The Achilles Snap of Death
Doom. I should have written doom.
I know that at this time of year, it’s not atypical to say, ‘man, this year is going like saaaaaa quick’. For me, this year has been both as fast as lightening, and as slow moving as someone being lead to get their balls cut off.
Two words. General. Anesthetic. Plural.
Cheers, 2017, for being the year I was knocked TF out for a full 7 days. Not consecutively. I would have taken that option if it existed. Let me explain.
You know that I snapped my Achilles mid-December last year. You also know 4 weeks after that, I re-snapped my Achilles when I failed to crutch down the street effectively. And if you don’t know that – do you even go here??
(NB: if you haven’t yet been here, never fear for we welcome fresh Hustlers to this site with total joy and laughter and personal space invasions. I just love Mean Girls, and don’t have the self control to not use a quote when it’s relevant, even if it is kind of stink. Weird, I haven’t used the word stink since I was 8 years old and had a wart on my middle finger. I had to use my other middle finger to pull the fingers at that wart. If I think about it, I guess I have experienced losing the use of a limb before. Wait, it’s a phalange.
When I snapped my Achilles for a second time, I had surgery to re-attach it. And after surgery, I was back to square one. But I wasn’t too upset about that for some reason. I figured at least with surgery, my Achilles would be super human strong. My resilience toward the situation was at an all time high. I went under GA for a day, felt the knock-out effects for two and was promptly back on the road to recovery. La-de-da.
9 days later, I had my stitches taken out, and had a black cast put on (sleek). It was all good! Things were going swimmingly! I used this phrase frequently and deliberately, because it stopped me getting jealous of everyone else going for swims in summer. No literal swimmingly for Lucy.
A week later however.. Things turned a little sinister. It was late on a Thursday night. I went into my flatmates’ room and stated, ‘holy brother of SH*T it’s cold – where has summer gone??’ He said, ‘are you kidding? It’s balmy outside!’ Being a human who exists naturally on the side of chilly, I went to bed, layered myself in woolen blankets (still didn’t think twice) and shivered myself to sleep.
The next morning, I woke up. I went to make breakfast, but the pain in my leg was so severe, I couldn’t bear to stand for more than a couple of minutes. Rather than feeling chilly, I felt kind of hot and clammy, and let’s just say my breathing would have been very apparent to anyone within several metres.
I did what anyone would do in that scenario.
She said, ‘go to the doctor’.
I did what anyone would do in that scenario.
I took her advice.
Off to the doctors I went. I couldn’t actually see a doctor, because they were fully booked, but I saw a nurse who took my symptoms into account, chatted to a doctor and spent her lunch break trying to find a place that had cast-cutting tools, because they didn’t want to send me away without having seen the surgical wound.
At first, I was like come onnnn, it’ll be sweet, I’ll just take the weekend to see if it settles down (note: it was Waitangi weekend). But then I was like, oh well, nah, HEALTH, just shut up and do what the professionals say.
I’m learning. And turns out – I’ll be forever in debt to that nurse.
I caught a cab to the White Cross, and sat in the waiting room for two hours. When the doctor grabbed me, I explained the scenario, chills, pain, but she didn’t seem overly concerned – mainly because I didn’t have a fever now – which was kind of reassuring. I went in to get the cast cut off, and the nurse treated me with similar nonchalance. She even went as far to say, ‘you know ACC only covers you for 3 casts’, like I would change my mind before the saw cut through the fibre glass. I was like ‘uhhhhh we’ve come this far.. Get it off me, just in case.’
She cut it off. And it’s not meant to hurt. But when that saw hit my skin, it was excruciating. Both the doctor and the nurse started to become visibly more interested. And I could see why. The cotton inside the cast was stained red.
By the way, I read an Instagram caption I’d written the day before, and lol’d.
The cast was carefully peeled off me, and both the doctor and the nurse made noises that could only be described as ‘expressions of intense concern’. Their tune went from Disney movie to Saw series horror, and this horror was because of what was brewing on the end of my leg.
The surgical wound had re-opened and become severely infected.
Oh, yup. Cool.
My sister was at the White Cross with me, so while she drove to the emergency room, I Googled, ‘how not to cry’. Legit.
My fave is number 5 – ‘Remove the lump in your throat’. Ah, of course, hold up – let me just grab that.
