Apologies in advance for the length of this post. I didn’t expect for it to be so long.
New Year’s Day 2016 started well. We got up early, went to parkrun, had coffee with friends, then came home and I started cutting out a sewing project for Miss A. In the afternoon we decided to go on a family bike ride.
The weather was great, the sun was shining but it wasn’t too hot. We decided to go to a park, well Miss A did so we headed out along a bike path. All was going well for the first 8kms then I hit a wall, literally.
As I was riding along I couldn’t really tell where the path went next. But as Mr A and Miss A were ahead of me I saw that it took a left turn. That was fine. However, it then made a sharp right as well. I clearly remember thinking as I was making the first turn that this was an area where people could have accidents.
Yes that is exactly what happened. I overcooked the corner and went straight into the stone wall that was on the right hand side of the path. However, instead of grazing along the side of the path, I turned and faced it straight on. Mr A found me in squatted position in front of the wall with my bike falling to one side underneath me.
I knew I had done something to my right arm straight away as it was painful even to move. I could however move my fingers. That was one of the first things I did. Mr A gently helped me to lay down, and passer byers comforted me and entertained Miss A while an amblance was called.
The paramedics came, assessed me, gave me the green whistle, helped me onto the stretcher, and then took me off to hospital. This was all quite exciting to Miss A. On the way to hospital I was given morphine. Morphine may make other people high but it does not give me any such affect. In fact I clearly remember being able to give my details to receptionist at the hospital with clarity.
Meanwhile, Mr A and Miss A rode quickly home, he took Miss A to her grandparents and joined me at the hospital.
After an x-ray it was found I had broken both the radius and ulna in my right arm. A later ct scan cleared any other breaks to the wrist bones. A consultation with the orthopaedic registrar determined that an operation was needed and that as I have private health insurance I decided to have the surgery done the next day at a private hospital instead of waiting an as yet unknown amount of time at the public hospital. So they gave me anaesthetic and plastered my right arm from elbow to finger tips and x-rayed it again.
After cleaning up the grazes I had on my knees, left arm and left hand I turned my hand over to discover that a purple grape had appeared on my left ring finger between my palm and the first knuckle.
So back to x-ray I went to confirm that yes indeed this finger was broken as well. The staff apologised profusely as now I had to endure more anaesthetic (this time happy gas and 2 local injections) to try and reset the bone in the finger. In the end they decided to plaster it as well as I had already organised the surgery the next day. So they plastered my left arm from elbow to finger tips.
So approximately 5 hours after I arrived by ambulance I left hospital with both arms in plaster, still in my cycling clothes. By this time it was around 10pm and I had not eaten since the afternoon so Mr A went through the nearby Hungry Jacks drive thru to grab a late night dinner. Eating a burger and fries with plastered hands is quite an achievement I can tell you.
So that night I tried to get some sleep. The orthopod at the hospital thought I might sleep better in my own bed than at the public hospital, and so did I. I did sleep a bit I think I can’t really remember.
Anyway, the next morning, Saturday January 2, I checked into the private hospital and met my wonderful specialist Dr Trevor Gervais for the first time. He was not aware of my broken left finger and was surprised to see me with both arms in plaster. He has a great bedside manner as well as being an excellent surgeon and clearly explained what he was going to do, attach titanium plates to my bones.
The surgery went well and I woke several hours later still with both arms in plaster from finger tips to elbows but with the addition of 3 titanium plates. The nurses at the hospital were wonderful, helping me eat, go to the toilet, shower, dress, clean my teeth etc. Normally a person is discharged the next day but Dr Gervais decided it was best I stay in 2 nights as I really couldn’t do anything at all. I had lovely visits from Mr A, Miss A who even fed me custard at one point, when she wasn’t eating it herself that is, and Mr A’s mother.
On the Monday, Dr Gervais referred me to a private hand therapy clinic and the hospital arranged my appointment for later that day. I was discharged still with my arms in plaster.
The hand therapist removed the plaster, dressed the wounds and created a left hand and a right arm splint for me. This was so much better than having the plaster and provided a little bit more movement. Plus I could remove them. My hand therapist was responsible for my wound care and arm therapy from then on. She was a perfectionist and made sure that my wounds were cleaned, dressesd properly and that I did all of my required exercises.
It was hard at first not being able to do much but Mr A and Miss A were wonderful. The first shower I had by myself after the stitches were removed was a fantastic feeling. It was about 2 weeks after surgery. Up until then Mr A had to shower me with plastic bags on my arms. He did a great job, especially when washing my hair and shaving my legs.
I was off work for 3 and 1/2 weeks and Mr A did a fantastic job preparing lunch, snacks and drinks for me for the day before he went to work. My friend Lisa was also lovely, coming over for lunch and bringing me coffee.
Things were hard at first but I slowly adapted to the limited use of my fingers until I got the movement back. Cleaning my teeth was challenging at first without being able to tightly grip the tooth brush, as was washing my face. The one thing I found hard though which I didnt expect was receiving change from shop assistants. Without being able to fully rotate my right hand I had to try and not drop change that was placed in my hand and get it back into my purse.
I performed my therapy exercises as prescribed and got so excited with each little improvement. I am lucky now that I have all of my range of movement back in both my left ring finger and my right wrist with no nerve damage or adverse affects of the titanium plates. I can have them removed if I want to but at the stage I will leave them in as they are not causing me any issues at all. My scars have improved so much so that 2 of them are sometimes hard to see. The main scar on my right arm is still pronounced but I kind of like that I have a battle scar.
Dr Gervais was really happy with my recovery and impressed with my positivity throughout the entire ordeal. He told me on a number of ocasions he never had another patient as positive as I was. My (not so) secret for dealing with this situation, just getting on with things.
These were my first major broken bones and my first trip in an ambulance. Certainly a new years I will never forget.