“Whatever you decide, do not consider the option of foot surgery!” This was the cautioning advice I most often received when the possibility of drastic corrective measures would arise. Reasons were mostly supplied; however I gradually came to realize that my right foot was in deep trouble that was not going to go away without radical intervention.
I have meanwhile crossed that bridge and am for now left with a heavily bandaged and partially braced foot and lower leg that according to reputable reports and a gruesome visual bear several sewn-up wounds and incisions – besides some precariously delicate internal structural adjustments! All for a good cause… to hopefully walk normally again! To simply go for a walk again. And ultimately – to join my daughter for a second Camino experience. Would setting this goal not play a role in promoting and encouraging a maximally successful healing process, she wondered? I think it will.
We have our sights tentatively set on October 2019 – that’s next year! Well, let’s say – as my mamma always did when she deemed it safer not to commit – “we’ll see!”
Back to the rather more static and definitely somewhat sobering present. Only a single week has passed since the kind and seemingly empathic porter called André at the Vergelegen Mediclinic wheeled me all the way to theatre to be the first on that morning’s surgery list. While I was rolling along the clinical passages, every now and then passing a group of staff members going off duty, I tried my luck with Andre, based on a tip from special friend Sophie: “could I please ask to be covered with an extra bunny blanket after the procedure? Apparently you normally get only one…?” “No problem!” he replied. “And besides, it’ll come straight from the oven.” Yea right. But sure as nuts: no sooner had he parked me in the middle of a rather dauntingly vacant space, than he whisked two thick, white cotton blankets out of an oven of sorts and cheerfully slapped them down on my belly. They were warm… so comfortingly warm.
Of course I had until then felt like the proverbial lamb being led to the slaughterhouse. Firstly, the thought of sinking away into a dark hole of total oblivion called anaesthetic just scares me. And of course the very thought of emerging from theatre all groggy, cut and sewn up, sort of at the mercy of appropriately clad (and hopefully qualified) individuals in the medical profession, is per se an uncomfortable one. You’re definitely just not exactly in the same state and condition as before you went in: things have been moved and disturbed, affecting blood pressure, heart rate, mobility levels, who knows what all!
Fortunately the anaesthetist (who had by then taken note of my reservations regarding his field of expertise) instilled some form of trust and resignation and, besides, I knew all too well that I was with my back against the wall. Considering the scenario and my options, the experienced surgeon was offering me a straw of hope. It impressed and reassured me that he had been an accomplished sportsman himself and in addition had to his credit many years of experience with a scalpel. He definitely understood the indispensability of a limb that worked as it should; and he would certainly fully comprehend the frustration, the alarm, the despair that was caused by one that had got messed up.
Mine was. Messed up. He admitted that himself when he visited me in the ward later that day. He had not seen something quite so… messy, in about ten years. Oh dear.
Well, that just made me all the more determined to bear with the ominous verdict of allowing at least a year for full recovery, come hell or high water!
So there I was – and here I am: with a heavily bandaged, partially braced foot and lower leg, the essential extreme limb having been palpably engineered, readjusted and manoeuvred to hopefully pave the way for a better outcome. A great deal of the onus naturally rests on my shoulders now. The ball is in my court and the bills are rolling in! Patience, perseverance, determination, insight, obedience, optimism, positive thinking, endurance, ingenuity, HOPE and FAITH – preferably larger than a mustard seed – must now be the order of the day.
Well, spring is in the air, albeit not in my step; I have a pair of crutches to get by on, friends and family are encouraging and supportive and I have a deep sense of relief that the dreaded ordeal is over.
May I be fit and ready to lace up my hiking boots for the next pilgrimage that beckons…