Saturday, September 21, 2013

Wiggling My Toes


#publicart, John M. Erianne, A Frolicking Stray, Riverside Park, New York City, #M2M #modelstomonuments
A Frolicking Stray by John M. Erianne
I've been off my feet for almost a week now as I recuperate from a Cheilectomy -- a surgical procedure to fix my really rigid and very painful big toe (in medical terms, Hallux Rigidus).  In addition to removing all the bony spurs, my podiatrist also removed the debris from an old fracture of that toe.  One has to wonder when I fractured it.  My guess is Seattle 2007 when I stubbed it really hard on a luggage rack in the middle of the night.  The rack was in the normal path I would take to my home bathroom but not on the way to the bathroom in my hotel room.  Jet lag, it's a dangerous thing!

#publicart, Anna Kuchel Rabinowitz - Preservation Part 1 AND Ringo by Reina Kubota, Riverside Park, New York City, #M2M #modelstomonuments
Preservation Part 1 by Anna Kuchel Rabinowitz AND
Ringo by Reina Kubota
The surgery was an outpatient procedure and the intrepid Nancy B (aka the B)  picked me up from the hospital about two hours post-op.  The B is a regular traveling companions -- our most recent adventure was a road trip from CA to AZ and back to CA (Junk Yard HeavenSedona SunsetsCoyotes Howling, and Along the Baldwin Trail).    She's out and about today visiting relatives in White Plains because I can now wander around my apartment using a single crutch which is huge when it comes to doing things like getting a cup of coffee!
#publicart, Anna Kuchel Rabinowitz - Preservation Part 2, Riverside Park, New York City, #M2M #modelstomonuments
Preservations Part 2 by
Anna Kuchel Rabinowitz

So, why the surgery?  Well, we had been managing my toe conservatively -- including a round of physical therapy, gait training, and an orthotic for about a year and the joint actually got worse.  In addition, it was limiting how far I could walk and starting to factor into my travel choices.  In other words, having a negative impact on my life.  Not good.

I knew I had made the right choice about surgery when my first steps onto the Alaskan tundra this past July produced a fall (tundra is soft by the way) that included a pretty good jar to the problematic joint.  I walked in pain for the rest of the day.  And my niece (#thetravelingkristen) served as a spotter for the errant tree roots and pot holes that lay beneath the tundra for me and the rest of our merry band of travelers.  That day alone we had Tina with the re-engineered ankle and a woman with a re-engineered knee.  We were adventurers with limitations.

My goals for the surgery are to be able to walk without pain as well as prevent future bone and joint problems by regaining a more normal gait.  Not falling would also be a bonus.  Small goals, I know, but goals none the less.

If you stumble upon this blog post because you are looking for an epic story of post-operative recovery that has me not taking any pain meds and up and running within a week, you should stop reading here. For the past seven days, pain meds have been my friend and I've been staying off the foot as much as possible.  At my first post-op visit on Thursday, my incision was well on the way to healing albeit a little red.  My podiatrist, the wonderful Dr. Elisa Kavanaugh, sent me on my way with a new dressing, a  prescription for an antibiotic, admonitions to continue to keep my weight off the ball of my foot, and to continue to ice my ankle.  She also said I should start wiggling my toes and could do gentle stretching of my big toe joint.  Progress.

#publicart, Sherwin Banfield, Transitions through Triathlon, Riverside Park, New York City, #M2M #modelstomonuments
Transitions through Triathlon by Sherwin Banfield
So, what does one do while mildly sedated and with one's foot on ice?  Not much of anything productive -- that's for sure but here's a short summary of my past week.
  • Candy Crush Saga.  What can I say?  It's a terribly addictive game that does not require too much brain power.  Perfect game for post-op recovery.
    #publicart, Yasumitsu Morito, Spirit, Riverside Park, New York City, #M2M #modelstomonuments
    Spirit by Yasumitsu Morito
  • Words with Friends.  WWF actually made me sleepy -- it was a like an intellectual sophorific on top of the chemical influence of the pain relievers.  Can't say that I had very high scoring words this past week.  
  • Netflix.  I have studiously avoided Netflix and now I am seriously hooked.  So far, I've watched 22 episodes of Once Upon a Time, five of  Breaking Bad, and one of Orange is the New Black.  The reason Once Upon a Time is so far ahead is because I am watching the other two with the B who isn't sitting around as much as I am.  
  • Shopped (Online).  The B's arrival necessitated the need for me to replenish my dishes (hey, it's been 13 years!) and so I finally pulled the trigger on buying four place settings of Fiesta ware -- in flamingo, lapis, peacock, and tangerine.  Some day in the far distant future, it will be considered vintage.  The piece de resistance of my shopping was buying the iPhone 5s online during a bout of insomnia.  The question there is which finger should I use for activation.  Gotta pay attention to what I do currently to get that one right.
  • Iced. Elevated. Re-Iced. Re-Elevated.  
  • Slept.  'nuf said?
There were a few other activities interspersed in between these.  Thanks to the B, I ate well including cannolis and pasta with bolognese sauce from little Italy.  I was able to catch up on WassDoc's blog.  He has been in quite writing frenzy as he tapers for Iron Man Lake Tahoe.  I'll be rooting for him tomorrow.  On Tuesday I washed my hair and on Thursday I attempted a shower (let's just say the bathroom got very wet during the latter).

Last Tuesday also brought a mental victory dance as the Department of Labor finally released a rule that ensures that home health aides have overtime and wage protection.  This workforce is some 2 million strong and expected to grow in the coming decades as the US population ages. They deserve the same protections that most of us enjoy.  I am hoping the next chapter will bring better benefits and wages as well as real career ladders for the direct care workforce.  They are our front line providers and we need these workers to prosper and flourish.

#publicart, Benos Iglesias Lopez, The Bathers, Riverside Park, New York City, #M2M #modelstomonuments
The Bathers by Benas Iglesias Lopez
A small confession, I also did about 10 hours of work over the course of this past week.  I mostly took care of those things that didn't require much deep thinking because I couldn't really muster much focus for anything deeper.  

Mostly, I rested and took care of my toe.  I have no proof (yet) that that resting was a good thing in terms of shortening length of recovery.  Based on my experience with past surgeries, I think it was.  I am starting to think about my next destination and looking forward to longer walks in the park and more adventurous forays into the wilderness on my next journey.   First, I am going to have to wiggle my toes a bit more.  I'll keep you posted on how that goes.

#publicart, Anne Stanner, Wave, Riverside Park, New York City, #M2M #modelstomonuments
Wave by Anne Stanner

About the Photos
The photos in this post are from a walk I took a few weeks ago in Riverside Park.  It's one of my favorite walks in New York City and I wrote about it last July in Along the Hudson.   I had been meaning to get over that way for the 2013 version of the Model to Monument Show (M2M) which is brought to us by the Art Students League of New York.  The sculptures were delightful but my favorite moments were spent catching photos of Max from CA posing with John N. Erianne's A Frolicking Stray.  Click here for a map of the sculptures.  This exhibition runs through 2014 and I'm looking forward to visiting it again on my re-engineered toe and hopefully when the park is bedecked with snow.

#publicart, John M. Erianne, A Frolicking Stray, Riverside Park, New York City, #M2M, #modelstomonuments
Max:  Ready for a Starring Role
#publicart, John M. Erianne, A Frolicking Stray, Riverside Park, New York City, #M2M, #modelstomonuments
No Longer Frolicking Alone

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