Surgery and the false start

I consulted with my surgeon (Dr Joseph Daniel, Rothman) in early November and he took one look at the X-rays and quickly pointed out how much damage was done to my tendons and the bone spurs that had been started in both heels.  He then launched into a detailed explanation of what he was going do to me…

Btw, Dr Daniel is awesome! I can’t endorse him enough, he is insanely detail oriented and did a fantastic job of talking me through the procedure, the possible complications and then laid down the law on what I would have to do for the recovery. This guy was serious.

Dude told me to get out if I wasn’t willing to listen and abide by his directions for the after-surgery care. Incidentally, the more I was exposed to the nurses, doctors and residents that worked with Dr Daniel at the surgery center (and later the hospital) the more I found that his reputation for being particular and very specific the more comfortable I was with his care. 

He walked me through the procedure and tried to prepare me for the recovery. As he said, this is easy for him, he’s done over 1000 of these successfully and it’s a simple 45 – 60 min procedure. The hard part is my rehab. Let me lay out the plan as he told me:

  • 1/2 day surgery – outpatient
  • 2 weeks in bed with leg raised by 5 pillows (above my heart); only able to get up to go to the bathroom.  No showers!  
  • Staples out, 3 weeks in cast, NWB (Non-Weight Bearing), but allowed out of bed, leg raised as often as possible
  • 5 weeks in a “Boot”, WB (Weight Bearing).  Over the course of this time period, 3 wedges are gradually removed until I am walking flat footed
  • 2-3 months of physical rehab

The most daunting part of this plan is the first 5 weeks when I would basically be either bed-bound or home bound. But my wife signed on to take care of me and after consulting with my boss at work, I decided to have the surgery the week before Christmas (client interactions die down in the last 2 weeks of the month, and honestly I was at that point contemplating another career change).

We scheduled the surgery at the Kennedy out patient surgery center in Sewell NJ for Dec 19th. I had to get a whole bunch of tests done (ekg, blood, CAT scan) and get clearance from my primary for the surgery (let me tell you that the CAT scan was a trip. Not something I’d want to repeat – Holy!). Everything went pretty well with the tests except for a problem that may have impacted me a bit later in my recovery, during my clearance discussion with my Primary doc, he pointed out that my fasting blood sugar level was borderline. Shit. That messed up my head. I knew I was starting to spiral, but didn’t think I was on the cusp of diabetes. Getting the surgery done and under my belt was now critical and urgent. I needed to get back to activity and promised my primary that I would start hitting the gym, at the least as part of the rehab. Agreed to also start cutting carbs and sugars from the diet.
Besides my head being f’d up by that warning, everything was moving along pretty well. But on top of the upcoming surgery and normal Christmas stress, I added some more pressure – the possible job change back in November, went from mere talk with a good friend, to an actual offer and a plan to join the new team in Jan (after the first 5 weeks) by mid December. However, if I could follow the plan that Dr Daniel laid out, I would be able to take the last 2 weeks in Dec off, then give notice at the end of the first week in Jan, giving 2 weeks so that I could start the new job the week that I was also off of home-confinement and able to start WB in the boot. Perfect!
But, what do they say about plans?…
What happened? Well, I got stupid. On Dec 16th, the day before my surgery, my wife and I went to dinner with my good friend (Doug) and his wife (Sharon). We’re long time friends and brewing buddies (another sidebar to discuss this hobby later) and as usual, this became a bit of a drinking fest with Doug and I ending the night drinking bourbon.
I knew I couldn’t drink/eat anything after midnight due to the surgery the next day, but completely forgot how fuckin dehydrated you get when you drink too much. I did chug a bottle of water before I crashed, but the next day I woke up insanely dehydrated and completely parched. All I wanted was a nice tall drink of water to ease my headache. Boy was I stupid. Just stupid.
So I get to the out-patient center in sorry shape from a night of boozing, sadly dehydrated and honestly nervous as hell – I was about to let someone cut into me! I signed a document saying that I completely understood that this could harm me permanently…
They get me back into a bed, make me drop my shorts and don a stupid gown (need a sidebar on why in all these years, the medical industry hasn’t come up with a better way of covering a patients body – seriously. I’m sure that the nursing staff doesn’t need to see my hairy ass). And they start processing me: Take my temperature -fine. Put in an IV – ouch. Take my blood pressure —— STOP!
“Do you have high blood pressure, Steve?” The nice nurse asked me pensively
“Yeah. Sorta. I take a common BP med and haven’t changed it in a couple years. Why?” I respond, getting a bit worried by the look on her face.
“Well, your BP is through the roof. 164 over 109!” She responded somewhat alarmed, like she was wondering why I wasn’t in cardiac arrest right there.
She took it 3 more times and it came down to 124 over 95 and after consulting with the Anesthesiologist decided that they would continue to prep me and talk with Dr Daniel about it.
It was at this point that they put me on a saline. I seriously can’t tell you how much relief that bag of plain ol’ water gave me. I felt soooo much better (honestly, I highly recommend a saline drip for hang-overs). Dehydration has a huge impact on blood pressure – that’s what wiki says anyway. I swear I could actually feel my blood pressure come down as my body re-hydrated. But would they check it again? No… they already tried 5 times… Fuckers.
If you hadn’t guessed it, Dr Daniel (and I, reluctantly) agreed to postpone the surgery until he could perform the procedure at the hospital (where I could receive elevated care should anything go wrong and spend the night so that they could actively monitor my initial recovery). It was the safe, conservative move and now that I know Dr Daniels’ better it’s totally in character.
So on top of a fuckin hangover, I had now completely blown my plan for the new gig. Ugh! I went home hung-over, dejected and feeling really, really stupid. I’m never going to drink again I swear…

In the end it worked out. You knew that since this blog is about recovering from said surgery, it was just postponed a bit. While discussing a reschedule with his nurse the next day, an opening on that Thursday came up on his hospital surgery schedule and I was able to slip into that slot.

So, Thursday, December 22nd, 2016, I finally had the surgery. That time it went smoothly (no drinking the days before), my blood pressure was 110 over 75 which is even lower than my normal numbers… Everything went so well with the surgery that in the late afternoon I was released instead of staying that night. The nurse gave me some scripts for some highly addictive opioids and sent me home to get into bed and stay there with my leg raised above my heart.

On to the recovery…

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3 Responses to Surgery and the false start

  1. Todd says:…..I got to ask…getting whacked the night before a major surgery…..WTF were you thinking?
    I am 8 weeks out from HD removal and bursa sac removal. Given what you have written thus far, your recovery should be an interesting experience for you and those in your circle.


  2. I’ve recently started a site, the information you offer on this site
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