Archive for August, 2010

Deep Water Therapy & Back To Walking

Seeing my friends at the pool just made me want to get back in the waterPC140035 copy even more. When I told the pool supervisor I was going to have Charcot Foot surgery and wouldn’t be able to come to the pool, she said they had a lift that I could use that would put me in the water and take me out. She showed it to me. Apparently more pools have this available for handicaped patrons.

December finally rolled around, I was finally healed and was out of the casts and boot. I asked Dr. Roukis if I could go into the pool and take part in the water aerobics. His answer “No!” He explained he didn’t want me in a pool. He didn’t want me to do aerobics as he didn’t want my foot to touch the bottom of the pool. After I gathered my thoughts and rephrased my request to explain they had a lift I could use and I could work out in the deep water and not with the aerobics class. At the end PC140039 copyof the appointment Dr. Roukis, too, had reconsidered. He said, as long as my feet didn’t touch the bottom of the pool, that I didn’t climb in or out of the pool and did in fact use the lift, that I didn’t use the sauna, hot tub, or steam room and that I used the betadine soap when I showered, he would OK my use of the pool. I agreed.

Next day we went to the pool to make sure the lift was working. It wasn’t. Several days went by and it was finally ready. It seemed like such a long time. They didn’t have a family dressing room, but they allowed us to go into a small staff locker room to dress and undress as I was in the wheel chairand needed Maxs help.
The lift was a new experience. One of the lifeguards manipulated the lift and gently put me in the
PC140041 copywater. The water was wonderful. I talked with the supervisor and some of the lifeguards. They gave me some exercises to do. I sat on a noodle and bicycled around the pool for starters. I felt so free. I didn’t want to get out, but after 45 minutes I was tired, but felt great. The locker room was a real challenge and later the shower by myself. I really needed Max’ s help.

We emailed Dr. Roukis with pictures after the first session. He emailed back. “Great to see……..Keep up the good work.” It was wonderful to have a doctor who was so a part of the total picture.

PC140047 copyIf you need to do non weight bearing exercise, deep water exercise or water aerobics is wonderful. I am now allowed to begin water aerobics in the shallow pool to begin weight bearing exercise. This too is important to avoid or help with ostioprosis.

Though I was only walking a few steps with a walker, this gave me encouragement. I was able to have more movement. The movement and eventually walking was easier. I continued to follow doctors orders. I only walked very short distances and never let my foot hurt. I only gradually increased the distance for the next six months. During this time, I learned I would undergo surgery on my left foot for Charcot. This would be a very simple surgery compared to my first.

A Support Group. . . The Best Medicine

Untitled-1Cards, letters, flowers, gifts and phone calls, as well as, visits really made a difference in my recovery and improvement. This is really emotional for me as the out pouring of love, caring and help was overwhelming. It was always wonderful to see a friend appear at the studio where I was recuperating. Just having them come was enough, but they usually brought someone with them, or they brought food, flowers, cards and gifts.

I was usually in good spirits, just not able to move as my leg was elevated and iced for 20 minutes of each hour. I’ve never been great company for myself. I love to chat and everyone patiently listened to my story. I never ever wanted to be a person that talked about my ailments as I thought older people should have other things to talk about beside their health. I’ve kept that attitude, but only as part of the picture.

Because of our lawyer and the fact that we found very little information about Charcot Foot and knowing there were many that have this disease that aren’t diagnosed, there was a need to talk about it. I found my teaching skills were still needed and that there was a definite interest and need to inform. I ended up contacting our local newspaper to find someone in the medical section I could talk to concerning Charcot Foot. Instead the editor ask questions and decided to have a reporter come to my studio and do an article about me and the disease Charcot. This was really enlightening for me.

P9080002The phone was a life line as calls came in from every where and I was able to call out. We talked about everything. This really helped me keep positive and informed about the happenings in their lives. I didn’t think so much about my inability to walk and go back to the pool for water aerobics. This was a big part of my social world. This group really went above and beyond to help us. They loaned us the wheel chair (I used it nearly three years) and the potty chair another necessity.

Max even took me to the Pool just to say hello to everyone. That boosted my morale as we talked, laughed and teased. I really missed the water and was anxious to return.

Through all of this, the power of prayer was evident. My home church in aP3130005 very small rural town in Nebraska put us on their prayer list. Tears came to my eyes when I told about looking out of my hospital window early one morning. Pink clouds were surrounding Mt. Rainier and whispy pink clouds floated above. A good friend of ours in Texas told me her mother, 77, had prayed in the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow, Russia for my healing for hours. She sent me a sign of her prayers. It would be in “pink”. My support group will never know what a very truly important part they played in my healing and recovery. Definitely my best medicine!

THE BOOT: Closer to the light at the end of the tunnel

I had three fiber glass casts. The first one wasn’t too bad. I wore them about two to three weeks each before Dr. Roukis wanted to look at the foot. Even though the foot and leg was scrubbed and cleaned each time, the cast became more uncomfortable as time went on. The skin seemed to dry and became scaly. One time I told Dr. Roukis he could scrub the leg and foot even more because it felt great. He stated that if it felt good he’d have to charge more.

