Friday, March 11, 2016

The leg condom

Last August the pain Richard was feeling in his Achilles tendon got bad enough that he decided he better see someone about it, so he made an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon. He said there “wasn’t anything wrong with Richard’s foot” and decided he needed 6 weeks of physical therapy.

So Richard dutifully went to physical therapy twice a week for 6 weeks. The pain didn’t get any better – in fact it got worse. During the sessions the physical therapist mentioned that her son had broken his arm, and Richard was very curious about how they were keeping the cast dry so the boy could take a shower. She told him about the cast protector.

Recognizing the difficulty people with a cast on their leg or other body part have in taking a shower, a very clever and creative individual has designed a cast protector out of heavy vinyl with tight rubbery stuff at the top to seal the skin against water. When my arm was in the cast, we didn’t know there was any such thing, so we did the best we could to keep it dry by wrapping it in a plastic trash bag and using duct tape to keep it in place. It mostly worked, but it was not very convenient.

The physical therapist was concerned that nothing was working to help Richard, so she offered the opinion that “something else” is going on there and he should go back to the doctor. So he did, and he insisted the doctor take a X-ray of the foot. The doctor said the X-ray didn’t show anything.

With his frustration level about through the roof, he just happened to meet up with a man I used to work with at the post office. Chuck who had had terrible trouble with his feet, and had tried “everything” to no avail, told Richard about this great podiatrist in Arkansas who immediately knew what was wrong and had fixed him right up.

Richard got his name and made an appointment. The guy took an X-ray and immediately diagnosed a bone spur behind the Achilles tendon that was causing the problem and scheduled him for surgery to get rid of the bone spur. Richard came home with a knee scooter, a huge black boot, and a small box with a cast protector

So last Thursday we motored down to Arkansas for the operation. The regional medical center there is 70 miles away as the crow files, but sections of the journey are on a two-lane highway through the Ozark hills that could have been the inspiration for any roller-coast type thrill ride one might care to ride on, so it takes a bit longer than that.

To get rid of the bone spur, the tendon was detached from the bone, everything was cleaned up, and then the tendon was reattached. He was supposed to leave the recovery room wearing the gigantic black boot that would allow him to walk immediately, but the doctor changed his mind and put him in the cast, which he cannot walk on – no weight bearing for at least 3 weeks.

It has been a hard week for him. The antibiotic they gave him to make sure he doesn’t get an infection first made him itch all over and then made him sick, so we had to switch to another one. The “knee scooter” he uses to get around the house causes his arthritic knee throb. Friends have brought two different sets of crutches, but using them hurts the hip of the leg that is bearing all of his weight.

We almost had a disaster on Saturday when he managed to get down the stairs and around the house to the basement, but then I could see he was not going to be able to get back in the house. Had a friend not shown up right then (God’s timing!), who was able to help him get up the stairs, I probably would have had to call for the first responders to come and help. He has been watching YouTube videos on how to use crutches on stairs so he can go to church on Sunday. 

We call the cast protector the leg condom as a way to inject a little humor into the situation.

 At least he can take a shower, and is certainly a big improvement over plastic trash bags and duct tape.


Paula said...

Wishing your husband the best and you too. Sometime having a sick or hurt man around is not easy.

Henny Penny said...

Isn't it amazing how one doctor saw nothing on the x-ray, and the other doctor immediately saw the problem! My regular doctor saw nothing wrong with my back when he looked at my x-rays. I'm sure hoping my orthopedic doctor can spot the problem and fix it. Hope your husband's foot heals soon. That must be terrible.