"Regrettably, the only course of action, due to the advanced stage and and level of progression of infection, is going to require amputation of great toe," he stated, almost apologetically.
Sitting alone in the Emergency Room, as the Covid-19 visitor restrictions strictly enforced, I immediately burst into tears. I attempted to calm myself, before picking up my phone and texting my husband and mother. Both responded with immediate concern and sympathy. My husband was focused more on my emotional state of mind, knowing this had possibility of becoming the straw that would crush the camel's back.
This was exactly what I had feared since the
wound had mysteriously appeared on the underside my big toe in July. The infection had progressed rapidly, now in the beginning of September, and requiring immediate amputation to save the rest my foot. Type 1 diabetic for 34 years, this was one of the consequences I had always been warned about.
The hospital admitting process went fast and they moved me quickly to my room. Having extremely small, difficult to find veins, they brought the procedural nursing team to establish a steadier, longer lasting midline IV. This would be used to administer strong antibiotic medicines to my weakened body. These continued for 7 relatively uneventful days while they tried to prepare me for the surgical removal of my toe.
The surgery had been scheduled for September 14 at 6pm. My coping method was humor or at least attempted humor. I made bad jokes to hide the incomprehensible fear that I was made to face alone.
"You think I'll get a discount on pedicures after the surgery?" Silly quips that made me giggle and squelched the fear building unbounded as the days passed. They say time flies when you're having fun, it would seem it flies, just as quickly or more so even, when you're terrified.
Eventually, the feared appointment time arrived. They took me, by hospital gurney, to the operating room at 4:45pm on Tuesday September 14. We were early...
This journey was when the true immensity of the situation struck me and the intense fear strangled me, momentarily. I began hyperventilating and sobbing while they rolled me through the hospital hallways. The nurse at the head of the gurney tried to calm and reassure me, as best she could, but my panic, at this point, was a force to be reckoned with. We arrived to the operating room, where the anesthesiologist administered medication to calm my panic. "Happy juice" he called it. I watched my podiatrist approach, as the anesthesiologist administered the fentanyl into my IV. My consciousness faded abruptly to darkness and that is the last memory I have of being a whole, intact, unaltered human.
The recovery has not been difficult, thankfully. Currently, I am home and the stitches will be removed on October 7. I will then be able to begin learning to walk again. I'm not supposed to put any weight on my left foot, presently, so I've been wheeling myself around my apartment in the wheelchair purchased by my mom. I have to brag that I've become quite skilled at doing donuts in the tight alcoves of my apartment. I haven't gotten the nerve to look at the wound in detail, except for a couple pictures. I've learned that "phantom pain" is a real thing, and randomly occurs, making me stop to remember that the toe is gone? I've nicknamed it the "Distant Dactyl" and continue to make bad jokes about it's absence.
"I think I stubbed my toe, it sent me a postcard to let me know." My husband, well tired of the often repeated jest, gives me a courtesy smile every time. That's good enough for me...
The fear I felt, before the amputation surgery, was like a black hole. No hope or happiness was escaping it.
Now though, 18days after the procedure the all encompassing fear has diminished and I now prepare to return to work. Only slightly "less" of a woman, speaking in terms of body mass and parts included only of course, I look forward to re-learning to walk, and making even better quips about the, now popular topic of one-liners and rib ticklers, DISTANT DACTYL!
The darkest night will become the brightest morning if you choose to allow it the opportunity.
Thank you for reading!