Safely Home and Some Bad News

Failed Repair

Denise and I were happy to have our flights back to the US go smoothly. Denise played pack mule and carried my heavy backpack, and we got someone to push me in a wheelchair. In Mazatlán my plate and screws didn’t even set off the metal detector! Though in Phoenix I needed to use a special cane and go through the full body scan. It was a bummer that the wheelchair attendant in Phoenix was sick, and passed that along to me, but it was great to go get home on schedule.

After making it home, Denise loaded up her schedule with Pickleball and other activities, and I filled my days with PT appointments, rehab and exercise. A couple days after getting back I saw a local Orthopedic surgeon, and he cleared me for PT. So, I seriously jumped into PT, to see if I could learn to walk again.

My PT was pretty good and she gave me new exercises each visit and pushed me to walk further and strengthen more. So I was getting on the exercise bike at home and walking 2-8 kilometers a day.

It seemed as if PT was going well, so we also dialed in the amount of heel lift I needed for my now shortened leg. As this month of PT progressed, I noticed that I needed more heel lift, so I had a local shop modify two pairs of shoes two have about 5/8” lift on each. Though after getting the modified shoes back, my left leg and hip were getting progressively sorer, and it seemed I might even need a tad bit more lift – weird.

The pain continued to get worse over a couple of days, and I found myself using two canes to get around. I had a regular doctor appointment for some lab work, so I had them schedule me an x-ray to see why it hurt. Since I couldn’t drive anymore, Denise thankfully took me straight from the doctor appointment to the x-ray. On the way over the pain was truly bad with the jarring of the car a bit too much for me.

I am lying on the x-ray table, and while they are taking different views of my hip, I notice that the x-ray techs gasp a bit and then talk in hushed tones. I ask if I can see my x-rays, and they say yes, but that they can’t interpret them for me (I guess I have to pay a radiologist to do that 😊).

Failed Repair
Failed Rapir

I go look at the x-rays, and the only word that seems to fit is “Shit!!!”. The plate is cracked, a screw is sheared and the repaired bone is collapsing (making me shorter). The techs confer with the radiologist who says I should go to the doctor right away. I ask if it is an emergency, and they say “Yes”. I give Denise the good news (of course I am still hobbling around on the busted hip 😊) and I get on the phone to line up my journey to the ER.

We get to the ER and Denise stays with me to keep my spirits up. She runs over to her pickle ball lesson later in the evening, returning in the morning for my surgery. Luckily my surgery will be the next morning – so I don’t have to wait long as I did in Mazatlán! Needless to say, I am very worried about the odds of this going well. They get me up early the next morning, and down we go for more fun. I meet the surgeon and I talk to him about my left leg being short and rotated outward about 5 degrees. He says they can look at that when they are in there, and that they will be putting an intramedullary (IM) nail down my femur and not a plate.

Next thing I know I am waking up in searing pain and begging for drugs – thank God for narcotics! No matter what they tell you, they are truly helpful. I get to my room, and begin recovery. I learn that they removed all of the old hardware including two broken screws which had to be drilled out. They say the hardware removal causes quite a bit of pain. They have also put in an IM nail, along with some “Vivigen and bone chips” to lengthen the femur a bit, and they straightened my foot!!

As the pain is still pretty bad, I get on a pain med schedule, and Denise helps bolster my spirits.

The next morning, the PT has me up and walking (with a walker) – the good news is that with an IM nail you can walk and do things right away while the bone is healing! Yeah! I also learn that I will probably go home the next day – Double Yeah!!

The following morning, I walk again, get a shower, and have my dressing changed. At about 4 PM I go home. Though as I am getting discharged, I develop a bad stomach cramp and nausea. After getting home, the stomach cramp worsens, and Denise takes me back to the ER. I am so glad she stays with me as the pain is getting really bad. The ER people take their time as they are very busy, and I find myself yelling for someone to help me.

Finally, they get me some morphine and send me for a CT scan (now about 1 AM). The CT scan shows I have 3×6 mm kidney stone. What timing!!

After convalescing at home for a couple of weeks, I have thankfully passed the kidney stone, and am tiring of having to use a walker again. I am also getting tired of giving myself Lovenox shots every morning, but I need the blood thinner so I don’t get DVT and the like.

New Repair
New repair with the old hardware removed.

I go to the surgeon’s office for x-rays, follow-up consultation, and to get the staples out. He says the x-rays look good, and he tells me that I can safely hike, bike, whatever (well maybe not mountain biking, which I assure Denise I don’t want to do… yet!) Just limit exercise to body weight. Triple yeah!! I am truly in a good mood that evening as I am immediately back on a single cane and walking around. The next morning, I am on the exercise bike and out the door for a short walk outside!!

As a note for the future the surgeon also tells me the following:

  • The repair done in Mexico would have likely failed period.
  • The standard practice is to use an IM nail now, and US doctors have been doing that for some time
  • Might be best to evac to the US for surgery next time
  • The first surgeon had my femur bone fragments misaligned about 20 degrees

Good notes for the future – as I write this, I have just returned from a 3 kilometer walk. And, I am also spending more time around the house without any cane at all.

We’ll keep you posted!!