The Wonders of a Broken Hip – Part One
It’s a bit of an odd title to this post, I’ll admit. Surely there is nothing wonderous about breaking a hip bone. And you’d be right for thinking that, there really is nothing that one can wonder at when it comes to broken bones. I still have flashbacks from the whirlwind that was Friday the 12th (just imagine if it was the 13th – gosh!) of March 2021. Having fallen off my bike the night before and deciding to just sleep the pain off, it became evident throughout the night that this was not a pain I could shake. With barely an hour’s sleep and with plans to leave early that morning to go to Kobe for a meeting with a potential client, I had no choice but to swallow my pride and call my boss to say that I just couldn’t make it. The stiff upper lip wasn’t quite stiff enough for a four-hour car journey to Kobe and back; it just was not what my body wanted and I decided to go to the hospital instead.
After hirpling down the street to grab a taxi for the shortest tax ride ever, I was able to make it to the hospital without too much trouble. An hour or so into the visit and I had an X-ray with inconclusive results and was then sent in for a CT scan to be safe. Up until after the CT scan I had been walking around the hospital from A to B, dragging my left leg behind me. The man who performed the scan thought it best that I use a wheelchair and thank goodness he did! That’s when we realised that I had suffered a broken hip, much to the surprise of the doctor there who explained to me that this usually only happens to the elderly, not to a healthy young man such as myself (her words, not mine)! Even when she called another hospital to explain the situation and have me sent over, there was a lot of ‘Oh, I know! He’s 32! 32!’ With my confidence knocked, they explained to me that it would require surgery as soon as possible and they whisked me off to another, larger hospital. Well, that certainly was not something I was expecting. I thought it’d be a quick in and out and I would be home before I knew it. I was so confident in that fact that I left the heater on and the kids to run around the flat freely. What a day this was going to be…
As I lay in the ambulance being asked mundane questions such as ‘what’s your name?’, ‘what’s the date?’, ‘when is your birthday?’, etc. I couldn’t stop thinking about what an earth was happening to me. All I did was come off my bike on my way home from work, and just a few hours earlier I was at home working away as normal. It wasn’t even a collision with a vehicle – it was just a bump into someone’s bag that sent me tumbling to the pavement with no visible injuries whatsoever. I could only assume that 100% of the impact fell on my hip, otherwise I would have been able to just walk it off as I had with any of my other previous falls. And yes, there had certainly been a few! That single moment of lapse in concentration (I don’t feel like I can put all of the blame on that stupid, idiot pedestrian fool) left me with an injury I never thought I would have had to endure.
Upon approaching the next hospital, I was taken into A&E, with 20 or so doctors and nurses running around and having a good stare the foreigner who had interrupted their afternoon (sorry!) After stabbing me in various parts of my body, stealing my blood and hooking me up to an IV drip, I was finally able to meet the surgeon who explained to me the situation in a very cool and clear way:
‘If you don’t have this surgery, you will never be able to walk again.’ Great, I thought.
‘And even if you do, there is no guarantee that it will be successful and you still might not be able to walk properly again after the surgery.’ Well, isn’t that lovely, I thought.
After signing various bits of paper letting me know that was a very low risk of me contracting such and such virus from blood transfusions and the like, they left me alone for a while as they reviewed my scans, and it was at that moment that all of the information they’d provided, and all of the possibilities that could occur, and all of the thoughts I had of all the things I might not be able to do the things I want to do again, came crashing through, head first into my mind. I could only lie there and sob. Even as I write this I can’t help but tear up a little. I had no means to contact anyone and let them know, so no-one had any idea where I was or what was happening. That sense of having zero control over anything is a very daunting one that I would come to meet again a few days later.
A mere hour or so (although it felt much, much longer) after being admitted, they took me down to theatre to start the procedure. The explanation of the surgery was frightening enough, but the reality was a much more dreadful experience. They told me that I could remain conscious and let them know if there was any pain, but as soon as they explained the procedure to me and offered me some sleeping gas, well, I couldn’t refuse. Just knock me out and tell me when it’s over! Turning me over to my right side and lodging a large needle into the base of my spine, all the feeling in the lower half of my body began to disappear. A horribly uncomfortable sensation that I never want to experience again, but one that was only going to get worse. It didn’t get off to a very good start when they tried to put on a blood pressure cuff onto my arm; I’ve always easily got pins and needles in my arms but this was ridiculous. Along with not being able to feel my legs, the pins and needles in my arms got so bad that I became unable to move my right arm or hand completely and it was just too much. After bursting into tears and literally begging them to take it off, they decided to put it onto my leg instead. Feeling returned to my arm and I was able to calm down a bit on this hellish ride.
