What They Don’t Know

Doctors and nurses care for you as a patient, but what they don’t know would fill far more than a thimble.

Putting your life (and your ankle) in someone else’s hands isn’t easy.

I’ve only met Dr. McConn one time at his office. I know that he’s 37 years old and has done a lot of arthroscopic surgery during his career.

In What They Don't Know is how beautiful my garden currently is.

I know that he stays on top of things because I saw a letter in My Chart that he sent to my primary care doctor.

This Is That Letter:

Thank you for the referral and for giving us the opportunity to be involved in your patient’s care. We will be sure to engage all efforts to improve your patient’s quality of life and assist the patient in getting back to the desired activity level.

Please see below for my plan regarding the patient’s recent visit to our clinic.  Diagnoses and all orders for this visit: 

Peroneal tendon injury, right, initial encounter

Post-traumatic arthritis of the right ankle

Transient synovitis, unspecified ankle and foot

MEDICAL DECISION-MAKING AND TREATMENT:  

#1:

We have had a thorough and meaningful discussion regarding the patient’s condition and etiology.  We have talked about both the clinic and radiographic findings pertaining to their ongoing pain discomfort due to post-traumatic changes of the right ankle.  

We discussed that she is exhausted from all forms of conservative management including boots, custom bracing, physical therapy, and injections.  

At this point, she continues to have considerable pain as well as extensive limitations, and therefore would like to move forward with something more aggressive.

#2: 

Surgical intervention will consist of an ankle arthroscopy, repair of the peroneus brevis tendon, and removal of ectopic bone at the syndesmotic level.

#3:

A postoperative course was also discussed which will include non-weight-bearing to the operative extremity for the first 2 weeks post-operatively.

At the 2-week postoperative interval, the patient will be allowed to WBAT in a protective boot, and remain in the boot for the following 4 weeks.

During the 2 weeks to the 6-week post-operative interval, the patient will be instructed to perform light range of motion exercises at the operative site.

At the 6-week postoperative interval, the patient will transition slowly out of the boot into a sports brace and begin formal physical therapy.

All in all 3-4 months to get back to normal life and a year to full recovery are anticipated.   

Timothy P. McConn

Normal life. I think I’ve forgotten much of what that might look like during the last 10 years. Actually, it is 10 years in July. The injury happened in July 2012.

One of Dr. McConn’s nurses called Friday instructing me to pick up 4 medications. And so I did that.

Ornamental grasses are somehow elegant in the way they sway in the wind.

At The 24-Hour Mark:

At the 24-hour mark, you start to think of vital things. Important things. What would happen to Ivy if something happened to me during surgery and anesthesia.

I told my daughters once that if my pet/pets were not taken care of I would haunt them from my grave for the rest of their lives.

You take care of last-minute details. And then go over and over them again to see if you’ve missed some small but important detail.

At the 24-hour mark, you think back to the last ankle surgery in 2014. You recall the IV being put in and the anesthesiologist briefly speaking to you. He/she explained what they were about to do.

Then you start counting backward from 100. I recall that I usually could count about 2-3 numbers before the oblivion set in.

One of you said that the first 3 days are the worst. So I keep that in mind as the hours bring me closer to leaving for the hospital.

I ride my scooter around the apartment and make notes of any problematic areas. And then alter them.

Handing Yourself Over To Strangers:

Handing yourself over to strangers is a scary proposition. They only know a few things about you. And all that is in a medical chart.

These people don’t know that you favor the color red. Or that you prefer to listen to solo piano music compositions.

They don’t know about this blog or that I’ve poured the last 13+ years of my life into it. With both heart and soul. That I’ve not held back.

I’ve tried to give the best advice that I know of and I’ve given you my tips on decorating and gardening.

And I’ve shared intense grieving and happiness as well.

They don’t know that I’ve moved in the last 6 months, or that I have kind neighbors who I now consider friends.

In what they don't know, it would fill this water fountain. Perhaps a much larger vessel.

I still don’t like crowds or loud noises. None of that has changed. It’s who I’ve always been. But another side of me has slowly emerged. And you have noticed and commented on it.

What They Don’t Know & Never Will:

They don’t know that I like a cozy home and the things I love surrounding me.

They don’t know that I like the sound of running water. And especially the rain as it pours down from the sky. That I even like thunder as it booms and crackles. And the lightning as it flashes and temporarily lights up the sky.

They don’t know that my strongest childhood memory is of chasing lightning bugs through the shadows of that chapter in my life.

