Foot freedom! And no permanent cast, to boot!

February 4, 2008

Five weeks after my should-have-been-more-memorable accident, my right foot is finally cast-free. Not only do I feel like doing a happy dance, but I am finally capable of doing a happy dance! Albeit… carefully.

Today was the day. I had been talking it up since the cast was first put on. To anyone who has asked about the prognosis of the injured appendage, the answer has been a variant of “Well, I’ll know on February 4th when I get another round of X-rays.” As the day drew closer, containing my excitement became increasingly more difficult. There was hardly a moment in which I felt unencumbered – in one way or another, I’ve been all too aware of my ailment… and all too eager to be rid of it. Today would be the day on which I’d find out whether I’d be able to start walking, or continue hobbling.

The first bit of good news came just after being called from the waiting room. The doctor said that healed or no, the cast had to come off so that X-rays could be taken. Hooray! A few cast-free moments at a minimum. Often a doctor will introduce you to the tools he will be using: in my instance, what looked to be a small circular saw with tiny, sharp teeth. Not this doctor – he revved the saw and got right to cutting. Having had a cast removed at age 13, I knew that an oscillating saw can’t break skin, but that didn’t quite hold back an initial panicked feeling when the saw first hit the cast.

Once all of the cuts had been made and the cast pieces removed, I damn near leaped from my seat. The next bit of good news: I could balance on two feet! Double hooray! My biggest fear at that moment wasn’t falling down (though I could immediately sense that my right leg had weakened significantly). I was afraid of the smell. Thankfully, it wasn’t nearly as bad as I had expected. Given that feet start stinking after just a day in normal shoes, I was braced for a noxious knockout once my right foot met fresh air. There wasn’t really an odor, much to my surprise. No bed of roses, certainly, but not bad.

There were, however, several other surprises. First, my right leg was not initially strong enough to support my whole body weight. “Duh” in hindsight, but my initial triumphant stand caused excitement and cockiness to get the best of me. I immediately tried putting my whole body weight on my right foot, and it damn near gave out. I saved myself from a nasty stumble by catching the table at just the right moment. Guess I’ll have to work on strengthening those muscles. Next, as I was massaging my leg and foot to soothe the muscles and get the blood flowing freely again, I was surprised to see hairs caught between a few of my fingers. So I tried pulling at some hairs near my ankle. They all came out with ease! Ack! Better not rub against that leg too much, unless I’m going for a silky-smooth look. The real freak show, though, was hiding on the other side of the foot. To all those women I’ve ever mocked for using special podiatric exfoliant products, I beg your forgiveness and humbly request your assistance. The skin on the forefoot and heel was rubbed raw with jaundiced, peeling edges. The sight was so horrendous that I snapped a camera-phone photo for posterity. For y’alls sake, I’m not posting it here. Icky, indeed. I’m in desperate need of expertise here, though, so anyone offering info on how to get the soles of my feet looking normal again will instantly become one of my favorite people.

It wasn’t long before I was sent to the X-ray room, and after all of the snaps were taken, I anxiously awaited the verdict. I wasn’t expecting a declaration that it had fully healed and that I could walk normally again – even I knew that neither was true. The hope instead was that partial healing and good bone position would allow me to get fitted with a walking cast. And that’s just what happened. The orthopedist said that there was some new bone growth, but that the bones were perfectly aligned and healing nicely inclined him toward prescribing “the boot.” The device is pretty nifty: consisting of a hard plastic shell and neoprene lining with fasteners and air cushions, it keeps the foot immobilized while allowing full weight bearing. In other words, I can walk in it! The walking motion with the boot is more natural than I had expected, too. Of course, the doctor’s orders were to minimize walking time in the very beginning and steadily increase weight bearing over time, but the feeling of being mobile again was too good to take in small doses today. I walked around the office and my apartment more times than I could count. I even lifted weights in the upstairs gym. In my defense, I did use crutches on the longer trips to and from the office. I’m stubborn, not stupid.

Ah, freedom. Not full freedom just yet, but I have an appointment in three weeks that will hopefully bring even better news. Now that I’m rid of the peg-leg gizmo, I’d sure like to be rid of comments about how fitting an eyepatch / cutlass / parrot would be to complete the pirate ensemble. This calls for celebration… not too much, given what can happen when equal parts champagne, white wine, beer, whiskey, vodka, and moonwalking are mixed. There’s a good chance I’ll be toasting my newfound mobility in Charlottesville this weekend (keeping the toasts light), and I’ll definitely be basking in some California sun later this month (stay tuned).

Again, big thanks to everyone who has put up with my complaining, offered car rides, extended niceties, or otherwise accommodated my gimped-out self. You guys rock.

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3 Responses to “Foot freedom! And no permanent cast, to boot!”

  1. Oh man … I just broke my foot last week.

    I am absolutely terrified of by this “the skin on the forefoot and heel was rubbed raw with jaundiced, peeling edges.”

    Eek … three more weeks to go. I’m not going to think about what my foot looks like. I am one of those silly women who normally uses a podiatric exfoliator every time I step foot in a shower. The horror!

  2. Oops … I am new to WordPress and am not sure I can fix my above grammatical errors *hangs head in shame*.

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