Monday, March 29, 2010

adventures in surgery

As I wrote on Saturday, I have had little personal experience with hospitals.

That is no longer true.  I am now a scarred veteran.

When we arrived at the hospital, two orderlies rushed a wheel chair out to the van.  As it turned out, that was probably not the best approach.

As long as I was prone, no pressure was on my foot.  As soon as it dangled, though, it hurt.  A lot.  A quick look at the x-ray at the top of the post shows why.

Like all hospitals,San Javier wants to be certain whoever comes through the front door can pay for services when they exit.  I do not have health insurance.  That caused a bit of a stir.  In fact, the stir was still under wsay the next day.

But only a slight one.  After realizing I had a credit card number, an orderly rushed me off to x-ray where it became apparent I had not suffered a mere foot displacement.

X-rays in hand, I was off to the emergency room to be examined by the doctor on duty.  She took one look at the x-ray and contacted an orthopedist -- telling me he was on the way.

I have heard "on the way" a lot in my 61 years.  In hospital parlance, it can mean almost anything.  In what seemed to be almost germanic efficiency, there he was.  A short, elderly man who could have played the role of my grandfather -- if I were still the 20-year old I attempt to be.

In perfect English, he told me I had fractured my right tibia at the head and had separated my ankle bones.  There was no possibility of simply re-setting it.  I needed surgery.  And I needed it now.

I asked him to brief my friends, who were still awaiting word in the admission area.  He did.

Then, much to my surprise, he allowed all three of them into the emergency room.  They were interested in what was going to happen, but their ship was about to leave.

I wished them bon voyage, and then I was -- alone.  In a city where I knew no one.  In a culture that is based on the assumption that family members will be present to assist hospitalized patients.

That is when the hospital staff performed admirably.  In a mixture of Spanish and English, I let them know the information they needed to know (sometimes repeating the same information to several staff members), and they told me what was about to happen.

The anesthesiologist did not give me a general anesthetic.  Instead, he gave me an epidural that numbed me from the waist down.

During the surgery, I drifted in and out of sleep.   When I was awake, I watched the surgery on my foot.  The staff attempted to pull the sheet up to obstruct my view, but I saw quite a bit.  And wish I had seen more.

To me, the surgery seemed brief.  But it took over two hours to install the screws and pins that will help my old bones to mend.

Tomorrow I will show you my hospital room.  Or, at least, I will write about it.


Jonna said...

Holy Moly Steve! You have some adventures. I'm just catching up and I'm so sorry this happened to you but it seems you have handled it really well. I hope you heal quickly and without complications. Oh... and I hope you get the cast off before the real heat starts, that could be miserable.

Joe S. said...

Cool......alone and penniless in a foreign country, devastating injury, language barrier. I think you've got your adventure and my nightmare.

Croft said...

The repair looks good Steve! Now you just have to learn how to quit acting like the 20 year old you think you are! Maybe start acting 30.....?

Christine said...

Hey we can start a club: "People who have had operations on their feet in Mexico." I had mine last year in Zihua. You will be happy to hear that when I returned from my "vacation," I went to a local podiatrist who told me the Mexican doctor had done a great job. I am walking, running and dancing these days without any discomfort at all.
I wish you the best. Christine

Carole said...


Steve Cotton said...

Jonna -- Thanks. When the heat comes, I will be in Oregon for the summer --to return permanetly in November or so.

Joe -- It is part of my bargain with adventure.

Christine -- So far, so good.

Carole -- Not so much. Not now.

Anonymous said...

Joe S. said it all.


Steve Cotton said...

Croft -- Sorry I missed your comment. Pehaps because I was acting too old for my age. But 30 is a good compromise.

Mom-- He certainly draws a clear delineation. If you come down, I will take you ziplining AND skydiving.