Or that my innocence was short-lived and I had to become an adult practically overnight. But that’s okay. Because of all of that, it’s made me who I am. And I wouldn’t change it. Because then I’d be someone else.

They don’t know that I have all of you to support me. That I don’t know your faces or the sound of your voice. But I often recognize who’s writing the comments without looking.

They don’t know that I consider you all my friends. Or that I couldn’t have gotten through this last decade of my life without you.

The Next Phase Of What They Don’t Know About Me:

And so we move toward the next phase. I’m no longer that 52-year-old woman who began a blog. I am now 65, officially a senior. I’ve written hundreds and hundreds of pages about all kinds of things.

I hope some of it was beneficial. That it helped you in some small way.

What they don't know is that bokeh appears in the vague circles of light that you see in this photo. They move apart, merge together. A brilliance you cannot touch. Out of focus points of light.

As is expected, readers have come and gone. Some of you have died, and some have moved on because you don’t need this blog anymore. That’s just how life is.

What they don’t know, especially what they don’t know, is that I savor life. The good and the bad.

That I’m mostly happy. And I see the glass as half-full instead of half-empty.

They don’t know that I’ve created a thousand miles worth of memories in those 65 years.

That I’ve gone down through the valleys and ventured up the hills. Or that I’ve fallen many times, but gotten back up to begin yet again.

What they don’t know would fill more than a thimble. Or a bucket or a much larger vessel. But what they don’t know isn’t really important, is it?

It’s their expert care that I count on as oblivion overtakes me. And for a time I’ll be floating somewhere no one can reach me.

We are not machines,wrote Michael Egnor in “What Is Your Soul Doing When You’re Under Anesthesia?”

Our mental powers are altered by drugs and injury and death but there is strong scientific evidence that mental powers of the soul persist in many conditions which we traditionally have called “unconsciousness.”

Allan Leslie Combs, Ph.D:

What is commonly lost under anesthesia is memory. Combs wrote. Even though a person may not fully lose consciousness, that person does lose the memories that occur at this time.

So, my friends, I may have no memory of you when I’m under anesthesia. But I do plan to see you again on the other side.

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106 Comments

  1. Hi Brenda. I woke up this morning thinking about you and saying a prayer that your surgery goes well today! If prayers alone could fix your ankle, you’d be up and running immediately! That’s how much each and every one of us are thinking about you and praying for our friend to have a successful surgery and a speedy recovery! Sending lots ((hugs)) and prayers your way! 🙏 ❤

  2. Well, it’s Monday, late morning, and I pray all went well for you. I hope the pain is minimal and the outcome better than you expected. I don’t often comment, but I’ve read your blog for many years and it’s part of my day, every day! You have many friends.

  3. I am thinking of you this morning, Brenda, and anxious to hear from you once you are able to let us know how you are doing. Wishing you a successful surgery, and one that brings great relief to you ankle…and to your peace of mind! Good luck, my friend!

  4. I have been with you since you were still in Texas, before your divorce. I was a lost soul then, fresh from my own divorce. I feel like we’re old friends. Wishing you well for tomorrow. But most of all, I wish this time you can recover your life as before your initial fall.

  5. Brenda, I will be thinking about you and sending healing thoughts directly to you. And hoping this brings you relief and ease.

  6. Brenda, such a soul-baring post today. I am one of your many followers and want you to know that I do consider you a friend. Having any kind of surgery where you are unconscious is an act of faith. Faith in the medical people involved and faith in your ability to come through it and tackle the recovery process whatever it entails. I believe that you are going to meet the challenge as you have met all the difficult challenges you’ve had in your life. I am sending you love and healing tho’ts and will be thinking of you tomorrow all day. I will light a candle to remind me to focus positive tho’ts on your well-being. And I will look forward to your next post whenever that occurs. Be calm and breathe and imagine walking without pain or difficulty.

    1. It’s now a few minutes before 4 a.m. I woke up around 3:30. I’ll be leaving in about 15 minutes. Thanks for your kind support!

  7. We will all be right here anxiously waiting to hear all about your surgery. Don’t rush because there is no reason to rush. Sending healing thoughts and prayers with gentle hugs to you.

    Hugs, Brenda!

  8. Brenda, I’ve been here since you had your blog. I enjoy seeing you pop up in my email daily to see what is going on.
    Thank you for all the tips on gardening.
    I hope tomorrow is quick and successful!
    You are being thought of.
    Teresa

  9. Brenda, I am praying for you, for the doctor and nurses, and for your healing. You are a writer who touches people’s heart. On Tuesday, early, our daughter Mary Beth is having her second ankle surgery to take out screws and a steel plate and replace with new hardware. She is looking forward to reaching the time to living with less pain. Eventually she will have more surgery on her neck to help with pain from a bad car accident from about 10 years ago. So please pray for her when you can. God bless you. Carolyn

    1. Oh my! Then she knows exactly how I’m feeling this morning just before 4 a.m. And how you are feeling anxious as well.

