I’m spending a lot of time looking looking at my feet. Lying or sitting up in bed, with my legs stretched out in front of me, my feet are the part of my body most in my line of vision. It’s been interesting watching them change in colour and shape since the op. At first, they were swollen and very pink, encased in foot pumps that were to stop blood clots by exercising the calves.
These pumps were quite strange. They operated by filling slowly with air, putting a little pressure on the legs, then with a sudden snap they’d grip the legs, and release. They did each leg in turn, in a regular rhythm. The other feature of them is the sound they make. As they fill with air, there’s a building up of a hissing, rushing noise, before a sudden snap loud as a firework and release of air. It could be almost like breathing – a drawing in of air followed by sudden release.
But these things were loud, and as I lay awake at night I could hear mine, and those of three or four others on the ward pumping away at different times, a syncopated soundscape of air and snap. Sometimes the final snap was like a firecracker, and would wake me up if I’d drifted off. Listening to them, rather than thinking of the sounds as being like breathing, I had the image of a milking parlour. We were all attached to pumps that were acting as mechanical proxies for our bodily functions, in our individual stall beds, waiting patiently as the pumps worked until they could be taken off in the morning, and we could take back our bodies and move them ourself.
Legs being pumped and milked. Very strange. But I became so used to the sound that I listened for it the first night I was home. Its absence is now part of the night’s experience.
Over time, the swelling has been going down, and the feet returning to a more usual colour. Except for the pink bits. The pink is there for a very particular reason which will be the focus of the next blog post.