Me and My Trimalleolar: The Screw, Some Scars, and a Busted Uvula

Last week Scott made a claim that I was unlucky.  Not just because of my breaking this ankle in three places, or because I got vertigo right about the time I was learning to walk and four weeks later it remains in my ear labyrinth, or even because my chair fell through a gopher hole.  Nope, it was because of that darn flesh eating bacteria on my uvula.

Let me backtrack here for a second…

It’s been about a month since I last checked in.  This is clearly a sign that busyness has begun to creep back into my life.  I’m undecided about whether or not that is a good thing.   Since my last post, I gained a few degrees of dorsiflexion bringing me to 10 degrees past neutral.  This would’ve been very good news at the time, but I was certain it was the result of my breaking the syndemososis screw (on or about October 1) when Starsky (crutch #1) got caught on my stairs and I fell forward landing heavily on my foot with a loud crack.  I was certain loud crack = broken screw. This made the experience of my encounter with a gopher on October 9 easier to digest.  I figure, my screw is broken anyway, so what the hay.  Bring it on gopher.

And a Gopher Knocked me off my Chair

My book launch on October 9 at Natural Bridges was a loads of fun.  I was able to stand in front of the audience and even move around (a bit).  I felt almost like my old self!  Granted, I was in my signature hiking boots and crutches within arm’s reach, yet that mattered not. My Mom, visiting from PA, hung out with me and my hubby all day.  She’s my biggest marketer and a good pusher.  I was sitting at my Well Earth Well Me! table minding my own business and enjoying the sun, the sunny people, and the Monarchs.  I knew Natural Bridges had an infestation of gophers, because there are clumps of dirt and gopher holes throughout the property.  What I did not know is that one of those busy beavers, uh gophers, was working just beneath my chair.  I leaned forward to get a book off the table, and the left, front leg of my chair fell into the hole knocking me forward onto my left ankle.  My Mom, grabbed me, and I grabbed the table.   Turns out even sitting is not a safe act for me.  My PT told me, “Since you’re not safe sitting, standing, or walking, you might as well ignore all thoughts of worry and do whatever.”

A No-Gimp Kind of Gal

I was burned out on fretting about that darn syndesmosis screw and whether or not it was broken.  I was so tired of the whole worrying about my screw thing that I resigned myself to living with the broken screw in my ankle for the rest of my life.  It was what it was.  I could handle a life with a broken screw in my ankle.   Done.

It was just about that time when my ‘f-it’ mentality propelled me into walking regularly around my house without any crutches.  By October 11, one day before my second surgery, I could walk without a limp.  And how great that felt!  I was even able to ignore the very tight, cement-like sensation that wrapped around my ankle.  I was walking without a limp for goodness sakes!

Flesh-eating Bacteria and Other Uvular Issues

On October 12 at 9:45’ish I had my second surgery.  Needless to say, I was totally freaked out because the surgeon insisted that I go back under general anesthesia, and that (the Versed and his being left unattended in San Francisco) is what killed Michael on July 29.  Dr. Z, the anesthesiologist, called me the night before to prep me and answer questions.   Why is it that anesthesiologists seem so nice? Is that a pre-req for the work?

I had my last sip of water at 3:30 am.  I arrived at the hospital hungry and anxious to get through the day and was then admitted by a light-hearted guy named Larry.  We bantered for a few minutes and he sent me to a room to change.  I had my very own hospital room.  Mom and Scott hung out with me until they wheeled me away.  It’s almost surreal, this experience.  They wheeled me to a hallway near the OR.  I lay there freezing beneath a hospital blanket that was about as thick as Osama bin Laden’s Guidebook to Kind Deeds.  I lay there trying to watch the whirling activity around me. Several doctors came up to me to look at my name label which was stuck on the chrome arm of my bed.  Nope. Wrong patient.  Eventually my surgeon came to write her initials on my left leg.  That reminded me of the time when my Dad was going into surgery and the Dr. began writing on his chest.  He asked the Dr., “What are you writing there anyway?”  His doc replied, “This Side Up.”  It must add comfort to have a doctor who has appropriate wit.

Dr. Z, my anesthesiologist came by to talk with me.  He assured me that I will not be left unattended after I get the Versed or any time.  I made him tell me twice.  And out went the lights.  I awoke again, jabbering away to the OR Recovery nurse, Rich.  Scott again magically appeared, and I was so happy to see him and to learn that yes! my screw remained in one piece.  Hooray!  And the surgeon saved it for me.  I plan to turn it into some art.  I laughed with Rich and Scott.  At the time (in my confused, drugged-up mind), I was very clever and witty.  In reality, I was slurring my words and no one could understand me.  I’m certain I heard Rich tell Scott that I was adorable or maybe it was deplorable.  They got me dressed, and Rich insisted on wheeling me out to the car and gave me the most amazing post-surgery hug.  I felt enveloped by his warmth or maybe it was the warmth of the post-op meds.  In either case, I felt warm.  The OS spoke with Scott after the surgery and told him, “I am very pleased with how well she has healed.”  Mom and Scott got me home and set-up on the couch, gave me a blueberry-Vega smoothie and then Scott departed for Southern CA to visit his Mom who is having some health challenges.  We planned it that way knowing my Mom would be around to care for me.