It was amazing to me how creative one can become, or how many contortions one can get in to trying to take care of an itch you can’t reach.

The second week of October, 2007, we had two appointments in one day. A dentist appointment in Seattle and one with Dr. Roukis at Madigan. The dental appointment revealed I had broken a tooth. It would have to be pulled and some creative work done to attach a false tooth to replace the pulled tooth. Anyway we needed to talk with Dr. R about this as it could affect his work. Then on to Madigan. Our timing was perfect, but it made for a very busy and tiring day.

I had a walking boot before this surgery. It was advised I use it when I Boot alsotraveled. Its purpose was, merely, to protect my Charcot Foot when I was in public. We had traveled to London and Paris. This worked well. However, when we traveled to Russia with People to People for an Educational Conference between the USA and Russia, wearing the boot was more difficult. There was so much walking involved. I ended up making choices as to when my regular shoes, or the boot would work best. You could probably say, I abused my feet some, but keeping my blood sugar as normal as possible kept things in check.

This time the boot was for standing only. No walking! I was also to keep it on all the time even when I slept. How would my surgeon know if I took it off? Simple. PA220023 copy He wrapped it with an elastic plastic tape used to keep bandages in place. When wandering around the hospital, or clinics his patients, at this stage, were easily identified. We often said to each other “I know who your doctor is? He doesn’t trust you either.” And we would laugh.

He had told me the foot would need three years to completely heal. That’s a long time, however, staying off of it would speed the healing. Everything had gone well so far. I wasn’t about to cause a problem for myself now.

I found the crutches difficult to use. I was afraid of falling. The walker was awkward so I stayed with the wheel chair.

As far as the tooth was concerned. I had to have antibiotics when the tooth was pulled so the infection, if any, would not spread to and affect my foot. That phase went well also.

Dr. Roukis taught me how my foot should fit and feel in the boot. ThisBoot made using the boot easier once I was allowed to take the boot off and on. This was nice considering I could wash my foot and leg. While in the cast the itching would occur and drive me nuts at times not being able to do anything. The boot seemed to be the signal that everything was moving forward and I would be able to walk in the near future.

Through all of this recovery stuff, I have to say if it weren’t for Max , our son, Justin and my friends, I might have lost my sense of humor and recovery not gone so well. This support group deserves a huge acknowledgment.

Protective Casting: New To Me

When I left the second surgery, I was in a splint cast. I had more discomfort with this surgery. I still didn’t take any perscribed pain medication. First Time UnwrappedI did take a couple of Tyenol over about four days. As time went on, I had a burning itch like feeling on the outside mid calf area. When Dr. Roukis P9100020removed the splint cast, he cleaned the areas. It felt so much better. I told him he could scrub it some more. He said, if it felt good he’d have to charge more.

He and Dr. Shade prepared my foot for recasting. They again use a splint cast. The plaster is about 6″ wide and 30 – 36″ long. My foot was placed in the middle like a stirrup. It is bent up along both sides of the leg and formed around the foot and leg over the dressing. They then wrapped it with non adhesive tape followed with the ace bandage. This is non weight bearing. P9200021

My toes and foot were bent up so the plaster will keep tension on the Achilles tendon. At first, when standing, I had a fluid/blood return to the foot that was really uncomfortable. That eased after about 2 weeks.

At the next appointment, staples and stitches were removed. When he pulled one of the staples. blood gushed out. He gave me a rubber glove, wadded up some gauze and had me put pressure on it while he finished his work. He checked the area. It was fine. They rewrapped my foot, but not in a splint cast. They sent me to have an x-ray then on to the casting room for a fiberglass cast.
PB210022
I had to have the x-ray first. It had to be done while I sat in the wheel chair. My husband came in with me and they let him watch the process and see the x-ray.

Once in casting, I was surprised to learn I had a choice of colors. I wanted? purple, but since it was such a popular color they were out. I wanted something bright and Heather suggested green. That worked. Their process was a bit different. They put my foot and leg in a sock, dipped the fiberglass strips in water, held the foot at the proper angle and wrapped the foot and leg. This set up very quickly.

At my next appointment. One of the medics cut the cast off. I was amazed. I kept the cast PA010036and plan to make something out it. Dr. Roukis removed more of the staples and stitches, cleaned the foot and leg and prepared it for casting again. This happened about every two weeks. I’m really glad as I don’t think I would have tolerated it much longer.

The next appointment I was to go into a boot, Dr. R had an emergency. I was sent back to casting. Heather asked why I seemed down. I told her I was supposed to get a boot. So she tried to get me to have a bright pink cast. I told her I was in a sad mood and thought it should PB080033be black. Reluctantly, she put me in a black cast. Afterwards, we talked. Suddenly she said, “Can I decorate it?” I said, “Why not?” She pulled out the bright pink fiberglass and cut it into a long strip, dipped it in water and wrapped my cast like a candy cane. I must admit, it brightened my day. At the pharmacy the little children were fascinated with it. I had a new conversation starter.