This is one of my favourite clips ever:
How bloody fantastic would it be to twirl Mary around on the rooftops of London, leaping and jumping like you could have total faith in your ankles? Dick Van Dyke, I envy you. And while I am fulfilling the last part of your name, the jumping and twirling bits have been beyond me for many years.
I have an ankle that was damaged quite badly several years ago. Seven years ago, actually. I fell down some steps at work, completely severing one ligament and high grade tears in two other ligaments in my right ankle. I also broke the bones, but it was the ligament damage that finished off my days of dancing on rooftops.
Fast forward seven years, subsequent fractures and even more sprains, strains and auto mobiles (not so much the auto mobiles but it just fit nicely) and I’m on a cruise ship with my beloved. On holidays. Being normal and relaxing and walking in a completely sober state back to our cabin, and I fell over the instability of my right ankle and listen to the bones crack (again) and felt the popping of ligaments (again).
This was a standard holiday photo for us.
But it’s when you realise that you can’t even go on holidays without breaking your ankle, that you know something needs to be done.
So yesterday I met a lovely foot surgeon. I’d waited three months to see him. That’s three months of limping around in CAM boots, crutches, braces, support socks. It’s a long time. Particularly when you add the previous 7 years to it. So I was actually very anxious about seeing him. And when I get anxious, I tend to get nervous. And when I am anxious and nervous, it is highly likely that I will speak without thinking. I’ll forget to engage my brain.
Surgeon: Hello, I’m Dr Foot Surgeon (not his real name). You’re Kellie? You look very familiar, where do I know you from?
Me: Well… Do you watch a lot of porn?
My Beloved: Shrinks into her seat.
Surgeon: Well. That’s one I haven’t heard before. Should I Google you and see what comes up?
Me: BAHAHAHAHAHAHA! By the way, this is my beloved (not her real name).
My Beloved: Shrinks further into her seat.
Surgeon: Oh, are you in these porn clips too?
The man is a saint.
It set a great tone for what was a bloody hard appointment. Because we’d literally just overheard him talking with another person about their ankle, and that the public system had a wait time of around 18 months. The other patient asked a totally reasonable question: “What do I do for the next 18 months?”
I tuned out then, in a mix of panic and heart-sink.
I couldn’t do another 18 months.
Anyway, surgeon came in and we greeted each other in the way I just described to you (yes, REALLY). He played around with my foot and proceeded to measure the instability of my ankle by pulling on it. He was able to pull my foot a good inch (at least) away from the end of my leg. Which was peculiar because I discovered that pulling my foot away from my leg actually resulted in yanking my tummy and making me feel quite ill. It was kind of gross.
What was worrying though was the measure of surprise on his face. And on his Intern’s face.
Dr Foot Surgeon explained the surgery that was needed and told me of the wait for such an operation.
Now, this is where my story ends differently from the other patient’s.
I have hospital cover. No other private health cover, just hospital. A wise investment from when my mental health was needing more support, which has proven to come in handy when it comes to getting things like carpal tunnel repaired. I told him of my health cover, and he is able to give me a new ankle relatively soon.
I’m seeing him in August to do the hospital paperwork.
I suspect I’ll have a newly constructed ankle by the end of August/September.
And I’m really, really grateful.
It’s hard though, to imagine how I would cope if I had to wait another 18 months. At least I am somewhat used to this. The other patient looked like she had sustained a fairly recent injury – which may not have been a long term issue for her like mine is for me. How shitty it must be to be on the beginning of that journey into ankle hell.
It’s also hard to understand why having private health cuts that wait time down so enormously. I get that I pay for it and therefore can jump those wait lists by getting my ankle repaired privately, but what I don’t understand is how there can be a 14 month difference in waiting times.
So, while I am fucking stoked and relieved and excited about finally getting surgery, I have to say I feel pretty sad for the other patient. I hope she finds a way to manage her pain and her mobility. And I hope that by having private health and getting my foot repaired privately, I free up a spot in the public system for her.
Am I the only one who wants to step in time? Have you had ankle surgery? What’s the recovery like? Will I ever be able to dance with Mary Poppins on the rooftops of London?