International Surgery – Yahoo!

As you may recall from my recent Malawi post, I hurt my big toe. I know, it’s dumb. What was a simple and annoying injury has turned into something that has been all-consuming*, despite my attempts to the contrary. I tried to keep up with my usual schedule – I kept meetings with folks here about volunteering, still ran errands, etc. But after not sleeping through the night since it happened and the infection continuing to get worse, I went to an MD again and she referred me to an orthopedic surgeon. So, this Monday, I went to Jakaranda Hospital and met with the tallest doctor I’ve ever seen about my toe. (He must be 6’8″ or something.) He squeezed and prodded my toe while I tried not to scream and said that we’d have to remove my toenail, clean up the debris and let it properly heal. And he operates on Wednesdays so we were on the schedule for the day after next. Phew.

The way our insurance works, we had to pay in advance and then we’ll get reimbursed. So, on Tuesday, I had to convert USD to Rand – always an adventure – and make deposits for the surgeon and for the anesthesiologist. (Because they don’t take payment by credit card.) So, that was fun. Then, both offices called to request I e-mail them pictures of the banking deposits to show that I’ve paid so they can confirm my spot on the schedule for the next morning. (Luckily, the hospital bill, the biggest portion, could be paid in person with a credit card. Sheesh.)

The next day, we woke up at 5:30 am and went to the hospital. Upon arrival, we were asked to fill out some paperwork and they gave me the consent form for the surgeon to sign. It really should have been filled out in advance, we realized, as it had pre-op instructions, things to avoid, etc. Super. Luckily, I happened to have complied with the instructions, having had surgery in the past. We went to the ward and were taken to a room with four other patients, where I was given a bed and told to get comfortable. There was a gown and cap on my bed and I asked if I should change. They said that my surgery wasn’t until 11:00 am so I could wait. Umm… We’d been told that it would be a short procedure so I had really hoped that it would be earlier, since we got there so early. Apparently not. In the end, I had to wait until 12:45 pm and almost chewed my arm off as I hadn’t eaten since 7:00 pm the night before. I was taken to the OR – my first time ever being rolled around in a bed! I didn’t love it – and talked with the surgeon and the anesthesia tech. From what I remember from my previous surgery, I was given the sedation meds before being taken back. This wasn’t the case. In a swift series of motions, they put sensors on my chest, a tourniquet on my leg, an IV in my arm (with no alcohol swab before, blech), gas over my face, all at once. And it was freezing in there! Luckily, I fell asleep relatively quickly!


I woke up and my first question was if I talked in my sleep. Erm… I also felt a lot of pain and asked if I could get more medicine so I got an injection in my butt. Then, they showed me the chunk of wood that had been lodged in my toe. So, the surgery was a very good idea, indeed. (Phew!) Finally, I got to see Jon and went back to the room, where my spaghetti bolognese was waiting for me. Ordinarily, showing up to a bowlful of pasta would be like Christmas for me but I didn’t feel hungry anymore. Still, I thought I should eat so I ate half and shared the other with Jon, who also hadn’t eaten yet, poor guy. After a little while, I was told I could be discharged and the nurse took my IV out with no gloves on. Then, she went to another patient’s bed with my pulled-out needle and set it on the table to take out hers. Mmmkay. The other patients all spoke Afrikaans to each other so we hadn’t really interacted with them much but they started talking to us after I got back from my surgery. Just in time, too, as one of the other patient’s husband told Jon to be careful when he’s traveling and to not get a girlfriend or he’ll get HIV. So, really glad they started talking to us… We were happy to head out and they wheeled me downstairs to get my medications from the pharmacy – antibiotics, probiotics, pain meds, gauze, ointment, etc. – and then out to the car. My saint of a husband even watched “Bad Moms” with me that night when I was still loopy…

Yesterday, Thursday, we did our first dressing change and I almost passed out from the pain. But, Jon was firm and motivated so it happened relatively quickly. Thank goodness for him. And for codeine.

– By Naama

*Thanks to those who have checked on me. I’ve been trying very hard not to be a baby about this and thanks for indulging me, despite me being unsuccessful at times. Double shout-out to Jon Crisp, a super-star nurse and caretaker. (I think he’s just aspiring to be as good as his brother is at this.) Speaking of, shout-outs to Josh and to Javeria, who tried to discern what the pictures I sent them meant and worked to assuage my fears that I was going to lose my toe. 🙂 Finally, I neglected to thank Risa and Brad in my earlier post (and have since rectified that) for helping me when I got injured despite the temptation of s’mores and alcohol that they were missing out on.

9 thoughts on “International Surgery – Yahoo!

  1. glad you are feeling better sweet friend… what an adventure! SIDE NOTE: there is a much easier way to get a pedicure 😉


  2. Poor Naama! What an ordeal! 😕 Speedy healing, love, and kisses as you recouperate! Wish I could hug you in person.


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