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l’azile » santé

September 10, 2013

out on a limb

catherine @ 9:09 pm

About a month ago, I had my left leg amputated below the knee. How this came about is a long and rather sad story and I do not really feel like getting into the whole thing because some of it is just too personal or complicated and I suspect a fair amount of it is not really all that interesting. My friends already know enough about it, having followed along with me for the last 18 months or so, whether IRL or online (I have dared to indulge in a rant or two on “the Facebook” to friends). And family and close friends, most notably my BFF Alain, have been there with me through a lot of it.

But I think this is a major life event and not something that would go unnoticed. Indeed, judging by the stricken looks of most people I cross on the sidewalk or at the little shopping mall up the street from the rehab centre when I venture out for a stroll, I guess it is quite a sight to see this seemingly youngish woman, zipping about in a motorized wheelchair, sporting a tibial prosthesis on her right leg and a freshly bandaged tibial amputation on her left leg, not to mention a great new hairstyle. So I just felt I should say a little something about the experience.

Continue reading out on a limb

October 20, 2011


catherine @ 9:36 pm
A photo of the x-ray of my left foot.
(…) may he turn their ankles so we’ll know them by their limping.* a photo by zaziepoo on Flickr.

This morning I had an appointment with a new orthopedist, Dr. Stéphane Leduc, at Jean-Talon Hospital. This guy is specialised in feet and I was referred to him by the orthopedist who managed to fix my broken hip, Dr. Giroux (whom I wrote about with gratitude a little while ago). I was seeing Dr. Leduc about an ongoing and long-standing problem with my left foot, my ankle and my heel specifically. To make a long story short, I have a piece of bone or fibrocartilage callus protruding above my heel, as can be seen on the attached x-ray. This foot has been a mess forever. I broke it in three places when I was nine years old and considering this was in the mid seventies, it is a miracle I can walk as well as I do.

Anyway, the whole thing is rather painful and because of the protrusion, I get sores in that area on a regular basis because my shoes rub against the bump. Now to be clear, I am very limited by the types of shoes I can wear because of the condition of my foot and I wear very sensible shoes. The skin on my heel has gotten so thin over time that you can almost see through it, were it not for the huge red scar covering most of that area. The whole thing is therefore a rather serious risk of infection not mention a pain in the butt, what with having to stop walking every time I get a sore to give it time to heal. Considering the fact that my immune system is not perfect with all the health problems I have had, not to mention all the stress in my life in the last few years, plus my metal implants, a risk of infection is not to be taken lightly.

Continue reading 5%

September 10, 2011

the never-ending saga finally ends

catherine @ 8:14 pm
a photo of my hip x-ray a photo by zaziepoo on Flickr.

Well, it will never be completely over. I mean, when you have a titanium rod the whole length of your thigh, literally inside the bone, it changes things forever (not to mention making things kind of interesting at the airport). But I think, I hope, the worst is over.

This coming September 24th will mark the 2nd year anniversary of my breaking my hip. A second time. But the story really began on May 24th 2005 when I broke my hip the first time and embarked on a journey filled with pain, frustration, uncertainty, loss and personal and professional setbacks.

It was not all bad, though. Through all of it, I met a lot of cool people, had some great moments and even managed to hold my head above water and remain relevant in a highly competitive field.

But I am so glad it is over. And that not only am I finally healed but I actually came out of this physically more independent. I actually came out of this better. Better. Stronger. Faster (almost ;)

Certainly a few people contributed to that, namely my family and by best friend forever, Alain, not to mention Carole, my prosthetist.

But there is also one person who played a big role, who made it medically possible for me to walk again, drive a car, dance, run (albeit very slowly ;) and a whole bunch of other things I could hardly imagine 2 years ago. My orthopedist, Dr. Mario Giroux.

Dr. Giroux succeeded where two other orthopedists failed. And I suspect one of the biggest reasons for that success is because he actually gave a damn.

Thank you Dr. Giroux for making me better. Thank you for caring.

For a trip back in time, check out my visual logs on flickr (via my From The Hip collection as well as the hip tag) or my writings about the whole thing here on this old blog.

October 31, 2009


catherine @ 10:45 am

I have been granted a temporary release from the rehab institute (on the condition that someone help me navigate the 19 steps that lead to my front door) so I am home until Sunday night. It is kind of strange being here after more than a month away but it feels so good to be back among my own things and to sleep in my own bed! The place was a bit of a mess when I arrived last night but Alain helped me organise and clean things. He will be back Sunday night to take me back to the institute. A nurse comes by twice a day to give me my Luvenox shots (an anti-coagulant).

