The Second Surgery

On 30 September, my doctor told me that he'd definitely need to perform another operation to fix my leg. Needless to say, I did not take this news very well and it greatly upset me. I felt fairly OK, even thought there was still quite a bit of pain. I could almost walk unassisted, limping precariously when I did, but walking OK with a cane.

I scheduled the surgery for 15 November, having planned a vacation to Daytona Beach for the 3rd week of October to watch my friends in the races there. Because Amtrak saw fit to cancel my train, however, I was unable to go, which depressed me even further. Not only had I been using crutches for weeks in anticipation of my vacation -- instead of the cane, to further relieve pressure on the screws in my leg -- but now my one real fun thing had been taken away. With the exception of actually getting my new motorcycle, I was unable to attend any of the motorcycle events this year that I had so wanted to go to. Thanks again, Old Lady Diehl.

The morning of the surgery dawned clear and bright, not the kind of day you'd anticipate heading off to the hospital for surgery on. I arrived at the appointed hour of 0830, was processed, signed a few papers, and was waiting on my gurney by 0915. The doc had a complication in the procedure before mine, so my 1030 operation didn't actually start until about 1050 or so. The last thing I remember about the operating room was the anaesthesiologist injecting something into my IV. The next thing I knew I was in the recovery room, trying to wake up and clear my head. My throat hurt like hell from the tube they jammed down it to help me breathe (funny -- I don't remember that from the first time).

The surgery went as planned, and the doc said it was 100% successful. He presented me with a plastic container that held the two screws he'd removed from my leg. They're pretty cool looking, very machine-screw looking, and self-tapping to boot.

The view from my hospital room was somewhat less than inspiring, but I was so out of it most of the time that I didn't notice. My roommate this time was a guy named Jeff, who had broken his pelvis in two places the day before while racing ATVs with his friends. His had flipped and he was actually OK until it landed on top of him, which is what broke his pelvis. He'd been Med-Evac'd to Fairfax and said the helicopter ride was quite bumpy indeed.

Anyway, the doc removed two screws, then took a bone plug from near where the screws were, used that bone plug to make a bone graft for my tibia, re-broke the fibula, then closed me up with staples and sent me upstairs. While he was in there he did a culture as well from the area of the break to check for an infection.

He told me not to put any weight on my leg until I have my follow-up appointment on 23 Nov. Then, his nurse Noelle will remove my staples, an icky experience if ever there was one. It doesn't exactly hurt, since I don't have any feeling in the skin below my knee anyway (a result of the initial trauma & first surgery), but I can feel the pliers spread the staples out and then feel the staples pull through the skin, which feels kind of gross.

If there's an infection, I'll have to undergo long-term antibiotic treatments in IV form, which means I'll have a semi-permanent IV needle inserted into my chest through which I can receive daily treatments. That will suck, so I'm hoping there's no infection.

The care on the 7th floor of Fairfax Hospital was nowhere near as good as the care I received on the 6th floor way back in May. The nurses didn't seem to talk to each other, for one thing, which made me feel like it really didn't matter to them what happened to me. For instance, when I first got there Monday afternoon, the first nurse on duty said that as soon as I could drink more water (my throat still hurt), she'd unhook the saline drip from my IV. Well, she went off duty before I could drink better (later that night). None of the other nurses believed me that the first one had said that, and since she didn't write it down (or something), I spent all night on the drip, waking up every 2 hours to pee, then having to call a nurse to come and empty my urinal. At least I could sit up this time, which is a lot better than last time when all I could do was barely roll over to piss in the bottle.

Another example...I told them right off that Percoset doesn't work for me. What did they give me? Well, morphine first, but later they gave me Percoset. An hour later I was asking for something for pain. I told them that last time I was in the hospital I was given Vicodin, which did work. The nurse came back four hours later, after I had reminded her I was in a fair amount of pain twice, and gave me two oblong red pills. Not the Vicodin I received last time, but I know these things come in different doses, so I wasn't too worried.

Tuesday morning, I told the doc when he visited that I was still in pain and that Percoset doesn't work. I told him about the Vicodin, and I assume he told the nurse because she brought me 2 Vicodin that looked like the right ones. She got upset with me when I only wanted one, since I know one works fine. Then, when I asked her what the red pills I'd gotten last night were, she had no clue, changed the subject, and left. I got the same treatment from two other nurses before I left.

So my parents came to get me, arriving at about 1100 Tuesday morning. We waited a half hour for somebody with a wheelchair to come, then gave up & I just walked out on my crutches. I mean, it's not like my mom didn't go to the desk 3 times and remind them I was waiting to leave. "Oh, we forgot" was the answer she got one time.

At home, it was the beginning of another week of sleep, pain, needing to be taken care of, movies, and video games. Sure, it may seem like bliss to you, but, having already done it once this year for almost 6 weeks, it bores the living piss out of me.

At least on Friday my friends Kate & Andrea came & had lunch with me. I caught up on the latest work gossip & had a really good chicken sandwich from the local deli.

Nothing else happened really until Saturday, when my wife changed my bandages, but that's another story.