GBO Patient Diary: Appointment 6 - Post-surgery — Now for the hard part

In our continuing series, we’re following a real GBO patient, Gio, from diagnosis all the way through treatment at Great Basin Orthopaedics. Be sure to check back for updates as we follow the journey, which is documented by his mother, Paige.

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We were advised that the nerve block that was keeping Gio from feeling any of the surgical pain could last anywhere from 12-48 hours and to follow the written post-surgery medication protocols to minimize discomfort. I would come to regret not following these instructions.

Gio’s surgical bandages were thick gauze and an Ace wrap from toe to knee. In the days following surgery, the nurse told us there could be some minor blood seepage through the bandages, but not to worry unless it got larger than about a dime. That first night, the blood spot looked quarter-sized, and under the Ace wrap I could see a business card-sized stain. I panicked and called Dr. Hayes, sending a photo. He assured me it was OK and that we could come in for a bandage change, but it would be more traumatic and tiring than necessary. I trusted him, stopped worrying — and the bleeding stopped.

While the thought of giving opioids to a teen is very scary, they do have their place. As it turns out, one of their places is in the days following an ankle reconstruction. I waited too long, and my son suffered because of it. When the pain caught up to us and I was deep in mom guilt, I reached out to Dr. Hayes again. He reviewed the pain protocol with me and reminded me we were doing the minimal dosing and could safely increase in the short-term. Once we got on the prescribed regimen, the pain was quite manageable, and we only needed to take them for a few days before weaning off to just Tylenol and then nothing at all for pain just six days post-surgery.

While I have typically been irritated by my son’s love of video games, I have been grateful for them during recovery. They enable him to sit with his foot up, connect with friends and entertain himself for hours on end. He’s been a very good patient.