Having some frequent flyer miles racked up in operating rooms over the last twelve years, I was crossing my fingers, legs, and eyes in hopes of turning 40 before I hit surgery number 10. It seems like being in my thirties and never having enough spaces for my surgeries on doctor’s office forms should be insulting enough.
As usual, whenever I make a declaration about how my life is going to go, I tend to hear some cosmic snickering.
Over the last few years, I have noticed a bump on the outside of my right foot. Since it didn’t hurt and nothing appeared to be broken (my usual criteria for going to the doctor), I chalked it up to yet another way my body decided to be strange.
See? It’s not so bad.
A lot of things conspired to make this little bump go from not hurting at all, to hurting quite a bit.
I finally went to the doctor and was told I had a ganglion cyst, which is a pocket of fluid that is growing into a tendon or joint. Sounds fun, huh? The doctor offered to drain it and a few days later, I went back to “get lots of pokes” as my five year old son calls it and a whole bunch of junk came out of my foot. The doctor asked if I wanted to see it (why do they always want you to look at it?) and I said, “Sure, but pass me the trash can in case I need to throw up a little bit.”
I went home to rest my foot while taking care of a house, a five year old and two large dogs and within a few hours, I could tell the procedure didn’t work. I still wasn’t in a terrible amount of pain, but it was starting to hurt to do such wild and crazy things as wear shoes or walk around.
Pretty soon, all of this area was starting to hurt and feel alarmingly tingly.
I still was being stubborn about going to see a specialist because I was pretty sure that the S-word (surgery) was going to enter the conversation.
However, the pain soon started to spread up my leg and feel a little something like this:
Since I have chronic pain in my legs, having more different kinds of pain added in is not my idea of a good time.
The thing that finally did me in was that every time I went running or biking or walked for more than ten minutes, I would be in so much pain that I would then be off my feet almost entirely for the rest of the day.
Not being able to go running or biking makes me generally feel like this:
I finally gave in and took that lovely face to see a podiatric surgeon. I spent several minutes in the waiting room giggling over the word “podiatric” while I added in all the blanks for surgery numbers five through nine and then I got to see my new doctor.
I find it’s best to have very low expectations of a new medical professional because the worst thing that could happen is that I would be wrong and he or she could be fantastic. I was really, really wrong about this one!
She was personable and kind and funny and sweet and she actually listened to me. We talked about my stupid little cyst as well as my chronic pain. I have been to see a bazillion specialists, all of whom have denied the correlation between chemotherapy and chronic pain and told me that there was nothing wrong with all my little nerve endings. I told her about my journey and what the other doctors said and her exact words were, “Well, they were all wrong.”
I pinched myself to be sure I hadn’t fallen into some lovely dreamland and sure enough, I was in the correct reality. She sees a ton of patients who are experiencing neuropathy, which is a disease of the nervous system and can cause a lot of pain especially in those who live with diabetes. So, the lady has done her homework on the nervous system. She told me that she has read multiple studies that prove the link between chemotherapy and neuropathy and told me that I was only not crazy, but that I was 100% right about my chronic pain. She explained that the MRI I had on my back only showed a very tiny portion of the nerves and it is very possible that the portion they can’t see is where the damage lies.
I learned a long time ago that tears make doctors uncomfortable and have willed my tear ducts shut on many occasions, only giving them permission to unclamp themselves upon exiting their office. I had zero of that control in that moment and the emotional weight of years of knowing I was not crazy, not an attention whore, not making this crap up, and very much right about my body, came flooding out. In another lovely moment, she made this “oh!” sound when I started crying and since she was looking at my feet, just held on to my ankle until I got myself under control. Not only was she not uncomfortable, she told me that I had every right to cry.
Quick! Somebody give this woman a Nobel Prize for Not Being a Jerk of a Doctor. That’s a category for the Nobel Prize, right?
I liked her slightly less when she told me that I was going to need surgery to take my cyst out. Especially when she told me that I will spend one week entirely in bed (whimper) and then another week all booted and crutched up and trying very hard to not touch my foot to the floor. The surgery itself will be over quickly and be scheduled very early in the morning so I can get food and, most importantly, coffee into my system. I will have to have IV sedation and “twilight sleep”, which even though I get to breathe all on my own and no uncomfortable tubes will be put in unmentionable places, still knocks for me a loop.
This is how I feel about that:
As I’m a fan of using my feet and legs, surgery number ten is scheduled for September 15th, which is (more cosmic giggling) the day after my birthday! YAAAAaaaaay… I resisted the urge to link my Amazon wish list here so that I would get lots of presents and be able to recuperate in style. 🙂
I am tempted to open a Twitter account just so I can live tweet the whole thing. People have told me that my conversations are really funny while coming out from sedation
My mom is coming to stay with us for the first week of my recovery, which is the best thing ever. I am going to do the best I can to rest, watch a million episodes of Doctor Who in a row, read books until my eyeballs fall out, and try not to get too restless, i.e. crabby.
Hopefully without any more drama, in another two months, I will be able to wear shoes, make dinner, and even go for a run without feeling like fire ants are crawling up my legs.
That would be fantastic.
Since I usually don’t get what I’m hoping for, I really, really, really hope I don’t get a pony for my birthday.