I had to be at the surgery center at 6:15 a.m. Friday, May 15. I was to be dropped off at the north entrance and no one was allowed to come in with me. It was a strange feeling and I can’t imagine what it’s like for people going in for more serious procedures.
I walked in with my mask on, had my temperature checked and answered a bunch of questions before heading to check in.
I got my hospital bracelet, was escorted to a new room to change into a gown and socks and was asked more COVID-related questions.
Then, I was moved to a bed and asked COVID-related questions for a third time while someone else started an IV. I had to wipe down my arms, legs and feet with antibacterial wipes and put a compression sock on the leg not being operated on.
I was given some feel-good medicine and oxygen before the anesthesiologist came over to introduce herself and start my nerve block shots. I got them in two locations – one on the outside of my knee and the other about three inches up from my knee, toward the inside of my quad. I remember wincing at the second one especially.
After the shots, a nurse would periodically come over to see if I could feel my foot or not. Every time she asked, I told her I could still feel it; it was not numb yet.
A little bit later I was wheeled off to surgery. I slid onto the operating table from my bed and met quite a few other nurses. The lights were bright. The table was hard.
Surgery was to start at 7:30 a.m. and was to take about an hour to an hour and 15 minutes. I was to be deeply sedated which would be easier to wake from and shouldn’t cause any nausea.
Someone told me they were starting to administer medicine. It wasn’t long before I was out.
I woke up in the recovery room and saw a nurse watching me. She said I could sit up if I wanted or go back to sleep if I wasn’t ready to be up. I rolled over and went back to sleep.
The next time I awoke, I was on my side. She was still there watching me. I groggily sat up and started to cry. She came rushing over, making sure to dab my eyes with the blanket so I didn’t scratch them.
“It’s okay,” she said. “It’s normal to cry after anesthesia. You’re okay.”
I didn’t feel okay. I thought this type of anesthesia was supposed to be easier on me.
“My toe hurts,” I said. “What time is it?”
It was 11 a.m.
“11?! I’m supposed to be home by now,” I wailed.
She said I had only been in recovery for about a half hour, so I was doing fine.
“I think I’m going to be sick.”
I had to lay back down, eat a bag of pretzels and drink a small can of Shasta before I would be able to tolerate pain medicine. It took a while to get those down, but I finally did.
The surgeon came over to check on me and explained he made an incision on the top of my foot where two plates and a screw were inserted, an incision between my first and second toes and a cut on my heel from the necessary bone graft.
He then explained a fourth incision had to be made on the outside of my big toe because after the other corrections, it still wasn’t straight enough. He cut this bone in half, straightened it out and inserted a permanent staple.
Surgery took over an hour longer than it was supposed to and I ended up under general anesthesia. The anesthesiologist came over to check on me and was surprised I was feeling pain because of the nerve block I’d received but gave me pain medicine anyway.
If you know me, I definitely had to pee by now. And that is no easy feat when you’ve just had your foot operated on, you have a splint from your toes to your knee, you’re wobbly from the anesthesia and you’re still hooked up to an IV. But the nurses were glad to help because that was a requirement before I could leave.
They helped me into a wheelchair and took me to the bathroom. One held my gown while the other held my leg and IV. I held on to the handicap railing. It’s a good thing I cheered my whole life and was used to having to change into my uniform in convention center hallways because all privacy was out the window and I was thankful not to have a bashful bladder.
Shortly after, the nurse who had been with me all along helped me get dressed and wheeled me out to my car where Jimmy had been waiting for over six hours.
They put me across the backseat and we were on our way to the pharmacy before heading home. I needed to pick up quite a few medications including an antibiotic and blood thinner.
The lady at the pharmacy said they didn’t have my blood thinner in stock but to check back Monday. Monday?! It was only Friday and I knew how important it was to take this twice a day.
Much to my husband’s embarrassment, I rolled down my backseat window and in my loopy state told her that I had just had surgery and this was not okay. After my doctor said no way could I go without it, Jimmy and I made a couple phone calls and I was able to get it at another local pharmacy.
When we got home, I was able to slide out of the car and crutch up the sidewalk but I had to sit to climb up the stairs. Jimmy picked me up off the porch and I made it to the couch to rest.
There was a box waiting for us on the porch when arrived. It was the sweetest care package from my parents – Cheryl’s Cookies and an adorable stuffed bear in scrubs and a mask. I cried again and took a brief nap.
It wasn’t until 5 p.m. that my foot finally went numb from the nerve block. I couldn’t feel it at all and was able to sleep fairly comfortably that first night. What a day it had been, but surgery was over.
Step 2: Complete.