I have about three more weeks of on-site rehab to do and then I should be able to do most of it as an out-patient. I have started walking a bit with my prosthesis, about 30 minutes or so a day, and they have been having me do various simulations, like walking outside, walking up a hill, walking up and down stairs (although there is just no way they will ever be able to simulate the broken-down stairs I have here), etc. The objective is to get me, at the very least, to the same point I was in terms of mobility and autonomy before I broke my hip. We are also working on adjustments to the prosthesis because, by inserting that titanium rod in my femur, the doctor straightened my thigh. This has resulted in my leg being over a half inch longer as well as having a very different alignment.

Finally, I am happy to report I am still smoke-free. It has been 37 days since my last cigarette and I must admit that I am very pleased with myself. Although, to be honest, it was actually very easy. Of course, I have been tempted a few times but the urge was fleeting. I think the radical change in context is what has helped the most.

Anyway, for those who are curious, I have been taking a few photos of my experience (although never with as much zeal as the first time around).

Happy Hallowe’en everyone!

October 13, 2009

déjà vu and yet not so much

catherine @ 3:47 pm

I am very tired. To the point that I have had trouble keeping my eyes open these last few days and would I listen to myself, I would just nap all day long. Most evenings, all I feel like doing is calling it a night at 7 PM. People who know me understand that this is completely out of character for me.

I think part of it is obviously the fact that I am still healing, my body is still working on things and it indeed has a lot of stuff to take care of. And of course, I am also dealing with a lot of stress. Not to mention low blood pressure which is something new. The other part of it is, I think, that I have not smoked a cigarette since the accident (which is hardly surprising, what with being unable to move much for the first week or so, let alone get out of bed and go outside to have a smoke). Every time I have tried to quit smoking, it has had a similar effect on me, i.e. being tired and practically stoned, although never quite so intense.

So I have decided to try to stick with it. I do not know if I will succeed because although the physical withdrawal is pretty much over, it really is the psychological withdrawal that is the hardest and the longest to deal with. But I am going to try because I have been hoping to quit smoking for a good while and, ironically, this seems like the perfect opportunity.

Continue reading déjà vu and yet not so much

October 3, 2009

I broke my hip again

catherine @ 10:39 pm

You know, I am not even going to bother trying to find a clever title for this post. There is nothing clever about my situation and besides, I am too pissed off.

So yeah, I broke my hip September 24th, as evidenced here. As y’all can imagine, breaking one’s hip is not fun. It is actually quite traumatic not to mention very, very painful. And going through this a second time does not really make it any easier. Well, except maybe for being able to deal more adequately with the amazing amount of bureaucracy one has to contend with despite being in a rather bad way.

Of course, on a personal level, this whole thing has me stressed out because it has, once again, put my life on hold. Besides the inescapable fact that I have a lot of work to do, the truth is things were finally starting to make sense for me. I felt like, four years after breaking my hip the first time, things had finally, for the most part, gotten back on track (because it may not be obvious but breaking a hip is a very disruptive thing). And then BANG!, I break my hip. Again.

Continue reading I broke my hip again

April 15, 2007

fork in the road

catherine @ 4:49 pm

Yesterday, I attended the annual assembly of FACIL, a non-profit dedicated to the promotion of open source in Québec. It was fun as I got to see some people I had not seen in a while and I also got to put some faces on names I have seen go by on the FACIL mailing list or people with whom I had only communicated through e-mail until now.

It was a good meeting and it was refreshing to note what I got the feeling was real interest for an organisation. I mean that, for those of us involved in promoting one cause or another, we all go to annual assemblies in the course of those involvements and it often turns into a chore or, at best, an obligation. But yesterday, I felt that these guys were genuinely into it. And despite there being a rather touchy subject on the agenda (the future status of Linux-Québec) and differing points of view, it was all rather quite friendly and very respectful of each other’s positions.

Continue reading fork in the road

October 24, 2006

phoning it in

catherine @ 2:41 pm

This expression has always amused me in its conceptual representation and I find it unfortunate that it can not be directly translated into French. I have never been amused however by what it stands for.

It has now been almost a month since I had my hip surgery and while convalescence has been challenging at times, in the last week or so, I think that things have indeed gotten better. The pain is much more manageable and the long incision left from the surgery is for the most part healed. In principle, in a couple of weeks, I should be able to start rehab.

Continue reading phoning it in

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