The Third Surgery

At the end of February, Doc Schwartzbach checked my newest x-rays (made that very morning) and we could both see that there was no change in my bone from December to February. That meant the bone graft in November was not successful and we had no choice but to resort to the last-resort operation.

We also talked quite a bit about the lump on my leg, a lump created by the trumpeting of the bone. It can be fixed but will require a fourth surgery, probably about six months after I'm healed from the third. That one will be quite simple.

#3 was on 13 March 2000 and simple in concept. The doc removed the last two screws and existing rod from my leg. He then reamed out the hole in my tibia and inserted a new, larger, and definitely permanent rod. This rod is held in place by one screw up by my knee. Then, he "clipped" my fibula -- cut an inch-long piece out of it -- to force my tibia to take my body weight and hopefully spur it to heal.

It was mostly more of the same, only the operation started an hour late at 3 p.m. By then I was amazingly hungry, not having had any food or liquids since 11.30 the night before. What I really wanted was a glass of water, man was I thirsty. Finally the anaesthesiologist came and put in my IV. He listened to me and agreed that the best place for it was my hand, back toward the wrist on the outside of my hand at the base of my thumb. Doc S. came by, and the next thing I knew I was waking up.

After about an hour in recovery (or so they told me) I went back upstairs to the sixth floor -- the ortho ward. It took them over an hour to find my glasses and frankly, I was incredibly cranky until my wife went back down to her truck and got my prescription sunglasses for me to wear until the hospital staff tracked down my regular glasses. I hate not being able to see, drives me nuts.

I spent the first night on Demerol and pretty much out of it. Doc S. came by early Tuesday morning to tell me about what went on and told me that with one small exception the operation was a complete success. The exception? When they were removing the piece of bone from my fibula, a blood vessel got in the way and ruptured. I lost about a half-liter of blood, and as a result was pretty weak. I was so weak & dizzy that I had to stay a day longer in the hospital than I normally would have. Doc S. came by before I left and changed my bandages -- two new scars. A big, say eight-inch long one, where they went in to clip the bone, and a four-incher down by my ankle where they had trouble finding the screws through the old cuts and had to make a bigger one. The main incision was through my knee, where the other two went in as well.

I finally got home Wednesday afternoon and, after taking some Percocet, spent the next two days mostly asleep. My roommate got a cable box for me and hooked it up downstairs for me, which is good, and I still have my Playstation, and a whole stack of motorcycle magazines, so I'm OK. Penny's a long-suffering woman, and takes care of me despite my bitching and whining.

By the weekend I was walking pretty good; my leg's really stiff and the staples feel really uncomfortable. Doc said I was to put my full weight on it, but I was pretty leery about doing it, even though it didn't hurt any more when I put my weight on it -- it hurt a lot anyway.

I'm glad it's almost all over, only one minor operation to go before I can settle this all with the lawyers & insurance company. That will be nice.