Saturday, December 22, 2018

Terrible week and setback (longish post!)

So last week Friday I had the cast removed after my Achilles tendon repair on 1 November. It went well, and the surgeon was really happy with how the wound had healed. The next step was to wear a shoe with a heel for 6 weeks, in combination with physio, to stretch the tendon out again so that I am able to put my foot flat. My foot was in a toe-pointing position in the cast, so I was unable to put the foot flat. I took some sample shoes with to the Dr, so that he could SELECT which shoe he thinks is best, and he chose my wedges. I'm specifically mentioning this, because I've had many "why were you wearing those shoes?!" questions!




I had to make a stop at my lung dr too, as he had to decide whether he was happy to let me return to my usual anti-rejection meds combo. (I had to stop taking Certican and increase Neoral in order to assist the healing of the tendon). He said that he wasn't quite comfortable doing that yet, so I stayed on the high Neoral dose. (In hindsight - thank goodness)

I had a very nice weekend, visiting Fawn on Sat, and on Sunday Brendan and Marius had a Christmas Pool Party at their place which was so much fun. It was AMAZING to have my leg "free" again, even though it was so thin! And putting it in the pool was like heaven, after the weeks of itching. On Monday morning I went over to my parents' place to visit them and my nephew. I was walking towards their patio door along the side of the house, which has some uneven surfaces, carrying my handbag, a magazine, some biscuits and a toy, when my mom came out and told me Adriaan was sleeping. As she spoke I looked up, and stepped funny with my left leg... and fell....

I felt immense pain, and completely collapsed into the plants. My dad came to pick me up, and got me on to a chair. Blood was gushing out from underneath the bandages on my wound :-( My parents managed to stop the bleeding, and my dad took me to casualty. Luckily they live extremely close to the hospital. When they took the bandages off in casualty we could see that my ankle had actually split open horizontally (so NOT along the scar), and there were pieces of tendon actually sticking out. Quite a gross picture. Luckily the surgeon who did my tendon repair was on call, and emergency surgery for the same day was booked.

Surgery was much less pleasant than the previous time. The spinal block was EXTREMELY painful, I don't know what went wrong there. Drip access was an issue, and I came out looking like I'd been in a fight with someone. I actually just couldn't stop crying at my bad luck, the pain, the way my day turned out, and what this new injury meant for my future. The verdict was that the Achilles tendon HAD snapped again, but in a different spot than the previous time. So the 1 Nov repair was still in tact. It had now snapped way lower down, almost at the bone, and they had to use artificial tendon to repair it. Because of the infection risk due to the open wound I had, I also had to stay in hospital for a few days on IV antibiotics to make sure that I don't get an infection. There was also a drain in my foot this time. I was in hospital for 4 nights, and came out yesterday. Thankfully no infection emerged, and my bloods were looking great the whole time. My veins however are shot from the drip attempts and the daily blood draws. And 34 years of needles in general. Yesterday morning they had to draw blood from a small vein in my wrist, and it was more painful than any blood-draw I'd ever had.

The only positive thing from this whole hospital admission was that my lungs are just superstars. The anesthetist made a comment after the surgery that it went really well and that "you are really fit". In theatre my O2 sats were 100% and 99% the entire time that I was awake. In the ward they were consistently 98%. It was quite strange being admitted for something that had absolutely no lung involvement.


What this means though is that I cannot play squash anymore, as it is just too risky for me (assuming these injuries even heal fully). 27 Years of prednisone use has taken it's toll on my body. These days they don't treat CF patients with permanent steroids, but in the 80's and 90's it was the thing to do... in PE anyways. Since the age of 7 I've ALWAYS been on differing doses of it. And post transplant it's used as an anti-rejection medication, albeit at a MUCH lower dosage at least. Like my Dr jokingly put it, "my" lungs are out-living my body. Back in 1990 when they started me on Prednisone they were hoping I survive the year. Nevermind the next 27 years. And it if weren't for my 2 donors I wouldn't have lasted this long. The bottom line is, I need to find a new sport (currently I'm thinking swimming!!! And carry on with spinning in the gym). Also, the 2019 World Transplant Games is out of the question. I'm extremely sad about it. I worked so hard to regain fitness after my second transplant, getting squash coaching, qualifying at Nationals, re-qualifying in October... It feels like such a waste now.



So I'm back in the cast for 6 weeks. 2 Weeks of keeping the foot up for as much as possible. Then I can start walking on the cast again. I've told the surgeon that I'm not comfortable with wearing heels after the cast comes off again, and he mentioned the option of a brace. So I will be seeing him again on the 18th of January to organise the brace. At this point I'm just hoping it will recover as much as possible. It will never fully recovery from this. I just want to be able to walk normally again :-( We have a holiday planned for March, and I'm not expecting to be able to hike or anything, but if I could just walk a medium distance at ease... that would be great. Sigh.

Below are some pics of this weekend's xmas pool party when my leg was free...






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