankle near that fifth spike. A metal bar and halo completed the whole contraption. After so long, having it seemed somewhat second nature, but yesterday the removed it. Can’t operate with all that metal in the way. 

Image

The last image of my leg before the operation to remove the fixation.

There was a bit of miss communication among the doctors with exactly how the device would be removed. My surgeon told me I’d get no anesthetic and the whole procedure would be about ten or fifteen minutes. But the assisting intern doctor said I’d have local anesthetic and sutures at the end. It turned out that the surgeon was right. No painkillers what so ever. He used a wrench to loosen the halo, snapped the wires with wire cutters and pulled the bone spikes out one by one. I had expected to have more soft tissue pain than anything and I expected the through-and-through wires to be the most painful.

Didn’t even feel them. And the bone spikes were the worst kind of pain, but it was rather brief. I laughed nervously and counted the spikes off as I felt them pull out. My count would then be confirmed by a metal “ding” of a spike falling into a metal tray. I couldn’t see what the spikes looked like after they came out of the leg, but I was curious. The worst one by far was the one in the ankle. 

After the surgery, there was just mild pain, but for some reason, waves of nausea. I fought with the urge to throw up for most of the day. I didn’t take any kind of pain shot because the pain was that obnoxious level where you feel thoroughly uncomfortable, but it isn’t that intense. Painkillers, especially the shot I get here, is hard on my liver. Or kidneys. I don’t remember exactly what the nurse said, but I know it is one of those filtration organs. Either way, I need those guys.

A lot of friends checked in on me to see how I was doing afterwards, which is always a nice feeling. At night, I took the pain shot and went to sleep. They woke me at 2am for an antibiotic shot. I struggled to get back to sleep and I took a second pain shot around 4am. Somewhere around 5am a nurse came in and talked to me about saline for a good 10 or 20 minutes. I understood most of what she was saying, but I didn’t understand the punchline. My Korean has improved, but I’m not fluent or anything. Eventually she left and the saline wasn’t attached to my body. I either ended up refusing it, or it was optional and I didn’t opt in. 

Today I talked with another nurse and pointed out I’d rather be sleeping at 2am. She laughed and agreed with me and pointed out I’d get about three antibiotic shots a day until my final surgery. Afterward I spent some time with my mother and an orderly named Andy. We had a good time eating and talking. 

As a whole, my leg isn’t bothering me without the metal fixation, but there is a strange sensation of something missing. I had grown accustom to having that metal bar on the inside of my leg. I switch at times from a calm acceptance of my future operation and an overwhelming dread. I must admit I’m a bit scared of the operation and somewhat worried about what may happen post-surgery. But there is no alternative. We all have to do what we have to do. 

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~ by James on June 22, 2013.

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