Tattoos and Wounds (Sometimes, Gods DO Get Along.)

 

tattoo

Loki/Twin Peaks tattoo- it has much more to it in person.  Capturing limb tattoos is an art I have yet to master!  Artist: Jim Bentley at 3o9 Smooth Tattooz

“That is the most beautiful tattoo I’ve seen working as a nurse!” the woman in the surgery prep room exclaimed, and brought over the other nurses to see my arm…

At 6:30 am, I was panicking over my impending foot surgery; my medical history shows a great deal of surgeries on account of poor genetic combinations to the point where I lost count somewhere in my 20’s.  I have (had?) Morton’s Neuroma; a progressive type of neuropathy that is appears to have some hereditary component I inherited.  I was waiting for the complete excision of the central nerve of my foot.  Although my father had very positive experiences with the same hospital system reattaching the extremities of my friends and family, I simply never had a reason to see them that was ‘in line’ with their specialty prior.

Part of my PTSD is from experiences in hospitals that were horrific- however, I’d say most hospitals are pretty dichromatic in care.  Half treat me with incredible compassion, competence and kindness…but unfortunately, I have also been subject to malpractice severe enough to join class action lawsuits-  It wasn’t the worst hospital by far, but it was once also far from the best as well. Specifically this hospital system that ejected me from the ER when I tested positive for swine flu one year after 3 hours of IV rehydration and an order to quarantine myself and several unpleasant ER experiences at their most neglected facility.  By the actions of the satellite facilities from many years ago, I knew I was going to panic.  I wrote a comprehensive list of all medications, Allergies, surgeries, and my three approved HIPA contacts in detail and shoved it into my wallet the night prior.  I was without sleep and without painkillers for a week before.

However, it made it much easier to handle when you have 3 women surrounding you admiring your tattoos as art- and I enjoy showing them off which calmed me considerably.  A different hospital attempted to claim my tattoos indicated unsavory things about my character- oddly enough, secular hospitals were the worst.  This one was Catholic.

I get along with sincerely spiritual people very well regardless of Philosophy.  I may bash Christianity as a whole as a religion on occasion, but I take no issue with most individuals.

The tattoo led to conversation, conversation lead to understanding, and I believe I was actually given superior care than I would have otherwise prior to receiving it. (simply because every medical professional who saw it, complimented me on it and began a closer dialogue.

My allergies were taken seriously; I don’t have many of them, but most of them are forms of antibiotics.  Not once did I feel negatively judged; in fact, being a psychiatric patient years before in the same system seemed to help in their compassion.  My check in was at shift change- exhausted medical personnel traded me to their “fresher” colleagues without exasperation.  They asked me if I wanted to be pre-sedated (with hilarious results) instead of accusing me of malingering- they took several measures to mitigate my motion sickness, and provided exemplary pain management.

I was lead to my doctor by some friends in the Lehigh pagan community- and fortunately, he was the head of his practice as well as the lead for all podiatry surgery at that branch.  Having PTSD, they saved a corner bed for me with closed curtains in their smallest waiting room of only four beds.

And it appeared the ‘demons’ of stigma I have been facing at more local facilities with other recent surgeries was barred from entering- they already had seen me at my worst, and although I would be hard pressed to find anyone to describe me as “delicate”, I was treated with great kindness, by Christians, over a Loki/Twin Peaks tattoo.

My Os, my ‘uncomfortable truth’ of my mental illness was not ignored because their other facility was the first place I was inpatient during my college years so they worked on the side of caution to keep me as calm and comfortable as possible- to the same quality I experienced in the Main Line Philadephia region where my existence began.

This was also the first time my medical record stating my legal Cannabis use as unquestionably legal was unquestioned since legislation passed earlier this month, there was no cabal of worried nurses concerned about “gateway” confessions.  No questioning if I was “holding anything back”, nor being treated like a child, an outcast or a criminal as I have experienced with Berks County hospital care.

The irony of the situation is the beauty of my Loki tattoo seemed to have a strong, positive response from those who were working on me.  They were even especially careful with the placement of IV’s so as not to “hurt” it.  They admired my ravens on my back and explained that in Allentown “Most of what they see are prison tattoos matched with prison attitudes.”

I accidentally hit on my nurse by saying “You look really nice”…and digging myself into what could have been a deeper pit after her older colleague joked and said “Good thing we’re all straight and married!”

