Motorcycle Wreck Diary
Second Surgery Updates -- November & December 1999 & February 2000

20 Nov ... 23 Nov ... Feb 2000

Saturday 20 November

I'm doing OK -- sort of. Yesterday we (and when I say "we", I mean my wife did the work & I watched) changed the bandages on my leg...very icky. The doc cut me where my original-surgery scars were, but had to make the incisions a bit longer this time. So instead of having two new scars to go along with the old ones, I'll have two long ones. Not bad, although I wouldn't have minded fresh scars.

(This is kind of gross, so stop reading if you don't want to hear it.)

This time, there's no oozing wounds like last time -- the burns and the puncture from the compound fracture are long since healed over. That's, uh, nice. My wife thought so, especially as she was cleaning my leg up yesterday. She said it was much less gross than last time. This time all it is is two columns of staples and a bunch of dried blood. They sure wrapped me up good at the hospital -- non-stick dressings covered by gauze dressings, covered by some kind of cotton swaddling stuff with hard dressings in it over the wounds, finally covered by two Ace wraps. (I think they're ACE Tourer wraps, but I'm not 100% sure. They're kind of a uniform tan color, so it's hard to tell the year they were made...)

Since the changing of the bandages, each wound has a gauze dressing held to the skin with tape. You can see pictures on the "Wreck Pix 3" page. Leg's covered with my compression sock that helps keep swelling down. It feels...well, relatively better. Better than 3 days ago. But it hurts a lot. I had to stop taking the pain-killers the doc prescribed because they were giving me dizzy spells, so there's a lot more pain today than yesterday.

I'm still not allowed to put any weight on it, at least until Tuesday after Doc takes the staples out. No stitches this time, so Tuesday should see all the staples out.

I'm gettin' pretty bored with movies & video games, but still can't sit at the computer for more than a half hour at a stretch...oh, well.

Tuesday 23 November

Looking at my x-rays this morning, I can now fully understand why my knee hurts as bad as it does. I could plainly see a disc-shaped faint spot at the top of my tibia, on the inside of the bone. That's where the doc got the bone for the bone graft, and he said it'll probably hurt like that for several weeks. Kind of like road rash, but directly on the bone.

The bone graft looks downright cool on the x-ray. Where the big gap was, there is now a bunch of powdered bone & bone paste, filling things up. At the top of the rod, you can actually see the holes where the screws used to be -- straight through the bone & rod, very cool.

Cool? I must be losing my mind.

The nurse took out the staples on both surgical wounds and it actually *hurt* in a few spots -- which, believe it or not, is good. That means that some of the nerve damage is healing. Not too much -- when she took the tape holding my dressings off, the tape pulled out tufts of leg hair, which I couldn't feel at all. Some progress is better than none, I always say. Well, for the last six months at any rate.

The topic of infection came up. The culture he took during surgery from my legbone came back negative, which means no long-term antibiotics via IV. Whew. He's a little concerned about some inflammation on the lower surgical wound, so he put me on a 10-day round of pill-shaped antibiotics. Highly preferable to having a tube inserted into my chest & left there for a month or longer!

I'm officially supposed to put weight on my leg now, and next week he'll decide if I can trade the crutches for the cane. That's all the med news for now!

One very cool thing happened while I was there. The main nurse, a very hip woman named Noel, asked me for a favor. Having been through so much lately with her, I immediately said yes. She wanted me to talk to a young lady (college age, 20, 21?) in the next room.

Seems this attractive young lady named Melissa broke her right tibia playing soccer about six weeks ago. During her appointment this morning, the doctor took off her cast and she saw her leg for the first time since she broke it. She has two scars similar to mine (in about the same place) and a rod & screw set just like mine (only a shorter rod). She was understandably upset at the way her leg looked -- cut up & atrophied, not to mention hairy (which must have been a bit of a shock for her). Noel wanted her to see what an actual nasty-looking leg looked like, so I showed her mine.

