I woke up on Wednesday morning following a restless nights sleep with a huge knot in my stomach and a nauseating feeling running through my body. I lay there wishing that I could just close my eyes and pretend the day wasn’t happening.
Clutching my paperwork which contained a list of questions I wanted to ask, Wayne and I started the hour and a half drive to the Nuffield Orthopaedic Hospital in Oxford. It seems a long way to go for an operation, but the great thing about the NHS is that the patient can now choose where to go for treatment. Having been seen by orthopaedic surgeons previously that don’t have a clue about CMT, I did my homework and decided that Oxford would be the best place for me. After all, if you are going to be cut open and have all manor of things done to you, at least you can be assured that you are in the best possible hands.
Gazing out of the passenger window and watching the world go by outside as we fly down the M40, hardly any words were spoken. I was lost in my own anxious thoughts when an overwhelming feeling of wanting to call my Mom hit me! That’s when my emotions overflowed along with the tears rolling down my cheeks. It’s not quite 10 years since she passed, and I just know that if she was still here she would help me put all of this into perspective. If only heaven had a telephone!
Arriving at the hospital with only a couple of minutes to spare for a comfort break, we made our way to the pre op clinic and checked in. It wasn’t too long before my consultant called us through and greeted us with a warm and confident handshake. Mr Brown is a lovely guy, he allowed me time to ask my questions and provided reassuring answers. Then he went through what it is exactly I will be having done, as I lie in a deep sleep oblivious to what’s going on around me.
My heel is not in alignment, so this will be broken , realigned then screwed or plated in place. Then because the heel has been shifted, my big toe will need to be moved to accommodate this, with bones broken and screwed back in their new positions. Then, if that wasn’t enough, he will be making an incision at the back of my knee to lengthen my Achilles’ tendon then taking the tendon from the inside of my right foot, transferring it through to the outer side of my foot to do the new job of pulling my foot outwards as I walk.
All of this work will see me in plaster for 3 months. The first 4 weeks of that will be non weight bearing through my right foot. Now that wouldn’t be so bad, but my surgery is starting on my stronger leg first, as the joints are more unstable, leaving me with my weaker leg to recover on. This worries me a great deal! After the initial 4 weeks I will then be able to gently put weight on my foot, but it won’t be until the end of the 3 months that I will be relearning how to walk.
Following on from the meeting with Mr Brown, we were then called through to meet an Occupational therapist called Isobel. It is Isobel’s job to discuss how I will manage after surgery with the practical daily things we take for granted, such as showering, cooking, getting on and off the toilet or out of chair at home. I could feel my anxiety eating away inside me and I could hardly hold in my emotions as I asked questions and listened to her advice. I went on to explain to Isobel my fears of having my independence taken away and the difficulty I have accepting help from even the closest people in my life. I have never relied on anybody, I’ve been so independent throughout my life, it fills me with dread to burden anyone. I couldn’t hold it in any longer my emotions overflowed again for the second time in the day. I was beginning to feel like a blubbing wreck! Isobel was so kind and got me back to putting it all into perspective, but one thing was quite clear, I will need help and I am going to just have to be strong and accept it!
It looks like I will be leaving hospital with a toilet frame to help me get to my feet as the toilets are quite low. A couple of frames ( one for upstairs and one for downstairs) some crutches and I will need the use of a wheelchair, which we will be purchasing at some point soon. This makes me feel about 98, never mind 38!!!
After the meeting with the Occupational Therapist, I then met a lovely nurse called “CaroLYN not CaroLINE” Sister Carolyn was there to take me through my past medical history, and provide me with the hibiscrub needed to wash away any “bugs” that may be on my skin (MRSA) prior to surgery, to prevent this causing my wounds any kind of infection. Carolyn’s personality was rather bubbly, which pushed aside my worries and made them feel like they were distant memories, by bringing me back to the here and now. Once my history was documented, all that was left for me to do was have bloods taken as well as an ECG, height weight etc.
I entered a room where I met Anna, a healthcare assistant that would give me my MOT. As I stood on the scales I felt quite proud of myself as she read out my weight. 18 months ago standing on the scales in front of anyone filled me with dread, but having lost just shy of 7 stone, I felt like doing a small victory dance (had it not been for the fact I’d have probably ended up face planting the floor!) My blood pressure and other stats were pretty much text book,as was my ECG.. I guess that means I passed my MOT!!!
Nearly 3 hours after arriving at the hospital we were heading home. My eyes getting heavier and heavier until I drifted off, for the remaining journey home; catching up on some of the sleep lost from the night before.