Motorcycle Wreck Diary
The Weekly Updates -- August & September

5 August ... The Gap ... 31 August ... 30 September

Thursday 5 August

The leg's moving along fairly well. Today's round of x-rays show progress but the doc says I'm slightly behind average for 3 months post-fracture. Apparently the tibia heals fairly slowly anyway, and I'm healing a bit slower than average on top of that. He says there's nothing to worry about, though, because as long as I'm making progress there isn't anything that would need done to it to speed things up.

My next appointment is in 8 weeks (end of September) and that's when he'll decide if something more drastic than waiting needs to be done. In the face of too-slow progress at that point we'll have two choices:

  1. Remove the two screws from the top of the rod to increase the amount of pressure on the break (theoretically speeds healing)
  2. Replace the rod that's in there with a larger diameter rod (basically a repeat of the original surgery)

If anything needs done, I'm pulling for #1.

The fibula will definitely *not* need operated on to fix. It's started healing on its own and will most likely heal into a lump. There is a possibility that the fib will create a bridge to the tib, creating an X between the bones that connects them together about 6 inches above my ankle. Doc says in an arm this would be bad, but in a leg it's perfectly OK and could make it stronger than it was before...not that the rod doesn't do that anyway, but...

It's kind of strange, though, to see new bone reaching out from the side of the fibula, almost grasping for the other broken piece. I feel like the Terminator.

(Not really)

On the motorcycle front, I had thought I'd get the bike back this week but it's not happening. Next week looks like a good possibility. All the parts are there but the fuel tank (as far as I know anyway). I told the shop that I don't care what model year tank they get me as long as it's the same yellow-and-white color. The paint design doesn't matter, the "Shadow" badges on the sides don't matter, just that it's the same color. There is a slight chance that I'll have to "settle" for the tank from a Shadow ACE. In 1996, my bike came in yellow & white (obviously) but in '97 Honda switched the paint scheme to yellow & black. On the ACEs, however, you could still get a yellow & white model. Two bolts, two hoses...that's all that matters. The parts guy seemed more than a little glad I wasn't yelling at him.

I'm really hoping to have it back before about the 18th or so. So far I've made 3 payments on it since the accident...3 payments while it sits in the shop. I'm really, really hoping I don't have to make too many more payments while it just sits in the shop.

I have an appointment with my lawyer tomorrow afternoon, so I'll find out how my case is going and update him on all the medical stuff that's happened over the last few weeks.

A weird thing happened to me this week. I guy I know from a motorcycle e-mail list, Ted, was in an accident 3 weeks ago. I don't know too many of the details, only that it was on the highway, presumably at highway speed, and there were two tractor-trailer trucks involved. His leg is broken almost exactly like mine, but he managed to break both his wrists as well. Anyway, he was in a Delaware hospital for a while and moved down to Fairfax Hospital this week (he's from the DC area). I visited with him for a few minutes yesterday.

I think I understand now the look my friends had on their faces when they came to see me in the hospital. Ted's room is across the hall from where mine was, and some of the techs on the floor had been telling him about the "last motorcycle accident guy" (me). They thought it was kind of funny that we actually know each other. Now, Ted's in admittedly worse shape than I was -- he has external fixators on both wrists that are kinda scary looking and he can barely move his left arm -- but I now have a greater level of understanding what my family & friends went through. Sort of.

5 August ... The Gap ... 31 August ... 30 September

The Gap

You'll notice the huge gap between the August updates on this page. While I have switched to a less frequent "Update When There's News to Tell" format, much happened in the 26 days between these two updates. Lemme 'splain...no, there is no time. Lemme summup: Thus endeth the summup. Frustration abounded, tempers flared (mostly mine), situation resolved though not to my liking.

Tuesday 31 August

The leg's doing a little better every day; some days are more achy than others and too much carrying of stuff wears me out pretty quick, but I can do things like go to the grocery store by myself and the like. No, really. Next doctor appointment is still a month away, and the options in front of me are the same (no changes, remove the screws, or replace all the hardware).

Much to my mother's chagrin (and my boss', too), I have a new motorcycle. I'll spare you folks all the gory details but still tell you a bit. ( gory details ) It's a Suzuki Bandit 1200, it's a very nice shade of green, and it's very different from my last one. I've only ridden it about 50 miles so far, but I like it just fine. Penny likes it too, since now she can have her truck back just in time to start commuting to school next week. It's not one of those loud bikes, either. Nice & quiet, very good for a residential neighborhood.

