Friday, August 19, 2011

Painkillers and Surgery

So, Saturday night, Sallie and I decided to go out for a jog when she got home. We had both semi-stressful days and needed to blow off some steam. We were doing great too. What started as a mile, turned into 3. Only maybe 200 feet from where it happened, we were contemplating walking.

So I catch an uneven patch of pavement. Sallie and I were single file at this point and I had to roll to the side to avoid her. I don't actually remember hitting the pavement, but the next thing I know, the bottom half of my right leg was no longer attached.

The ambulance showed up, and the EMTs started freaking out. They thought that I would be in extreme pain, but really I was just uncomfortable. The EMT didn't really tell me where I was going, but merely said, "You're not going to St. Alexis." (Which is probably for the better. My only experience with St. Alexis was during Sallie's surgery last year, where I sat in waiting rooms covered in church pews and a guy kept screaming and peeing on the floor.)

So I end up at SLU's emergency room after they say they have some openings. It was a busy night for gun shot wounds and motorcycle accidents. I guess the nice weather brought out the excitement in everyone.

I end up dealing with the ER doctor, his intern, the two on staff surgeons, two nurses, X-Ray team, and the MRI team. It seems that none of these teams talked to each other. Three teams would come in in a row, all giving me the same information, or maybe another guy would show up contradicting the first guy.

The on staff doctor ad his intern both thought the knee was dislocated. They made it sound as if I were going home that night. I went to get X-rays, and the techs wanted to get some crazy angles, so they popped it back out of place in the process which didn't feel very good. The on staff doctor got it back in place, but then they decided they needed to get it wrapped. They lifted my leg and just turned it a bit too much. The leg popped out of socket again, the two surgeons were caught by surprise and dropped my leg a few inches, getting a better grip on it. This was by far the worst pain I felt.

This is what my leg looked like when it was re-set. You can see fairly obviously that the bottom half isn't attached to the top half.

So, they finally got me to a room at about 5 am, and I was due to be in surgery by 7 am. The nurse was scrambling to get everything together, and he did a damn fine job. Even with the nurse shift change happening at 7, he was able to get all the paperwork done and get me to surgery.

When I came out of surgery, I had rods in my legs. Basically, this was a temporary solution for keeping my leg together until the real orthopedic surgeon was in on Monday. This was the results of the surgery.

It was a constant battle of different nurses coming in my room 24 hours a day, a loud red neck room mate with a ton of family visiting all the time, orthopedic surgeons and doctors consistently cutting the dressing off my legs, poking around, redressing it. Halfway through the week, another patient was brought in as my room mate.

I got surgery round 2 on Wednesday. They removed the rods, put a plate on my ball joint of my Tibia, repaired the ligament on the right side of my knee, and discovered that my Hamstring was also hosed, so they fixed that as well. Total surgery time was about 5 hours.

I finally was able to leave on Friday. The transport to home just took everything out of me. I could barely move once I made it to my makeshift bed.

There are a few things I'm basing my recovery on.

1. When I can finally poop: I feel like I'm close, I have the sensation, but it takes so much energy and effort to make it to the toilet, I have no energy left. This one is probaby too much FYI, but I'm on too many pain killers to care.

2. How far I can bend my knee. My goal for Thursday, when I meet with the surgeons again is 90 degrees. Yesterday, I could bend my knee about 20 degrees. So I have a bit to go.

3. How far the swelling has gone down. The swelling has subsided significantly since I first got out of the hospital. Most of my swelling is right above my knee, around my ankle, and where my hamstring is.