Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Pinkie Toes. Do we really need them? (Part 2)

Read Part I here.
Warning: Don't read this if you are squeamish

"The local anesthesia should be kicking in now. Can you feel this?" The surgeon asked as he pinched my foot.


"You should feel pressure but no pain." He pinched again.

"I feel pressure AND pain. I don't think it's working."

"Alright, let's give it a minute."

After a few minutes he started the procedure. I was feeling skeptical about the local anesthesia. It didn't seem to be numbing my toes at all, but I wanted them to get this over with so that I could get back to my Nana's 80th birthday party. I thought about all of my relatives waiting for me that I get to see only twice a year and couldn't believe I was spending this time in the emergency room.

For the next twenty minutes I watched in pain while the assistant held open my new wound and the doctor used the forceps to dig around under the skin of my foot to find the detached tendon. It went something like this - he would find something that he thought was my tendon, pull on it with the forceps and then realize that it wasn't the right thing and release it. Repeat. Needless to say, under less than effective local anesthesia, this is not the most comfortable of procedures.

I flinched a few times, and said, "Ouch", very quietly, but on the inside I was screaming. The surgeon would look up and say, "Does it hurt? If it's too much for you to handle we will stop."

This is one of those things that doctors say to get you to shut up. You'll stop? Then what? I will walk around with a lame toe for the rest of my life? So I let him keep going, and decided I would work on my pain management.

I breathed in and out slowly and tried to think of other things while hiding behind my magazine. Unfortunately the magazine I chose to bring to the ER was Running Times and it was hard to concentrate on knowing that I would probably not be having any "Running Times" anytime soon. 800 meter repeats? No way. Run your best marathon? Not this summer. The 10 best foods for runners? Eww, food.

My curiosity got the best of me and I kept watching the surgery. Finally the doctor found the tendon and pulled it out through the wound to be revealed. I felt immense pressure in my entire foot as he stretched the tendon. It looked just like the tendons you sometimes find in a piece of chicken. Then I realized this was the inside of my foot and almost threw up all over the table.

I got it together and sighed in relief until the surgeon said, "Okay we got that end, now we just have to find the end that is in your toe."

"Oh, right. There's another end to it."

Pinch, pull, repeat for another ten minutes.

Finally he found it and put two stitches in it. He asked if I could try lifting my toe and it seemed to work a little. Then it was time to sew up the skin. Let me just tell you that there are about one thousand times more nerves in your skin than in your tendons. That is all I have to say.

"Okay your all set!" The surgeon said after bandaging me up and putting a not-so-attractive boot on my foot.

"So I have some questions."

"Go ahead."

"How long will this take to heal? I mean, what can I and can I not do and for how long?"

He glanced at my magazine. "Well I would say no marathon training for at least four weeks."

"Can I... ride a bike?" I was hesitant to ask because I'd rather not know if the answer was going to be "no".

"Do you use your pinkie toe when you ride?", he asked.

"I don't know, I think I probably do."

"I would wait to see what the follow-up doctor says in Anchorage. You may heal faster than others. You should wait to see how you are progressing in a few days."

And that was that. I wasn't going to worry about it until I got back to Anchorage. At least he gave me a little bit of hope. But I had a feeling it was going to turn out bad.

To be continued...


Sherrie Soltis said...

Bummer! Hope it heals super fast!

Tim said...

Holy crap, this is why heavy narcotics were invented! I would have insisted on the kind of meds that would have left me not caring if the guy was pulling my calf muscle out through my little toe!

Your tolerance reminds me of the time my older brother tore open the palm of his hand while stringing barbed wire. The only ER nearby was a little hick place where the on-call doc said, "Well, you need a few stitches. Ya want a local?"

My brother figured if the guy had to ask, it must not be necessary, so he declined. My dad walked in while the guy was sewing up the hand -- he bragged that my brother never flinched, but his jaw was set like stone and there were beads of sweat breaking out all over his face!

I would have screamed like a three-year-old.