The countdown is on

In three weeks today, I will be able to take my first steps without crutches!

So the countdown in on.

For me, it’s the countdown until I’ll be able to look after Alannah by myself.  At least for a few hours at a time.  I’m not sure how long it will be until I can carry her up and down the two flights of stairs to our apartment.  I didn’t think to ask when I can drive again.

For Darren, it’s the countdown until he can get back on the bike.  He has not headed out for an early morning cycle since I went into hospital.  Even before that, between my medical appointments and getting Alannah up and fed each morning, he had little time for cycling.

And then there’s sharing night and morning responsibilities for Alannah.  He can’t even allow himself to dream about that yet, Darren said, because it will just do his head in.  Five hours sleeping in her armchair last night didn’t do wonders for his back, I gather.  Crazy as it sounds, I can’t wait to put my foot down (ha) on her current penchant for wailing in the early hours.  Not on my watch, my darling.  (Just wait for that confidence to bite me in the backside!)

The countdown is, of course, the upshot of seeing my plastic and reconstructive surgeon Dr A today.

To start with, Nurse D gave me a look over and Dr W also popped in.

I explained about last week’s sudden increase in swelling.  Dr W felt around my jaw and the neck dissection scar.  There is still swelling, he said, but I need to get on to massaging it.

When scar tissue forms, he went on to explain, it is quite solid and the collagen grows chaotically.  What the massaging does is loosen it up and encourage it to form into long strands.  I don’t need to use bio-oil.  Any cream or oil that allows my fingers to glide over the scar will do: sorbolene, olive oil, whatever strikes my fancy.  Ten minutes twice a day is just what they recommend as the minimum.

Nurse D pulled the steri-strips off my fibulectomy scar.  There is a little redness, but nothing to be too worried about.  They used a lot of sutures inside to close up the wound and it was pretty tight because they didn’t take the skin graft from my backside.  I should worry when there is pus oozing and redness spreading, Dr W advised.  Oh I’ll be waving red flags well before that, I assured him.

Now, however, he wants me to use Chloromycetin on the red sections of the leg wound instead of Betadine.  We’ll be able to open a mini pharmacy from our apartment after all this.  The pain medications on the kitchen counter are like creeping ivy.  That’s aside from the box of tracheostomy dressings on the dining table, scar care bits and bobs on the desk, and special mouth wash in the bathroom.

The tracheostomy wound is almost closed up.  Nurse D gave it another go with silver nitrate and handed Darren another two sticks of it to torture me this week.  We can stop dressing the wound once it has closed, possibly as soon as later this week.  My sensitive skin is still irritated from the dressing and this will be a great relief.

Dr A wandered in at this point.  We were there to see him after soon, so he must have come looking for us when we weren’t in the waiting room.

Dr A was happy with everything and keen for me to massage away.  I do have some more movement in the left of my lower lip, he noted, though yes still quite uneven.  He can give me botox on the lower right to even it up down the track.  Dr W had already said they can fix my tracheostomy scar with a bit of surgery if it doesn’t heal nicely.

They are lovely and they make me laugh.  But we’re happy to see how we go for now.  I am no rush for anyone to slice and dice me again, no rush at all.

The good news, as I said at the start, is that I should be off the crutches in three weeks.  I can now put light pressure on my left leg.  In two weeks, I can start to walk on my left leg and use one crutch to support me.  In three weeks from today, I will be off the crutches altogether.

Today marks four weeks since my surgery.  They are still very impressed with my recovery.  There’s still a way to go, especially with controlling my lower lip to eat and speak, but I’m pretty happy to have come this far this soon.

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Comments

  1. Sounds like things continue to move forward. Happy for you!

  2. You’re amazing, Kirsten – you’ve come SO far in just a few short weeks since your surgery – continue to rewrite the recovery “norm”, my friend – you are an inspiration to everyone! Luv moi xxox

  3. Well done. You’re moving ahead steadily and much faster, I think, than anyone expected (except perhaps you).

  4. We all take our mobility and independance for granted, good to see you don’t have long till the crutches go.
    I have had various bits cut out from sun damage and use a cream from the health food shop called “scarless Healer” it works very well, worth a try on your skin.

  5. Brian McCormack says:

    Hi K, I caught up with your dad last night and was horrified to hear of the ordeal you’ve been through. I’m delighted you’ve emerged victorious though, and will keep following this blog, which I have to say, is a wonderfully articulate and positive message of inspiration to anyone who might be faced with similar challenge. I’m so glad that you’re now clearly on the path to recovery.
    Brian McC

  6. Matthew Kendall says:

    Kirsten,

    Sounds like you are healing well, some things ahead of my timeline too (bar the walking). I wasn’t a fan of the silver nitrate either, trachie (surface) has pretty much closed completely for me – but still the external appearance is something I have to grow more comfortable with.

    Drinking (beer from a bottle) is fun – tilt it back and I’m sure to spill a few drops (cause of how the lips do or don’t move to create a total seal). I am sure your leg is going to look amazingly better than mine! Mine reminds me of the movie Jaws…

    Walking is a bit easier now – still a bit sore some days – but sport wise – I am finding backwards breakfalls fine (though my neck needs to gain flexibility) and forward rolls are probably only a few weeks away.

    I am continuely impressed by how much information you elicit from your surgeons – mine haven’t said massage the swelling on the jaw – I get so much information from your research!

    Can’t wait until you are back into mobile mum stage – it will happen soon enough!

    Best wishes,

    Matt

  7. Sandra Dunn says:

    Good girl Kerstyn Sandra & i often think of you all & our love & best wishes are always with the family. We do enjoy reading you news & enjoy every little step of -progress you make. Best to your great hubby he is so good.Tony

  8. Thanks for the tip Margaret. I’ll have a look in the health shop next time I’m down there.

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