Yes, I'll be careful. Yes, I'll watch out for old ladies. Yes, I'll (insert caution here). Promise.

People keep asking me (mostly at work) how it is that I can ride a motorcycle but I still have to walk with a cane. It's fairly simple -- my ankle does the work of shifting, not my leg, and my ankle's fine. When I stop & put my foot down, I'm just balancing the motorcycle. Now, I probably couldn't push it much farther than 15 or 20 feet by myself, especially if there's any kind of an incline, but it's a new motorcycle. There won't be much pushing involved.

Just in case you forgot, my cane folds up. It fits in my jacket pocket.

5 August ... The Gap ... 31 August ... 30 September

Thursday 30 September

At long last, it has come to bad news for me & my leg. I'm not losing it, so don't worry too much, but my doc appointment today did not go well.

Right off the top, I'm trying hard to stay "up" and keep this in perspective. I have made vast progress in the last five months (can you even believe it's been that long since the wreck?) and have nothing to be sorry or regretful for. My friends & family have stood beside me every quavering step of the way, and for that I am eternally grateful.

Besides, the bad news isn't even all bad.

So here it is:
I knew something was wrong when the doc sent the nurse into my exam room to get the last set of x-rays from me. Eight weeks ago, he'd laid out what would happen if there wasn't significant improvement. Today he told me that not only was there not significant improvement, there was *no* improvement at all. The 8-week-old x-rays of my tibia look nearly identical to the ones that are now about 8 hours old.

Here is what will happen:
I will have one more operation for sure, possibly another after that. During that/those operation(s), the doc will:

Do a bone graft
The bone graft...well, he said that's the most important part. He will take bone matter from my upper tibia & lower femur/knee area, combine it with some new synthetic bone matter, and spread it around inside the break. I turned down the option of using bone from a bone bank. We discussed the concepts, and I decided to use a bone bank as a last resort. There have only ever been 2 cases of disease transferred through a bone graft, but both times it was Hepatitis. So it will be my last resort, following my own bone and the synthetic matter.

Re-break my fibula (which is healing like gangbusters)
This will have two purposes. First, it will de-stabilize my leg, thereby preventing the fibula from taking on too much of the load. If the fibula takes on more of the weight-bearing duties than it's supposed to, the tibia will not be properly stressed and will fail to heal. Second, re-breaking the fibula will remind my leg that there's broken bones down there that need healing. Kind of like aggravating a wound to spur it into healing better.

Remove the screws at the top of my tibia
Similarly, removing the screws at the top of my tibia will increase pressure on the bone, hopefully causing it to "dynomize" and heal more quickly. When he first said my leg was not dynomizing, I thought he said it wasn't dyn-o-mite, and after that every time he said the word dynomize I thought of Jimmie Walker from that TV show "Good Times". Anyway, dynomizing is just the fancy doctor way of saying "aggravating itself". Not really. It has something to do with the bone cells on either side of the break remembering that they're not supposed to have that much space (actually about 5mm) between them. Clipping both sides of the break will expose fresh bone and hopefully spur the healing process as well.

Check for infection in the bone
There is a possibility that I have an infection that is preventing the bone from healing. Because my fibula came out through the back of my leg (open/compound fracture), he said this is a strong possibility. That I'm having no major problems with my leg (other than the obvious) or my overall health is a very good sign that I do not have a serious infection.

It is possible he can do it all with one operation, but he did stress the possibility of a follow-up procedure.

The good news is that he sees no reason to replace my 12mm diameter, 36mm long titanium rod with a 14mm, 38mm long titanium rod. At least, he sees no reason to replace it now. If the bone graft fails, replacing the rod will be the next step.

He wants to do all this as soon as possible, but I have to discuss it all with my family before I make any scheduling decisions. I will be in the hospital 2 or 3 days, off my feet for about a week, and then taking it easy for several weeks. I will not go back to crutches except to get home from the hospital, the doc wants me to stay on the cane. He says it's possible to re-open my leg where the first surgical incision is, but that will make it difficult to re-break the fibula. Looks like I'll have at least two new scars to show off.


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