Two weeks on and I’m a few days into fully realizing the extent of the injury to my femur. Still unable to lift my right leg (from horizontal) more than about three inches, unable to bend it more than around 10-15 degrees and certainly unable to put more than a couple pounds of force on it standing (technically I’m still toe-touch so I should stop trying). On the upside I’ve graduated from a walker to crutches, I’ve been able to pee standing up for over a week and I’m ambidextrous in using all my reachers to dress myself and pick up the assortment of toys Samantha keeps dropping in my path. And lest I forget I can almost bathe (shower) myself (while sitting in an awesome chair) and can fully prepare my meals as long as all the supplies are laid out on my prep table. Much progress in the face of a much longer road ahead than I previously wanted to understand or believe it would be. I wonder how many who suffer a similar injury deeply self-reflect as much as I have and continue to do.
Daily activities, or activities of daily living (ADLs) as they’re known, are generally ignored by most of us. We mindlessly slink out of bed, slide across the floor with the lights out, maybe grab a shirt and let out the dogs before completely waking up. Firing up the home coffee-cafe is a series of near mindless motions and finally it’s time to wake up when jumping into the shower. What I’d trade for any of that. I carefully slide to the end of the L section of the couch-doubling as a bed-couch-office, carefully slip my right (injured) leg onto the floor, reach for my crutches and gradually lift up my unrested body. A few crutch-swings over to the door to let out Samantha and reverse to swing over to the bath using a nightlight to guide my path. The bath is small so the final few swings are baby-hops to fit sideways in the door and assume the position. By now Sam is about to start banging on the door to be let in. I’m up several minutes, have moved a total of 30-35 feet and have yet to fire up the coffee.
Once Samantha is back in I continue swinging to the single table containing everything I need to be self-sufficient throughout the day. Coffee fixins’, pitchers of water (once Amy brings them downstairs), dry cereal and fruit, bread, packets of tuna, paper picnic supplies, and the big score was Amy pulling down the awesome toaster-oven from the kitchen. By now my left (good) leg is fatigued from providing most of the support and my arms are beginning to tire from picking up the remaining. I grab the bag of dry cereal and fruit, loop the lidded coffee mug under a couple fingers and swing my way over to the office section of the couch; irritated that soon Amy will arrive with my daily shot in the stomach. Thirty-five to forty minutes to accomplish coffee, a bowl of cereal, one dog out and a quick trip to the bath. Finally time to eat and start on the coffee. Thus begins each day.
Five days after arriving home my youngest brother was in town visiting and agreed to take me on an outing. We had a few errands (ok, he drove and ran most the errands while I sat in the car) with the most importing being heading to the polls. While it was a rainy day the ambient temperature was well above freezing allowing for no issue with slipping on the crutches. I would not be denied my opportunity to cast a ballot.
This was both my first outing as well as my first stroll on crutches of more than a few feet in my protected domain. Aaron did a top-notch job aiding me in and out of the car and a few buildings a few times. We did quick-hit errands to a couple retailers and a couple other businesses in addition to my local polling place. I felt mostly good most of the time. Getting in and out of the car was the most challenging and I was confident enough with the system we worked out I proposed we make a longer day of it the next day. Likely a mistake.
With an awful lot of sitting time, medicated time and drowsy time I’ve mastered the art of the short read. Naturally several articles related to my injury and recovery have been consumed. I’ve picked a few highlights as a refresher. In summary:
I underwent an ORIF (open reduction internal fixation); something that’s been performed for nearly fifty years. In most cases, the rods and pins that are placed to repair the bone do not need to be removed after the bone heals. Here’s hoping to be a ‘most-case’! With almost 2.5M occurrences annually in the U.S. we can feel confident with the buckets of information available about both the procedure as well as the recovery. It’s the recovery I fear the most. So far I’ve bypassed many of the surgical and immediate post-operative complications such as:
- Blood clots
- Fat embolism and
- Complications from anesthesia
Ongoing complications I need to be aware of include:
- Nerve damage
- Blood clots (ongoing)
- Healing of the fractured bone in an abnormal alignment
- Irritation of the overlying tissue from the hardware
As a repeat of the improper healing there is also a risk that the fracture doesn’t heal properly and that I’ll need repeat surgery. Geeesuzzz help me if that’s my fate. I probably overdid a few things in the six-seven day period after returning home so I’ve attempted to (mostly) take a (somewhat) more cautionary path since. Mostly. Somewhat.