Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Katrina, Meet Achilles.

Six months ago today, while Hurricane Katrina was having her way on the Gulf Coast, I was in an operating room having my recently-ruptured Achilles tendon repaired. (see pic, with nephew Chase, 2 weeks post-op) Naturally the events are unrelated, other than the coincidental timing, but somehow as I sit here staring at my crutches, I can't help but feel solidarity with the folks in the New Orleans area--who like me--are still struggling to get back on their feet.

My recovery time from the injury was supposed to be eight weeks. 10 weeks tops. I had every confidence in this timeframe, after all I had ruptured the other Achilles in Feb. 2002 (both times playing tennis) and was back on the court the following June. Just to clarify: Yes, you read correctly, I have managed to somehow rupture both Achilles tendons. Thank goodness I one have two feet, huh? But seriously, this injury is no joke. There is a reason this Achilles business is the stuff of epic mythology!

At the time of rupture #1, I had pretty comprehensive health insurance , and the surgery and recovery were routine. Basically, I had access to optimal treament and physical therapy and accordingly, I was back on my feet--better than ever--in no time flat. When lightning struck a second time there I was again, writhing in agony on the tennis court with another torn-up foot. Only this time, I was uninsured. I don't what was more excruciating, the pain of the injury or the anxiety associated with being uninsured at the time of a major health challenge.

So I did what everyone does when they're broke, uninsured and temporarily disabled: I became a charity case. Yup, that's what they call it when you get "charity care." Hey, I'm not too stuck-up to admit it. I just wanted to get my foot fixed. I could eat some crow and do whatever I had to in order to obtain treatment. In addition to the challenges of accessing care, I had some post-op complications as well. When the doc removed my cast, we discovered a blod clot had formed and that the original incision never closed. So what started as an orthopedic issue had become a serious wound-care issue. The first few weeks after an operation are critical in the recovery time. And since the problems were occuring underneath the cast and unbeknown to be or my doctor, it really set me back bigtime.

Summer turned to fall and I was still on the crutches. (see pic) And still unemployed. That's when I started this blog. (I should note that my partner Greg has been the sole breadwinner this whole time. I can't even contemplate what this would be like without his support.) Anyway, it was becoming increasingly clear at this point how much more patience it would take before I would be sprye as a gazelle again.

I should confess that all this "down time" has given me a chance to tend to some stuff that I might never have gotten around to: I got my credit back on track, got some dental issues straightened out, (hey, charity care has its perks) took up Mandarin Chinese, started the blog, and got heavily immersed in progressive activism.

But it's still been an ongoing challenge. Six months on and I still have to change the bandages on my foot twice a day. The incision is still not completely closed. It sucks dealing with a challenge as daunting as this. But when everything that could go wrong does go wrong, it can feel overwhelming at times. (Katrina anyone?) Which is why when I learned that today is the six month anniversary of Katrina is today, I cringed. Has it really been that long? Frankly, I stopped keeping track. Didn't even see the gruesome milestone coming.

So spring is almost here and I'm still on crutches. (see pic) Won't be long before it's tennis weather again. And hurricane season.


'Bean said...

Good post, as always, Jay.

And looking mighty cutie-pie there with the 'phew (you - NOT the wee one!).

Anonymous said...


I'm so sorry for your injury and difficult road to recovery. But I must say, I enjoyed your prose. You are a gifted writer. Perhaps you have found a new talent , perhaps a new career.
God Bless you for using your time in such a thoughtful and valuable way.

I recently had a similar situation and had to take extended time from work without pay. It nearly did me in. I don't have anyone to help financially and I lost quite a bit while I was out. Luckily I didn't fall behind in bills or lose the house. It's a humbling experience for sure.

Good Luck, and let me know if you have any nursing questions. I don't charge much.

Matthew said...

good post jay, love the last picture with the crutches in the background. maybe soon they'll start inching farther and farther away.

Orchidmaniac said...

Darling, the camera loves you! Remember, it is better to look good than to feel good, and you look marvelos.

David Amulet said...

I heard a report this morning that there is some video of Louisiana's governor telling the administration that the levees were holding and would be fine ... three hours after they had started collapsing. Oops.

Too bad we spend more attention looking back and playing blame games than focusing on the future. Reminds me of a line from Finger Eleven: "Looking forward never turns out the wrong way."

-- david

Mark Spittle said...

Ditto here. I didn't know about your injury. Hope you get back to 100% and don't ever tear your third Achilles tendon! I hear that one is the worst!

jay lassiter said...

Good news! as of march 3rd, i have graduated to the cane!!

'Bean said...

Mazel Tov?

Loved your commentary about sHillary over at Pam's, btw.

I'll be getting you and Pam some info on the in-party challenger.

We have to dump the damn DINOs.


Nordette Adams said...

This is a thoughtful and very well done post, Jay. I really enjoyed it.

The Jersey Goddess and New Orleans Queen. ;-)