The Surgery (Part 2)

So, after my boss and head teacher arrived, I was transfered to a new hospital. One that was a bit cheaper and a bit closer to my home. That was Saturday night. My leg was too broken for me to get out of bed. I had a splint and bandages, but it still didn’t hold me together well. If I lifted my leg, my foot would move unnaturally and I’d experience intense, yet very expected pain. I could feel the bones grinding and moving. I couldn’t even go to the rest room. I had a urinal bottle next to my bed, which is rather humiliating. I was in a room with three other patients, all of them unable to speak English. The nurses also couldn’t speak English. The time before my surgery went like this:

Saturday night: My boss brought me chicken to eat. Then sleep.

Sunday: 8am, Breakfast. I need my bed elevated so I can even reach my food. My boss came after to help me brush my teeth. Noon, Lunch. Later, visits from some friends and co-workers. 5pm Dinner.

Monday: Same schedule of food. Less visits. A lot of naps. A bit of Korean TV. Simple conversations with my roommates. My doctor visited and said that I would get a nail in my leg to help the bone heal.

It looked like this:

That's definitely not a nail.

Definitely not what I call a nail.

I asked if it would hurt. The doctor didn’t mess around. His response was that it would hurt much worse than the original break. But then I would be recovering.

Tuesday finally came, the day of my surgery. In the morning, a simplified breakfast. Just soup and a little rice. No lunch. My boss was concerned because no one was there to care for me. Usually people are working on Tuesdays around 2pm. I managed to convince Sue to come and help me after she finished work at 6pm.

And then it was time. Around 2pm, nurses transfered me to a wheelchair and took my into the operating room. Understandably, I was terrified. No one could communicate with me, no one was there to help me, and they were about to cut my leg open and shove a titanium rod in there.

When I got into the surgery room, an anesthesiologist was there.

“Alright, get on this table,” he said, “Then curl up like this,” He made a gesture like a person rolling up into a ball.

“What? Uh, ok,” So I curled up a little on the table.

“Like a shrimp. In a little ball,” He said.

“Uh, my leg is broken. Fetal position is a bit impossible,” I replied.

“Ignore your leg and the pain, it will only take a second,”

So I did it. I curled myself into a ball.

“You’ll feel a dull pain because I’m sticking a needle in your spine,”

“Dull pain?” I laughed. And then found out he wasn’t down playing it. It really was a dull pain.

“Huh? Foreigners have harder backs than Koreans,” He said.

Now, that last line made me panic a little. What does that mean? Did the needle not go through? Do I need more?

“How do you feel?” He asked as he got me straightened out on the table.

“Scared.” I said.

“Lift your left leg,” he said. I tried, but I couldn’t get it more than a cm off the table. “Good,” he said, “Still scared?”

“A little,”

Then he punched me in my right shin. You know, where my leg is completely broken. I felt nothing.

“That was fracture site,” he laughed, “Now how do you feel?”

“Oh, well. Fine. Let’s do this!”

During the surgery, I was awake. And freezing cold. My hands kept losing circulation. For the most part, I felt nothing. A curtain blocked the surgery from view for the most part. The surgeon spoke English, so I could talk to him a bit. The surgery sounded like they were building a shed around my leg. I just heard metal hitting metal. Power drills. Staple guns. Some kind of ratchet. At one point, the doctor stepped back and I could see a huge blood covered drill, which isn’t terrible comforting. For the first two hours or so, I felt nothing. And then, I found I could move my left foot a little. And then I began to regain feeling. So I told my surgeon.

“I’m almost finished. Can you hang in there?” he asked.

“Do it. I’ll survive,” I said. I gritted my teeth and held in there. I slowly started to gain dull sensation, but nothing serious. Afterward, I was transfered back to my bed and told not to lift my head. They stuck me on some morphine. There was mild pain in my leg, but nothing serious.

In my bed, I felt better. Now I could recover. Before, I was just wasting time. When I picked up my phone, I had a message from Sue. She said she’d be there by the time I woke up. I laughed, since I had never gone to sleep. An hour or so later, she appeared. It was nice to have someone to talk to. Slowly, the pain in my leg increased. At first, it was nothing serious, but by the time 8pm rolled around, it hurt much more than the original break. Just intense pain. Like someone was scraping the contents of my leg out with a scoop. Around 10pm, I was allowed to lift my head and finally drink water. Then I ate some rice porridge  which, at that time was the tastiest thing I had ever eaten. Afterward, I ended up having a horrible fever, so Sue got some ice from the nurses and helped cool me down a bit. She really helped out. After she left, my boss arrived to check on me. Then was a long painful night of attempting to sleep.

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~ by James on January 8, 2013.

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