To say that I was afraid for this op was an understatement. A total ankle replacement takes anything between four and six hours, and being “under” for so long was a daunting prospect. I had a lengthy chat to the anaesthetist beforehand. He wanted to know about every time I had an anaesthetic going right back to my childhood. “Why so much detail?” I asked. It was to gauge my resilience to anaesthetic. The most important thing I could tell him, I thought, was that I was a recovering alcoholic.
“Why are you telling me this?” he asked bemused. It is so you don’t prescribe any alcohol based painkillers I told him. “Ah, no problem.” Perhaps a small thing, but I do know it concerns fellow alcoholics, and I dealt with this problem on other forums. I am unsure if it was relevant or not, but I felt comforted that I would not be dealing with one more added stress.
“We are also going to put in a ‘block’ to help with the pain.” A local anaesthetic nerve block is short-term, usually lasting 15-20 hours, involving the injection of an anaesthetic, a corticosteroid and other agents onto or near a nerve.
Well then, there we were – I was lying in a corridor outside the theatre waiting my fate. Will I have a replacement or a fusion? That was uncertain. Would I survive the operation? Would I be in pain? I looked up at a smiling surgeon, “see you on the other side.”
“Counting back from ten….” I closed my eyes and drifted away…