I had foot surgery on Friday. It’s been necessary for a while and honestly, a steroid shot enabled me to be two-legged throughout this last Iditarod. But, if I wanted to walk, much less run, on two legs without severe pain, I needed a big toe fusion. So, Allen and I thought seriously about the timing for such a major “inconvenience” and decided it would be best to have surgery immediately after Iditarod.
Well, “immediately after Iditarod” came and went. Being physically and emotionally drained, on top of surgery seemed like a bad idea… plus we had the two **FREE** Alaska Airlines award tickets from the Vet Care Award. So, we went to Mexico for 6 days. Mexico versus surgery – difficult choice?!?
But, when we arrived home, got off the I.V. guacamole, quesadillas and margaritas, we became responsible again and scheduled the surgery for late April.
If you don’t think that everything in Alaska revolves around dogs… you’re wrong!
My Veterinarian, Dr T. Rose, originally examined my toe and her diagnosis went something like this:
“How do you walk on this? If you were a dog, I wouldn’t let you walk on this!”
With that information, I started to think that I should perhaps see some human medical specialists.
I had two P.T.s look at my toe — thanks Nicole and Claire — Nicole has met Allen and I at the finish lines of both the Yukon Quest and the Iditarod for several years now (she knows what it takes to get there.) And Claire made about 15 pounds of sugar free protein bars that sustained me on the Iditarod.
Then, Leslie Dean, a hand surgeon in Anchorage, and her husband Don Hopwood, who have been Chica’s Dog Sponsors for many years told me the best foot surgeon to see in Anchorage is Ken Swayman.
During my appointment with Ken, I was greeted by his office dog, Jade, an Alaskan Husky from Iditarod Champ Dean Osmar’ kennel. Jade’s father is Dean’s neighbor’s dog, Lieutenant. Both my dogs, Clyde and Outlaw, were sired by Lieutenant. So, Jade is my dog niece… kinda, sort of…
The surgery went well — according to Ken — who drew husky faces on my now bionic right foot and showed us the X-rays on which you can see the hardware. The surgery basically removed the big toe joint (which was a mess) and then screwed the two bones together. Now they must fuse – like a broken bone would do. So, that means it will be 4 to 6 weeks of non weight bearing on my right foot.
Allen and I stayed in Anchorage for the surgery and post op appointment. Midnight, the wanna-be-sled-dog, and Linda Steiner got us a two-room suite at Extended Stay Downtown. It was perfect! Me, my crutches, 4 pillows and pill containers would rotate from the bed to the couch every few hours with a lot of help from my husband and nurse (same guy for both positions.)
The last day in town, we got out of the hotel, got an “OK” from the Doc (and Jade) and drove home.
The prognosis for full recovery is great. Basically it’s all up to my body now because the bones must fuse together as one. This will honestly take 4 to 6 weeks. No rushing the body’s mending process. I will check in with the Doc every week and send him photos of the incision. I will need X-rays at 4 week and 6 weeks.
As everyone can imagine, this will limit my physical activity substantially. I am, of course, planning on being very proficient on crutches very soon. (I will admit that going downstairs last night was a bit scary.) But, after “the OK” from the Doc, I hope to at least crutch up and down the driveway and out into the field.
After the Doc says so, then I’ll be able to work on my upper body strength… which is so desperately needed (HA!) Perhaps I can also work on a “summer 6 pack”… no, not beer! Maybe Allen and I will continue the SP Kennel’s Pull-up Protocol: this winter we asked most kennel visitors to do at least one pull-up before the left the premises. Who knows maybe I can beat Ryne in a pull-up competition this Fall?!?! I can dream.
Allen will not only be my nurse, but also take over all physical duties at the kennel. We have plenty of friends who have volunteered to help out. I can talk to all the dogs from my house porch, my living room window and my bedroom balcony. Plus, Allen will rotate my indoor canine companions daily. Only one rule… No lifting legs on my crutches.