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Valerie : How it all began . . .
Diary entry posted Mon 1:06pm 20 January 2003

On January 5, I returned home from church, parked my car, and headed for the stairs that lead from the parking lot to my apartment. A few feet before the stairs, my feet flew out from under me on the ice and I landed on the ground.

I did not initially think that I had done myself any harm, however after trying to get up a few times with no success, I figured that I had sprained my ankle. The parking lot is usually pretty busy, so I dragged myself to the curb below the first step and waited for someone to appear. After 15 minutes sitting in the snow able to see both my car (which contained my cellphone) and my apartment (which contained my husband) a couple came out of the apartment building next door.

I called to them, and asked if they would ring the bell on my door and get my husband. The guy got my husband and the two of them carried me up the stairs into my apartment. I will still more embarrassed than I was in pain. Once I was safely inside, my husband removed my boot to take a look at the sprain, and as he pulled the boot off I felt my first surge of pain. My foot was hanging at a bizzare angle, and looking at it, I had a feeling that this might not be a sprain after all.

We called for an ambulance and I was taken to my local hospital where the emergency room doctor confirmed my fears. I had broken both my tibia and fibula, comminuted fractures. He mentioned surgery, screws and plates and asked if I had an orthopedic surgeon. Having never broken anything before, I did not. In the meantime, the hospital had contacted my HMO to begin the process of admitting me. My primary care physician is associated with a group that has an orthopedic surgeon at a city hospital about 30 minutes away, and they were instructed to transfer me to the other hospital.

At this point I was in some pain, and not really in the mood for a 30 minute ride, but since I was also not in the mood to pay cash for any surgery that might be required, the emergency room doctor splited up my leg and my husband drove me to the city hospital with my x-rays in hand.

The orthopedic surgeon at hospital number 2 explained that I would be operated on the following day, sometime after noon, that I should not eat or drink anything, etc. She also had the nurses give me a shot of morphine - for which I will be forever grateful. By this time, my leg was throbbing and had swollen considerably.

The following day, I was finally sent down to the OR a little after 7:00 p.m. Because of the nature of the fractures, the Dr. wanted to try a closed reduction first as she was afraid that the bones would shatter if she tried to install any hardware. So they gave me a spinal, aligned my bones, and put me in a plaster cast from my toes to the middle of my thigh. I was released the following day after some instruction with crutches, and spent the rest of the week working from home.

I borrowed some supplies from my elderly Aunt who had her hip replaced last year (a walker, a showerchair, and a wheelchair), and found that the wheelchair was the easiest way for me to get around, since the crutches are pretty exhausting. I called my insurance company, and they arranged for a better fitting and newer wheelchair to be delivered to me with my doctor's ok.

I went back to work the following Monday with the wheelchair, and while I know that getting me from place to place is a pain for my husband, he has been great. I had one set of x-rays last week to be sure that the bones were aligning properly, and I have another set scheduled for tomorrow night. Hopefully everthing will be ok - otherwise they will have to operate and try the hardware solution.

After 14 days in this cast, I have to admit that this whole thing can be very discouraging . . . but I have really enjoyed reading other people's stories and have benefitted from the hints on this site. Keep your fingers crossed for me tomorrow!

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 Mon 1:06pm 20 January 2003
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