WARNING: Photographs of injuries, which are explicit in nature. Not for the squeamish.
Every now and then, my body decides that I need a few days to a week away from home. It’s never where I want to be, though. This time, my body literally decided that I needed a break. A broken hip, to be exact.
Not my dream holiday home…
I was getting better, after my seizure-induced tumble down the stairs the previous weekend. I was able to get down the stairs again, and was weight-bearing with my trusty walking stick. It was when I was downstairs, checking my tarantulas, that it happened.
There was a piece of plastic on the living room carpet, which I’d failed to notice. I discovered it the hard way, when the ferrel of my stick touched down squarely upon it and my stick flew out from under me, with my full weight on it. So, that was ten stone of Gemma (140lbs) landing solidly on my side. Bang. I couldn’t save myself, as it all happened so quickly.
Don’t ask me how I did it – I think it was pure pig-headedness on my part – but I somehow managed to struggle back up the stairs, falling again when I reached the landing outside the bedroom door. Still believing it to be a bad sprain, I managed to haul myself up and get to the bed, where I swallowed painkillers and tried not to cry. I birthed an entire child on nothing but gas and air, for goodness’ sake; I’m not going to cry because a sprained muscle and a torn ligament hurts. Since I was off my face on the strongest opiates that can legally be bought across the counter, I soon forgot about it and fell asleep. It would all feel much better in the morning, I reasoned. Honestly, for a woman of above-average intelligence I can be extremely stupid sometimes (I prefer “stubborn”, but in this case I think I have to accept “stupidity” in its place).
Fast-track to Sunday morning, and I couldn’t get out of bed. I couldn’t even sit up, and every move made me (and my leg) scream in pure agony. Dom decided he wasn’t having my excuses (“It’s just a sprain; I can’t have broken anything, I’ll be fine”) and called 111. 111 promptly called an ambulance.
In the end it took six paramedics, intravenous morphine, gas and air and a scissor-type grabby device to lift me off the bed, down the stairs and into a waiting ambulance. Because I couldn’t move to show them where the pain was, they had to cut the leg of my Doctor Who PJ bottoms so they could try and get a look at me. More gas and air on the way to Broomfield, to help me on the bumpy roads.
Here is where I stop to praise the British emergency services. In spite of cruel government cuts they keep right on trucking, and my team couldn’t have been kinder, more courteous, or more reassuring if they’d tried.
An x-ray in the early evening confirmed that I’d broken my hip quite nicely, thank you very much, and I was scheduled for emergency surgery the following afternoon. Nice one, Gem; full points for idiocy! On the plus side, I was put on a nice ward, and the male doctors all seemed to be handsome, bearded, bespectacled intellectual types (my friend Bongo would have thought she’d died and gone to heaven). I even remembered some of the staff from my stint in Broomfield five years ago with liver disease, which helped my anxiety levels a lot.
By 4pm on the Monday, I had officially become a Cyborg, with two titaniam screws in my femur. A full hip replacement had been discussed, and then dismissed because of my age (the screws will last a lot longer, although I’m likely to need the full op one day).
Not my hip, and I have one less screw, but this is basically what will show on x-rays for the rest of my life, now.
On Tuesday the physio began, and I found that I was able to transfer from bed to chair with relative ease, although I couldn’t stand for long and certainly couldn’t walk. By Wednesday, though, I was zimmering around the ward well enough that they decided to move me elsewhere, since they deemed me about ready to go home.
I’d like to forget about the two nights after I was moved. It was an old part of the hospital, which has seen far better days, and even having my own en-suite room didn’t detract from the horribleness of the place, and the feeling of abject misery that seemed to ooze from the walls. You know those wards where hopeless cases and lost causes seem to be sent to so that everyone but the nursing staff can forget about them? Yes, that. An autistic person such as myself does not belong in that environment, and my first evening there was spent having meltdowns and panic attacks and begging Dom to take me home (which, of course, he couldn’t do). I slept with the light on.
Fortunately I was able to convince the physio staff that I was ready for home when they came to see me on Thursday, so on Friday an ambulance crew deposited me back into my lovely comfy bed at Tribble Towers, where I have been ever since. It’s a bit frustrating, being stuck upstairs – especially on a lovely spring afternoon like this – but it’s better than any hospital ward.
We got some photographs when we changed my dressings yesterday. It looks a heck of a lot worse than it feels (here is where you should scroll if you’re squeamish):
The back of my thigh, which really isn’t too bad, all things considered
The incision, complete with sutures. The big lump is the callus that accompanies all bone breakages – I still have a small one in my arm from years ago
For once, this wasn’t caused by a seizure – it was caused by an errant piece of plastic lurking where it shouldn’t have been – but my initial tumble down the stairs probably went some way towards contributing to this particular outcome. I’m using a zimmer and there is a safety frame around the toilet for me to grab hold of, and it will be some time before I can even contemplate using the stairs again except for in an emergency (in which case I shall have to go down on my backside as it’s the safest way with nothing here for me to hold on to). I’m on strong painkillers, including oral morphine, and sleep is my friend. If not for my amazing husband, my wonderful family (including in-laws) and incredible network of friends, I think I should probably go mad.
So, that was my week. How was yours?