This is the truth. You might say I am seeing the worst in a situation, being melodramatic, or perhaps scaremongering. But this is the raw truth of the situation.
Because several medical staff failed to listen to what I was saying, did not properly and thoroughly investigate all of my symptoms and therefore missed the fundamentals, I could have lost my leg.
The danger of almost losing a leg
I have often made jokes about chopping my leg off, specially when I was going through all the dramas of the knee replacement. But.. this is truth. My lower leg has very little blood supply. The femoral artery is blocked as are two of the three blood vessels that supply my leg below the knee. I already have a number of serious symptoms and have to take special care of my foot, because I cannot actually feel it any more. This shit is serious. So serious that they have me booked for a trip to a operating theatre less than ten days later. apparently it cannot wait much longer.
Yes, I am scared. shall I tell you something, I am more terrified about this surgery than any other surgery that I have ever had. I have always had a morbid interest in watching my surgeries, as they happen. I even wanted to watch the knee replacement go in. But I do NOT want to watch this. For some reason, it feels all just a little bit more terrifying when it involved your blood supply.
They clamp the artery at both ends before inserting the graft. It is beyond my comprehension how they can just steal a vein from elsewhere, as if it was not really needed in the first place. and how they actually stitch veins and arteries back together. This is clever clever stuff. But its also scary. She has my life in her hands.
For some reason it does not feel any less threatening being a femoral bypass, than if it was a heart bypass. They are still chopping into your arteries.
I have been having all sorts of nightmares, including waking up from surgery to find that something went wrong and they had to take my leg off below the knee.
Waking up and checking I still have two feet will be the very first thing I will do.
Then there is the damage.
The fact that I will have a certain level of permanent damage is slightly unfathomable at the moment.
It is very likely that I will never get the feeling back in my left foot. It is very likely that I will not even get the movement back in my toes. I lost that a few weeks ago and that is when the alarm bells rang for my GP. And then there is the nerve damage. We just have no idea how extensive and permanent this will be till after the operation.
What does a Femoral bypass surgery scar look like?
This guy has documented his recovery in a blog. Although he is slightly older than me, he comes from a similar background. Cyclist, started getting calf pain and doesn’t have any of the usual arterial disease lifestyle markers.
Does it pay to put a positive spin on things?
I am beginning to think not.
I didn’t cry and scream and make a nuisance of myself. I accepted the now and adapted to my limitations. This meant I had to stop cycling. I stopped using my legs for swimming and bought some made to measure crutches to get me about and take the load off my leg.
There is no wonder I couldn’t walk (or ride my bike). all the muscles in my leg from the knee down were starved of oxygen. They just couldn’t cope with the (even limited) demand.
Even the action of using my legs for buoyancy and not actually kicking, still overloaded my damaged vascular system and caused pain. I now completely disable my legs with a float and swim with just my arms. I can get further with crutches, but even partial weight bearing eventually overloads my system and causes me pain. Sometimes I am on crutches completely non weight bearing.
But, because I was not arguing and making a nuisance of myself, no one was doing much.
until I hit rock bottom.
The day I was dragged to ED.
Because my husband found me rolling around on the floor screaming with pain.
ED did nothing. Apart from give me 10mg nortriplyline. What use was that when I was already taking 600mg nerve pain drugs, 400mg anti inflams, 200mg muscle relaxants plus a heap of other stuff.
The day my Doctor sent me to ED
Because I had lost movement in my toes.
ED said it didn’t matter that they couldn’t find a pulse in my foot. Nope. it is not a vascular issue and sent me away having one absolutely nothing and wasting 9 whole hours of my time in the process.
The multiple incorrect diagnoses
I have had diagnoses that have made some of my medical sport team shout WTF?? These have come from senior medical staff.
I have hit rock bottom more than once. I was struggling to fathom how my life might continue if they were saying this pain was incurable and I just had to live with it.
It made me doubt my ability to carry on working as a personal trainer. I was seriously planning for a life of disability and only being able to carry out admin tasks. I was not sure if I would ever be able to ride my bike again. I had started to ponder how I might be able to adapt a split crank so I could continue to ride just using my right leg. I saw a guy cycle past as I came out of the pool the other day who was doing exactly that! He had one leg, one crank and one pedal. Apart from that the mountain bike he was riding was perfectly normal. I had no clue how the heck he was staying upright, but hell, look it IS possible!
Will I still have two feet at the end of next week?
I have no clue, I really don’t. But I sincerely hope so.
What angers me is the permanent disability that I will now have to deal with because of someones negligence.
One step at a time. First I need to get through the surgery, then I will plan the next step.