The thighbone’s connected to the hipbone…
Wednesday 16th January 2013, 160th Birthday of André Michelin, famous for his design and production of car tyres. If I had been wearing a Michelin man suit that day, I would not have ended up in Gould Ward, Musgrove Park Hospital.
I had been out of the office in the morning, and asked a friend to get me a sandwich; I got back to the office at about ten-to-two. This is when things started to go pear-shaped; while paying Andy what I owed him I dropped a pound coin onto my foot, instead of bending over to pick it up, I lifted my foot to retrieve the coin. As I lifted my foot I fell over with my right leg bent and landing on my right hip; breaking both, my right-femur and hip in the process. If I had been wearing one of André M’s suits I would have bounced back with no damage!
So there I was, lying flat on my back with a right leg that had apparently shrunk by an inch or two. Dave called the ambulance and then passed the phone to Andy, who relayed a load of questions such as; in what direction was my foot pointing; how could I tell them what direction my foot was pointing, I was looking at the ceiling, and could not even see my bloody foot! How was I feeling? I wanted to be unconscious so that I could escape the pain. Could I move my leg? Of course, I could not move my leg; I had just heard and felt my hip and femur break.
On my journey to A&E, I was given Entonox by the ambulance men, without it, that journey would have been impossible. On a pain scale of 1 to 10, mine was easily 100!
The staff of A&E were fantastic; I was treated care, consideration and respect from the moment I arrived to the time when I transferred to Gould Ward. They did everything humanly possible to minimise my pain and discomfort: one of the doctors showed me an X-Ray of my hip (when I saw the X-Ray I could understand why I was in so much pain), and explained what I had done, then told me the ways in which it could be fixed. Which very briefly were: a hip replacement, half-hip replacement or something called a Gamma Nail with possible plate. The nurse, Claire, who I cannot praise highly enough for her care, then talked me through what would happen next and the most likely of the three options, the Gamma Nail. Then it was time to move to Gould Ward, where Claire introduced me to Emma, the Staff Nurse on, Gould Ward, which would be my home for the next two weeks.
Initially I was in A-Bay, bed four, my reference number was therefore A4, the Doctors always referred to me as A4 or Mr Rugg, whereas, the nurses and Health Care Assistants always called me Chris; even when talking to the Doctors. When my brother, Simon, came into see me that evening the very first thing I asked for were my pyjamas; I was dressed in one of those atrocious hospital gowns that tie-up at the back and leave your bum bare – horrible! My first night was one of pain – Morphine, excruciating pain – more Morphine.
Morning finally arrives as does the time for my operation. I was given my anaesthetic and when asked to count from one to ten I do not think I got past the W- in one. They had decided on the Gamma-Nail, those of you who are squeamish please look away now…
A Gamma-Nail is a very long Titanium nail, in my case almost 14 inches, which the surgeon hammers down the centre of your femur until it almost, but not quite reaches the knee. This is held in place by a number of screws, which are screwed horizontally through the femur. I have two near the knee and one, half way down my femur; it also has a screw going down through the top of the femur to the head of the nail, this ensures that the nail is vertically secure. Next, the surgeon has to fix the break by pulling the bone from the ball-joint tightly against the top of the broken femur, so that the two broken parts can grow back into one complete femur again. This is done by using a bolt somewhat similar to those used for fixing shelves etc. to hollow or plasterboard walls. The bolt has a head, which opens up, and the more he tightens the bolt, the tighter it gets against the bone in the ball section and pulls the two pieces together ensuring that the bone mends and knits together. It is all very clever really. The final addition was to use 44 staples to close the three incisions, which had been made in my leg. See simplified diagram of Gamma-Nail operation:
…Okay, those of you who are squeamish can look back now.
After the operation for some reason, I did not have those feelings of nausea and general malaise that are normally associated with waking from a general anaesthetic. I just felt tired, pleasantly relaxed and pain-free I found out later that the ‘pain-free’ part would not last for very long. While I was in this almost euphoric state a good friend came in to see me, I could see by the look on her face how surprised she was at how well I looked and sounded. I just could not stop talking, I felt so cheerful and well; I must apologise to my friend for hardly allowing her to get a word in edgeways I realise now that I was on an anaesthetic high, a superb and marvellous feeling, that, like so many good things, was unfortunately doomed to be short-lived.
Be warned there is more to follow.