Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Fun at Harborview Medical Center (and Adventures in the ER!)

If you have to break your ankle in a bunch of places, have "hardware store" surgery, a heeby-jeeby-inducing hospitalization, and a long recuperation, it helps to have this man as your doctor!


This is Dr. Benirschke -- and I mean THIS is Dr. B! He's one of the top foot and ankle surgeons in the world, but he interacts with his patients more like a long-time buddy than some high and mighty, egotistical doctor. He was on time to our appointment this morning but we were warned about "Dr. B Time" before we met him a few weeks ago It turns out that Dr. B. just loves connecting with his patients -- talking with them, laughing with them (how does he get so many people in pain to laugh?!), but more than anything teaching and educating them. He is filled to the brim with knowledge and he likes nothing better than sharing what he knows.

(Yes, I know I need to shave my leg, but my foot was covered in a splint for the past few weeks... and is again.)

So today the soft splint came off...



and the hard cast went on.


(Yes, I'll shave! Sheesh!)

Oddly enough, Dr. B asked me to turn onto my stomach when he put the cast on. You know why? Control issues!! No kidding! He might not have known me for long, but he does know me well! I'm a project manager; of course I have control issues! I was relieved to hear, actually, that he asks all his patients to turn on their bellies when he wraps the cast. Turns out people tend to want to "help" him (albeit subconsciously) by moving their foot this way or that, so not allowing patients to watch allows him to move the foot into the exact position he wants. And he definitely moved mine into a whole different position.


This is the most it's hurt since I was in the hospital! Tonight I'll break into the prescription pain meds for the first time since the day I got home from the hospital because this really HURTS!

Actually, the most painful part of the day was when Dr. B. removed the under-skin sutures where he clipped my tight calf muscle. Fortunately, I didn't expect such pain and it was over quickly... but oh. my. god!


Yes, I forgave him for causing me agony and I still adore him.

Selecting a cast color was quite the conundrum! These were my color choices: IMG_0797

Pink (which you can't see) was out because it looked too juvenile, I liked the green and the blue dots on the packages but the tech warned me that they were actually "pretty gross," and black couldn't be signed. It was purple or red. Or in our family, WSU Cougars' crimson, or UW Husky's purple. With apologies to Peter -- and a promise that should I ever break a bone again (oh god... the thought!), I'll get a red crimson cast -- I decided to go with purple, more because I like the color than as an "I love the UW Huskies" statement... although as a mother of a Husky, of course I love them. Exactly as much as I love the Cougars.

(This rivalry will probably be around for the rest of our lives!)

Amazingly enough, "Dr. B time" was working in our favor this morning, and by 11:00 we were cleared to go home!

Until I said those fateful words as I got off the bed: "I've had this annoying pain around my lung. It hurts when I cough or sniff. I'm sure it's probably just a muscle ache..."

Before I knew it, I was downstairs at the famous/infamous Harborview ER (right next to a shackled convict!), being checked out for a possible post-surgery embolism! I had it all -- EKG, x-rays, and of course a blood test (called a d-dimer). Amazingly enough, this time a nurse was able to find a vein on the first try! First I told her I loved her. Then I asked if we could take a picture of the first nurse that's been able to find my vein on the first try in a very, very long time! She thought we were crazy, but complied.


By 3:00 the test results were in and we were given assurance that my pain is skeleto-muscular, just as I suspected. I'm definitely moving in odd ways these days, reaching over my knee walker, twisting and picking up my laptop from the bedside table, and just being in bed too much. I am glad that we played it safe because really, an embolism would not be good at all. Not at all.

And now I think I'll take prescription narcotics for the first time in weeks and try to get some rest. (Those muscle spasms in my ankle as I fall asleep are torture!)

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Tillybud said...

Who'd have thought that a little walk out the back could have such dire consequences? Sending you more get well soon wishes. I like the purple best too. good choice!

Maria said...

I wouldn't have noticed the leg hair, and really still did not, if you hadn't said something. Of course, I chose not to shave for months while Kevin is out of the country...


Home's Jewels said...

Did he know you were going to post his picture/name on your blog? LOL

I wouldn't have looked for hair on your legs anyway, but I honestly can't see any. But who cares - it's winter!

I'm glad the breathing issue was a non-issue. You've had enough excitement for one year.

Carol said...

Julie -- yes, I always get people's permission before posting their photo or name on my blog. (Got the nurse's permission too.)

Thanks for the healing wishes, all!


Goofball said...

That doctor's laughter is even contageous on picture. No wonder you forgive him even when it hurts.

And I love the purple

Anonymous said...

The reason your vein was easier to find is probably because you've been using your arms more since you've had to make up for a non-working leg. The best way to get better veins is to exercise. "Bad" veins are often simply from a sedentary lifestyle.

Purple is a good choice. It goes best with red hair.

jennifer said...

Hm, not sure about the above "sedentary bad veins" comment, since I am a cross-country bike rider and I have "bad" veins too. Mine are "too roll-y" and also due to tough skin.

Carol next time sit in a hot bath or hot tub before your stick. Taking a shower and par-boiling myself like a lobster is the only way I ensure a good stick!!

And I agree on the leg hair comment. Eh! It's winter forget it. Save the shave as a reward for yourself once you're out of the cast!

I *suppose* I am OK with the purple cast. I am a WSU grad after all, but I'll forgive you this time. :-)

Anonymous said...

Is it just me or does it seem that this particular "Anonymous" takes some pleasure out of making digs?

I so admire your attitude about this whole ordeal. Pain and all. It's wonderful that you have all these photos to share of your "adventure!" We get a true feel of what a character this awesome doc is. (And cast color choices! Who knew!)

I'm still chuckling about the leg hair. (No, I would NOT have even noticed!) This time of year we all deserve to be Sasquatches.

Jen said...

Carol, obviously I've been so behind. I'm again and again and again so sorry you've been going through all this.

Margaret said...

I'm glad that you're OK and keeping your sense of humor and appreciation for people, like your funny doctor! He looks like quite a character.

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