“Oh, I’ve never broken a bone or had an operation, ” I bragged, while walking back from lunch with a good friend of mine that I work with. Little did I know, that 5 minutes later, that would all change for me. Too cheap to spend $3 on a bottle of water, I walked over to the cooler to get a fill up. I’ve done this about 100 times over the last 6.5 months at our office. This time though, as I passed the fridge, I felt my foot slide through something, tried to catch myself, and went down really hard on my ankle. The floor was concrete, so I knew this was not going to be good. When I looked down, I saw a bit of water and some shredded carrots. Yep – carrots caused this. Anyway, a few people that I work with came over to try to help, but if you are ever in my shoes, err, cast, give yourself a minute. It’s a shock and you are in pain, so breathe and try to move at your leisure.
I could not put any weight on my ankle, but I was still hoping for a sprain, I’ve had enough of them to know about RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) and that in a few weeks, I would be back to normal. Unfortunately, it was not meant to be. Now, my dear readers, I am going to pass along all of my wisdom to you so that you know what to do in case this ever happens to you. You will get a first hand account of everything from the incident, to the Emergency Room, to the surgery and finally to the path to wellness. And yes, I take questions. I had to depend on some of my own knowledge of hospitals to being a planner and finally, to the kindness of strangers and of course, my family and friends.
The first thing that you should do if you are going to break anything that requires an ambulance is to work in a completely accessible building. Of course, I do not. This was not ideal, but I was in an office chair and everything worked out. Really, the most important thing that you can do is to remain calm. Yes, I know it hurts, but freaking out is not going to make you more comfortable – trust me. The nice paramedics put me in a cardboard splint and they advised that if I can make it from the stretcher to a wheelchair, I may get seen faster. Unfortunately, if you do take an ambulance to the hospital, they will not be turning the siren on. Think of it as a good thing – your injury is not life threatening.
The most important thing that you do need is someone there with you. I initially thought, NONO, I do not want to be a bother, but I have since rethought that bit of stupidity. That person can help you, remember to ask things that you may not think of and advocate for you. I have done this so often for family members that I thought I would be a pro at it. It is different when it is you. Also, remember when you go through emergency, you have to be patient. You are just one of many people there who have problems, and as difficult as it is to wait, your turn will come. I listened to the paramedics and transferred into a wheelchair as quickly as I could. It took me three hours to get through triage and another hour after that before I was seen.
Your next step, once you get a bed is a quick look by the doctor and then you will be taken to have X-Rays. I was very hopeful that I would just have a sprain, or at worst a break that would just need a boot. No such luck. I broke my ankle in a place that would require surgery. I would need plates and pins. They needed to reset the bone (also called a fracture reduction) where the doctor manipulates the broken ends of the bone into their original position and fixes them in place with a plaster cast, in my case. I was given the option of morphine where I would feel the pain, but it would be over quickly. The other option was to do it under a twilight sleep where I would be given a combination of ketamine and propofol (the Michael Jackson drug) and would not remember the pain, although I would be semi-awake. I initially was going to go with the quick and easy morphine, but my friend convinced me that the pain would not be worth it. I did what any normal person would do, and I checked with my other friend who confirmed that I was stupid for wanting to remember the pain.
I was a little nervous about being put to sleep, if I’m being honest, and the guy in the next stretcher was screaming and moaning. They started an IV, told me to think pleasant thoughts because I would be having vivid dreams, and warned me that I may feel a burning. I remember the burning and initially, I didn’t feel well, but then they an oxygen mask over my face and told me that I would smell plastic but to breathe in. I did what I was told and all I remember was seeing the prettiest most vivid colours…ever. I saw sparkles, pick up sticks and even incomplete flags. My friend told me that one of the nurses was wearing a t-shirt with a flag – I guess that’s where it came from. It was the most magical 20 minutes of my life. I remember coming to and looking down and seeing the cast they put on my leg and declaring it pretty and fluffy like a cloud. I then said, in my outside voice, “That was fun, can we do it again????” I was loving life, laughing and joyful, and wanted to call my sister and let her know that I was OK. In my dreamy state, I just called whoever had the letters i and l in their name – and could feel my friend roll her eyes at me. I was loving life.
Apparently, I was allergic to ketamine and needed Benadryl but I did not care. I was nauseated and was still just happy to be there. I went for more X-Rays, was given the clearance to leave the hospital with a pair of crutches, and told not to eat after midnight in case I got my call for surgery….which will take us to:
Castaway – PART 2 – The Unkindest Cut (AKA Surgery)