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Injury Log – Broken Leg

When I injured myself, I had so many questions about what to expect.  No one could give me any exact answers.  My hope in this log is to give readers an insight as to process of recovery for a typical uncomplicated break.

Today is 14 days since I had my accident.  Here is the journey of injury and recovery that I have encountered.

Day 1: Break occurs – tripped on telephone cord and fell heavily on left hip on cement floor base;  encouraged by colleagues not to move ( critical);  ambulance took me to local hospital where I was admitted and x-rayed.  Yep,  the leg is broken.  Pain is severe (in hospital terms a 10) whenever even miniscule movement is required.  Given hydra-morphine and enter a kind of hazy pain zone.  Begin the wait for surgery, no food allowed until end of day; about 9 pm surgery considered deferred and food is provided.  Nothing to be taken after midnight.

Day 2: Day of waiting; could I get surgery today; no food; continued morphine to handle pain.  System begins to react to lack of food and heavy drugs; slightly nauseous and very droopy.  Surgery deferred and food provided at 9 pm.  This time much more difficult to take in any food.

Day 3: The waiting game again; no food all day; nausea and weakness setting in.  Nurses require movement to side every six hours; extremely painful although they do their best; surgery is deferred again and the same pattern ensues.

Day 4: Extremely weak and nauseous; praying for sugery; it’s clear that no healing can really begin until I get through that knothole; will it be today, please.  2 pm and I am on my way up to surgery; it goes quickly from here; spinal anaethetic is used very effectively; the surgery is about 30 minutes; a pin is placed in the broken bone.  And I am shortly back in my room.  Already there is improvement to the pain.

Day 5: The nights are very long and I’m barely sleeping at all.  I have resisted taking more morphine as it tends to make me lose my appetite completely.  I am now on regular strength tylenol every four hours.  Also still needing to take a lot of anti-nausea meds.  They give me a variety – gravol is one.   The pain is not that bad, hangs around a 5, in doctor’s language … except when I need to move.  I know the nursing staff don’t think the tylenol is sufficient, but I try to hold onto what my body is telling me.  The physiotherapist shows up about 10 am.  Oh-oh, he wants me on my feet.

He begins by helping me with four basic exercises – first – pressing knee into bed and holding to the count of five (not too bad); second – using a long sheet as a pulley, I’m asked to pull my foot up towards me gently (this is a little hard, but my foot does move, which surprises me, there is minimal pain as I am in complete charge of what will happen and I am cautious); third-my leg is propped on an eight inch pillow at the knee; using the pulley sheet I am asked to lift my foot up and down (this is quite hard, as I seem to have no  muscle in my leg at all, but I try, tiny little lifts) And, fourth, the most difficult, I am to slide by leg back and forth on the bed to the left and right … even though I use the sheet as a support, I notice I cannot do this one at all, but I try; all that happens is that the muscle tenses and it does hurt.  I can tell I am not going to like this one!

The physiotherapist helps me move my legs over the edge of the bed.  I feel a little whoozy sitting up for the first time in days.  I am pleased though.  It suggests I am starting the road to recovery … I’m willing to try anything, albeit with immense care.  He teaches me to propel my body to standing position using the bed, and once standing to rest on the walking aid.  I’m doing it -yeah-standing on my two feet within 12 hours of surgery.  He encourages me to take a few steps … well, that hurts, but I do it.  I finish this event with a sit-up in a chair for 30 minutes.  What a relief to my back, which has been suffering as it is bears all my weight many hours daily.  When I do get back into bed I have a sense of elation.

I think that’s it for the first day, but not so.  Later when I ask to use the washroom, the nurse tells me that she will help me walk to the washroom.  Can I do this?  I am not so sure, but she is clear.  So up I get (very slowly) and off I go, again very slowly, but I make it …. 14 feet each way, there and back … I am exhausted but taste a little crumb of victory.  Was there pain … yes,  about an 8 or 9, but bearable.  I know I can do this.

Day 6:  I am still getting only snatches of sleep, 45 minutes here, then a wake-up for an hour or two, then another doze – no satisfying long expansive sleep.  I know this is having an effect on my healing.

However, on this morning, I encounter a little tiny prick of appetite.  I drink some OJ; I try a little peanut butter on a bagel.  All in all I count 10 good bites, an improvement, over the last few days.

On my feet, I move excruciatingly slowly … it is hard work, but I get to the washroom again.  Am I taking enough pain medication?  The PT thinks not and tells me that it is a detrimental decision to take too little and not get the mobility happening.  However, knowing I have to be able to eat I am reticent about Tylenol with codeine, as I know what it does to my appetite and whole well-being.  I promise I will take all other pain pills regularly though.

Also because I seemingly am showing improvement, I am taken off of the intravenous, my source of hydration.  I don’t think about this until later.  Of course, I am happy at my progress – they are talking about my going home tomorrow.  Wow.

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