You will be in an altered state for many moons...

If your Achilles tendon is ruptured, torn, or even simply inflamed with tendonitis, your life is about to change. Mine sure has - so I decided to chronicle these events, and create a place for others to share their experiences, advice, resources and emotions during our journey toward recovery.

Nothing in this blog is meant to take the place of the medical advice of your physician. Follow the instructions of your medical professionals, not me.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

3. 24 hours till surgery

OK, countdown...

You may as well go to the guillotine, err, I mean surgical suite, prepared!

Ladies, my doctor didn't make me remove the polish from my toenails, so I invested in a pedicure just before the surgery.  If you have artificial fingernails, now's the time to remove them - you will not want to be sitting there at home looking at those nails wishing you could get them filed down or filled.

But whether you're a man or a woman, keep in mind that you will be staring at your toes for several weeks.  Ummmm, how to say this delicately...Take care of those toes now!

You will not be able to eat or drink anything, not even a sip of water,  from midnight till the actual surgery.  In my case, this was about 14 hours.  So - being the spoiled brat that I am, I told my husband, "This is like that last meal in prison sort of I want to go out for dinner, anywhere I choose!" 

We went to IHOP around 11 the night before surgery and I ate a huge meal - for once, guilt free.  And I am glad I did so - I didn't get hungry till right before my surgery.  And I wasn't hungry at all afterwards. 

The morning of the big day, I took a very long, hot bath - my last bath for weeks, maybe even months.  This was relaxing, and I needed that, being a bit nervous. 

When you get dressed to go to the hospital, remember that you will have a big cast over your leg when you leave.  Be sure you wear something loose and comfortable.  You will not want to change when you get home - you will want to collapse on the sofa after your first trek from the vehicle to the living room on crutches.

Don't forget your ID and insurance information.

Don't wear any jewelry at all to the hospital.  You will have to remove it and you don't want to worry about misplacing it.

If you get thirsty, you can suck on a little piece of ice - but no water, gum, mints, anything by mouth.

Sit down with your notebook and jot down all your questions for your surgeon and your anesthesiologist.  Your situation and list of questions will differ from mine, but here was my list of questions (and the answers I got):

1.  Will I get something to relax me before surgery?  (Yes, and it worked.)
2.  What will I feel or experience immediately before and during the surgery?  (Nothing - and they were right!)
3.  How long will the surgery last?  (About an hour - and they were right again.)
4.  How long will the incision and subsequent scar be?  (They said about four inches - and I haven't seen it yet but I'll take their word for it.)
5.  Will I get stitches or staples?  (Stitches)
6.  Please explain debridement to me.  (Debridement is a procedure used to stimulate healing - they make tiny cuts in the tendon after they clean out the damaged tissue and repair the tear.) 
7.  Will I need to have my tendon re attached to the heel with screws?  (Don't know till we get in there - in my case they didn't have to do that.)
8.  What type of cast will I have at first?  (Splint with gauze and gigantic Ace bandage, from toes to knee.)
9.  How will I care for the incision? (You won't - you won't even see it till your follow up two weeks later!)
10.  Can I return to work in two weeks?  (They asked me to explain my work environment, and said we'll just have to re evaluate at two weeks post op, but that with reasonable accommodation, I will probably be able to do so.)
11.  When will I start physical therapy?  (We'll see at the two week mark - the first two weeks, basically do nothing but keep OFF the leg, and keep it elevated as much as possible.)

Finally - relax as much as possible.  You've got your set up ready for when you get home, and you'll have plenty of pain relief available afterwards.  You're going to be fine - and better than ever once you've recovered.

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