No Mean Feet
TOE-JOB: It gave me a kick

Sometimes you get lucky.

That thought has crossed my mind many times.

The most recent being when I woke up in the recovery room of an English hospital and moved the big toe on my left foot.

I haven’t been able to do that for about 15 years, but last week a surgeon made three small cuts above the toe joint so he could insert a laser, camera and small tube.

Thenhe chipped off and sucked out the bone spurs that have been binding the toe ever since I mistakenly thought I could walk in a ‘walking cast.’

The doctor who applied the castprobablysaid I could walk on it… if I had to, after he encased the ligaments I’d torn playing basketball at the Francistown club.

But the plaster was going to be on for six weeks and I had things to do, so I may have heard what I wanted to hear.

As it turned out, that first cast was only on for three weeks before the doctor had to cut it off to restore circulation to the big toe.

I didn’t abuse the second one, but the damage was done.

The problem was of my own making so I just lived with it until three months ago when I finally showed my footto a local doctor.

He instantly diagnosed my conditionas arthritis and bone spurs and referred me to the surgeon who has just restored the movement.

This is not the first time I’ve had good luck in the operating theatre.

It took three goes, but my last spinal disc operation was a total success.

The first two at Gaborone Private Hospital worked as well, but they only removed damaged disc material.

The last one in Johannesburg took out everything between my fourth and fifth vertebrae and replaced it with an artificial disc that provides the required space for my nerves to function properly.

The thing is, it was experimental surgery that still is not available in Botswana, the UK or the USA, the three countries where I have lived for most of my life, but my Gaborone surgeon had connections.

He also knew I took rehabilitation seriously, so when I asked for an alternative to a spinal fusion, he arranged an appointment with the South African surgeon who wanted patients who would make his fake disc look good.

Now I don’t have a bad back, but I do have the “sometimes you get lucky” thoughts every time I think of the circumstances that led to that situation.

The thought also pops up when I think about how much the toe and back operations would have cost if I had stayed in my native USA.

Everyone needs to pay at least a few thousand pula every month for medical insurance over there and most people have at least a P30,000 deductible, which means the insurance only kicks in after you have paid out that much for any treatment.

The back ops in Botswana and South Africa were totally covered by insurance and the UK toe job was a freebie.

Yeah, sometimes you get lucky. I’ve said that several times, but that’s because every time I do, it gives me a kick.

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