On the Road to Wellness

This past week, I took a big step on the road back to good health with a toe-straightening operation. Now that I’ve conquered the bone infection, it’s time to get my foot into a condition to resume wearing shoes without scraping and reinfecting my toe. In the ongoing saga of how-much-trouble-can-one-toe-cause, I am continuing along a trajectory toward wellness. And despite how un-Christmaslike southern hemisphere December weather feels to me, the season of gratitude is in full swing.

As I write this post, the temperature is in the 80s Fahrenheit, the sun is shining through the floor-to-ceiling bedroom windows that line the northwest wall, and our backyard is awash with roses – white, coral, and various hues of red and pink. My foot is thoroughly wrapped and I’ve passed through both the surgery and post-operative appointment with relative ease. I even worked two days last week because I felt pretty good, as long as I didn’t move around too much.

When I first woke up after the surgery, I was confused by how bright the lights were and how the configuration of the room had changed. Across the room was a wall clock. I realized at least 45 minutes had elapsed since I’d been wheeled down to the operating theatre, and that I must actually be in the recovery room. I dozed off and on, and slowly became aware of other patients to my right and left, and then my own wrapped-up foot sticking out of the blankets.

I tried to remember back to the moment that I had fallen asleep, but as the typical American “count backward from ten for me” hadn’t happened, the last thing I remembered was feeling light-headed as I gazed at a constellation of shapes on the ceiling. The anesthesiologist had said, “A little champagne,” as nurses bustled to and fro, and everything got fuzzy. Seemingly a second later, I awoke and it took a while in my befuddled mind to realize surgery wasn’t about to start, but had already happened.

I promise there are still five toes under there! And the scary skin color is only because of the iodine.

A toe might seem like a small thing, until you consider that because of this toe, I haven’t worn shoes in two years, I can’t take the immunosuppressant drugs that I need, and have had to endure almost six months of antibiotics to date, including 24/7 for six weeks through a chest catheter to halt a chronic bone infection that became acute. Even though right now it hurts, I can tell that this is almost over. And the orthopedic surgeon told me after I woke up that indeed, there had been no signs of recurrent infection.

Also this past week, I scheduled my back surgery for late January. I’d wanted it sooner, but it worked out this way, and it’s OK because 14 months after my initial injury, the fix is finally on the books. I’m grateful – that my toe was saved, that in 5 weeks or so my back will be fixed, that my husband and I are both working, that the weather is nice, that we finished setting up our house and planned our first weekend away for next month, and that this is a four-day holiday weekend (since the day after Christmas is Boxing Day).

I’m still in a period of recovering from ill health, but I’m starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. This season, even though far from home and many of my loved ones, I’m grateful for my husband, friends, and colleagues here who make it feel like Christmas in summer.

The below picture was from sunset on December 15 as seen from our master bedroom. I didn’t edit or filter it – it just really is that beautiful in our Canberra neighborhood! It’s a great place to recover from what ails you.

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Sarah W Gaer

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