my subtalar fusion: two screws, one bionic foot, and the kindness of many strangers

foot xray subtalar fusion dec 9 2014See those two screws, the ones that were inserted into my right foot through an incision in my heel? It’s called a subtalar fusion, and it’s why I haven’t posted here in almost a month.

Long story, short: my rheumatoid arthritis (RA) got between two bones in my foot and wore away all the cartilage to the point that the two bones were rubbing against each other. I had been limping on my foot for about a year, sometimes barely noticing the pain. But when the pain went from bad to worse and I lost (almost) all function in the foot, I went to see Dr. Hubbard, Chief of the Foot and Ankle Service at Mount Sinai Beth Israel. He told me he could fix me, and two short weeks later I was on his surgical table, getting those two guys put in place so I could once again walk painlessly. (I hate to sound like surgery is no big deal, but three years ago I had a C1-C2 fusion surgery on my neck, also with titanium screws, and also because of my RA, which made me a lot more comfortable going into this one.) Once the joint has healed, the screws will keep the bones away from each other, while still allowing it to function as a “normal” foot.

It’s now been three weeks since foot surgery, and tomorrow, it’s time to go back to work. I have been so nervous about how I would get around, how I would open doors, how I would have enough energy to make it through the day. And then yesterday I went outside by myself for the first time in a month — using the life-saving knee scooter that Brian bought me — and I figured out how I would do it.

First there was the guy a block from our building who pulled his truck over, hopped out, and came over to fix the steering on my scooter. Then there was the lady at the corner of 12th and 5th who saw me stumble and asked where I was going, because she wanted to make sure I got there safe. And how about the guy at the corner of Charles and 7th Avenue who asked if he could please drive me home? (I politely declined.)

The answer is: I wouldn’t have to worry about doing any of the things I’ve been worrying about, because strangers would help me. Total strangers. And that was just three of them! Others helped simply by smiling, acknowledging that I was having a little bit of a hard time. It’s one of the many reasons I love New York. These people didn’t want anything in return; they did it out of the goodness of their hearts.

So my worrying, like most worrying, was for naught.

I’ve still got a long road to recovery — another week in the hard cast, six weeks or so in a boot — but at least now I can focus all of my energy on healing and getting back to a healthy, strong place — a healthier, stronger place than I was pre-bionic foot. I want to keep my RA at bay with good food, fresh food, real food, and lots of herbal supplements and vitamins. And when I need, like I did with the strangers yesterday, I’ll lean on western medicine for help. I’m hoping that won’t be often (or at all), but I can only do the best I can. Which is where TV Dinner comes in. As soon as I am back on my feet I plan to get back in the kitchen and cook lots of new recipes… ones that bring wellness and strength to my body. And in the meantime, in the coming weeks, I’ll share some recipes that I cooked up before surgery.

Have any questions about a subtalar fusion, my doctor, medicines, supplements, or RA in general? Ask away — either in the comments below or click here to send me an email. I respond to every single one.

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