I broke my ankle.
In three places.
And dislocated it.
And tonight is my tenth night in a row in Auckland Hospital.
I arrived in an ambulance on a Wednesday.
I was meant to be flying to Honiara on the first Friday.
I’d be back by now if I’d gone.
I was meant to be hosting a clothing swap today.
And I’m meant to be flying to Wellington on Wednesday.
I had an operation the day before yesterday. I lay face-down on the table for as long as it took, but I don’t remember that part. They repositioned me while I was under. My respiration was too low so they kept me in post-op for an extra two hours while Mum and Uther waited in my room, on a chair and the floor.
I’ve had X-rays and CAT scans.
And I’d actually had an MRI the day before it happened, but that was on my intestines, so at least there’s variety in my bodily imagery on records from the last week of March, 2018.
I’ve been given propofol and fentanyl (the first afternoon, fixing the dislocation and putting on the first cast).
And lots of tramadol and paracetamol (every day since then).
And some sevredol (the first 24 hours after surgery).
And goodness knows what during and after the operation.
No ketamine, though, because I asked them not to.
It hurts. Not as much as it did, but it hurts. It’s worst at night, when I try to sleep. And it tends to kick up a fuss after I do anything other than elevate it, e.g. go to the bathroom while trying to keep it as upright as possible. I mean, the times when it was worst – worst – were when it had just happened, and then when I lost balance in the bathroom (on day… 5? 6? pre-surgery, whatever day it was) and in a knee-jerk (literally) human reaction, put my bad leg to the ground. Not the same level of wail as when I first went down on the mean streets of Newmarket, but enough to bring nurses running.
Nurses. Nurses. God, they are amazing. There has not been a single one who I have dealt with who has been anything other than what a nurse should be, you know? Different levels of senses of humour, different overall approaches at times, but the same fundamental commitment to patient care and comfort and healing. I don’t know how they do it. I try to be as much of a model patient as possible, crack jokes, behave well, take my meds, give advice about best veins for needles… but as any person who is a bit broken (you basically have to be to be in hospital, I guess, but especially on the orthopedic wards), there are moments when I’m not so crash-hot.
Weeping in the bathroom because the first trip post-surgery on the bloody wheely commode chair to the bathroom was too hard and I was dizzy and nauseated and felt so defeated and worried that I was going to pass out and fall over and damage my so-recently fixed ankle and/or topple the so lovely but very slight nurse with my pushing the bounds of straight sizes heft. Or crying and coughing because of the crying and because of the residual ache from the tube that had been down my throat and the tramadol was not touching the pain that first night post-surgery and my whole lower right leg felt like it was trapped in a vice designed specifically for my own personal torture and I didn’t know why the nurses hadn’t given me something stronger yet and I felt just awful.
Times like that, not so great.
Acute pain connected to acute injury is new to me. Severe pain spiking acutely due to emergency situations associated with chronic illness? Sure. Ankle suddenly and unceremoniously crunched to the point where there are ‘bits of bone’ (surgeon’s words, not mine) playing fast and loose and floating around? Not so familiar.
I know pain at the centre of your being that feels like it could be killing you – partly because it probably could be, and would have already if it weren’t for modern medicine. I know pain as part of sickness, of decline, of a body turning on itself.
Pain that’s not associated with body processes breaking down and failing is strange. It feels odd to have something external play such a role in screwing with my day-to-day. Crohn’s is always there, lurking. Sure, it gets grumpier at me if I’m not on the right med cocktail, or I eat something I know can be a trigger… but it’s also just there. The outside world is always there, but it’s not usually so aggressive in its relationship with me and my bones.
On the whiteboard chart above my bed it says NWB 6/52 in the notes. I figured out that the 6/52 meant 6 weeks (genius, I know) and Mum gleefully figured out (after a little pondering) that NWB was no weight bearing. It’s gonna be a blast. And it may well be longer than that. Prednisone and mercaptopurine can both totally muck up healing processes – and pred might have contributed to this break happening in the first place, since it can meddle with bone density. Most 27-year-olds don’t typically destroy their ankle when stumbling on a one-step stoop at 1:45pm on a Wednesday, you know?
Hopefully I get out of here on Monday. Or Tuesday.
Monday would be good.