TITLE: Fighting back to normality - first part (2/28/15)
By Francie Snell
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Fighting back to normality
With Gangrene invading Susan’s right, big toe, it was no longer a question of if, but when it would have to be removed. Her podiatrist eventually referred her to a foot surgeon down in the valley, and surgery was soon scheduled.
The anesthesia was taking effect as the nurse rolled Susan into the prep area of the OR. The surgeon soon arrived to meet Susan for the first time. Appearing Asian, and somewhere in his forties, he stood at the foot of the gurney looking down at her.
“Susan, I’m Doctor B, and I’ll be working on your toe today.” Astutely, he summarized his planned attempt to save as much of her toe as possible. “…I’ll only remove what is absolutely necessary. Okay?”
She smiled hazily, “Okay,” then drifted off to sleep.
After surgery was performed, half of Susan’s toe remained. Within a week, she was back in Sonora at a long-term care facility to begin the healing process.
Now restrained to a wheelchair, she seemed determined to get back into the routine of things, and following post-op instructions to keep her foot elevated was not one of them. Continually she’d be reminded to keep her foot up; then with a huff of exasperation, she’d lift her leg and place it back onto the chair’s leg rest, as if complying against her will.
Following doctor’s orders was proving a growing challenge for everyone.
I believe it was a Tuesday, a few days after her return, when she called me on the phone and cheerfully announced, “I have a hair appointment on Thursday; then we can go to Bible study”.
“Oh, you have a hair appointment on Thursday…what time?”
“Nine o’clock? Okay,” I said, not thinking.
After a little chitchat, we ended the call. “See you Thursday.”
“Okay, see you then.”
Upon hanging up, a most precarious scenario started playing out in my mind. I imagined myself, and her petite hairdresser (if she was a willing sort) together dragging Susan in her wheelchair, up the six or more steps leading to the door of the salon… one rung at a time. Then if we managed to get that far, the beautifying process would commence: a cut, some color, then finally styled in just the right way. All of this accomplished in just over two hours with Susan sitting in her wheelchair, her foot elevated, and parallel to the floor.
My imagination swept me to the next scene: Somehow, I would get her back down the steps and into my car, then off to lunch somewhere - hopefully a place without stairs - to eat a relaxing lunch. Of course, the whole time I would make sure her foot stayed elevated, and parallel to the floor. Then after lunch, we’d scoot off to Kathy’s house for Bible study, and climb the steps leading to her front porch. For at least another two hours, we’d all engage in study with great attention to Susan in her wheelchair, that her foot stayed elevated, and parallel to the floor.
It was exhausting just thinking about all that Thursday would entail along with a multitude of mishaps that could possibly happen. None of the risks were worth the sake of having pretty hair, eating fine food, or experiencing wonderful fellowship in God’s word. But that is just my opinion.
It was then I sadly realized our relationship had to shift; no longer could I just be a friend who took her any place her heart desired on a whim. Common sense now required me to say “NO”.
Uncomfortable with my new role as a killjoy, I fretted for about an hour before calling her back.
“Hello” she sang when answering my call.
“Susan, this is Francie.”
Timidly I began. “Susan, I was just thinking about your hair appointment.”
“Well, I was wondering how you were planning on getting up those steps to the salon.”
Without pause she replied, “Well, I was just going to walk up them”.
“You were going to walk on your foot that was just operated on,” I stated flatly, trying to emphasize the foolishness by the tone in my voice.
“Yeah, I don’t see where that should be a problem.”
I took a deep breath and then slowly explained, “Susan, you just had surgery and you really shouldn’t be walking on your foot yet. It’s really not a good idea.”
“No. You probably should wait a while for your foot to heal before going anywhere. I’m sorry…and I think Bible study is probably out of the picture too for a while.”
I could hear the disappointment in her sigh. ”Okay, I guess I’ll just reschedule my appointment for a later time.“
Soothingly I added, “Yeah, that’s a good idea. You need to pace yourself and give yourself time to heal.”
“Yeah, I guess you’re right.” She sighed again.
I felt horrible as we ended the call, having to deny her some of the very few events in life she could still enjoy. Even so, I felt I had no other choice.
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