We get to the emergency room and none of the stop-crying tactics are working, so I just give in and don’t give a f*ck. I hang out in the assessment pen, get my bloods done and see a doctor who, before even looking at the wound, isn’t too concerned because I ‘don’t have a fever now’.
However – she then took the bandage off – and I saw the exact same shift I had at the White Cross from casual commenter to priority panic.
Is it because I’m the size of a 12 year old and generally try to make light of situations that people don’t take me seriously?
First thing the next day, I was taken to surgery for a wash out (on a Saturday morning – unheard of!). They also unstitched the tendon. So there went that progress. First thing on Monday morning – I went into surgery for same surgery, and being a public holiday that’s also something that’s unheard of. Thinking maybe it was bad..
Two GA’s in three days, and boy did that make it tough to stay awake! Did I mention that my rock of a mother had flown up to Auckland first thing Saturday? What a woman.
I spent the next week in hospital having IV antibiotics injected into me every four hours. Yes, in the middle of the night. Sleep? What is ‘sleep’?? The antibiotics were so strong that every couple of days, I’d have to get a new IV line because my veins would burn out. Eventually, they wheeled me away from safety to get a PICC line put in – a PICC line being a central line which goes via a vein straight to the heart.
I wasn’t sure how I felt about having antibiotics which burnt out my veins go straight to my heart – but I didn’t want to over-think it.
A week after my second surgery, I went in for a third surgery to get yet another wash out and to reattach the Achilles – if it was looking ok. Well – ’bout time I had some luck – the wound was looking, quote, ‘pristine’, so they were like, ‘yaaay, let’s re-attach this Achilles!’ – but unfortunately, the tendon had shortened.
‘Not to worry!’, said old master surgeon, ‘I have the solution!’ – and with that, they cut my calf open, whipped out some tendon from there (greedy calf tendon) and sewed that piece onto my Achilles to make it the reach my heel. What a time to be alive!
I remained in hospital being monitored until the following Saturday. By that stage, all I wanted was a cheeseburger and fries, so at least we know things were improving.
In saying that, there was a whole shelf of treats that my incredible friends and family had supplied me with, but they remained relatively untouched (yes, even the salt and vinegar chips). I guess effectively living in the same hospital bed for two weeks is gross enough without the crumbs..
That Saturday afternoon, 16 days since I first went into hospital, I was free. Slightly polluted Auckland air never tasted so good. The general public never looked so pretty. Traffic noise never sounded so melodic.
I stayed at my fabulous aunty Steph’s place for nearly two weeks after hospital. I coined her place ‘my recovery retreat’, because in comparison, let’s just say my regular digs is less retreat, more re-hazard.
A district nurse came in every day to change my antibiotics. I had to be constantly attached to a bottle full of them via this PICC line. I called these bottles my placentas. The PICC line, my umbilical cord – the giver of life.
Embarrassingly, I had to carry this bottle with me everywhere in a bum bag. And not a cool one. So I had a cast, crutches, this weird line coming out of my arm and a bum bag. Never have I felt so.. Accessorized.
Fast forward to now, and things are tracking well. I’m back in Welly with the fam to make recovery straightforward. And this time, I’m not getting ahead of myself. Taking this latest installment day by day, appointment by appointment. This is Achilles hit number three, so surely it’s about time my luck changes. Prognosis for walking again – no idea. I’ve been 100% non weight bearing for 13 weeks now, so could be a while yet. My calf muscle looks like an empty udder (with no teats).
So yeah. It’s frustrating. But what can ya do. I mean, really, what can I do? It’s happened. It sucks. But gotta keep staying positive and moving forward (as per).
The good news is that, I DO have something to look forward to. Scratch that – WE have something exciting to look forward to!
In two weeks time, my friend Cam and I are hosting a Speakers Showcase event in Auckland. This is great timing, because having had a particularly shaky start to 2017, I need an inspiration kick-start. And chances are – with how quickly this year is going – you might, too.
We have an INCREDIBLE line up of talent and will be featuring talks from Brylee Mills, Naresh Kumar, Liam Malone.. The theme of the event is, ‘Dare to be Brave’ – so come along, be inspired, feel your braveness build – and also tell me that my moon boot really compliments the dress I’m wearing.
Tickets on sale now, and early bird ends in two days! So gather your gang and come join me to cheers to the exciting things the rest of the year will bring!! Find out more about the event, and grab your early bird tickets quick-smart from here.
But remember – this happened at the NZVMA’s – he’s mine.