21 Aug The Saga of My Broken Foot……
First – a warning – some people may find the photos for this post gross, even I think they are – but nothing can describe a broken foot better than pictures.
And now, on with my “story”……..it all began back on July 29th about 10:30 pm. My dear Husband has just arrived home from his shooting practice at the Olympic Training Center in town. Just as we’re getting ready to retire for the night our cat, for reasons unknown, decided to use our bed for his litter box! Angry doesn’t even come close to describing my immediate reaction. The cat got tossed outside and DH immediately stripped the bed & began cleaning up after the cat.
I gathered up all the sheets & mattress pad and headed down the stairs to the laundry room in our garden level basement. When I reached the last step something went really wrong. Somehow, between the bottom step and the basement floor I ended up with my right foot twisted in and under me, smacking my left knee flat on the floor. Now, any other time I would have had a huge bruise on my left knee – this time, not a scratch – while my right foot screamed in pain. I had heard my bones crack and so hoped that it was only one of the many, many smaller bones we have in our feet. (Did you know the between your foot & ankle you have 26 bones & 33 joints?) DH heard me fall (and cuss) so came bounding down the stairs. He helped me up & together we got the sheets in the washer. Then he had to help me get back up the stairs….6 from the basement to landing and another 7 to the living floor. Uggh.
Once upstairs I removed my slipper (leather boot type) and examined my foot. It was swelling alright but no bruises showing yet. Perhaps that was good I thought, maybe I only sprained my ankle – something I’ve done many times in the past. I decided to wait until morning & see how my foot was then. Of course, by morning I knew it was broken and off we went to the emergency room. The closest ER is about 25 miles from home. Not a fun ride. At the ER they immediately got me settled in an exam room, took x-rays, gave me an ice pack and expressed lots of sympathy. The doctor came in an confirmed that I had indeed broken my foot – the fourth & fifth metatarsals with the fifth one being the worst break. Here’s one x-ray from the ER………………..see that fifth bone – ouch.
So, off we go with a splint on my foot, prescription for Vicodin and instructions to keep my foot elevated above my heart so the swelling will come down. We were also instructed to make a follow up appointment with an orthopedic clinic for further treatment. On the way home I called a clinic I had received treatment at before and was scheduled for the following Tuesday (Aug 4th) and told I’d have to wait that long to make sure the swelling was down, nothing could be done with my foot swollen. Ok.
Now, the ER personnel and those at the ortho clinic who had seen my x-rays all seemed to feel that my bones would need pinned in order to heal properly. (Did you know that your medical records are shared between doctor offices via computer/medical network?) With this in mind I did as I was told and spent the week between my ER visit & scheduled appointment flat on my back with ice on my elevated foot hoping the swelling would be down so treatment could begin when I finally saw the doctor. What I didn’t want to do is drag this out more than was already apparently necessary.
Aug 4th finally arrives and we head to my appointment. We arrived a few minutes early, completed the necessary paperwork and were seated at an exam table in the cast room. The aides removed my splint revealing a bruised and still somewhat swollen foot………..
Now we waited for the doctor to arrive. And waited. And waited. And waited. Finally, more than an hour past my scheduled appointment time a Physician’s Assistant comes in. A young man who couldn’t have been out of med school very long. He declares that he’s reviewed my x-rays, the bones will heal just fine although the fifth one will have a “bump”. They will put my foot in a cast and recheck in three weeks. If the bones aren’t healing they’ll consider pinning at that time. And off he goes. EXCUSE ME! What did he just say – where is the doctor? No follow up x-rays after 6 days? This is unbelievable. I wish DH had taken photos of the faces of all the staff that had been standing there when the PA made his diagnoses. Shock was everywhere. Their faces told me this is clearly not the normal course of action for this type of break.
I allowed the cast to be applied since I couldn’t leave the office with nothing on my foot. As soon as we got home DH got on the phone with this clinic while I called a different one. DH spent a good deal of time speaking with the first clinic’s ombudsman trying to get me in to actually see a doctor that day – didn’t happen since they were way too busy. Which is exactly how we felt about my treatment there, they were too busy to give patients appropriate attention. Could I have waited for the 3 wk check and had surgery then – yes – but why add another three weeks to my recovery? So the doctor can make more money or it’s more convenient for him? So I can be off work longer? Not acceptable reasons. I am on my feet a lot at home, work & play – having a bump on my foot simply isn’t acceptable either – I need to be able to use my feet. By now I’m pretty frustrated so luckily I was able to get an appointment with the second clinic for the following day.
