I woke up to complete darkness outside (although I would have preferred The Darkness on the radio waking me up) at 4:15AM, Wednesday morning. I crutched out of bed, showered and ate a big breakfast in anticipation of a long day ahead of me. I was flying over to Honolulu for my one month post surgery follow-up appointment with Dr. Harpstrite to find out what he thought of his handiwork.
My health insurance (HMSA) covers the flight over to O’ahu and for this flight (not the previous other six) they finally realized they could request the bulkhead row in order for my leg to fit comfortably on a plane. Since I had a seat already assigned I did not need to speak to a ticket agent and I was able to check myself in via the self-service kiosk. I made it through security without too much of a hassle and was ready and waiting at the gate with plenty of time to spare. The flight was quick and uneventful, no talkers or people hacking up a lung nearby.
Traveling along the H1 freeway in Honolulu, on the way towards my physician’s office, I was struck by a smell that brought fond memories rushing into my mind. While sitting in traffic we slowly passed Love’s bakery (a Hawaii staple for over 160 years) and the smell of baking bread reminded me of driving on Interstate 17 through Phoenix, Arizona and passing by the Holsum bakery (an Arizona staple for over 130 years). Having driven that particular stretch of I-17 hundreds of times in my 10 years in the Phoenix area, it is a smell I enjoy and cherish fondly. I used to roll down my windows when I knew I was getting close to the stretch of freeway that smelt so good. Finding that smell on my way to the doctor’s office helped put my mind in another place at another time for a few moments and helped set me at ease.
First order of business when I arrived at Dr. Harpstrite’s office was to have current x-rays taken. The best part of having x-rays of your leg taken is this lead loincloth they hand you to cover your crotch with. I like the way these technicians think. Let’s forget the fact that my left leg glows in the dark from all the film taken of it this past year and let’s focus on protecting my nether region. I agree wholeheartedly.
These were the first x-rays that showed my new hardware, so I was curious to see what they looked like. The titanium rod looked thicker than I had imagined it in my mind and the screws seemed a bit oversized as well. Oh well, my leg feels so much better that looking at the x-rays only made me feel better about what the Doc would say.
Dr. Harpstrite came in the room, examined the x-rays and together we had a frank discussion regarding my past, present and future condition. According to him the rod and screws looked great. The incisions from the most resent surgery have healed nicely and he was slightly concerned about the discoloration of my skin at the impact site (where the bumper found my leg). Looking at the x-rays he reiterated how the bone graft would take another month or so before it could be considered a success.
I explained to him how much better my left leg felt overall, how confident I felt when I moved it, when I exercised my leg and when I put weight on it. I asked if I could resume physical therapy and if I could start swimming (with actual kicking rather than using the buoy between my legs). He gave me permission to begin both immediately.
This was a big deal for me. I can begin to see the finish line now. All these months of uncertainty, of setbacks of frustration were all washed away with this new information. As long as I can tolerate any discomfort or pain I can begin to move forward with learning to walk again.
I have another appointment with Dr. Harpstrite in mid-July. At that point he may be able to determine if the bone graft has worked. I’m feeling too positive to even consider any other alternative. My current goals, set forth by Dr. Harpstrite, for the next two months are as follows:
- Continue to put weight on my left leg.
- Using my big black traveling boot, continue to “walk” by using crutches and putting weight on the leg.
- Have physical therapy focus on loosening my left ankle to the point where I have a return of my range of motion.
- Eventually ween myself off of the left crutch and try walking using one crutch. If successful move onto using a cane for support, if needed.
With these goals in mind and two full months to get there safely, I began my road to recovery today by participating in my first physical therapy session since before the surgery, followed by exercising in the Kihei pool.