  10. Prayers for your surgeon and staff and may your surgery be a great success. I hope also and pray for comfort and pain management. I know you are ready for a resolution. Thanks for sharing your Blog and glad you now have both good friends and Family to assist you in healing time and process. Take care. ps..Sounds like you found a great Surgeon.

  11. Beautifully written, Brenda. I will be thinking of you and praying for you first thing in the morning when I wake up. I know that recovery will be long and painful, but you are a tough woman and have gotten through so much in your life, that you will get through this, too. Remember that a lot of us out here will be thinking of you and sending good vibes, healing wishes and prayers your way…and for the surgeon and medical staff taking care of you, too.

  12. Brenda on June second I undwent gall bladder surgery . I am a rather recent widow . My husband of nearly fifty two years went to sleep in August 22nd of 2020 and never woke up. He had several health issues but his sudden death was HALTING and awakening at the same time, Then a few months later our cat adopted about eight years earlier stated projectile vomiting . Thus on November seventh I sat in the parking lot shaking as I spoke on the phone to be be given more devastaing news. My dear buddy had a malignancy . I lost my vision that evening, Macular degeneration . I have very low vision and can no longer drive. I have enjoyed lurking on your blog off and on for years. I lost the link when my computer died . I love that you share your life with readers, I love that you have progressed from despair to hope filled. God and my faith and friends have sustained me . I know you are a decade younger than myself but I enjoy reading and quietly encouraging you . Today I find compelled to say how gratful I am and I want to offer encouragement as you navigate the next few months . I will pray for you as you heal . Regards Pat Norton

  13. I also will be praying for you! I see a surgeon Thursday about, MULTIPLE GALLSTONES! We will both be recooperating together! By the time I have my surgery, you will be well on your way to healing! If I had one thing to tell us all besides saying our prayers, it would be we ALL need to be patient for healing….I want to be well yesterday, lol! Email me if you need anything.

  14. I’m praying that this will relieve all the issues you’ve had the last 10 years.

  15. What beautiful words spoken by a beautiful soul. I will be praying for you at 7 am when you are ready for surgery and by the sounds of the communication he sent in your May Chart, you have a very competent doctor who knows the extent of your ankle pain all these years and will do all he can to relieve your pain finally. We will all be here anxiously awaiting your next post telling us it’s all behind you and Ivy is good company while you recuperate.

  16. Brenda, I my thoughts and prayers are with you as you go down this next path in life. I wish I was closer to help with those daily chores. You continue to give all of us, your readers and your friends, so much help, love and life advice that it is only natural to want to help you at this time. After reading this latest post, I know you have chosen the right person for your surgery. Dr. McConn’s letter was impressive to say the least!!! Take care and I’ll be so looking forward to your post surgery correspondence.

  17. Hi Brenda,
    I am so glad you found this surgeon. His plan is well thought out in steps with progress being the goal. It is very realistic and shows he is the real deal as far as a doctor goes. It is very difficult to find good ones these days. Just refer to the written plan often and don’t be discouraged as the surgery won’t be an instant fix – all. Recovery takes time and as your ankle heals you will see the improvement.
    Wow, you have been through the ringer with the ankle with pain and I don’t know how you put up with it for so long. I believe everything has fallen into place and this surgery will at long last be the answer you were hoping for. I know in my gut it will go well! We will all be thinking of you and praying for you tomorrow! You got this girl!

    1. I look back and I can’t believe it’s been 10 years of this. Off and on. Some years were better than others. I’m taking it easy today.

  18. Although I am not keen on going to young doctors, I am excited to hear that yours is 37…seems a perfect age for a surgeon…his hands and mind should still be sharp and quick…all good points for a good surgery!! When I had my eye laser surgery, my old doc (whom I loved going to) turned me over to a young doc…he did it QUICK…and it was most painful for I was so grateful for his expertise. And it seems that it worked as well as such surgery can. So am hoping and praying that your young doc will do the best possible job you could have and that you will recover and be good as new one day. I am sure you no doubt will have therapy after it heals, right? So I hope they put you in good hands for that too!! So glad you have good friends around you there in the apts. No small thing!!

