30 August 2011

The cankle phase, continued


Well, I do have a bit of trouble with narrative flow on this website, with all the unresolved “maybe I’ll do that” cliffhangers, not to mention a dramatic essay one day followed by a crafty tutorial the next as if all the previous ennui evaporated in the steam of heat & bond. Like, didn’t I just tell you a few weeks ago that I had that important meeting where I asked for permission to write my dissertation and then I never told you anything about how that turned out?

So yes! Let’s hear about the cankle!

Thank goodness, right?

When we left off, my mom had just had major surgery on her ankle after slipping and falling by the pool and breaking her ankle into pieces. Let’s put my two semesters of university Anatomy & Physiology to use, shall we? Here is a normal ankle as illustrated by Gray’s Anatomy, the actual book and not some overdrammmz prime time soap opera:

And here is my mom’s:

Or more accurately, when my stepdad obliviously arrived home after the fall, having fortuitously elected not to go to the store or to a restaurant while out and about as his friend had suggested, and instead found my mother crawling halfway up the hill in their backyard, trying to get to the phone in the house:

Technically it’s a trimalleolar fracture, or as I heard the doctor call it, a “tri-mal”, which I am pretty sure translates to TRIPLE BAD.

It’s the stuff horror movies are made of, no? Looking down and realizing that the sole of your foot is perpendicular to where it belongs and your husband isn’t home and you live out in the boonies where no one can hear you yell for help and the only choice you have is to army-crawl up the hill to the house? Yeah. I knew those things as I wrote that original cankle post from the hospital, but I had a bit of trouble being completely forthcoming about those details before because I'M SORRY THAT HORROR BROKE MY BRAIN.

Anyway, after that idyllic afternoon by the pool gone all wrong, my mom was brought by ambulance to Nashville, which is known for two main industries, music and healthcare. The result was excellent surgery within twenty-four hours of her fall, and a few meals likely served by band members hoping for a record deal. I was just grateful she was here, near me.

After surgery, Mom had to stay in the hospital for two days before going home. During that time she slipped in and out of coherence – mostly out – and my stepdad became increasingly irritable due to the fact that he was subsisting on hospital food and sleeping on a vinyl hospital recliner after refusing my requests to sleep at our house fifteen minutes away. I can’t blame him. If he had taken our offer, I would have slept at the hospital with Mom instead. It was a super rough week for them and as for me, I am pretty sure I survived on norepinephrine alone. Oh, and the wine. It was small relief when they got to go home, because that meant a whole new set of challenges for them.

My mom and stepdad then had to make the trip back to Nashville – five hours round trip from their home – for x-rays and a “wound check” the following week. The wound wasn’t made by the bones going through skin – amazingly, it was a closed break. But see, skin doesn’t particularly like being stretched over broken bones to a foot a good four inches away from where it belongs. There was a lot of pressure and a lot of inflammation and a lot of skin just giving up and saying “forget this, I’m out of here.” My mom’s excellent doctor had warned us about this in the hospital, saying that his concern wasn’t my mom’s bones, which were now all screwed in place, but her skin. At least, he warned me. My stepdad was out getting much-needed fresh air and my mom was having a conversation with the imaginary lady made of towels sitting in a nearby chair.

I tried to pass this warning along to my mom, finally coherent again, the night before that one-week follow-up appointment. But I don’t think I prepared her enough. If you’re curious as to what happens to skin covering a bad break, and you haven’t eaten recently, do a google image search for “fracture blister”. And ignore all those photos that have a piddly bruise with a little red blister. Focus on those with the big, oozy, open wounds. That was my mom’s ankle.

Her doctor had at least foreseen the problem. And he said it wasn’t the worst he’d ever seen, but definitely not good. No infection, no necrosis yet. They were to return in a week for another check. If it had started to scab and heal at all, it would be promising, but if not? She’d require plastic surgery.

That night, I had to convince her over the phone that she would not lose her foot. But I was not 100% convinced myself. It was that disturbing.

When they returned the following week, I hoped to high heavens that all my prayers and well-wishes and bad dreams and stress eating hadn’t been for naught. And when they cut back the bandage?

There were scabs! The most beautiful, glorious four-inch diameter scabs I had ever seen in my entire life! It’s as if her foot did two weeks’ worth of healing in one week after putting off getting better that first week. Procrastination sounds about right for us, actually. It probably needed to mope around thinking “But I don’t wanna” for a good while before getting down to business.

If you are curious what my mom’s foot looked like... I have a photo for you, taken by my stepdad at that second appointment. I don’t have a before picture from the earlier appointment, so you are just going to have to use your imagination regarding progress and consider that I was ridiculously happy with how fantastic her foot looks in the “after” picture. And no, it does not actually look fantastic. Click here at your own risk if you are interested in gross photos like me (and click your browser’s back button to come back).

For the rest of you who prefer not to see gore? Or just need something happy after looking at my mom's foot? Here is an adorable non sequitur! This clouded leopard cub wants to show you how big he is!

Today is my mom’s last appointment in Nashville for a month, hopefully. She should finally get her stitches out and instructions for a few little non-weight-bearing exercises, and she’ll even get the chance to leave her (albeit scabby and frightening) foot unwrapped. It’s another step in getting better. It’s another step I’m so grateful that she is making.

It’s still the cankle phase, still a huge life adjustment for my parents and still a burden on my heart. But at least she is making steps – the figurative sort. For now.


Christal said...

So glad to hear there is improvement! I feel so bad for all of you, what a dreadful adventure!

Lisa said...

Prayers for your mom :)

Shanna said...

Still praying for Tina...thank you for keeping us updated.