Saturday, July 12, 2014

Hot weather, bare wet feet and hardwood floors.

11 years ago I spent a lot of time in Longmont, Colorado. The company I was consulting for wanted me there every week, so I rented a house in a nice neighborhood. Frankly, I hated the place, the area in general. People there were unjustly proud that one could see the front range of the Rockies off in the distance. It was flat, crowded and in the summer miserably hot. My home in Montana is a thousand feet higher, right in the middle of the mountains, and a hot day is 85, cooling to 50 at night.

I flew home often, just to escape. Maintaining two residences made the gig almost not worth it.

Anyway, one evening in the summer I was there. It was hot, over 90f at 10pm. The house had a swamp cooler in the living room that did little to mitigate the heat. A family trait is that neither I nor my kids can tolerate heat, anything over 75 is uncomfortable.

I am getting to the point of this, albeit slowly.

This particular evening I took a cold shower, a couple times. It worked for several minutes afterward, especially if I didn't towel off afterwards, evaporation and all that.

The house had hardwood floors.

As I walked, barefoot from the bathroom down the hall I turned a corner, my feet slipped, down I went,  hearing a loud 'pop' as I fell. I lay a moment, I knew I had done something, but tried to get up. When I put weight on my left foot down I went again. I looked down, seeing a shard of bone sticking out of the skin. I clearly remember thinking "bummer"....

Did I mention I was unclothed?

I crawled on the floor to the table in the living room where my phone was and dialed 911. I told them the situation, they said they were sending someone immediately. As I lay there, in retrospect going into shock, I called 911 again. The woman explained someone was on the way. I said "Listen, there's another thing. I'm naked." A short silence ensued. "Oh?" she said. "Yes, I had just got out of the shower." I explained. "Uh huh, ok." she said.

I managed to reach a navajo blanket on the sofa and pulled it over me. A few minutes later I saw flashing light reflected on the ceiling, and somehow they got in the locked door in seconds. Two women paramedics entered, followed by two male firemen. I apologized to the paramedics for my unclothed state. As they examined my ankle one said "Sir, we've seen everything. This is nothing special."

Quickly they had me on a gurney and out the door. Outside there was the ambulance and two fire trucks, and several people milling about. They had an IV in me and fluid going within a minute, and off we went to the hospital.

Turns out in addition to the compound fracture I had completely torn and separated all the ligaments in my ankle. The surgery took 8 hours.






The Fibula repair was the easiest part of the surgery; a stabilizing plate and and half dozen screws were put in. The ortho cutter said the ligament repair was one of the hardest procedures he'd ever done.





It was nearly 6 months before I got rid of the crutches. A decade later my walking is limited to a mile at the most. I can still wade in a river and fish, so there's that.

21 comments:

  1. That is one really hard fall!!

    Funny, as if this kind of injury could ever be funny, how with all that damage and all that pain you were concerned about being naked.

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    1. Shock can do that, the pain kicked in after reaching the ER.

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  2. For four years I worked for the local EMS/fire district. I imagine every calling has a certain mind set, and they certainly had theirs. The fun in the day room. The digital change to service when the dispatch call came in. How hard they trained and studied. My own experience, when one of my favorites, Steve, helped put me on the gurney. "You don't weigh anything," he remarked to no one, and to my sister, "Don't try to keep up. I'm lights and sirens!"

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  3. Tough break, no pun intended.

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    1. I wish I'd just stayed down and assessed the injury before trying to get up. I probably did the ligament damage putting weight on it with no bone support.

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  4. I feel so sick reading about something like this, bones sticking out, ugh. Unfortunate that you still feel the effects of this.

    I can relate to the naked part it seems far worse to be caught like that than the actual injury.

    XO
    WWW

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    1. I'd seen injuries like this many times over the years, and much worse. I knew I likely wouldn't loose the foot, it could be repaired. This all in the seconds I saw the compound fx.
      And yeah, it's interesting how embarrassment and potential humiliation is worse than physical pain.

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  5. I know I am a nurse but that X-ray made my skin crawl

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    1. When the ortho guy came over, just before I was pushed into pre-op, he told me about the fx. I asked to see the X-ray, he smiled, a becoming smile, and said "After the procedure."

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  6. Based on the story and x-rays, I give this post a "pucker factor" of about 9 (out of 10). Man, that must have hurt. I'm sure rehab was no picnic either.

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    1. That's where I screwed myself. I didn't comply with the rehab, once I was in a walking cast. I was busy, I rationalized, and the result is that I can do probably 50% less now than I could be doing.

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  7. I had my feet go out from under me on wet ice one night in Providence. I still don't know how I drove my standard shift car home, but I do remember it was months before the sciatic nerve damage improved.

    Did you ever wonder how the fall you had caused a compound ankle fracture? Logic would seem to indicate hip, arm, or head damage. I'm glad you got help so fast and happy too you were able to grab a blanket.

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  8. It was physics, vectors of force. I was turning, upper body at a different angle than the legs. Wet feet slipped, downward motion, force concentrated on let ankle. I was nearing sixty, bones had less calcium content than younger, weaker, etc.
    I'd guess the ligaments happened when I tried to get up and put weight on it, that fall was harder as I remember.
    No issues with upper body or head, I braced myself with arms as I fell.

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  9. Our former Governor, Schwarzenegger, twisted wrong in the snow when he was about 60 and broke a femur. When I heard that, I became very cautious about moving around too quickly and resolved always to dress appropriately before an accident.

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    1. This really altered my behaviour in that respect; Ice, bathtubs, on an on.
      I broke my right fibula when I was 17, a greenstick fracture. I think I tossed the crutches after one day. Also skiing, it's easy to do.

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  10. I laughed out loud at "Sir, we've seen everything. This is nothing special." Ouch!

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    1. I tried to de-emphasize that part in this post, but yeah. They tossed the blanket aside to look for other injuries, I apologized, and then the response. I'm a great straight man for a comedy routine.

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  11. Still being able to wade is everything. Stay safe out there.

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  12. That was some injury - but the upside is you can still wade in the river and fish! I also learned the throw rugs you put on hardwood floors to prevent slipping need to have a backing - or you go flying away on the rug. Not one of my better moments but I didn't get hurt as bad as you did.

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