“I don’t like how swollen that leg is. I need you to go right now and get a sonogram to rule out a blood clot.”
Are you kidding me? No no no no no “Let me see the other foot. Maybe you just have big legs.”
Stunned silence. Still processing scary blood clot sentence.
Big leg comment is a nose behind blood clot then she takes the lead.
I don’t have cankles, so shut up Mr. Dr. Surgeon Fancy Pants
“No, it’s swollen.”
Back to blood clot.
I am alone. The nurse tells me I need to go to the imaging center at the hospital just down the street. We are in the “Cedars corridor”—Cedars-Sinai being the hospital where all the stars are whisked off to after they have had ten too many.
He asks me if I have a GP. I do and I don’t. My GP works in an office that serves the entertainment community. When they close at 5 pm, that’s it—no contacting your physician. I kept meaning to get a stand-alone doctor but it never happened. It took me a long time to find her and now she isn’t enough.
“Well, if you do have a clot you need to talk to your GP so they can call in the right drugs or you have to go to the ER, and meanwhile a starlet will be next to you calling her doctor to get her released and you will have to wait six hours. The nurse will set you up. I wouldn’t be able to sleep if you didn’t get this done NOW”
This surgeon is brilliant in the OR. but in the real world he appears to bounce off walls. His surgeon superpower is he can charm you into thinking he has given you enough answers and when you lift your head to ask a question you only see a plume of smoke where he was once standing. It fits because he is also a hobbyist magician.
I call Dr. Fancy Pants back to talk. I give him a bit of my fear out loud and jump ahead to me sitting for hours alone in the ER. I can’t believe he can’t prescribe something if I do indeed have a clot. He is a bit testy with me. “I don’t know what to tell you Randi, but it’s less than a 5% chance.”
Dr. Fancy Pants should have led with that.
Once in the car I reach for the apple slices I have packed in an effort to keep healthy choices near me.
It’s a Fuji, I am more of a pear gal. The juice goes down the wrong pipe and I am choking and driving. (An apple a day will kill you; a french fry never hurt me like that.) Just as I feel I will survive without a crash here comes a huge sneeze…a sneeze that the Cal Tech scientists clocked. I have tiny teeny bits of apple all over my steering wheel and on the inside of the front windshield. It was all just too much for my full bladder. It’s the least of my problems. Funny how everything is in perspective when you have blood clot on the brain.
It wasn’t a big deal until the sonogram tech told me I had to take off my pants for the test.
“Really? Can’t I just pull up the leg of the pants?”
“No I need access to your groin”
Thank god it was a woman and my kegeling, while not completely fail-safe, kept the issue not quite as bad as it felt. When I packed that apple it never crossed my mind to pack a spare pair of drawers.
I ask her how this will go down. She says: “I will either say you are free to go or I’ll excuse myself to make a phone call.”
Five minutes later she said: “You are free to go.”
The leg was exceptionally swollen because Dr. F.P. kept me and my post-surgical ankle dangling for over 2 hours.
December 13, 2018: it’s the night before I am to film a fun part on the hit ABC show The Rookie. The phone rings. It’s Dr. F.P., the results from the MRI had come in and my tendon was indeed shredded and I would need a posterior tibial tendon transplant and a calcaneal osteotomy (they borrow a tendon to transplant then they put two screws in the back of your heel to correct the structural issues that got you there) The “good” news was if I get into surgery quickly a cadaver piece will not be necessary. I still haven’t asked what that would have entailed. I think curiosity will win out over my squeamishness at my next appointment I’ll see if I can ask before he goes up in smoke.
The next day I showed up on set having cried a bit too much. It didn’t matter. I didn’t need to look particularly attractive—in fact, at one point I would be playing dead. Weeks before I had been fitted for a prosthesis where the small pruning sheers would end up sprouting from my neck. I had so much fun playing the nosy neighbor, Emma, and the synergy that I had with the director was a gift from the heavens. If you make a bunch of men swallow a giggle as they film you, that’s the kind of confirmation that cannot be paid for. I am working on a behind the scenes video of this job and if you like that kind of thing it will be up on the TST website.
I had been in pain for a while but unlike the first leg it just didn’t seem like something that bad was going down. It didn’t until it did. It presented itself differently than the first time 12 years ago when I had it done on the left foot. Yup, I had gone down this same path before. It’s a rare hindfoot malfunction—just lucky I guess. When the doctor found out I had just danced in a Super Bowl commercial not even two months prior he was shocked. I had taped that foot that day in an effort to get through it. It does explain why walking last March in New York felt more difficult.
“What did you do? How did you injure it?” That’s everyone’s first question. People ask this kind of question because they want to avoid whatever horrific activity you did. I am guilty of the same behavior. The truth is I was born with “get out of the army” flat feet. I was fitted for orthotics at the age of eight but they were so painful I never really wore them. I can still picture the hideous blue leather Buster Browns they resided in. Logically, my age would dictate my dancing should have been less in the time that has passed between surgeries, but in the last 12 years I had more dance work than the decade before that. I am sure that had some impact on the foot.
I had already done the research and I knew that Doctor Fancy Pants was the right doctor. He was much less fancy back then. This surgery is a blend of finesse and science. This surgery had very different results depending on who held the scalpel. Podiatrists do this surgery as well but I wanted an orthopedic surgeon who specialized in feet and who was an expert in what was 12 years ago a relatively new procedure.
I got three opinions. One of the most highly recommended foot surgeons wanted to fuse my ankle (the antiquated way of dealing with this injury), a choice that would end all dancing and insure early-onset ankle arthritis. I then found my current surgeon. I wasn’t as concerned about the procedure, or the two months of non-weight bearing that would follow surgery. That part came with the right proper pain meds. I was also very fortunate for Mom’s care and her one-level, wheelchair-accommodating condo.
What concerned me was the long road back to “normal,” and would my normal be the same now that I am 12 years older? The good news is singing and swinging with my band doesn’t require me to bump and grind although sometimes I throw it in for free.
How we treat differently-abled humans was something I experienced while I recovered this time. Since it was my right foot I wasn’t able to drive nor did I get a knee scooter, which meant much more time in a wheelchair. The fear of all of that kept me silent about the surgery until now. The experience has made me think more about empathy, hasty judgments, and how important Lucille the Parking Fairy is.
I am still finding dried apple shards on the dashboard of my car. I like to think it’s why Lucille has been good to me.