Early on the morning of Thursday 6 June 2013, having scraped myself out of bed almost before I’d got into it, mum drove me to the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital in Birmingham. I was due there at 7.30am to have a right ankle arthroscopy and chielectomy.
This procedure would be the joint equivalent of a scale and polish. My ankle has extensive arthritis from bleeds into the joint when I was growing up. The joint was steadily deteriorating and after two steroidal injections, aimed at reducing the pain, hadn’t worked, this was the next step prior to the possibility of an ankle fusion. It seemed I was limping in the direction of a fusion, which would screw the ankle joint into a fixed position removing the pain but almost completely restricting movement, but I wanted to try these two final procedures before saying screw it! The arthroscopy would clean out the muck in the joint and attempt to smooth off the surfaces of the main two bones to reduce the pain on movement and walking. The cheilectomy would shave off the bony spurs that had grown on the front face of both of the main ankle bones to try and increase my range of movement.
Many of my haemophiliac friends have had their ankles fused and swear it is the best thing they have done. I’ve put it off as long as possible because I’m a girl. Or more specifically: a vain girly girl who has admitted to herself that the lure of a beautiful high heel cannot be denied. I cannot actually physically perambulate any more, once in said heels, but I love being able to sit and look at a gorgeous pair of pointy heeled feet. How daft is that?! Over the last few months of ankle weakness and increasing pain I think I have finally reached the tipping point. Where pain overcomes stiletto pleasure. Or wedge pleasure. Or kitten heel pleasure. Or platform pleasure. Anyway, I think I am facing the wall of reality onto which I have fallen due to stupidly high heels and finding that screws and Clarks active air are the way of the future.
But not quite yet! This is my final operative fling before signing the consent form to be fused and upon very sensible orthopaedic advice (not just cos I wanted to). I am having these procedures done in the full and certain knowledge that they may not help and may, in fact, send me quicker down the slope towards fusionville, but on the proviso that there maybe some short term pain relief and movement enhancement. So now you know my somewhat irrational reasoning!
All the preparatory work had been done. I’d spoken to the haemophilia specialists at the Queen Elizabeth (QE), another Birmingham hospital, to establish the treatment plan. They’d arranged for me to stay in over night for what was usually a day procedure. I would be having my clotting factor levels measured pre-op, then receiving 2000 units of Haemate P, then clotting factor levels would be taken post op and another 1000 units of Haemate P administered that evening. Then the next morning my levels would be checked once more and if they were ok I’d be free to go home, all being well with the ortho docs. They’d also made the decision to give me some platelets prior to the op. This was based on previous experience where clotting factor ironically failed to make me clot and platelets had been needed to finish the job. All this had been arranged with QE blood bank and the Royal Orthopaedic team.
I’d done my prep: legs Veeted, and then epilated to remove the hairs Veet left behind. I would do it the other way round but the Veet bit loosens them, or so I reckon, and epilating first is inordinately more painful. Shaving can be like taking razor wire to my legs and I can’t afford to wax on, wax off at the moment. My toe nails had been naked for a couple of weeks, to get them used to the exposure, and me used to the look of em (not that picturesque if I’m honest). I’d purchased a new lightweight dressing gown – half price from Sainsbury’s – so I wouldn’t swelter in the undoubted heat of the hospital ward, and slippers that were a touch less manky than my usual ones. I’d starved myself since before midnight except for the vast quantity of pills and supplements I’m currently on, which I’d swigged with my pint of water at 6am.
I was ready. We were ready.
Or so I thought….
To be continued.