Monday, February 15, 2010

My Broken Ankle: The Story

For those of you that want to whole story of what went down last Friday (that would be me...going down!), here it is. If you don't care for the possibly-queasy details, then come back later for my post about how I'm feeling/have felt about this whole situation.

So, on Friday morning we talked to my parents for about an hour on Skype. The boys were in rare form, definitely needing some attention from their grandparents! After we talked to them, I wasn't feeling all that well, but I knew we needed to go to the post office to retrieve a package and also to the toy store to buy a birthday present for Caleb's classmate who was having a birthday party that afternoon. I thought to myself that I'd rather stay home, but I knew we had some errands to do.

So, we walked to the bus stop. (Are you wincing? Because at this point I'm wincing writing this.)

At the bus stop, I saw bus 174 heading our way, so I quickly checked the chart to make sure it was headed to the stop we wanted. It was, so I turned around to corral the boys and get our bus cards from Caleb. I flagged down the bus, and it stopped about 6 feet out from the curb. I grabbed Levi's hand and stepped off the curb. (LOOK AWAY if you're squeamish!)

When my foot hit the ground, my ankle twisted, I heard a crunch and I fell to the ground. Then I screamed.

At this point, the bus was stopped and the door was open right in front of me. I remember screaming either at the driver or anyone in general to please call someone. He was just staring at me and I was wondering why he was just sitting there instead of getting off the bus to help me.

A guy appeared in my line of vision and asked if I was ok. I told him I thought I broke my leg, and he asked if I wanted him to call an ambulance. YES! I think it was about this time that I calmed down enough to realize both my kids were crying, so I started trying to reassure them that Mommy was fine and they could calm down. Another guy came over and they helped me get from the street to the sidewalk. I wasn't in much pain at this point, and they thought I would be more comfortable sitting on the bench at the bus stop, so they helped me up and basically carried me to the bench. (I have no idea whether these guys got off the bus to help me or they were walking by and stopped. But they were definitely sent from God to help me!)

Then I called Justin. It's pretty much the call you never want to get where your wife can hardly speak because she's in shock and crying and scared and trying to tell you what is wrong and can you please come home from work NOW. Of course he said yes. And he was very calm. He always is, which is very helpful when things are out of control. I then tried calling a few friends because I needed someone to come and get the kids because I knew they didn't need to go to the hospital with me. I got my friend, Andrea (life-saver!), on the phone and she was only a few miles away, so she hopped in a cab and came to rescue us.

While we waited, the guys who were helping us tried to ask the boys questions to keep their minds off of what was happening. Caleb was talking to them, but Levi just sat next to me sucking his thumb.

The ambulance arrived before Andrea did, along with a police escort. They immobilized my leg, put me on the stretcher and put me in the ambulance. Caleb didn't want any part of being in an ambulance, so he stayed on the bench with the men and Levi got in the ambulance with me. We waited for Andrea since I didn't know the guys well enough to leave my children alone with them, and when she arrived, she grabbed Levi out of the ambulance and took my kids to her house.

The ambulance ride was really bumpy, but it was quick, so I was thankful for that. When we got to the ER, a nurse and the EMT (not sure what they're called here) started talking. I'm not sure if they were speaking another language or just talking too fast for me to understand them, but the EMT was trying to explain to the nurse what was wrong with my leg and the nurse must have said something to the effect of, "how do you know?" The EMT then said very loudly and clearly while pointing at my leg, "I can SEE it!" It was obvious by looking at my ankle that something wasn't right.

They couldn't give me any pain meds until they did an xray to find out what was going on inside. I kept asking if Justin was there, and finally he was coming through the doors with the ER doctor. Family members are not allowed into the ER here (there's not much room for them since all the beds are only a few feet apart, anyway), but she allowed Justin to come in so she could tell us both the results of the xray at the same time.

My leg was fractured in three places and not clean breaks. It was a "twisted" fracture, so it would need to be repaired with surgery. That much we knew right from the start, so I just needed to wait until that could happen.

I remember looking up at Justin, so glad he was finally beside me and trying to hold back tears. I said, "how are we going to do this?" I was so distraught. This was literally a nightmare for me, to be immobilized with two little boys to take care of and no family around to help us. He just said, "We're going to do it. We'll do it." He was very reassuring.

They soon kicked Justin out so they could put my leg in a cast, which required quite a few people around my bed. They put it in a "back board" where just the back and sides of my leg were immobilized by the cast, and it would be easily removable once the surgery was imminent. After they put the cast on, I started having severe pain. It was no longer concentrated in my ankle, but it was hurting in my toes and up to my knee. They gave me morphine, which helped for about a minute and then I was crying and thrashing around in my bed and moaning loudly. They would come over and ask me to rate my pain, and I could barely talk, but it was EXCRUTIATING. Seriously, I'd have a c-section anyday before I'd have that pain again. The doctor gave me another dose of morphine, which also didn't help. They kept talking at the foot of my bed and touching my toes and wondering outloud why I was in so much pain. That kind of pain was not normal for a fracture, especially since it had been immobilized.

I wish I could explain the pain, but it was intense. I kept praying and trying to remember my Scriptures I memorized, but none came to my mind. The pain was so great, I just kept repeating, "You are my refuge, my strength, my strong tower." Over and over and over.

