Today I woke up with a bit of excitement knowing that I would be seeing what my toe now looked like after, the partial amputation to remove the bone infection. This would be one step closer to getting my kidney transplant and one step closer to taking back my life.
The fact of the matter is that immediately following the toe surgery, my foot felt normal once again. I was in no pain and my foot more specifically, my big toe, was no longer mad (infected). It felt as it did years before the diagnosis. It felt content and normal. This was a bit alarming as I was use to having neuropathy in my feet and now, it felt normal once again. I felt like I was moving my toe and that all was right in the world once again. But, looking at my foot, I knew it wasn’t. The spot where my big toe once sat was a bit shorter and wrapped with bandages. In addition, my foot was secured in an inflatable boot for stability. I kept thinking to myself… What have I done now?
In the days after the surgery I really didn’t want to take any pain medications, as I wanted to really focus on the physical recovery of this amputated appendage. As the anesthesia started wearing off, it became more apparent what had actually happened to my foot. I would have conversations with my foot, explaining my decision on the amputation. As I spoke to it, what felt like electric shocks would go thru my foot down to where my toe uses to be. This would happen quite frequently. And as they did, I would start with the talk once again until the jolts of energy became less frequent. Eventually this tapered into nonexistence.
Then came the learning how to walk with this boot and the crutches. I’ve been thru a lot but, I’ve never been on crutches. This experience is one I don’t want to repeat anytime in the future. I understand the need of crutches, but really don’t like them. Stairs were the one thing I found difficult to negotiate while on crutches. I always felt as though I was a coordinated person but after the crutches, not anymore.
Then, there came the recovery. See, I felt like as thought I’d been recovering for well over a year and I thought I was finished with this part of my journey, I was wrong. I had to sit with my foot elevated above my heart most of the time. And my foot would let me know if it wasn’t by throbbing a little. This would mandate my foot to be elevated and the throbbing would go away. I guess your body knows best, you just have to listen to what it is telling you.
Also, no driving and no work. This was the killer. I could not go anywhere or do anything that I wanted. Basically, just sit on the couch and write, email or call; this was the only connection that I had with the outside world, unless my wife took me out to do some grocery shopping or errand running around town.
So, now here it is… the day of seeing my foot for the first time, less the big toe. I entered the examining room sat on the table and was told to take off the boot that I had been wearing for the past 10 days. To be honest, I couldn’t wait to get it off as I had an itch that I could not reach just above my ankle, and I was about to touch it for the first time. After undoing the Velcro straps my foot was free. I lifted it up and if felt about 30 pounds lighter. I quickly hit that scratch on my ankle then I was looking at a completely bandaged foot. The nurse came in and started to cut off the dressings. I really didn’t want to look while she was doing this. My wife was there and captured the below photos for posterity. So, here it was, time to look. My wife told me to be prepared. I directed my head towards my feet and slowly opened my eyes to what could be described as a happy foot less a big toe. It was a shock to see it there feeling normal but in actuality it was not. A couple rows of stitches only accentuated the fact the toe was missing. My eyes followed my foot starting at the ankle and worked its way across my foot, over the knuckle of the big to and that familiar look of my toe was there and as I got to the first digit of the toe, it just stopped. The thing is, it felt like the toe was totally there. I was able to move it and only the nub would move.
My mind raced to catch up to what had happened and I started the inner discussion with my foot, reassuring it was all a part of the journey that we are now on. We didn’t want it but this is it. Constantly reminding my foot how happy it was, without the infection working its way into the body. My body quickly agreed and everything was good. I sat there in relief that this part of the journey was now over. More healing, stitch removal in a couple of weeks, and a possible return to work after inner healing on this area has happened. This is what my future will hold.