All day my throat was very sore despite the pain meds.  Thursday morning (next day) I awoke with a sore throat like no other I had ever experienced.  It hurt to drink warm water.  It hurt to breathe. It was a very sharp pain. It felt like a spiked golfball was stuck in there.  I made the massive mistake of looking at it.  I say, ‘mistake’, because I am still unable to remove the image from my mind.  My throat was clearly in distress, but the thing that freaked me out was my uvula (that hangy thing at the back of one’s throat).  It was grayish-white and oozing with pus. Clearly, one’s uvula is not supposed to be this color or that gross.  I was certain that I had gotten the flesh-eating bacteria at the hospital.  I called the anesthesiologist because I figure this was his department since he’s the one that put the intubation tube down my throat less than 24 hours earlier.  He was off work yet willing to see me back at the hospital. Only, I had no car.  Scott took our car on his trip, and I felt no need to rent one since I was unable to drive and my Mom wasn’t interested in driving in unfamiliar territory.

Now what?  I called our wonderful neighbors Lisa and Buck.  They responded in less than 10 minutes and carted me over to the hospital.  I was taken back to the recovery room, vitals checked, flashlight found, and throat inspected.  I was relieved to learn that no, I did not have the flesh-eating bacteria, but yes, my throat got badly injured with the intubation mask.  Dr. Z apologized profusely and never really explained how it happened.  Was the tube put down there incorrectly?  Too quickly?  Removed incorrectly?  What?  He did say that my uvula hangs rather low.  I was told there is nothing they could do unless my situation worsened and was then sent home with instructions to eat ice chips and soft foods non-spicy.  The bitter irony is that my foot did not hurt one iota!  Sure, I had some discomfort but no pain.  Whereas my throat…OY.  I took pain meds for three days so that I could eat and then waited out the remaining three days of pain until it was bearable enough to eat spicy food.  That was my marker of healing. I had spicy foods last night.  I am now healed.

So, no, I don’t agree that I’m unlucky.  I don’t think luck has anything to do with it, and I fear the notion of relying on luck or the lack of luck, because I then have no power over the outcome of my situation.  I am healing very well and will be walking with a skip in my step come Thanksgiving and dancing by Christmas.  Okay, maybe just dancing from the hips up, but dancing vertically not in my chair like people in old folks homes!

I just cannot wait to take this foot out for a real test drive! But for now, Starsky and Crutch help me through my days.  Admittedly, I’m SO TIRED of crutches and trying to tote things around, and now I’m back to two chairs and a plastic bag in the shower.  But thank goodness for crutches otherwise I would be stuck in a wheelchair.  Congrats to Mary Conrey on winning the Name My Crutches contest and thanks to everyone who submitted ideas – they were brilliant!

Wanna See some Scars? 

In the order of pretty darn good to not-so-great.  They are much more interesting in person…


9 week scar check Tibia

9 week scar check Tibia

8 week scar check Tibia

8 week scar check Tibia

Scar-pe Diem au hair

7 week scar check – Tibia (ignore the hairy legs – I am unwilling to put a razor close to that scar!)

5 weeks post-op

5 weeks post-op Tibia

Left side_3 weeks

3 weeks post-op Tibia


9 week scar check - Fibula

9 week scar check – Fibula

8 week scar check - Fibula

8 week scar check – Fibula

7 week scar check - Fibula

7 week scar check – Fibula

6 week scar check Fibula

6 week scar check – Fibula

5 week scar check - fibula Trimalleolar fracture

5 weeks Fibula

5 week scar check trimalleolar fracture

5 week scar check: Fibula close-up and personal

5 weeks post-op Trimalleolar fracture

5 weeks post-op – Fibula

3 week post-op Trimalleolar fracture

3 week post-op

Right side one week post-op

1 week post-op Fibula

1 week post-ORIF Trimalleolar fracture

1 week post-op

To see all the  posts in the trimalleolar series, click away!  Things DO get better!

Post #1 Me and My Trimalleolar:  A Life-Changing Tripulation
Post #2 Me and My Trimalleolar:  Transcending the Funk
Post #3 Me and My Trimalleolar:  Tiny Bubbles of Progress
Post #4 Me and My Trimalleolar:  A Healing Ankle
Post #5 Me and My Trimalleolar:  Talus All About It
Post #6 Me and My Trimalleolar:  A Week of Firsts
Post #7 Me and My Trimalleolar:  Cast of Characters
Post #8 Me and My Trimalleolar:  9 1/2 weeks…
This is Post #9 Me and My Trimalleolar:  The Screw, Some Scars, and a Busted Uvula
Post #10  Me and M Trimalleolar:  Walk a Mile in My Screws
Post #11 Me and My Trimalleolar:  11 Months and Moving Right Along
Post #12:  Me and My Trimalleolar Go to Mexico…with my husband and our pooch