Specifically, Guideline #5:
Do not drink any wine, beer, or alcohol for twenty-four hours after your discharge from the hospital.
Yeah, right. Like that was ever going to happen.
But I’m back home now, and bedridden again, and all the range-of-motion exercises I was supposed to perform last time (to increase strength in the ankle) are now to be avoided at all costs because they’d dislodge the flesh mesh that’s just been stapled across the wound. (Yes, stapled. You’d think they might have mentioned that little detail during the pre-op briefing.) My leg is to remain immobilized and elevated. I am not to leave this bed except to use the toilet (and even then, only on crutches). Food and alcohol is to be brought to me at my command. All sex is to be taken orally. The most strenuous thing I am allowed to do is play Portal 2 on the 47″ monitor at the foot of the bed.
God, it’s hell being sick.
I shall struggle on, though, because that is what I do. And I shall deliver you pictures, because you asked for them and the operating staff was kind enough to comply. (Although I probably should have briefed them a bit more thoroughly on the use of the Canon Powershot SX20IS; there were a couple of points where they obviously thought they were just taking snapshots where in fact they were taking full-motion video with stereo sound. You do not want to know what these guys talk about when you’re unconscious.)
Anyhow, mindful as always of the weaker stomachs among you, I shall put the actual fleshtones below a cut. This picture’s safe for general audiences, though:
Note the restraints. I never really got a straight answer as to why it should be necessary to strap down an unconscious patient. I also have my suspicions as to exactly how they render said patient unconscious in the first place. Officially it’s a two-stage process involving the injection of something that burns your veins like Drano, followed by gas anesthesia administered via facemask. It’s this second phase that I’m suspicious of: they clap the nozzle over your nose and mouth and tell you to breathe deeply, for all the world as though there is in fact gas flowing in through the mask. I don’t think there is. I kept trying to inhale, but there didn’t seem to be any airflow at all. I wonder in hindsight whether the Canadian medical system isn’t just so overburdened that they can’t actually afford gas anesthesia any more, so they just slap a rubber cone over your airways until you pass out from suffocation. (The bright side, as usual, is that being a Canadian healthcare system, at least you don’t get hit with a $3000 invoice for the use of your own recycled CO2.)
Here’s what the donor site looks like, post-scrape:
Two things surprised me about this site: the lack of actual bleeding during the op itself, and the surfeit of pain afterwards. The deep, gaping staple-studded gash in my calf feels just fine, thank you very much, but this superficial patch of surgical road rash stings like a bugger every time I wiggle my toes.
Here’s the old familiar canyon, freshly clothed in silky fishnet lingerie:
That pale whitish mesh that looks like J-cloth? That’s actually the skin from the donor site. They scraped it off as a perforated mesh so that they could take a narrow strip and stretch it to cover a much wider area, which I think is pretty ingenious. (Presumably the holes in the mesh fill in over time.) Then they brought out the staple gun (which is a bit too Home Depot to qualify as “ingenious”, but at least looks pretty effective). I’m also wondering how they took this shot; I’m still unconscious at this point, and my leg is obviously not on the operating table. Best guess, they simply flipped me over and swung my leg over the edge for a better angle. It may be a bit undignified but it’s really going the second mile, given that taking tourist photos is really not in their mandate. So I would like to take this moment to raise a salute to Dr Beber and his team, for service above and beyond the call. Even if those staples could have been more evenly spaced.
And here we are post-op, all VAC’d up again. A closer look, however (which you can obtain by clicking on the image), reveals a couple of new features on the landscape: first, a surgical mesh spilling out around the edges of the wound (not to be confused with the living mesh of cells previously presented); second, the existence of rogue staples visible along the lower-right edge of the Dark Zone. They do not hurt, but sometimes they itch. Especially when restless cats gnaw on them, late at night.
So there you go. Those of you disappointed by the relative inoffensiveness of today’s illustrations can rest assured that the last thing I did before losing consciousness was to drop an empty flash drive into Dr. Beber’s hand. I will be returning to the hospital next week for a follow-up, at which point I fully expect to have said drive returned to me just bursting with gory photos of my leg at its most necrotic, back when this whole thing started. I’m hopeful that they will make even me toss my cookies.