Counting Bones – Issue #5

Every time I go to see my orthopedic surgeon, Dr. D., he tells me the story of our first meeting.  “We were standing in the E.R., and I was counting bones and Dr. H. said, “We gotta get her to the heart tower.”  He said, “I need supplies, we’ve never done orthopedic surgery up there and there’s no elevator.”  Dr. H. then, very calmly said, “Man, you don’t understand.  We gotta go NOW.  Her blood pressure is bottoming out!”  He barely raised his voice, but conveyed the urgency of the situation to him, he said.  He realized how close to death I was when he looked at Dr. H.’s face.

At this point, he smiles and gets this goofy grin on his face as he tells the rest of the story.  I love this guy.  He says, “I go up to the Heart Tower, I was on the phone to my scrub nurse trying to order all the stuff I was going to need and as I walked in to the O.R., I faced a rush of arctic air.  The A/C had to be on around 60 degrees!  I had goose bumps!”  Next he laughed and said, “Man, those heart guys are nuts.  He started blaring Led Zeppelin on the stereo before he got ready to go in.  I couldn’t hear myself think.  Us bone guys are going deaf as it is with all the drills and stuff we use, but they must all be freaking deaf from the music.”  I love to hear the story as he tells it; he gets this far-away look almost like he’s talking about a toy he got for Christmas as a boy.

After the internal surgeons are done, Dr. D. stabilized the open fracture on my right tibia and fibula by attaching external fixators once the bones were aligned internally.  This would prevent any movement after surgery so the bones could heal.  He was also aware that the artery on the bottom of my right foot had been crushed and without blood flow to the foot, he could not guarantee that further surgery wouldn’t be necessary.

Next, he began the task of stabilizing the closed fracture in my left femur, which snapped due to the engine coming in to the inside compartment of the car.  He joined the segments of the bone, then implanted a rod on the inside of the femur to stabilize and reinforce the bone, which was then screwed to my knee and hip.

My left heel bone was crushed.  Dr. D. said it looked like corn flakes.  He would use a plate and screws to affix all the pieces together he said they would bond together over time.  Overall, the surgeries went on for about 15 hours.

I lost about two weeks of memories and the above information was recounted to me by my friend, Patti, my mom and my surgeons, as well as the attending nurses in the SICU.  I have transient memories of incidents which were muddled with very vivid dreams.  I would not remember meeting Dr. D. until about the last week of May.

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