When she saw how bad my leg still looks, her eyes got very wide. I talked to her a bit, showed her my x-rays and I think helped calm her down a little. I gave her my e-mail address in case she thought she might want a commiserating companion. The doc made a joke about starting a Tib-Fib Fracture Support Group, and to tell the truth I was thinking about starting up a mailing list for folks with stories like mine. I was actually thinking of something for survivors of motorcycle accidents, but I haven't settled on a concept yet.

20 Nov ... 23 Nov ... Feb 2000

Saturday 19 February

It's been nearly three months since I updated this page. A lot has happened since then, really, but not a lot concerning my leg. It still hurts all day, every day, and I'm constantly aware of the discomfort and decreased function of it. The good thing is that it works better than it used to and sometimes I actually look like I walk like a normal human being. I still have a really hard time with stairs and I can't move at anything faster than a walk. My knee hardly hurts at all now; unlike that joint, however, my ankle is a pretty constant source of ow. In-between the two joints is the root of most of the pain, along about where the break is.

In the last few weeks the lower scar on my leg has started to itch a lot. Believe it or not, I take this as a good sign -- it means some of the nerves in there may be regenerating or reattaching or whatever it is nerves do. I can still pull hair out of that leg with no pain and there's no hot or cold sensation on the skin. It's weird.

I'm working my desk job regularly, though I still stay home on bad days and because of a company-sponsored DSL and a cell phone, I'm able to work effectively from home. I miss my old job a lot, especially since they're now doing the training down here that I would have been doing had I not gotten run over by the old blind bitch. Yes, I suppose I'm still a little bitter.

The Bandit sat for more than a couple weeks during the bad weather we got here near Washington DC. I was in Boston for a week in January working on a new project, and besides that week I think there were three others where it just wasn't safe to be on a motorcycle. We got a lot of snow (about 14" all together) and, worse than that, several good ice storms which coated the area with a thick sheet of hazy ice. I started riding again about ten days ago; now the only thing you really have to watch out for is all the sand left on the road by the DOT fighting the snow & ice. Once we get the March rains, the sand will disappear.

I have what will hopefully be my last appointment with Dr. Schwartzbach on Tuesday. He'll do X-rays of my leg and decide if I need a third operation or if I'm done with office visits to his establishment. Then my lawyer gets to have his fun.

Monday 6 March

OK, so I put off updating the page a while. Believe it or not, I've been keeping busy. I'm playing guitar in the backup band for a local high school's production of Little Shop of Horrors, one of the only musicals I like. Between rehearsals & performances...and getting ready for them...I've been pretty busy the past couple weeks.

So...the news. Two more operations. That's right, two. First one is Monday 13 March. Doc S will remove the existing rod (he said I could keep it!) and screws (them too). Then he will core out my tibia to accept a larger and definitely permanent rod with the approximate dimensions 16 inches long by 3/4 of an inch in diameter. This rod will be held in place by a single screw at the top, just to keep it from backing out of the hole. At the same time, Doc S will "clip" my fibula, taking out 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch to significantly increase down pressure on my tibia which is still broken, unhealed, non-unionized, whatever you want to call it TEN FUCKING MONTHS after that bitch hit me.

Sometimes I can't believe it. The only thing that really keeps me going, well, two things. OK, three things. #1 - the support of my family & friends, who have been beside me since last May. Unbelievable the amount of support & help they've given me -- even if it was only to say "Gee, Wes, that sucks." #2 - the motorcycle I got last August to replace my beloved Shadow. At least I can still ride when I get really down. #3 - someday hopefully soon this will all be over and I can pay off some bills, get my K1200RS, and start investing for retirement.

That's Operation #3. Operation #4 will be in about six months or so and shouldn't be all that bad. Doc S will go it and scrape away the excess bone material that's grown around where the fracture in my tibia is. It's created a huge, unsightly, and painful lump in my leg. If that isn't the end, I think we're going to start looking for Terminator parts to solve my problems.

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