I saw my surgeon today and at one point I was having flashbacks to that scene in Forrest Gump. You know the one where the doctor straps on little Forrest’s new braces and lets him limp around the room in the clunky metal contraptions while he tells Mrs. Gump, “His legs are strong, Mrs. Gump – as strong as I’ve ever seen – but his back’s as crooked as a politician. But we’re gonna straighten him right up. Aren’t we, Forrest?”
And then the kid faceplants on the floor.
Today I feel like the kid that faceplanted on the floor even if it is for my own good.
I’m no stranger to this song and dance of consulting with a new surgeon, diagnosing a problem that I’m well aware exists, and then planning out the best surgical option. I’ve been through this a hundred times. I was already nervous about it going into the appointment because – let’s face it – there is a reason why I take medication to control my anxiety issues. I filled out all the paperwork, spoke to the nurse for a bit, and then the doctor brought a student with him. No surprise there. I’ve spent my whole life being a teaching tool for students. The doctor asked a bunch of questions about my medical history and then he started getting into the nitty-gritty about the nature of my pain. At least he knew what Arthrogryposis was. That’s a start. He pulled and twisted at my feet while I gritted my teeth in the chair and made little sounds like he was taking mental notes.
It all boils down to uncovering the true cause of my pain, he said. The surgery to correct my clubfeet, he said, is very difficult and involved, which I already knew, and he is very hesitant to put me through such a rough journey if I’m still going to have pain afterward. To him, it’s like inflicting so much more pain for an outcome that won’t change anything other than the visual of flat, fused feet. He said it might be possible that the spinal fusion I had in 1989 caused irritation on my spine with bone spurs that grew afterward or basic human error during the surgery and the irritated spinal cord is making my feet hurt a lot. He has seen people who have had spine surgery come in later with very painful feet.
So now the goal is to figure out if my pain is caused by my actual clubfeet or if it’s caused by spinal cord irritation. In order to determine the cause, he gave me a prescription for special braces. Cue Forrest!
|“They was my magic shoes!”|
Yeah. My brain went there. I’ve had braces before and they looked just like the Forrest Gump braces and they were very uncomfortable. The doctor explained, however (perhaps sensing my horror), that these braces are designed for padding so that a person’s feet feel nothing like pressure and such. I have to wear these braces for a month at least and I have to keep track of my pain every day until my next appointment on February 7. If I’m having pain all the time with no real rhyme or reason to it, then the cause is most likely irritation on my spinal cord. At that point, my spine would undergo serious evaluation and treatment would either be pain blocker injections in my spine (this is where I started feeling woozy) or actual spine surgery where they insert some medical doohicky to control my nerves (bring on waves of nausea). If my pain is caused by pressure and affects of being afflicted with clubfeet, then I would undergo serious foot reconstruction surgery. It’s intense. It’s a long recovery. I will probably wish I was dead.
And then he casually dropped the last bomb. I can’t wear shoes anymore. Like, ever. Forcing my feet into shoes is only causing more agony and will cause pressure sores very easily. Leave it to a man to casually mention to a woman that she’s banned from the joy of buying and wearing pretty shoes as if it’s no big deal. Call me vain but wearing braces every day of my life (supposing he chooses not to operate) is going to draw more attention to my disability and make people stare at me even more. I don’t like it. I have to do it but I don’t like it. If I have to wear ballet slippers under my big ugly braces to feel like a lady, then I will. My best friend and my mother are talking about decorating my braces to be more fashionable to make me feel better. I got so upset after the doctor left that I got sick. I’m upset because I didn’t see the possibility of spinal damage from a surgery I had 21 years ago causing me all this pain now. I was fully prepared to talk about rebuilding my feet. I was wholly unprepared to talk about operating on my spine.
So, I guess on February 7, the doctor will know what’s causing my pain. I will either go toward foot reconstruction surgery or I will go toward spinal injections/surgery at that point. Now it’s just a waiting game in my magic shoes.