Discharged! 6 Weeks in a Cast

   29 March 2010, evening time

At Toronto Western.

[ed. I wrote this over the last 6 weeks, mostly while waiting for my percocet to kick in after waking up in the middle of the night. I usually don’t put too much about my life up here, but I thought I’d share for a change. Well, a little bit anyway. Most of what follows is me complaining about my cast. At some point i’ll write about my time at Toronto Western.]

We were discharged Wednesday at lunch time [feb 9th]. That’s the royal we, though Shima was with me the whole time. The whole process was a lot more informal than I had thought it would be. A nurse asked us if we had a ride home, gave me a prescription for some Ratio-Oxycocet, and gave me a “see ya, wouldn’t wanna be ya” vibe. My friend Carvill pointed out that the nurses and doctors have real problems to deal with, so the post-op of a young and healthy patient who has a broken leg repaired in surgery is probably not something they stress over. Fair enough. Most everyone I dealt with at Toronto Western were friendly and helpful.

The first day out from the hospital I was taking the maximum dosage for the pills I was given: 2 pills every 4 hours. Over the next few days I changed that to 1 every 4 hours. The first Saturday night after my surgery, 4 days later, I tried to take a half pill every 4 hours. That didn’t work out too well—at all. I quickly returned to taking a pill every 4 hours. I don’t think I’d cut it as a pain management doctor.

My cast seems far too heavy. It’s this giant beast of a thing. I’m so skinny I find it straining my knee and hip if I sleep in certain positions. Tuesday I developed a pretty sharp pain under my ankle, I think from the way the plaster would press against the skin and nerves there. Last night I ended up taking some Gravol along with my Oxycodone because the cast was was digging into my ankle. My cast is a millstone around my leg, and I will be glad to see it go.

I almost ran out of pain medication yesterday [Feb 17th. Shima was calling the pharmacy and the fracture clinic trying to get them to refill it. I suppose it’s a good thing they don’t make it too easy to get opiates, which are apparently highly addictive. What I’m taking is supposed to make you feel euphoric. I’m probably not taking enough. I feel like it’s drying out my body. I can’t wait till I don’t have to take it anymore.

My last week with the giant cast has been up and down. I’d say all the swelling in my leg is gone, so the cast is a lot looser now. At times it ends up digging into my ankles. It hurts—a lot. I am taking pain pills solely for pain my cast causes. At the very least, this is how it feels. I may go hours beyond the four hour mark without a pill, only to end up taking two because my cast is crushing my ankles.

Another problem with it being loose is that I think the leg can move more than it should. Some days I wake up after sleeping on my side to find the break feeling really strained. The cast doesn’t fix my leg in place the way I think it should.

I missed my friends wedding because the leg hurt so much, but I think if the wedding was just a week or two later I might have been alright. Of course, I couldn’t actually wear anything to the wedding besides sweat pants.

My plaster cast was finally replaced with a fibreglass one two and a half weeks after my surgery [Feb 26th]. I may have had unrealistic expectations for how comfortable the new cast would be. It’s much lighter, but it’s still a damn cast. The kids who put it on seemed a bit confused about the whole process, but it was fun watching them work. I told them my ankle hurt so they padded the shit out of it before wrapping the fibreglass around my leg. My cast looks like a club. I wanted a red cast, but they didn’t know where to find the coloured fibreglass.

The leg looked pretty gross. The skin was super dry, and I had staples running up my leg from my ankle to a few inches below my knee with a small break in the middle. Taking staples out of your leg is about as much fun as it sounds.

As I had suspected, since getting the new cast I’m basically off my Percocet. The leg still hurts a bit, but not nearly the same way it did at the start of all this. This new cast sometimes feels a bit tight, but it doesn’t crush my ankles or strain my knee or do half the annoying things the old one did.

