The Pin is Gone and the Toe is…
Tuesday I asked the creative people I know what they thought might happen when the surgical pin in my toe was removed. I suggested that my toe might come off or that the pin might not come out.
Others shared these thoughts:
Your toe stretches and is longer than the rest. (My friend Dianne.)
All the air starts escaping and you end up with flat feet. (My friend, Tony York)
You could use the pin for finger food. Put olives and little square pieces of cheese on it. (Later reply was: Okay, maybe not…) (My friend, David Knapp)
My friend Alece could only say:
“that picture makes me shudder!”
Another friend gave a solution to the issue itself:
Enjoy the high that you’ll have from the drugs for sedation……cuz i sure would not let them do it without it. (My friend, Teresa)
So, today, I will share what really DID happen.
Cue the music: Dun Dun DUN!
The Day the Pin Came Out
Wednesday started about like any weekend day, because my precious husband, Jack, stayed home to take me to this doctor’s appointment. See, I knew I would hurt and when I hurt I cry. This might be a flaw, I don’t know — but I’m very particular who is permitted to see that “hurt cry”. See, I can weep openly at church when worshiping. I don’t mind if people see me cry at a funeral or a wedding. When I’m hurt, though… maybe it’s from having a Navy dad and I feel like I’m not supposed to show that pain. Jack understands that and took the day off work to take me to this visit.
By the way, why do we call these appointments “office visit”? I mean, a visit is where you go in and sit down, chat with the person over a cup of coffee or a glass of tea. It’s enjoyable and welcome… but I digress. That’s a subject for another day.
While I do have my wonderful “knee walker,” that doesn’t mean I’m really going everywhere. I’m not up for going shopping, for example, but we made a stop on the way to Knoxville, at the lumber yard Jack’s brother-in-law works at to look at material for our front porch project, so “I” could decide which “I” wanted. (Honestly, it all looked like wood to me…. a designer I’m not.) I handled the store pretty well, but when we went outside into the heat and Jack pointed out the ramp I had to navigate, my pulse quickened to about 3000! The loading dock is about four feet higher than the ground and the ramp only takes about eight feet to descend to that level. (It looked like a water-ski jump!)
My first reaction was, “I don’t think so!!!” If I could have held on to the knee walker and put my hands on my hips, I suppose I would have, but really, I was holding on for dear life. Now, if you were on a scooter or skateboard and looking at that, it would have been a “Whoa, cool!” moment. That’s assuming you have use of both feet. I had use of one foot, a cast on the other with an aching foot inside. (Just to ease your mind, Jack stood in front of me the length of the ramp, holding the scooter to keep me from zipping down it too quickly!)
Anyway, we finished up there and made our way to the doctor’s office, arriving about 25 minutes early for my appointment. The nurse called me back to the exam room early, knowing I was anticipating the removal of the cast. What a delightful woman! I could honestly say that she made the appointment more like a visit — even without the coffee or tea. When we got to the room, she set about explaining the removal of a cast, including showing me that the saw won’t hurt when it touches your skin. I showed her that even that pressure and vibration where she planned to cut on the outside of my foot would definitely hurt, because that’s where one of my incisions is! After a moment of checking, she carefully sawed through the cast and removed it. We talked about my fear of the pin removal. She assured me that over her many years as an orthopedic nurse, she had seen many of these procedures done and that only a couple of times had there been any problem and real pain.
After the x-ray, I returned to the exam room and saw the kit set up for the pin removal:
Naturally, I tweeted this out. It’s good to know they use quality instruments!
Shortly after I’d gotten settled after the x-ray, the nurse came in to tell us that the Physician’s Assistant who would be doing this procedure was still in surgery with the doctor and would be a few minutes late. She apologized. I wasn’t too bothered. I really didn’t mind putting it off a few more minutes.
We visited a bit more with the nurse — talking about where we’d grown up, common interests and such, then she disappeared for a few moments. Efficiency reigns and she returned with two boots to get the right size for me while we waited for the PA to come in. The small one was too short to cover my toes, and the medium-large comes all the way up to my knee, but that’s what I got. The toes were priority!
While the fitting was in process, the PA came in, asking me how I was doing, if I was ready to get rid of that pin. I told her I was, but expressed my fear of the pain. She didn’t scoff at my fear. She didn’t ridicule me or tell me to suck it up. She comforted me and told me she’d be as careful as she could and we’d get through this together.
So, Vice-Grips in hand, she approached my foot. I turned my head, looking at Jack instead, and held my breath (don’t judge me, it’s what I do in preparation for pain). The PA grasped the yellow ball that was the end of the pin and pulled like she’s done numerous times before. However…
The pin did not move. The toe did.
Apparently, my bones healed up quite nicely, placing a very firm grip on the surgical pin as if to never let go. Remembering my post of Tuesday, I mentioned that it felt like they were pulling my toe off. (I thought they should know, you know.)
The PA apologized and tried a different tack. She removed the head and grasped the surgical steel itself, deftly turning it under so as to have a leveraged grip on the pin.
With a tug and the slightest jerk, the pin broke free and WHOOSH! it was out. Now I could look down again. The toe was still there. My foot hadn’t deflated, and the toe was no longer than it had been before. There was only one problem.
When asked if I needed more pain pills at home, I accepted. The nurse and the PA knew, without any tears or cries, that there was significant pain. That night was restless, trying to get comfortable in my new contraption and dealing with the pain. Thursday, I was so tired, and the pain was still with me — the kind that makes your stomach feel like you’re going to… well, anyway. It wasn’t a great day.
Now it’s Friday. The pin is gone and a new chapter in this adventure begins. I’m sure there will be more stories to follow.