My surgery was on Saturday evening. Following my surgeon’s brief visit on Sunday early morning, I think he took a few days off: so I had no access to first-hand information on the details of the outcome. I was asking all the doctors visiting, but they were either unwilling to talk or had very vague information available, such as: “it was a bad break” or “it was a complicated, spiral Weber C type of distal fibula fracture”. My surgeon’s post-surgery remarks left me in uncertainty and feeling unsafe during these days. One thing was certain: I did not want to have another surgery. Especially, because once I regained movement, I could not scratch with my toes downwards due to a sharp pain I felt at each attempt. Upwards was fine, downwards was a clear “no-go”. I sensed trouble looming…
On Tuesday, my surgeon returned around 3 PM in the afternoon. Luckily, my father-in-law was present at our conversation, one of the worst moments of despair during my stay. “Tomorrow we have to take you to the Operating Room again for a detailed X-ray.” “Was that really necessary?” – I asked. The words he said and the way he said them I will not forget. He put his hands together, as if he prayed, raised his voice, looked straight in my eyes and said: “Look, this would heal the way it is. But if we leave it like this, you will feel pain for the rest of your life! You are still young and I don’t want you to feel pain.”
I was told to eat now and no more, as the following morning they would operate me. At that moment I knew, my biggest fear manifested now. My wife often says: “do not think of the bad things as you can attract them in.” It seems this just happened.
My father-in-law’s expression was also unhappy. Yet he quickly recovered and started to tell me his stories to divert my attention from what has just happened. I no longer remember the stories, but I do remember the effort he made and how much help his pure presence meant to me. The sandwiches my mother-in-law prepared and he brought along tasted full of flavors: and I sensed her willingness to help and care about me in a way. Looking back, one of the biggest gains of this experience was this: drawing me closer to my parents-in-law and realizing they genuinely treat me as their family.
Now that I felt like reaching rock bottom, I decided to collect all my courage and give a call to my children, who have not heard of me or my voice since Saturday. I prepared mentally to be strong and not cry as I would tell my wife, that a second surgery would follow the day after. All went well until she passed on the phone to my son. He said: “get well soon, Dad… and when you come home, we play football…” There and then, I lost control. Luckily my children did not see me at this moment as the tears came flooding down. I was struggling for breath, and felt embarrassed, that my room-mates would see me crying, so I tried to cover my face as I listened to my children talk.
As Wednesday morning arrived, and my right vein was injected once again to prepare for surgery, I waited anxiously. The regular routine came, but the Biker was pulled out to an operation prior to me despite not being prepared as I was. He had skin replacement from his thighs to his elbows. Then, he was returned to the room. Lunch passed. At 3 PM my surgeon came again. He apologized and said that I should eat now as the operation will be postponed to the following morning instead. Losing weight is guaranteed.
Thursday morning, the 6th April, I was rolled in the Operating Room again, as the first patient. The cold felt colder. The metal sheet of the operating bed I was laid on, felt cold. The room was different. The assisting team was different. Then it turned out that some appliance did not work well, so we had to change rooms. Pull out, push back in. The assistant was now a man, who hastily explained they would perform spinal anesthetic again. I had to sign the paper on the bed, although I feared to go through this again. I did not feel like I had a choice this time around. There was no warmth surrounding. It was just a chilly, early morning “let’s get through this routine” and “I hate this job” feeling.
The anesthesiologist was an older lady this time. I could not explain why, but I did not feel safe. There were no hands on my shoulders this time. The first injection done. The Big One hurt. I pulled back. A male voice said behind my back: “don’t pull, the nurse lady will reach you anyway!” I said “I know, but this hurts!” The voice said: “Relax!” If it were that easy… I tried to push my back back again, as the third injection would pierce through my spine. It was strange. It was cold in my right leg. No shot running through like during the first surgery. What’s happening? Something’s not OK, my instincts said. “What are you feeling?” – the nurse asked.
“Cold.” – I replied. “Cold?!…” – she asked and held her breath. “Now it started trickling slowly, warm” – I answered. Despite her mask, I could tell she breathed out relieved…
Then my surgeon entered, followed by another doctor. Behind the mask I recognized the head of the traumatology department. They performed the surgery together. I don’t remember much, apart from further drilling, hearing cables cut, and some whispering between the two of them. This surgery lasted shorter, than the previous one. An hour or so later, I saw the head of the department leaving. I lifted my head a little, to look beyond the folding screen. I could see my leg already done, the wound sewn together, placed on the shoulder of my surgeon, who was examining something, which I believed, were my x-ray images. I cannot explain why, it was a heartwarming sight for me. It appeared to me as if he carried the weight of my leg, my pain and my recovery on his own shoulder.
Departing from the room, he turned to me and said: “This should be fine now.” – and left.