I say I’m ‘basically’ off the pills because I still take one in the morning. And by morning I mean whenever I wake up because my leg hurts. This has been around four in the morning this past week. Sleeping with a cast on is tricky. I think I move too much at night, and put pressure on my leg since it doesn’t really have any freedom of movement. I feel like i’m taking the pill out of habit at this point. The one pill I take doesn’t seem to do much of anything. I just don’t want to take two. My paranoia about getting addicted to the pills is probably a bit unreasonable. (I was trying to wean myself off them 4 days after my surgery.) I use the hours in the morning before I can get back to sleep to read, and type out notes like this one. I write long emails. I think up things to do with my day.

I am supposed to start working (from home) in 4 days. I’ve been off for so long it feels weird.

I was in Scarborough over the weekend. I am now much more thankful for the lack of stairs in our condo. Mind you, I think I was reasonably good at getting up and down them. No one else seemed to trust me doing it alone. The thing is, I already have a broken leg: if I fall it’s more of the same; I don’t think I should take anyone else with me.

I start ‘work’ in a few hours. It’s 2:30 in the morning. This is a new record when it comes to waking up in pain. I need a better system to stop myself from rolling around. Or doing whatever it is that my leg doesn’t like. Anyway, it’s not like I’m writhing in pain. This is all pretty tame compared to my first week after the surgery.

I continue to wake up in the middle of the night. The percocet is supposed to knock me out, but it doesn’t have much affect at all. I play around with my phone for a couple hours, till I get drowsy again. It’s not all bad. My brother is usually still awake when I get up, so we exchange messages on Twitter. I can usually count on him being up at 3:00 or 4:00.

I didn’t manage to sleep through the night yesterday, but I did get back to sleep without taking a percocet. This is the first day since being discharged that I haven’t taken a pill.

And I’m back on the juice.

And I’m off the juice.

And we’re back, but this time only a half pill. If I could have found the Advil I’d have taken that instead. That’s probably a stupid reason to take a percocet. The stuff doesn’t knock me out at all anymore. I could operate some seriously heavy machinery right now.

I re-read my Twitter favourites. I have run out of things to quickly occupy my time. Reading the iPhone developer documents at four in the morning seems like a bad idea.

I need to finish my percocet and then switch to Ibuprofen. Otherwise I end up doing foolish things like taking the lame-ass ibuprofen and after and hour and change taking the percocet I was trying to avoid. My stomach feels strange and my liver is probably melting. I have 400mg of ibuprofen, 325mg of acetaminophen, and 5mg of oxycontin in my system. Though, I was taking two percocets at a time before. So really what I’m feeling is probably all in my head.

Two days left in my cast. Well, a day and a half. Took a whole percocet because I thought it’d let me sleep the whole night. I haven’t taken a whole pill in a week, maybe. Well, it’s 2:00 in the morning now. God damn it. I haven’t woken up in the middle of the night in a little while. I don’t miss it.

My cast is off. I’m on crutches for 6 more weeks. My leg looked pretty gross. It’s a looking a lot better now. I’ve been drenching it in moisturizer. I have two scars running up my leg. It’s amazing how well your body can heal itself. I wore jeans today. It was awesome. I am never wearing sweat pants again.

 

Comments

  1. Congrats on the progress. Dang, those are some nasty fractures. I’m on my Ortho rotation now, so it was interesting to read your account of the post-op days. I didn’t mean to freak you about about the 12 tabs of Percocet on my previous comment. 4000mg of acetaminophen is the daily max, which is ok for a short period of time. It’s the people who pop the stuff like candy whose livers I cringe for. I’m glad that the casts are off, and that the pain is diminishing. I’m sure you’ve been told this already, but if you find that the ibuprofen (or the narcotics) upset your stomach, make sure that you take it with food.

  2. There are worse things that otherwise healthy people poison themselves with. I’m glad your cast is off — scars are hot, look at Tina Fey.

  3. Ram
    Glad you are on the road to recovery. Glad to hear the cast is off, finally. So can we expect to see you and Shima dancing at the next Karate Christmas Social?

  4. If i’m not walking by Christmas something has gone horribly wrong. Hah.

    I didn’t realize Tina Fey had a scar till now! How can I call her my Thursday 9:30 Girlfriend?

  5. “Thursday 9:30 girlfriend”? 8o|

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