The next day I wake up in a typical hospital room to the smell of iodoform (you know, that usual sterilized hospital smell). I feel…ahh, how can I say this eloquently? I feel like crap. My leg hurts, my back hurts, everything hurts and feels achy. I basically feel as if I have fallen off some cliff; like the coyote from Road-Runner. It made sense; I did fly twenty-three meters before landing on the pavement after all. A team of doctors who are performing morning rounds pass by and they tell me I am lucky I didn’t sustain any other wounds (besides a leg split open in two). One of them tells me that being in such good shape as an athlete probably saved me from a couple of more fractures.
I have all kinds of IV tubes attached on my arms; an electrolyte IV to keep me hydrated, antibiotics for a leg infection (I later learn I have) and a blood transfusion to replenish the blood I have lost. Its day one and I am already running out of patience with these stupid uncomfortable tubes. I generally don’t like wearing excessive or restrictive stuff. I can barely tolerate a watch on my wrist and I don’t wear a coat unless it’s minus degrees outside. During the next few days, I was given five of those blood bags in order to replenish the lost blood from all the surgeries and the accident. The doctor who performed my surgery, and is responsible for me, enters my hospital room. He tells me they did everything they could to save my leg. Although they have reattached it, they had to remove an inch of bone, some muscle tissue and skin in order to avoid further infections. If the infection didn’t calm down they would have to remove more bone and tissue off my leg the following days.
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Less than twenty-four hours have passed since my first surgery, when I am informed that I need to be operated on again. As my doctors feared, the infection has started to spread. The antibiotics haven’t managed to keep it under control. They take me back to the surgery room, once again give me general anesthesia and remove more bone and soft tissue.
Over the next 5 weeks I have another 4 similar surgeries. After surgery number 4, I wake up and look at my leg realizing that some weird metallic system is attached to it. The doctors pass by and tell me that it’s called an external fixator -its purpose is to keep the fractured bones aligned until they heal. They tell me that the pins screwed in my leg… wait what? I ask them what do you mean screwed in my leg? I realize that this weird metallic device is not just externally attached on my leg as I first thought. It is actually screwed in it.
I’m still fresh out of surgery and highly medicated so I can’t really feel a whole lot, but the thought of having this weird system screwed in my leg makes it look more like a medieval torture apparatus than a modern system for fracture treatment. I ask them again to explain to me what exactly this device is. They tell me that external fixators are used in severe open fractures in order to immobilize bones and allow them to heal. They consist of a number of pins and thick screws which go through your skin and bone, entering one side of the affected limb and coming out the other end. These pins and screws are secured together outside of the affected limb with clamps and rods constructing this whole metallic frame.
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