….I was already sedated on a huge injection of Ativan and replied

“Actually, I’ve dated as many women as I have men… My husband wore a kilt of our family tartan to the wedding and tossed my bouquet and I tossed his garter. A close friend of my brother’s caught the bouquet and within a week announced he was both gay AND engaged”

My brother was shaking his head and laughing at my honesty,

“You are only digging yourself into a deeper hole!”…as promised he would jump at the chance to escort me to my next surgery as well. Apparently, I was ‘hilarious’, the nurses said I brightened their day, and that, in turn, brightened mine.  I was in a good enough mood to wish my other patients speedy recoveries and even smile a little, acting like a sound-bite chaplain on a moving gurney to those I passed.

“I hope you feel better soon, Ma’am/Sir.” I said with sincerity.  Everyone in the room was in for a different condition, all of us were frightened…and I was rewarded in seeing their eyes lose a little fear in every instance I spoke to them.  No one was waiting for surgeries that were not without the potential for previously unknown amounts of pain.  It was an interesting room where most of us got pain killers in advance…. and I did not even need to ask for it.

My foot deteriorated this week to it’s lowest point, I could not fake a normal, walking gait any longer as of yesterday- rolling my left foot to it’s outermost edge to avoid the shooting pains in my third toe and the feeling of invisible “rocks” in my running shoes now consistently.

I wouldn’t have even gotten my foot checked out if not for my dog, Ziu [Deitsch for Tyr] enjoying runs I could not give him yet.  I thought I simply had a broken toe somewhere that would be easy to fix with a simple rebreak and a tiny splint.

Without adopting Ziu, I would be unable to walk at all at any given time if I did not have the foot pain issue addressed.

Because of this surgery, I reconnected with my Nana who was afraid to admit she stopped talking to me on account of embarrassment over her Aphasia– which she learned to circumvent via texting.  She was the only other person I knew with the same condition.

Now, the anesthesia and pain blocks are fading and I am transitioning to my schedule of pain killers-  I move by shuffling like an old man in a nursing home bingo game with a purple cane my husband purchased for me. (Purple Rain?  Purple Cane. Without with there is a great deal of pain) and tomorrow my father is bringing up some real crutches.  The surgery was only an hour, however, for that condition that’s double the standard.  The doctor said he would call me Saturday to check on me and re-explain what happened “when I would be in better shape to remember the conversation.  My foot is bound in several layers, inside and out- with metal holding my inner tendons and metal threads closing the wound after the nerve was removed.  I have two inches of padding, a rigid moonboot sandal I MUST wear (I can’t walk well) and the type of dressing that must be changed by the surgeon himself each week (which makes me a little ill to think of too much).

I am legally drugged to the teeth, but I made it through successfully.  The entire onus is on myself alone to “not walk” to damage the work done to my foot, and frankly, that’s terrifying.

But if Loki’s runes are Dagaz and Os,  The dawn of a new day as well as the facing of uncomfortable truths, today embodied it.

My estimated recovery time has been extended from 3 weeks to “a month, maybe longer”, but I was given a high amount of pain management options and I am trying to remember to take on schedule  (Vicodan makes me seriously itch.)

Scar

The next few weeks I have to watch my foot for swelling or changes of colour, prop it up on pillows, keep it entirely dry and unstepped upon by doggie feets.

They even allowed me to be discharged early and sent me home with more Ginger Ale to go and extra cookies.

I have NO IDEA why the doctor signed my leg with his initials.  Part of me hopes he made a cute little pattern out of the stitches like art-unlikely, but I actually will not see the stitches ever.  The picture above is when I changed one of the two layers of protective socks.

I don’t have a rash from doctors who don’t believe in Latex and Adhesive allergies.
I am home tonight because they listened and recorded carefully my allergies and sought the correct tape to use on me.

Regardless, it still itches like hell.  Likely from the Vicodan.  I am told it will hurt worse than it ever did for the first few days by some… if I walk.

I have a very loose plan figured for walking Ziu who NEEDS his daily long walk/sprint via friends and an elaborate dog park my neighbor is willing to drive us to visit on days I am without a “walker” to help me.

I now have a case worker who is helping me with Medicare to gain access to PTSD specialists and a possible peer mentor….in addition to possible reimbursement for music therapy lessons (I want to learn how to play Tool/Radiohead on the Viola.

…and now, after several nights without real sleep, I can sleep again as I feel myself fighting sleep to conclude this post.

Knowing I’ll be able to run with my dogs again shortly, in it’s way, is as beautiful as any art…

 

 

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3 Responses to “Tattoos and Wounds (Sometimes, Gods DO Get Along.)”

  1. I am so very, very glad that this is working out for you. ❤

  2. thetinfoilhatsociety Says:

    He initialed your leg as a confirmation of it being the correct foot to operate on. They go through a checklist after you’re asleep and before they start a single cut. One of the things on that checklist is a verbal agreement among all there that this is indeed the correct body part to be operating on. No one wants to be involved in a surgery where the wrong body part was removed!

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