Fix It (Part Two)

I don’t have a lot of memory of arriving in LaCrosse. I do remember the whole freakin’ staff being bored and worried about COVID-19… Except my trauma surgeon, who was psyched to have something to do. I remember just flashes of Dr. (B) and his enthusiasm while I explained that I was an idiot, signed some papers, and then the OR.

I have to tell you. Going in to an OR as the patient is the best thing. They want you fasting, awake, bored and relatively uncomfortable when you go in. Waiting in pre-op is interminable.

Once you actually get to the OR, though, they ask your name and what you’re there for. If you can handle it, they make you shuffle in pain to a cold, too-narrow table and start strapping down your limbs. They ask if you’re cold and put a warm air mattress on top of you (God bless the Bair Hugger) but they never consider the drafty sides.

Someone who seems friendly and seems slightly familiar slips a mask over your face and reassures you that it will be okay, “just a couple of deep breaths,” then they ask a question they don’t expect you to answer, or ask you to count backwards… And then the pain goes away, and you drift in nothing until some damn bitch nurse pokes you and tells you to breathe.

Or, in one of my experiences, you go on an insane quest through Asgard with Thor, seeking battles dramatic enough to win him Odin’s favor. Except Odin is a nurse who keeps poking you and calling your name, and you /know/ none of that was real, but goddamn, it felt that way. Ketamine is a hell of a drug. They didn’t use it on me as a drip, after that one. But that was only surgery three.
I’m getting ahead of myself. (Again.)
When I woke up from that surgery, my leg was still there. This is good for a number of reasons: 1) I could have died from any of the causes previously mentioned, 2) I could have lost the leg to cell death, treatment delay, or failure to fix it surgically. I very easily could have awakened to a stump where my left leg had been – or not at all.
It did, however, suck anyway. I had an external fixator to hold my tibia “sort of” together long enough for the arterial graft the perfusion surgical team installed to decide if it was going to work, and let the swelling go down enough to finish the orthopaedic internal fixation job.

That was medical-ese to say I had four bolts screwed in to my leg: two at the top, two at the bottom, that were connected by a fucking steel rod outside my body and a couple of artificial hoses where my arteries should be.

I knew it, but I did not give a /shit/ at the time. All of that hurts! Damn, does it hurt. Every movement was agony. And the bolt sites wept so the dressings had to be changed. And every resident that came in had a new and half-assed idea of how to put an ACE wrap on someone with an external fixator. I didn’t take a picture every time, but it was almost always ridiculous.

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