Friday 4th November 2005
THE day has arrived. Ok, that sounds a bit melodramatic, but I've simultaneously been looking forward to and dreading this day coming. Looking forward to it because I'm hoping to see some real progress and give myself something to feel good about, but dreading it in case the news is opposite to that and things are standing still or worse, going backwards.
So a weird mix of emotions.
I get up late again (late to bed once more the night before - note to self - gotta get out of this habit) and have a wash etc. It's around midday when I get settled down in my usual place in the front room, lying on the sofa, with my trusty laptop (God, I don't know how I would have managed without this) beside me and the tv behind that to take my attention away from the laptop every now and then.
I don't have much of an appetite today and eat a bowl of cereal with a cup of coffee but don't really enjoy it too much. In trying so hard NOT to think about the appointment this afternoon, I realise that like it or not, that's ALL I'm thinking about. So I accept that I can't push this to the back of my thoughts and decide to deal with it calmly and with an open mind.
The time soon comes and my ride to the hospital arrives at 2pm to pick me up. Mum comes along with me too for support, bless her.
I've had my external fixator on for four and a half months now and it's felt like forever. So today I was really hoping for some good news and that I could part company with my ex-fix.
I was first sent for x-rays and changed my previous habit of having a sneak peak at the x-rays before the OS hoping this would change things (!) and bring me a bit of luck.
The OS looked at the x-rays and said that there was more bone growth around the fracture and that it was time for the ex-fix to come off!!
Hooray I thought, as I had mentally prepared myself for this. There was one small problem tho, in that my OS had requested the correct toolkit be made available for him to take the ex-fix off my leg there and then. Not only was the wrong set of spanners there, but the tool for removing the pins was missing! My OS was fuming, but he suggested using alternative tools and then started taking the ex-fix off.
Now I'd had no pain relief at all as this was all being done in the treatment room next to my OS's office so I watched him doing the procedure. I got a searing pain at the top two pin sites as the fixator was loosened and the tension on the pins was released. It was brief but not very nice!
Next, the OS removed the bottom two pins and I didn't even feel them coming out - not one bit. Two down two to go!
Now comes the REAL painful bit. As soon as my OS started turning the first of the top two pins (near my knee), I get the most sickening and sharp pain that goes from the surface of the skin right down into the bone - it feels like the leg is being broken all over again. After another minute of twisting and turning, the pin is out, but I am screaming in pain and nearly pass out. The brilliant nurses turn an aircon unit on me and put a cold compress on my forehead and give me a cup of water. Everyone is concerned and my OS says, "We'll have a break for five minutes". I am grateful for that and know that there's no turning back as the last pin still needs to come out and I know thats gonna hurt just as much!
So 5 minutes later, my OS starts on the last pin and a briefer screaming session later during which I nearly break all the bones in the hand of the nurse who is holding my hand, it's all over. The last pin is out.
My leg is throbbing badly at the pin sites as I now technically have four open wounds. The bottom two wounds near my ankle are completely pain and blood free, but the top two throb like mad and are oozing. I have to lay still for nearly three quarters of an hour to wait for the oozing to subside. Eventually it subsides to a level degree and my leg is then put in plaster.
I'm given a walking shoe with instructions to weight bear as tolerated and another follow up in six weeks (just before Christmas!)
So I'm back home now resting my plastered leg not doing a great deal!
The oozing from the top pins seems to have stopped now as the gauze on the topmost pin site which is just above and outside of where the top of my cast finishes is still white with no traces of red. Good result.
My leg is very sore and every time I flex my knee joint the top pin sites hum and throb. As the pin sites heal, which happens quite quickly as I understand (3-4 days), I'm sure this pain will lessen.
The shock of the pain I experienced earlier is now sinking in and I feel absolutely exhausted. I'd like to think that I've made some progress today, but will reserve judgement until I attempt to weight bear tomorrow for the first time without the support of my ex-fix. This is a scary act to contemplate, but necessary. My OS assured me that providing I take care and don't do anything silly, the current bone growth around the fracture will hold well and will consolidate quicker with measured unrestricted (now the ex-fix is gone) weight bearing.
Tomorrow it feels like I'm starting the recovery race all over again, except this time I've been given a 100 yard head start. I should have a better chance of finishing the race now.