The Surgery and Beginning Recovery

Sorry to leave you hanging after the last update, but between surgery and having an IV in my hand, it has been difficult to muster the energy required for posting.

On the day of the surgery, not only did my Japanese grandma show up, but also her husband, one of my English teachers and my school’s VP. Youngest English teacher brought a bunch of notes from my students with her, which as very sweet.

Some of the notes from my students.  They tried.

Some of the notes from my students. They tried.

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My hospital room.

My hospital room.

My roommate was moved to a different room after her surgery.

My roommate was moved to a different room after her surgery.

I got changed into the hospital gown and the prep work started. It took three nurses thirty minutes to get my IV inserted. I look like I tried to hug a porcupine. I didn’t cry when my leg broke, but I had definitely crying a bit by the time they finally got the needle in. I think it’s because the IV needle burns when it’s not inserted correctly, but the break was a different kind of pain. I was able to master that kind of pain with meditative breathing. (I have never succeeded at meditation, but the breathing techniques work wonders when dealing with pain, it seems.) But in the end they were able to place the IV in the right side of my left hand, just above the wrist.

Finally, it was time. My entire crew came with me as far as they could before I was wheeled into the OR. I was loaded onto the operating table and given meds to knock me out. The medicine burned a bit, but knocked me out so quickly I barely had time to slow down my breathing. Next thing I know, I woke up back in my hospital room with Tomoko by my side.

I barely moved for the next eight hours. I just stayed in bed and slept on and off. When I couldn’t fall back asleep, I counted the second between when my leg pump turned on. (It was every ten seconds, if you were curious.) The pump was on my good leg to make sure that blood circulated and I wouldn’t suffer from Economy Class Syndrome, where a blood clot can form due to a lack of circulation. I also had a heart monitor, blood oxygen monitor, and a blood pressure hooked up to me. If that wasn’t bad enough, I also had to wear an oxygen mask after the operation for about eight hours as a precaution because of my asthma.

Finally, around 10, I started to get my energy back. I barely slept that night due to a combination of already having slept for so long, the pain in my leg, and the heat. The nurses gave me painkillers and sleeping medication, but it didn’t help me sleep more than an hour or two. I slept most of the next morning and took a few naps during the afternoon, but I was already starting to feel back to my normal energy levels.

I also had my first physical therapy session yesterday. It was painful, but we barely did anything. The PT gave my leg a massage and then had me move my toes back and forth. (Something I’ve been doing all day in bed too.) She also had me try to move my foot up and down against some very light resistance. (Her hand.) Then I practiced standing up on one foot while using a walker for balance.

As much as it sucks, this happened to me at the best possible time in terms of my physical activity. I have been running regularly for the past two months now, plus taiko and rock climbing on a regular basis. The leg exercises were nothing for my thighs of steel. (Though, been fairly bedridden since the accident, they may be more like thighs of copper, or aluminum at this point.) The only real trouble I had was when I had to put weight on my right foot. It doesn’t so much hurt as it stings. I don’t know if it’s from the swelling or the incision itself, but I haven’t had actual pain since early yesterday morning, just burning.

Just like the break, I breathed through the pain of trying to use my foot. I apparently impressed the PT in the process. She asked where I learned to breath through the pain, but I really couldn’t remember where I learned it. I guess it’s from attempting to meditate in Tae kwon do? Not really important though.

My doctor, Wake (pronounced Wa-keh, not wake) sensei, stopped by this morning to check on me and talk about how I’m recovering. He said that he still recommends that I stay until Wednesday. As much as I miss my own apartment, my own bed, and kitchen, it is going to be difficult taking care of myself until I can walk at least a little bit, so I’m content staying here. I don’t have to cook, my can fold up into a chair, and I don’t have to go outside of the building for physical therapy.

In other news, I have had at least one visitor (besides Tomoko) every day. My supervisor and Surfer-sensei (the one who replaced Biker-sensei) visited me the evening of my surgery, but I could barely stay awake long enough to thank them for the massive bag of chocolates and snacks they brought for me. Yesterday I woke up from (yet another) nap to find the principal standing by my bed with a plastic mug of preserved flowers. That evening, Megumi brought me a few more snacks. Today Carlie and my Japanese tutor are stopping by. Lauren may be coming and, though she hasn’t appeared yet, I am guessing Tomoko will be here as well. This weekend I think there are going to be a few groups of people coming up from the capital to visit me.

Flowers from the principal.

Flowers from the principal.

 

While I am, of course, upset this happened to me, I am doing well considering the situation and making sure to challenge myself without pushing too hard. My goal is to be running again by late September.  That way I will be in good shape to recovery from the second surgery to remove the metal in my ankle in Novemberish.

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