  19. I hope and pray that your surgery goes well, as well as the recovery period. And that the surgery is successful in bringing you much-deserved relief from the pain and limitations you have faced for so long! (((Hugs)))

    1. It’s after 5 p.m. Going to eat and shower, and watch an episode of a series I’m streaming. And read a book.

  20. Wow. I am so impressed by your doctor’s letter. He sounds very experienced and caring. You are in good hands and I am sure all will be well. Praying for you to have a very successful surgery and recovery. I have had plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendonitis surgery (at the same time) and all went well for me. No pain, no problems and that was more than 10 years ago. I had to use a scooter, too (what a blessing those scooters are!).

  21. Wishing you a speedy recovery and a great outcome! So exciting to know that in time you’ll be so much more mobile!

  22. Brenda,
    Sending prayers for a good outcome and for your surgeons skills, strength and knowledge.
    Can’t wait to read the results,as someone said, stay in front of the pain…very important.
    Anesthesia like most healthcare has come a very long way and is much easier on us than it used to be.
    Keeping you in prayer,
    Pat

    1. This time around everything is on the computer for me to read, which is nice. Like the letter. Communication between doctors is important.

  23. Praying that you are blessed with a successful surgery and full healing. Looking forward to hearing from you as you recover.

  24. Brenda, I will be thinking about you. Write when you are able and let us know how you are.
    Robin❤️❤️

  25. The more I read your blog the more I enjoy it. Hoping your surgery goes well and your recovery is as expected. Take care!

    1. I know I’ve focused on my ankle a lot here. But it has been a huge part of my life for so long. Having to think everything out before I go anywhere because of the limitations.

  26. Wishing you all the best tomorrow, cyber friend. The start of your new recovery…and new life! Will be thinking of you…Jane

  27. Hi Brenda.,
    Wishing you an uneventful and successful surgery and a smooth and complete recovery that will let you live out the rest of your life pain free. Will be thinking about you tomorrow. Take care. Margie

    1. Ditto for me Brenda! 😊
      Just wanted to keep it short and get the point across!!
      We will definitely ,,,, ALL be thinking about you tomorrow!!
      I loved reading the blog today ,,,,,, was so lovely and profound.
      There is 🌟 ⭐️ 💫 magic in your writing Brenda!!! ✍️
      Get well soon. 🤗

  28. Brenda, I will be praying for you. Be blessed by all the comments and all who will help you through this to a good recovery.

  29. Wishing you well! Your doctor sounds amazing. Soon you will be back and once you are healed you will be tip toeing among your plants and flowers again and listening to the rain!! 🌧 🌺🌺🌧🌧🌺🌺

  30. Know I’ll be right in there with all your other fans sending you positive vibes for a successful surgery and then gentle healing ~
    As a nurse, I am impressed with your surgeons’ note, and plans for aftercare ~ He sounds like a keeper!
    Hugs ~

  31. I wish you all the best tomorrow and hope your recovery is smooth and uneventful. I have not had ankle surgery but I have had both knees replaced. The first few days are not fun, but little by little life gets easier. We all are thinking of you.

    1. As someone said here a few days ago, the first 3 days should probably be the worst. I have pain pills for when I need them. I don’t like to rely on them too much because of the side effects.

  32. Wishing you all the best Brenda and I hope this procedure will help you get back to a life without pain!

    1. We probably all have pain to some point. Arthritis as we age. But I want to walk again without being afraid something else will happen.

  33. Sounds like you have a very caring and qualified doctor for your surgery.

    I loved all the things you wrote about what they don’t know; I’ve never thought about it that way before but it certainly gives me food for thought and what others don’t know about me. Your writing is always insightful and interesting and I look forward to what you write each day.

    1. It just occurred to me this morning that I’m relying on people who know nothing about me. And I know nothing about them.

  34. Reading your doctor’s letter was very impressive. I am sure it put you a little more at ease. I wish you all the best tomorrow, and to your doctor also.
    I will be waiting for you to write hundreds more blog posts, when you feel up to it. You are in my prayers. HUGE hugs to you from WI

  35. Brenda,
    Tous, nous serons avec vous et nous penserons à vous.
    A tout de suite.
    Amitiés et reconnaissance pour vos posts.

  36. You are in my thoughts and prayers, Brenda, and I hope all goes well tomorrow. Sounds like you have a very good doctor, which must be a relief. 3-4 months may seem long, but it really isn’t, when you have suffered for so many years. I look forward to your next post, whenever it is. Good luck!

    1. That’s really nothing when this has been going on for 10 years. Three to four months does not sound long when comparing it to years.

  37. Wow! Impressed with the doctor’s letter you shared… a plain-spoken and thorough plan, including aftercare. Definitely feeling positive vibes.

