Yohan’s Surgery #14: Caution: Foot Surgery Can Cause Insanity
I just took the sanity test on the internet and despite what you might think, I am NOT crazy. According to the quiz, I am sane, which is a huge relief because now I don’t have to take bust and waist measurements for my custom-made strait jacket.
Doubts about my sanity came to a head when the 90 degree angle became such an important part of Yohan’s healing process. Over the next 2 months, if the foot drops past 90 degrees, the fragile tendons will tear, and Yohan would be back under the knife quicker than you can say “right angle.” I never knew that Geometry would play such a significant role in my future! Kids – if you don’t take Geometry seriously, you might end up with a CRAZY diagnosis.
If you remember correctly, the cast lady at the orthopedic office almost ruined Yohan’s surgery by cutting off his fiberglass boot with no regard to Yohan’s foot positioning. I am still traumatized by that one office visit. The other internet test I took alluded to the fact that this one event may have caused me some PTSD. Well, that whole scenario was a cakewalk compared to the following adventure.
The new walking boot he received on that fateful day allowed him to ambulate, using both feet. He still used the crutches, but he was walking!
Five days later, we flew to Vermont for the 3rd Annual Cycle 4 CMT event. During the flight, he mentioned that his foot hurt, but I chalked that up to cabin pressure, fatigue, hunger, anxiety, bad airline food, etc. When I had a chance to actually look at his foot the next day, I saw the source of discomfort: a large, open and oozing pressure sore on the ball of his foot. You have got to be kidding!
The answer to an email with a picture attachment of the wound to Dr. Pfeffer brought bad news, “Oh my. Not good. Keep it clean. Gentle soap and water. Dry out. Bandaid. NO MORE WALKING. Crutches, etc. Don’t over tighten brace. He has poor feeling in his foot and is placing too much pressure on the skin.”
Yohan was discouraged. The mood was glum. And, his foot smelled bad. I mean like rotting flesh bad (TMI? But, I don’t want you to miss any of the juicy details.) Thankfully, one of the people at the Vermont Cycle 4 CMT event, Karla, is a wound care specialist. She thoughtfully came by one morning to take a look and to give us advice. I wanted to make sure that gangrene had not and would not set in (true to form, always thinking of worst case scenario).
Before I continue on, let me explain that each and every time we remove the boot, we’ve been adhering to an elaborate communication system to make sure the foot does not drop. “You ready Yo?” I ask. He nods. Explaining every maneuver, “ I’ve got the foot. You remove the boot.” “You have my foot, right?” Yohan reaffirms, making doubly sure we are on the same wave length. I respond in the affirmative, “Let’s do this thing.” On and on, working together, we get the job done, reducing the margin of foot drop error to zero.
Yohan’s brain was jet lagged and still in a dream state when Karla stopped in the morning after the event. So when she asked Yohan to remove the walking boot and he nonchalantly lifted his leg out of the boot (his version is that the boot just accidentally fell off) without due warning. I freaked out and shrieked, “What are you doing? Why didn’t you tell me to hold your foot? Oh my God-what were you thinking? Did the foot drop? Do you have pain? Should I call an ambulance?”
Thankfully, he was able to keep his foot upright himself, but that was news to both of us, I think.
Suddenly, a veil of of peace and tranquility fell over Yohan’s entire being. Did he swallow a valium when I was not looking? “What?” he asked softly, seemingly perplexed at my reaction. In a measured, relaxed tone, he assured me that there was no need to get excited, “Elizabeth, I am fine. Don’t worry. See. I can keep my foot up by myself. There is no problem here.It’s going to be all right.” In Karla’s eyes, I must have looked like an overly-protective mom who had long ago lost her marbles. The more animated I became, the calmer he acted. Who was this man on my couch?
After looking at his sore, Karla assured us that it would heal and gave us advice on how to manage it until we flew back to California. I gave him the eye and glared at Yohan during the entire examination. Before she left, I thanked her profusely for her time and kindness. As soon as the door shut behind her, I whirled around to confront Yohan on the cool, calm, and collected demeanor he wore so convincingly. He was SO busted!
Can you imagine what it would be like to be committed to an insane asylum, when, in fact, you are more or less sane?
Recently, I watched a TV series featuring James Franco, 11/22/63. James’ character, Jake, travels back in time to attempt to stop the Kennedy assassination. Along the way, he meets up with Bill Turcotte, who initially becomes his accomplice to stop Oswald. Bill buys into Jake’s time travel story and become “brothers” to fool the world of the past. .
That’s all well and good until Bill falls in love with Oswald’s Russian wife, Marguerite. Bill is not following the program and threatens to reveal Jake’s master plan. So, the only way Jake comes up with to put him away for a couple of weeks is to bring him to a psychiatric unit where he easily convinces the psychiatrist of his psychotic break.
Bill really does sound as if he has lost his grip on reality, screaming “Where are you bringing me? What’s going on? They are following us. He’s lying! He’s from the future! He’s not my brother! He’s going to kill a man-I have proof.” Everyone witnessing the scene just shook their heads with pity, acknowledging the toll mental illness takes on the patient and their families. Bill ended up with several sessions of electroshock therapy. He was much calmer after that. Shocker, right?
In that moment, and in quite a few instances since then, I have felt like Bill before electroshock therapy. Geometry sucks. So the next time we meet, remember that I may look, sound and act crazy, but I am not. I too have proof. I took an internet quiz assuring me of my sanity. Even though I may have omitted a tiny detail about the results which mentioned something about manic tendencies and how much I would benefit from intense therapy, I know for a fact I am not nuts….yet.
If you want to find out if you are insane, please visit: www.sanityscore.com. Let me know what you find out!
Thanks for your story about yohan
and the boot. Most people never imagine what comes along for patients and parents of those with disabilities I remember how I felt when Hunter was diagnosed at 3. The struggles and treatment from other kids were my biggest fear. I know at times in his life he may struggle with issues like Yohan and the surgeries but at least for right now he knows he’s just a “normal” 9 year old with a group
I would also like to thank you for taking the time to listen and share your struggles
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