May 23rd 1999
What a way to spend your 47th 21st Birthday!

Here I still am!. And on my birthday as well!. Got woken at some godawful hour of the morning. It was still dark so I didn't really think that it could be for drugs. I waited for a while, no one returned so I went back to sleep. I discovered in the morning that apparently I was snoring so loudly I was keeping other patients awake. That, of course explained why my mouth felt like the bottom of a bird cage.
The leg doesn't feel too bad today, so lets hope that it stays that way. I don't know if I'll get many visitors today. If not then I'll just have to eat my cake all on my own [and sharing with the nurses of course!].
I have received one present whilst in here. Knowing my interest in Native American history and culture, one of my bike club friends has bought me a 'Legends of the West' jigsaw of a picture by Frank C.McCarthy called 'The Chiefs'. It will have to wait until I go home as it's a bit too large for the beside trolley
This afternoon, Barbara came to visit, complete with Happy Birthday banner, yet another birthday cake (Dog shaped and with electronic bark) and assorted party food! She had also bought a bag of party poppers (Small, hand held explosive streamers for those who've never heard of them). However we decided that, because of the age and frailty of several of the other patients, the shock of the explosions from the poppers could prove fatal!. Not a good move, considering! We also decided that we shouldn't put the candles on the cake just in case the smoke/fire alarms went off.
I had plenty of other birthday visitors though whether it was to see me, or eat the food, I'm not too sure. My thanks to Barbara (of course), Mags & Debs, Deborah, Ken & Jo, Willy, Little Kev, Fred, Colin & Wendy for popping in. Also to all the nurses who tolerated a little bit of over-visiting and noise.
After everyone had gone, I had my hair cut by Claire, one of the nursing sisters. It was necessary as I was starting to look a bit like a shaggy, old rug. Later the wound was re-dressed. It's still looking good, appearing to be closing from the botton upwards (good!). The nerve endings are starting to function again however, so it's not quite as comfortable as it was. It feels a bit like slight sunburn. But, as it's all signs that it's healing, I won't complain.
There was a bit of a stir this evening when they came to give me my I.V. drip. The needle's in a very active vein!. My blood decided to make a break for freedom and some of it suceeded!. Still it all gives the laundry something to do.

So that was my 47th 21st birthday. Not the best way to spend it but, I suppose I could have been much worse really. I'm still, at this time, on course for theatre Tuesday but we will see. Walking requires a bit more concentration now as my right leg is 10mm shorter than it was.It feels rather strange as I'm having to sort of limp as well as use the crutches when I put the foot to the floor.

24 May 1999
Well this is shaping up to be a busy week!. Theatre is now going to be Thursday not tomorrow. Good, it means I get breakfast! The game plan is

  • Wednesday X-rays
  • Thursday Theatre
  • Friday Bone scan

The present idea for Thursday's foray into theatre is for the removal of the gentamycin beads and closure of the wound. Then I will carry on contracting to bring the bone ends back together. The options then are still open but seem to fall into two camps;

  • After contraction, wait a while, re-distract and see if the bone grows or,
  • After contraction, let the bones heal completely and then when the leg has healed, for me to live with a short right leg until I am ready to have another attempt in the future. And, before you ask, yes I would have another go!

The feeling seems to be that I had a pocket of infection hiding away, under the corticotomy scar which, for reasons best known to itself did not do anything for several months and then POW!
So we will see how things progress. The wound is still looking good and has healed even more. At the present rate of closure, when I go into theatre Thursday, they may have to cut me open again to get to the beads to remove them. Still I won't care, I'll be asleep!