I can be terrible at sleeping at the best of times, and even the gas they administered had a hard time knocking me out fully. On a number of occasions throughout the surgery I would awake to the sound of a drill, or the noise of a hammer on pin as I could feel my body rocking from side to side. While the sensation sickened me, I couldn’t help but laugh hysterically at what was going on. I’m sure to the surgeons around me I was have looked a madman! But I’m equally as sure it wasn’t for the first time. On one occasion as I woke, the feeling in my chest had also decided to leave the theatre and I genuinely believed I wasn’t breathing. While it may have been a side effect of the drugs, every time I tried to inhale I could not feel my lungs inflate and although the nurses tried to calm me down and reassure me that I was breathing normally, my only response in a barely conscious and utterly defeated voice was ‘How do you know?’ Somehow they were able to convince me and I fell back into a deep sleep.
‘Jeremy-san! Jeremy-san!’ I thought I was dreaming, but as I awoke I heard the nurses shouting my name to wake me up and inform me that the surgery was over. Without wanting to sound overly dramatic, I was so relieved that I had survived! I’m sure the surgeon would have been able to have performed the procedure with his eyes closed and I am all for leaving it in the hands of the professionals, but I couldn’t help but feel scared at it all going wrong. Memories of one of the residents at the old people’s home I worked at came back to me as well as I lay there. The poor old lady who had suffered a botched operation on her spine that left her disabled and in a care home resonated a lot with me. I don’t think I could have handled that well and what a strong lady she must have been to carry on. I’m ashamed to say that I don’t remember her name, but hats off to her!
Needless to say I felt bloody awful for the next few days. It took a while for the feeling in my legs to come back and when I was able to move around a little bit more I braved what was under the sheets to find big old bruise that was taking over my left thigh. Yes, I have pictures, and no, I don’t think I’ll post them! I also didn’t even realise that they had attached a catheter to me. What an uncomfortable but also relieving revelation that was. At least I knew I wouldn’t piss myself like I thought I had, but what if I needed a poo? Oh, I have a nappy on as well. I guess I just have to soil myself and let the nurse know. How delightful. Thankfully it never came to that and it wasn’t until after I was able to get into a wheelchair that I needed to go, so no embarrassing nappy change required! Phew. I tell you, there is nothing quite as satisfying as emptying your bowels after three days. I always thought it was odd how older people in care homes obsess over their bowel movements so much, but now I kind of get it.
While I certainly would have preferred that this didn’t happen at all, I’m kind of glad this all happened on a Friday at least, as it gave me time to think about work and what would be involved in handing over a lot of what I had on. I had a number of things going on at work that I really was not handling well, and I soon came to realise that the dread of handing over those things to my team was a bit too much for me to bear. Again, losing control over something completely led me to feel seriously high levels of embarrassment, anxiety and paranoia that I still feel as I write this, but at the same time it had allowed me to reflect on one thing that had surreptitiously been causing me lots of stress in the past few years, and this is where some of the more positive aspects of the whole incident start to make their appearance that I think I’ll cover a little later on.
Come Monday morning a man visited my room first thing in the morning informing me that I was going to be moved to another hospital on Wednesday to continue and increase my physiotherapy sessions, which they said could take up to one month depending on my condition. One month! I couldn’t imagine being away for so long, but again, leaving it in the hands of the professionals, I really had no choice but to go along with it. I couldn’t stay there, I knew. However, I didn’t expect to be whisked away quite so soon. As I was now able to get in and out of bed when assisted, they decided it was time to remove the catheter, and what a painful experience that was! Trust me on this, it is not a pleasant one.
I was originally going to just make one blog entry on my whole experience, but as I near 2,000 words I thought it best to split it up a bit and write this in instalments as things progress. I am now in a different hospital going through my physiotherapy and will likely be here for a while longer, so when that’s over I’ll take some time to write about my experience here too, and go over some of things that this whole experience has taught me. Fingers crossed that the meeting with the doctor tomorrow goes well and I’ll be out of here sooner than I think! While I write that, here’s a sneak preview of what it’s been like:
Much love to you all. Ciao!