Here's my theory: it's all part of a genetic mutation that stems back to the Bronze Age, known as the 'Celtic Curse', which amongst other things, can be responsible for accelerated osteo-arthritis in guess where... the ankle. So be warned, even if you have just a few strands of Celtic DNA, you should probably read about the curse here, then order yourself a couple of ankle supports from Amazon.
I'm blessed with generous measures of Scots, Welsh & Irish cells in my genetic chemistry, something about which I'm very proud and that I identify closely with. But sometime in my late teens/early 20's, I realized I'd also inherited the good old Celtic 'glass ankle'. My Dad had it too. So does my Son.
Over two decades, my ankle rocked and rolled for fun - whether running for a bus or 'last-orders' in the pub, if there was an uneven paving stone anywhere in my vicinity, one of my ankles would find it and 'boom!'... here we go again...
At some point along the way, my right ankle seemed to take centre stage and with it, most of the trauma. So by the time I was in my 40's, it really needed some TLC and this is where my medical history begins.
In December 2013, I had a two-titanium pin, ankle fusion surgery, that you can see on the right of the picture at the top of this post. It was pretty straightforward, but I remember sitting with my surgeon in London, looking at my CT scans one winter's evening, when he said he couldn't decide whether I needed two screws or three. I said that as I had no desire to be back in surgery anytime soon if it was a borderline deccision, then please go with the three. With the very best intentions he said 'no, I want to keep you as much mobility in your foot as possible, so I'll stick with two'. Oh, how I wish I'd pushed the issue...
That said, I got maybe 5 or 6 good years out of that surgery, for which I was relieved and grateful. But then very gradually, my foot started to turn progressively to the right, a few degrees by a few degrees, over a couple of years, until it could without question be described as 'wonky' (medical term). I remember my daughter Kitty asking me one morning if I'd put my shoes on the wrong feet, so somethinng was most definitely awry.
The bio-mechanics of my right foot were changing, my bones were growing and moving, as everyones bones do, but mine were restricted by two titanium screws in one area, but not in another. And that 'other' was where the third screw should've been all along goddamnit! In it's absence, my weight was being forced through the right side of my foot, skewing the bottom of my tibia and by 2021 I was in constant pain whenever I walked - and I was walking with a pronounced limp. ('dragging my foot along' as Mrs Boyle described it). So all things considered, it was time to get it looked at again.
In July 2021, a chain of events started with a guy with a 'wonky' foot walking into a doctors office, to him being 9 days out from a trans-tibial amputation in just 6 months. In the months in between, I had two surgeries, a series of constant, horrible infections and was on antibiotics for most of the Fall. Then finally and conclusively, I contracted a severe case of osteomyelitis that has not only ransacked my foot and lower-leg, but for over a month at the beginning of 2022, made me sicker than I ever remember being before.
So, I met with a different doctor.
On the left of the picture at the top of this post, is an x-ray of the surgery I had on September 17th 2021. On Monday February 7th 2022, all of the metalwork you can see in the picture was removed by my new doctor. It was in my foot for 143 days.
For most of those 143 days, my right foot looked like this:
When the metalwork was removed, so was the debris caused by a Staphylococcus infection rising up my tibia, an Enterococcus infection also in my tibia and a second Staphylococcus infection in my calcaneus. It was a shit-show (medical term).
I learned this when I saw my bacteriology results on my 'MyChart' App two Mondays ago and at that moment I knew in my heart how this was going to end.
Mary and I then saw my doctor last Thursday to have the 'tough' conversation, we spoke with our close family about it over thee weekend, and my amputation is now booked for Friday March 4th. Bish. Bash.Bosh.
I'm going to write a separate post about the topsy-turvy, chaotic psychological process of getting used to all of this. But what I find absolutely impossible to comprehend is the speed with which all of this has happpened to me. So much so, I'm not even sure I understand it actually 'is' happening to me. But I better had pretty soon.
I have nine days to get my head right, which I know I will. But given that I started this post describing the 'Celtic Curse', I'll end it with a supremely appropriate Irish turn of phrase... for now, my emotions are 'up-and-down' like a fiddlers elbow'.