Friday, April 13, 2007
After the Drugs
This broken foot thing has been more of an ordeal than I thought.
It started March 1st when I was showing some kids in drama class how to vault “safely” over a couch. You step up on the couch, put your right hand on the back, then just hop over, using your hand on the back to steady yourself. The problem occurred in that I wasn’t actually using a couch. I was demonstrating the technique on a chair. As I hopped over the back, my foot caught the armrest, flipping the chair up and throwing me into the wall. I landed on my stomach on the floor. Looking back at my legs laying against the wall, I noticed the right one was at an unusual angle. Something that should be physically impossible. Unless it was broken. Then the tidal wave of pain hit.
To make a long story short, the ambulance came and took me to the hospital. The x-ray showed a broken fibula just above the ankle, and a broken bone in the ankle. The foot was also dislocated. They put me under to set the bones, then waited for the swelling to go down before they did the surgery needed to insert metal plates, screws, paper clips, staples, duct tape and rubber bands. I spent a week on the fifth floor, then another week in rehab. I would have gone home much sooner if the other foot hadn’t been sprained, making it impossible to get around.
When I finally went home on the 15th, I went to stay at my sister’s house. She has everything – bed, bath, and commode – on one floor, whereas my house is not wheelchair friendly. Also, she took care of me, waiting on me hand and foot. What an angel!
Meanwhile my husband came to visit almost every night.
I have learned a new appreciation for walking. Also bowel movements.
Last Monday my surgeon (his nurse actually) took off the temporary cast and put on a permanent cast. It was hot and heavy and tight, and when the nurse put it on, I felt a knot of panic rising from my stomach, but I fought it down and told myself I would be okay.
That night I woke up in the middle of the night in an absolute panic, breathing hard, shaking, crying, and desperately wanting the cast off. It was like an attack of claustrophobia. The next morning we tried to contact the doctors (surgeon or rehab), but neither called back. I had two more black hole attacks. Tim came and helped me though this by wheeling me out on Jan’s back porch, putting my camera in my hands and getting me to take pictures of the birds. Finally we called my regular doctor and she told me to go to the ER. At Saline’s ER I was triaged by an unsympathetic nurse who told me, “Stop breathing so fast, you’re only making in worse!” She explained that the air-conditioning was broken, so that’s why it was ninety degrees in this little room I was trying hard not to breath in. Eventually they split the cast to make it looser and gave me a drug to calm me. On Friday I saw the surgeon and he told me to see my rehab doctor who had prescribed all the pain-killers I had been on since I left the hospital. (btw, they don't kill it; they only wound it slightly). He switched my drugs around, thinking that the panic might have been caused by all the narcotics. I felt pretty good this morning, but not so hot now.
So apparently it’s not unusual for people with casts to have panic attacks, but they don’t tell you about the possibility ahead of time, probably so you don’t bring one on just thinking about it.