    Also, thanks for sharing the Michael Egnor link… interesting reading. I had a bit of surgery last week and am truly thankful to not recall the details of what occurred while I was under anesthesia. Doesn’t bother me one bit to not have memories of those few hours.

    May you have a peaceful and calm remainder of the day today and a restful night’s sleep tonight.
    Wishing you the best possible outcome and a speedy, uneventful recovery!

    1. It made me think of people who almost die and can hear what’s going on around them before they are conscious.

  38. What a beautifully written and felt post today – once again it affirms what a deeply caring and sensitive person you are. I am among all your other friends here in wishing and praying for a very good outcome. And will be with you in thoughts – must remember the time difference – lol! And hoping Miss Ivy will be aware of her momma’s needs and be especially loving.
    Hugs all around.

    1. Ivy has become very needy, but that’s okay. I have to pet her a lot. She eats when I eat. She lays on the bed with me when I read at night. We’ve become a lot closer in the past few months. I’m thankful for that. I love her to pieces.

  39. I will be praying for you Brenda that your surgery goes smoothly and the rest of the weeks go by with fast healing!
    Your well prepared and u got this my friend! I’ll be watching for your next happy blogpost coming soon!

    1. I’m organized and prepared. I’ve done everything I can think of in preparation. Last week Steve said he didn’t know if I was prepared enough. And I said: “Watch me next week. I’ve got this.” Now he knows I work fast when the time is almost up.

  40. Brenda, we are all sending good vibes and prayers for a successful procedure and a speedy recovery. I also have a good vibe from who seems to be a caring, skilled Doctor. You have all your ducks in a row. Try the best you can to have a peaceful day today. Think of how much better you will feel. We all will be waiting to hear good news soon.

    1. They always say that Sunday should be a day of rest. And other than going outside and trimming my plants, I’ve been taking it easy. Watched a movie earlier. I’m calm today.

  41. I am so excited for you that the surgery is finally here and you are getting it taken care of. These young doctors are amazing. I have a young doctor to thank for my back fusion surgery in ‘08. Know that your support team is cheering you on!❣️

  42. Brenda, you are not alone my friend, you have all of us that read and have read your blog for years and your family and now all of your new friends/neighbors. We will be patiently waiting for news of the success of your surgery and we will be here to cheer you on and cheer you up in moments of pain and sadness. You are in good hands and my prayers are with you that things will return to normal! xoElizabeth

    1. Thanks, Elizabeth. We’ve known one another online for a long time. Blogger to blogger. You’ve sent me care packages and have always been so kind.

  43. I think my first thought after seeing that doctor’s letter is that he has a well-thought-out plan! Not only for surgery but for the weeks afterward. I’ve had my share of orthopedic surgeries (3 shoulders, 3-4 knees), never an ankle though, so I don’t know what you face. I’ve never seen a written plan at all. I’m impressed. Sounds like you’ve done your homework, you’re in good hands. Like your other blog friends, I’ll be here and see you on the other side!

  44. Brenda, with all of your readers praying for you, your surgery should be successful and your recovery will be without problems! My thoughts will be with you tomorrow!

  45. I hope the outcome of your surgery leaves you without pain and the ability to enjoy life in your garden. I’ve read your blog for a long time and have felt many emotions through your writing. I’ll be thinking about you!

  46. Two weeks ago I had rotator cuff surgery and biceps repair. Basically everything that held my shoulder together was torn. My biceps muscle was at my elbow. I’ve had to learn to use my left hand for everything. . .my hair looks funky. .who cares. I start pt on Tuesday. I know your decision was hard. Mine too for a 72yo master gardener and naturalist who likes to be outside all the time. I read your doctor’s letter and got positive vibes.

    Two things: stay ahead of the pain with medication. Really. And, remember, your doctor is your employee. Need something? Questions? Call! That’s what you’ve paid the big bucks for.

    Am thinking of you all next week.

    Ann

  47. Wishing you all the best, and I hope your return to “normal” is sooner rather than later. I will be thinking of you tomorrow and sending out love to you and your medical team.

  48. We’ll be here, Brenda! waiting patiently for the good news that surgery is complete and full healing is ahead! And sweet Ivy will join us in anticipation of your return. You’ve got this!

  49. Brenda, I will be praying that this surgery is a success and that you recover quickly. I hope that this procedure finally fixes the problems with your ankle. You have suffered too long.

    1. I’m 65 years old. Most likely it’s harder to recover as you get older. I’ll just do what they tell me and hope for the best.

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