Travels with Charlize, in search of living alone

Dr. David Gross
Dr. David Gross

Part 37: A much different kind of journey

Four weeks ago Charlize and I embarked on a new, a different kind of trip. This trip requires new and different skills. Both of us need to learn to be patient and to find ways to control the way we handle day-to-day emotions and frustrations.

Over three years earlier, the arthritis in my left ankle started to limit my physical activity and ability to get around pain free. Rosalie and I investigated what could be done. The options, after consulting experts, were to either replace the ankle joint with a prosthetic or fuse the joint. The advice from the surgeon was to continue to use the ankle brace I had been using for over a year at that point and a cane. We were told that when the pain became unbearable I would know it was time to do something.
About a year later, we started thinking surgery was a reasonable option. Then Rosalie was diagnosed with stage four-lung cancer and everything else was put on hold.

After she passed, exactly to the day, one year after the diagnosis, I was incapable of making almost any kind of decision regarding my own health.

Six months or so later l I was no longer able to walk Charlize for more than four or five blocks without intense pain. After our morning walk I had to ice the ankle and rest it for more than an hour to be able to take her for another walk. She was good about it though, somehow sensing about how long I could manage, turning back toward home after a couple of blocks. She even took care of her business early in the process so as not to prolong my discomfort.

So back to the surgeon and re-evaluation of the ankle. New radiographs and a CT scan showed significant progression with loss of almost all cartilage and bone loss of the distal end of the tibia, the long bone of the leg that forms the first portion of the ankle joint. After more research and discussion with the surgeon we decided the best option was to fuse the joint and not rely on a mechanical device that doesn’t have the same level of success, as do the artificial knee and hip joints.

Four weeks ago almost three hours of surgery was completed to the satisfaction of the surgeon. After two nights in the hospital I was home with a cast and facing twelve weeks of recovery with no weight bearing on my left leg. So this is the new journey Charlize and I share. We are coping and I will share with you the new challenges, the new friends, new helpers and new strengths we discover on this continuing journey through life.

  1. Sending positive, healing vibes your way. Sounds as if Charlize is a very loving companion. Keep writing please.

  2. I really enjoy reading about Charlize and your journey. I am so sorry to hear of this latest “turn in the road” but I am sure it will be so much better once you have strength and use of your ankle. Enjoy and allow the help of your friends, after all that is what friends are for. Wishing you a speedy recovery AND please give Charlize a big hug and rub from me!

  3. Glad you had such a great trip before your surgery. I too, am facing surgery,but in my
    knee. Have tried the 3 injections of jell, no improvement. Then 6 weeks of physical
    therapy really helped. I’ m sure you will be having therapy for many weeks and you’ll
    be just like new!! If you are a reader, there are so many books out there. Try James
    Michener’s, JOURNEY. It’s about the men in the Alaska gold rush.

  4. I hope you are feeling better. I would guess it is a day by day measure of improvement.
    I join Dotty Anderson with the request to keep writing!

  5. Twelve week, woah that’s a long time. Since we’ve gotten to know you in print, what help would feel good to you? Do you need dog walkers for Charilze? Let us readers know and I’d be glad to organize help.

  6. Thanks to all the folks who follow my wanderings, physical and mental. Charlize and I are both doing very well. I have great help and will write about those folks soon.

  7. May; thanks for the kind words. Both of my sons and I have had arthroscopic knee surgery, hope that’s all you need. I keep apologizing to them for the bad knees they inherited. I find riding a stationary bike really helps my knees, anxious to be able to start doing that again. I read Michener’s Journey, some time ago, but will get someone to look in my library for it. I’ve got a lot of books downstairs but can’t manage the stairs to get to them on my own. I am finding on re-reading that I discover more about the craft of writing missed on first reading. It’s an interesting experience and helpful for the writing I’m doing now.

  8. good luck with that i regularly take my goldens over to st edwards for about a 2 mile hike im sure it wouldnt be too much trouble to take another dog if you need somebody to walk your dog i would be glad to do it thanks and good luck with your recovery

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