25 February 2002
Cloudy Greetings Across Your Orthicon Tube
To the surgeon's to see what's up with the leg, and could he perhaps give me some kind of time estimate as to how much longer I'm going to have this beartrap on my leg? Um, well, no not exactly as it turns out - the cloudy bits on the X-ray show there is new bone growing in that 1/2" gap in my leg, but not fast enough to think about taking it off just yet. So go and see him six weeks hence, bye-bye.
Sigh. I'm reading this as perhaps THREE more months to go, at the outside. I thought I was going to get off easy, but noooo... nothing about this leg-smashing episode has gone easily.
In case you missed it last time, in December the doctor took some digital photos of Gizmo that are very nice - I have reduced them in size but they are still good shots of the frame:
22 April 2002
A Hay of Rope
The last two months have been pretty nasty. I was ill for much of the time, first the flu that was going around and then a bad cold that felt as if it were turning into viral pneumonia, heavy stress at work and bad wet cold weather day after day. The cold weather was worst, the low temperatures would chill the metal and the cold would wick into my bones through the bolts Ė an ache you couldnít get rid of, and it would take Gizmo about an hour to warm up in bed.
By end of March I was absolutely exhausted and had a bad new infection at one of my pin sites, plus an agonizing episode a week long where one of the nerves in my left hip or buttock got irritated and I had shooting nerve pains all up and down my leg and back. Doubling up on the painkillers made sitting tolerable but that was all. I spent at least half of the Easter weekend unconscious, sleeping over 12 hours a day. For several weeks after that I cut my hours back at work and came in later each day, getting some more sleep.
But now the weather is improving, itís not so cold and a couple of weeks ago I went to the surgeon and got some OK news. New bone is growing in the gap in my leg and while it isnít as fast as it could be, it is progressing. The doc said that if there were marked progress when I go to see him at the end of May, he will TAKE GIZMO OFF and install an external brace (rods-and-Velcro kind of arrangement) instead.
It will be outstanding to get this thing off and especially out of my leg. No more pin site infections (been on antibiotics almost continuously since November), I can take a proper bath, dress almost normally, and best of all, get some approximately normal sleep! So, Iíll let you know how it goes.
In other news, I have recently designed a new game Ė called Operation Whirlwind, on the 1956 street battles for Budapest. I entered it in the 2002 Microgame Design Contest, no prizes save for accolades and few enough of those. It works pretty nicely, Iím pleased with it and thatís what counts. I have also done my final, final revision to Red Guard, my game on the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. I first did this one in 1995, and it has gone through at least four major revisions. This time Iím ready to shove it out the door, just to be done with it. Whatís next? Maybe one on the Greek Civil War, or thereís that Petrograd 1917 idea I keep having.
26 June 2002
The Seven Minutes
On May 30, I went to the surgeon to see about finally getting Gizmo off. He looked at the X-rays, said OK, let's go, I'll fit you with an external leg brace and you'll be on crutches with no weight bearing for about a month, but then you'll be OK. Nurse, give this man an armful of morphine...
This all looked pretty good (especially after the morphine had time to work), and he loosened off all the nuts and washers and doodads, prepared the Black & Decker drill that they use to remove the bolts, and removed the frame. Then he and his assistant started manipulating my leg before taking any of the bolts out, and discovered that I still have three knees. The gap in my leg is well filled in at the back, but not at the front, so if I had tried to do anything with it my leg would have just folded up on me. The X-rays did not show this.
So what to do? I had a choice of going into a long cast, completely immobilizing my leg for two months or more, or just putting the cage back on. So now I have the cage back on (no way was I going to have a cast, that would have multiplied my problems and difficulties), and am just as I was. Sigh. Next visit is July 18, and we'll see how things go then. Either way, this blows my plans for the summer - I'm planning a brief trip down to Seattle in mid-September and hope I'll be perfectly mobile by then. Let's hope, eh?