Trying to feel optimistic about the second clinic we head down to town again on Aug 5th. We arrive a little early again, do the paperwork and very shortly are seated in an exam room. The aides remove the cast the first clinic applied then take me for x-rays. I’m starting to feel better. Once back in the exam room we didn’t have to wait long for the doctor – an orthopedic surgeon, not a PA – I’m feeling better. He looks at the x-rays and tells us what he thinks. Yes, he says the bones may eventually heal without surgery…but…metatarsals don’t heal as well as other bones and he feels that with the position of the fifth one it’s unlikely it will heal on it’s own. If it did the resulting bone deformity would cause a hammertoe condition down the road. Wow, the PA never said anything about that. His recommendation is to pin the bones ASAP and get the healing started, especially since it’s been a week already. As the doctor is drawing me a picture of what pinning the bones entails we can see a light go on…let’s do this he says….he’s used this procedure for broken hands, not feet before…but the way my bones broke this is the perfect way to fix them. It was amazing just watching him. My confidence is completely restored. Surgery is scheduled for early in the morning on Aug 6th – the next day.
The surgery was a new experience for me and I can tell you the staff was great, everything went really smoothly. Along with general anesthesia they give me a “block” from my knee down. I didn’t feel my right foot for another 24 hrs. Here’s an x-ray taken immediately after surgery…I don’t remember this part………….
The doctor put five pins in – two in my fifth metatarsal and three in the fourth. The one the comes up between my toes actually sticks out of my foot and is supposed to come out in another week or so from today. When I began to feel my foot again it really hurt! That wasn’t unexpected though. I had to keep it elevated for another week after surgery….more laying flat on my back with my foot propped up. It’s impossible to knit in that position so I didn’t get any knitting done. Crochet wasn’t took bad so I did work on some simple crochet projects. Must be the difference between two needles or one hook.
You’re probably wondering if I’m ever going to get to the end of my tale by now 🙂 Ok, so a week after surgery I go back for my first check…bandaging is removed and new x-rays taken. Here’s my foot at that first post surgery check……….
I have two incisions – one on top and one on the side of my foot. My doctor is happy with everything except the red streak. He gave me another round of antibiotics just in case although he said it could just be blood in the skin layers. New bandaging is applied and I have a removable “boot” instead of a cast. My next check up is on Aug 26th. Hopefully the one pin (yellow cap) will come out then. My doctor tells me that if/when the other pins come out depends on the healing process. In the meantime I am working on keeping my foot down for longer periods of time and beginning to put some weight on it….doctor’s orders. He is letting me go back to work on the 24th as long as I can use my foot to help me up/down stairs. The office I work in is on the second floor of a building with no elevator.
Things are starting to look up! I can keep my foot down for longer periods and even got down/up my deck steps yesterday – yea! (I chose the deck to practice on since it’s only 7 steps with a landing after 3; the steps are also wider than the ones in the house & there is railing on both sides) And since my doctor was happy with my progress at my check last week he let me go to RMTA’s annual UTE Cup – as long as I didn’t try to do too much & I had help. With our friends visiting from WA the help part wasn’t a problem. My friend Alecia also made sure I didn’t try to do too much. Without her I couldn’t have gone. Even though it was only a long weekend trip….it felt so good.
So that’s my “story”….the moral of which is pay attention when using stairs. We did let the cat back in and somewhat forgave him. Unfortunately a few days later he wanted out and we haven’t seen him since. I feel bad about that since around here it’s more likely than not that he became part of the food chain. We’re not getting any more cats though. I also called the first clinic to let them know I was continuing my care with a different doctor. I had to leave a message and have never received a call back. So glad I changed doctors.
And now I’m looking forward to when my foot is completely healed and I can put a shoe on it. I’ll let you know when that happens 🙂