During all of this, a policeman had come in a couple of times asking me questions about the accident and for my information. The last time he came in I was in severe pain and he asked me what country I was from. I told him, and then he asked me if I had diplomatic immunity. I don't, so I told him so. He left, and then I was left wondering why in the world stepping off a curb and breaking your leg had anything to do with diplomatic immunity. I still don't know, but there apparently was some confusion as to whether I was getting off the bus and the driver was at fault. No, just me being clutzy. :-) The police called Justin and when he told them I stepped off the curb before getting on the bus, they stopped asking questions.

They finally took me back to xray and that confirmed that my ankle was not only fractured but dislocated. The dislocation was causing all of the pain. They informed me that they would sedate me (MUSIC to my ears at that point) and relocate my ankle. They called Justin in again to get my wedding ring and purse because they would not sedate me until he had those things in his possession.

Afterward, I was so relieved. The pain was manageable again! And I was able to rest a little. They moved me to a room upstairs to wait for surgery, which they said would either happen that night or the next morning.

As I was being wheeled out, I thanked the ER doctor. She was great. She was a no-nonsense doctor who really took good care of me and listened when I was in pain.

About 7pm, less than 8 hours after I arrived at the hospital, I was taken into surgery. By that time, I had probably seen 15 doctors and had to tell the story to each of them. I was glad to be getting this "over" with.

I returned to my room around 11pm, so we're not sure how long the surgery lasted or how long I was in recovery. They initially told us the surgery would take about 2 hours. They put in 7 screws and a plate on the outside of my right leg (inside my leg, though!), and they put two metal wires on the inside of my right ankle. Both of my leg bones were broken where they come into the ankle and part of my ankle joint is also fractured, although I'm not really sure how/where.

So, I stayed in the hospital until Sunday afternoon. About 48 hours total. The pain meds made me really nauseated (really) and I had to have help to the toilet the entire time I was in the hospital. It was not a pretty couple of days. BUT, things are much better now and so is my outlook on the whole situation. We have great friends here who are already helping us.

Since we are celebrating Chinese New Year over here, Monday and Tuesday are holidays and Justin was able to take off work easily to be home with me. He'll go back to work tomorrow, probably after dropping to boys at school, and we're just trying to figure everything out one day at a time. Everyone who offers to help us will be called on (so beware!). We are in need of help and are so thankful for everyone who has offered to cook us meals, pick the boys up from school, or get groceries and bring them to our house.

That's the story. I'll write more about the emotional side of it all tomorrow, maybe. I know God is doing something and I'm not sure what it is yet. But I can sense it. And while I would have prayed against this happening to me, I'm welcoming whatever it is He's teaching me or doing through me during this time.


Dave and Lisa said...

Man oh man! I was waiting for this story. Poor Jenn! But, as usual you are tough! You guys will be able to handle this, and I am so thankful that God has provided friends and people who can help you. Your family must be worried about you, but it sounds like things are under control. Just chalk this up to your long and growing list of adventures! I love you and pray for quick healing and God's hand in all this.

Melanie said...

You've got a great husband, nice and calm like Jacob. You just call and ask and I will do everything in my power ot help IN ANY WAY I possibly can. You will be in my prayers for a quick recovery and lots of help, from God and the people that care about you.

Jessie said...

Oh Jennifer, I can't even imagine. I'm so glad you're ok. Please call me if I can help. And I'll be praying for you too.

Erica said...

Hey girl...I am so sorry! I have done that before, but without the break.
I know it is tough to be "out of commission" with 2 little ones. I broke my toe several months ago and that was tough enough! Hope you feel much better soon!

Anonymous said...

Hi sounds like a trimalleolar fracture with dislocation. Just like mine in 2004.

How I wish I could pick up the phone and call you, to reassure you that though this will not be easy you will get through it. It is absolutely essential that you do not rush your recovery, but stay off that leg no matter what. Under no circumstances should you put weight on the leg until your physician releases you to do so. Elevate, elevate, elevate.

This is also the time to adjust your standards. The house will be messy. And, that's okay. You'll have to allow others to serve you (difficult for me), and that is okay. You'll have to be patient at being a patient, and that's okay.

I'm now almost 6 years post-op and while life has changed I am back on my feet. And, you will be, too. Write me any time with any questions or I'd love to phone.

Love & hugs!
Everyday Mommy

Hol and J said...

Jenn, I'm so sorry this happened, but am glad to know you have so many friends near you who are helping out.

I'm amazed at your strength (mental, spiritual and physical) through this. God does great things doesn't He? Of course I'm not saying He intended for you to get hurt.

If you were here or if we were there, all of the LG ladies would be driving you crazy with the food and help. I think that's a good kind of crazy though. ;o)

We love you and miss you guys, and continue to pray that your recovery gets a little easier every day. xo

Camille, Blake and Pierce said...

Man oh Man... what is up with your family... and broken bones... I wish I was here when it happened I would have helped... but I am here now how can I.. meals, kids, massages... he he he... I am here... let me know..

Shelley Gray said...

Hello Jennifer,

Oh my, we are so very sorry to hear about your fall. You were so brave to be able to write about it in such detail. God is Great, all the time. What a blessing to have others around you at the time of the accident to take care of the boys and also those who can help you daily. Gracious, I wish you were across the street. You know I love to cook!

God's speed in your healing and in your discovering His lessons for you.

Stacy said...

That was brutal. I'm so sorry!

Reflecting Him

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