19 July 2002
Light at the End of the Sinistral-Pedal-Meson-Accelerator-Assembly
Just a quick note to relay the news from the July 18 visit - the Doc does not seem perturbed by the large and enduring notch in the front of my shin, and points to the large callus of bone forming behind. So, another six weeks wait (August 27) and if it looks OK he will take Gizmo off again and fit me with an external leg brace, one that extends above the knee but fortunately has a hinge. Six weeks or so on that and I ought to be able to walk away from it all. The best news here is that I won't have to go back ot using crutches, I'll just look a different sort of Biomechanoid.
So, in three months I should be unencumbered...which makes not quite a full year I've had to sport a mechanical framework, and almost four full years since I got run over in the first place. Sigh!
28 August 2002
LONG LIVE THE NEW FLESH
Hurrah, Gizmo is history!!!
I got it off yesterday, and am now sporting a spiffy black plastic brace that covers most of my leg - but there's a hinge for my knee, so that's OK. They used a Black & Decker reversible drill to get the bolts out of my leg - all except for the last one, which was really moored into the bone. The drill chuck kept slipping, so in the end the doc put on some kind of elaborate manual clamp and twisted it out of my leg by hand. That hurt.
Now what happens? I'm back on crutches, at least for now. I go back to see the doc in about a month, and he will decide then on what exactly to do surgery-wise. Right now it looks like a bone graft (unfortunately from the other iliac crest this time, so sleeping will be uncomfortable) together with a plate and pins, some time in October/November. So that's my fall shot, but anyway there's progress. Right?
23 October 2002
Day by day, in every way, I'm getting better and better...
On October 15, I had a combined bone graft and plate-and-pins revision operation at Vancouver General Hospital. The operation went fine and the doctor didn't cut my hip to obtain material for the bone graft, which was a relief. I got out on Friday the 19, I went home and had some better food, then I slept about 14 hours - I had almost no real sleep in the hospital, just dozy drug trances.
Now I'm home catching up on papers, e-mail and my video collection. Been sleeping 10-12 hours a day and really only got my appetite back yesterday. I still feel kind of zonked.
I have a big strip of Meccano with nine nails in it inside my leg now and will be on crutches with no weight-bearing for at least the next six weeks. I also have an 11-inch scar from midway kneecap to close to my ankle, done up with 25 staples - Aki says it looks like a big baseball seam but I think it's more like a zipper. I get the staples out next week. It is healing well and not too sore, but I have to be careful not to overdo it. This is probably the last thing they can do to my leg, short of pulling it off and beginning again.
10 December 2002
Four years in the Aching
Almost two months since this last operation, and yesterday was the FOURTH anniversary of the original accident that started it all. As usual, my friend and I sacrificed an orange to Pedwok, God of Safe Crossings, in the Crosswalk of Doom.
My pain is much better, but I am still exhausted. I am still sleeping 10 or 12 hours a day. It strikes me that this is the first opportunity my body has had for normal sleep since the accident, and is making the most of it, and the injury is healing to match.
I saw the X-ray of the metal in my leg - with nine big long toothy screws that go right through my shinbone and out the other side. No telling yet how long this will live in my leg, could be a few years or it could be buried with me (provided that my burial is some time off in the far future, of course - well, even otherwise it might still be buried with me!).
Here's hoping that 2003 will bring a better year, and better news, and perhaps a conclusion to most of what's been going on the last four years.
30 January 2003
Two weeks ago I saw my surgeon. He told me not to come back; he had done all he could, and lo, it was good. What I have to do now is get the strength and muscle bulk back into my leg - no special physio required, just a regular get-fit program (which I need anyway, since the inactivity of last year has left me distinctly slack and pear-shaped).
So that is really that. It seems kind of anti-climactic, after four years of this nonsense. I'm still left with a big strip of metal and nine screws in my leg, that might be there forever; a somewhat deformed but reasonably straight leg, that will be that way forever; and no feeling in the left half of my left calf, that will likely be that way forever.
Other than that, I'm just super, thanks for asking! I don't anticipate making many more updates (I think it's just leg(al) stuff from now on, and you don't need or want to hear about that). Spasibo for tuning in.
what has gone before - 2001
OK, Iíve heard enough of your whining