Two days after Christmas, after a few drinks, I characteristically decided to climb a wall (this one was full of holes, just screaming “climb me”). With 2 other friends, I scaled to the top, on the way down, decided climbing is too slow and I was low enough to jump.
While in air I realized my mistake, lost balance, landed leaning to the right, and collapsed. My right shin was broken into six pieces.
Fast forward several morphine-induced, hazy hours during which I experienced a bunch of firsts: riding in an ambulance, feeling relaxed on morphine, pushed through the hospital on the gurney with IV dripping down, and changing into that stupid looking gown.
I remember thinking to myself…”this is just like on TV!” And also discussing with my two friends who drove over, about how it sucks that all the attractive nurses and paramedics were 30 and married.
Surgery was a complete black-out spot. Remember only talking to my anesthesiologist and waiting forever. Later I learned that I have a titanium rod inserted from my knee (two screws there) all the way down my shin, securing the three pieces of my broken tibia (the big shin bone). The 3 pieces of the broken fibula were left alone, which I thought is a bit handwavy.
The best part about being hospitalized is easy access to TV, and all three meals in bed, delivered.
The worst part was peeing into an urinal. And even though the IV was filling my bladder as if I were drinking two bottles of water per hour, my mouth was always parched and dry.
Since discharge, the recovery process has been full of pain and discomfort, I have decided to document my recovery to motivate myself, as well as anyone else in similar situation.
First few days I really didn’t know what to do, other than lying in bed with my leg on pillows and try to sleep while doped on painkillers.
I’ve tried to move my ankle to recover my range of motion. My knee, however, is extremely stiff and painful to move. Turns out I have to power through the pain caused by the scar tissues around the screws in the kneecap to recover.
Because of all my leg’s swelling, doing anything while not having my leg elevated makes it feel like a huge sausage about to burst.
The worst part is the lack of sleep, having pain waking me up every 3 hours and the back aching from being in the only possible sleeping position forever. Pain and sleep-deprivation often brings bouts of self-defeats, which is absolutely detrimental when optimism is what keeps one going through traumatic injuries.
After post-op appointment, I walked around the house and did range of motion (ROM) exercises for two hours. Exhausted, I was delighted that my leg felt a lot more normal.
Pushing through the pain, it seems, applies to just about anything in life.
Keys to recovery in Week 1
- Elevate leg
- ROM exercises, a lot of it. If a non-fracture spot is painful, it’s either due to swelling or scar tissues–ignore pain and power through.
- Let leg hang low briefly, then elevate again. This improves circulation and decreases (although it becomes painful first) swelling.
- Diet and hydration are very important. Basic rules of healthy eating apply to recovery diet–the content is actually very similar to fat-lose diet, but up the calories, obviously.
- Stay positive with movies, TV, friends, and books.
Goals for the month:
- Be able to crutch around indefinitely–lose the swelling.
- Recover full ankle and knee ROM.
- Slight weight bearing on my leg.