25 May 1999
Ah well, the x-rays were today instead of Wednesday. I borrowed them for a while and have taken some copies to put on the site when I get home. (no lead to the camera here sadly!). The wound continues to close at a good rate. The nurses have been most impressed. Now if I can just make the bones follow suit.........
27th May 1999
Nil by mouth again from last night in preparation for theatre (hopefully) today. Although I'm not shown on the main surgical list, I expect to be on what's called the trauma list which comes up later. And indeed I am. I get taken down to the waiting area around 14: 30. The anaesthetist introduces herself and adds with a grin, "I understand that you know the ropes quite well by now, so I won't waste your time boring you with them"
In theatre 10, I'm set up to be centre of surgical attraction. Just before they give me the anaesthetic I ask if I can keep one of the beads so that I can put a picture of it on the site. They do me proud for when I wake up in recovery, I'm given a bag containing all 30 of them, in a string as removed from me (But cleaned of course!)
As soon as I'm home I'll get a shot of them on the site. Apparently everything looks good, there's even signs of bone growth!!!!!! BRILLIANT . The best word of all has also been mentioned - home. Although obviously I don't know when yet, but it's a bit of a boost.
The leg hurts quite a bit, although it's the knee that's giving me most pain. It's the way the muscles are complaining about what's happening to them as I squash the leg down again. Even sitting is uncomfortable right now. Tomorrow they will be dressing the wound so I'll get a chance to see what it's like now. I don't know if they've been able to stitch or staple it closed yet or if it's still open. If the batteries are still OK in the camera, I'll try to get a couple of pictures.
With respect to my attitude to my injury, one of the doctors, with a smile observed, quite rightly in my view, on hearing that I'd asked for, and got the beads,
"You are a very strange man!"
If it wasn't for the antibiotics I'd drink an agreement to that myself!
1st June 1999
It's been a few days since I've felt like writing anything. No real reason other I've been in a bit of pain with the pins since visiting theatre last Thursday. Unfortunately the dressing that was applied was giving me some troubles.The bandgage was pressing heavily on the six upper pin sites. It was also managing to pull two them in the wrong direction. This was hidden from view and I assumed that it was all just post-operative pain, but after an osteoporosis scan on the 28th, It was hurting so much that I needed pain killers. The nurses knew something must be wrong as I don't normally ask for analgesics at all. That was when they checked the dressing. As my leg had obviously swollen, the dressing had got even tighter. When it was removed, all six of the upper sites were bruised and three were bleeding. They are still not comfortable although the bruising is fading. Two are still not happy so I'm doubling up on the cleaning.

For a light interlude, click here to read an 'interesting' true story of hospital life

If you've just read the interlude, you'll have some idea about how dull things ain't!
However I must add again here that the nursing staff on Twining Ward are absolute Diamonds, each and every one of them!
A month in an orthopaedic ward opens your eyes to the problems these nurses go through. Never, at any time in my stay have I heard or seen even a single one of them be anything other than Totally and Utterly professional, even under the most trying and distressing of situations.
However, ever onwards and upwards. With each wound dressing, things seem to continue to improve. I am hoping to see a near complete closure by the end of the week. There's still no projected date for my home coming though.
I've also had to start taking Gaviscon, a mucosal indigestion medicine. I have started to notice an odd sensation in my stomach everytime I am given the penicillin, either as a drip or by I.V. So we'll see what happens with this.
My leg is now 23mm shorter than it was on the 16th of May. At the present rate, impact between the bone ends should occur about June 16th. 15 days - and counting!

3 June 1999
Having rested the leg most of yesterday, it's feeling a bit more like it's old self. This morning I was at 25.5mm compression. Mr Groom has asked if I'd like to try upping the compression rate a bit more. So for the next couple of days I'm upping it to 2mm a day. If that causes no problems, I'm going to up it another one or two notches and see how that feels. This will bring the bone ends together sooner than was mentioned above (good!).
I'm due for an x-ray on Monday to see how things are going. The wound was opened again slightly yesterday to drain it. A fair amount of serous fluid came out but it still all looked good. A swab has now been taken anyway to check for the hoped DEATH! of the infection. I also seem to have licked the problem with the antibiotics. I'm drinking about 500ml of water or milk actually as I'm given the I.V or drip. This seems to work and has reduced the discomfort to almost nothing.
8 June 1999
It's been a while since I updated anything as I've been unable to get to the phoneline for various reasons. The leg has been hurting a bit, but I think that's probably due to two reasons;
  1. The compression is aggravating the pin sites again as they move back through the body tissues.
  2. The movement of the free fibula end is causing a bit of muscular stress as it moves back toward the ankle.
During the day, I had to vacate my bed for the dayroom as, for the first time in nearly to years, I had a bit of a flashback to my original injury.
The guy in the bed next to me suffered horrendous injuries when a hit and run car driver hit him. He was helicopter ambulanced in, spent a week in I.T.U before coming up on the ward a week ago. He's almost unbelievably severely smashed up but is doing amazingly well. Today though, when they had to change the cast on one of his legs, he was finding the pain so excruciating that even with patient controlled analgesics, he was making sounds that reminded me how I felt when they relocated my foot at the end of my leg after my accident. I had to get up and leave as I became covered in a cold sweat and felt really sick.
I went down to x-ray this afternoon and they took some more shots. The gap has really closed and is actually smaller than my calculations reckon it should be. It appears to be just a few millimetres where I reckon it should still be around 10mm. Still we'll see what Mr Groom reckons.

My story continued (June 9th '99 to August '99)

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