Wednesday, January 10, 2007

A Day of the Leg

Here's a story for you....Well, 3 years ago - January 10, 2003 I was recovering from my tibial plateau transplant done in June of 2002. I had a prosthetic brace made in September that allowed me to walk without crutches. On this morning, Dean was gone for a little holiday - due home later that day and I was at home with Rhiannon who was 2 and Andrew who was 9, talking on the phone to a friend about fastball. I was still in my pj's and didn't have my brace on. I was very good on my one good leg and could hop all over the house - I had to be strictly non-weight bearing on my right leg.

I went to stand up and hang up the phone. My notoriously sweaty foot slipped on the carpet. My right leg went instinctively out to catch me. However with 7 months of not being used, I collapsed on it with my leg bent under me and my bum landed on my foot. I fell in a way that would never break anything but I was in sheer agony writing on the ground. I heard my leg snap and I thought that perhaps my ligaments had snapped. I sent Andrew to get clothes and my splint left over from the surgery. I actually managed to get dressed and put the splint on. A friend came and picked me up and took me to the hospital. I probably should have called an ambulance but I didn't want to believe that it was that serious.

There I was in emergency again. In the x-ray lab again. Ken, the x-ray technician and I were on first name basis by this point... When he took the x-ray, he couldn't believe it. My bone had shattered - it was broken in about 17 places. There were not the clean breaks of a healthy bone but crooked breaks through weakened bone. I learned right there just how much our bones are strengthened by weight bearing. Just standing on your own two feet strengthens your bones. A lot.

Wouldn't you know it but the surgeon who screwed up my knee the very first time is the one on call. I refused to let him touch me. I had to wait for 4 days for a different surgeon to come on call before my leg could be set. 4 days that went on forever. Phentenol and I became very good friends. And I learned how to go to the bathroom without moving my leg off the bed. Dr. Torstensen and Dr Parfitt - two of Vernon's best orthopedic surgeons carefully operated on my leg. They put in a plate and screwed my shattered tibia to it with 13 screws. On Dean's 41st birthday. Some party....

13 months later I had the plate and all those screws removed. And today I walk. I don't usually tell this part of the story. It is the sad and seemingly senseless part of the story. But today in the Dr's office, I realized that it had all happened 4 years ago. I can't believe it was only 4 years ago. It seems forever ago. I used to wonder as I sat because I couldn't walk and watching others walk around me without ever thinking about it if I would ever take another step without being conscious of it. It occurred to me this summer as I was hiking in Kal Lake Park that I had got to that point. I didn't think about every step. Not that I am not extremely cautious....

So today, in the Dr's office... I was there because I have been having a lot of pain in my knee - different pain and I was wondering if some of the screws from the transplant were starting to come out of the titanium plate on my femur. He sent me for x-rays. They let me look at the x-rays at the lab. It was a wondrous thing to see. You can't even tell where the transplant was. My bone is so beautiful and smooth - there are no lines... And the screws in my femur look fine. But it looks like the screws that screwed my transplant in are starting to come out and poke up into my joint. I am sure it is a good thing because screws are always a weak point in any bone. It can only be a sign of my body's healing. But I am a little scared of how much it might hurt to get them out. And I really hope I don't have to have general anesthetic because that really throws me for a loop and it takes sooo long to get it all out of my system... And hey, I have yet to hear from an actual Dr or surgeon but that is what I think is coming down.

In the meantime I am taking it easy, putting my leg up, taking advil and passing on the cross country skiing... sadly...


Mary-Sue said...

Wow! What an amazing story. I wonder if that fall was really senseless, though, or perhaps it was necessary for your transplant to grow as strong as it has. I remember in my previous life chatting with a pediatric orthopedic surgeon about children who break their bones. He told me that broken bones actually heal stronger than bones that haven't been broken -- contrary to what I had thought at the time!
I love the way you find a way to count your blessings no matter what form they appear.
Love reading you!

Andrea said...

Its just so hard to tell after the amazing story of the transplant... and thanks!