The one about my leg – part 2

18 Nov

This is the second part of my leg story. If you haven’t read the first part, click here. Otherwise, I’ll pick up where I left off.

“Your tibia is broken just below your knee,” they told me as they put an x-ray on the light box. “This area here,” he pointed to the x-ray, “is a tumour. It covers 25% of your tibia.” I could see a large area of my bone that was seemingly missing, with a clean break at the thickest part.

I didn’t know what to say. I just kind of stared at them, shock replacing my pain.

“It’s likely not cancer, but there is that chance.” All I heard was cancer. I was terrified. I was only 16 years old. I was booked in to take my drivers licence test that very weekend, only 2 days later. I think my Dad was there, but maybe not. My Mom must have called him went she took me to the hospital. I think I remember him being in that room when they told me I had a tumour.

They put my leg in a brace that had about a zillion straps, booked me in to see the specialist the next day and sent me on my way.

With my leg completely straight in the brace, I had to sit sideways in the car with my leg across the bench seat, taking up the entire back seat.

“What happened to you?” Maria (my friend (not the one who broke my leg) who lived with us) said when I hobbled up the steps. It was about midnight by then. I was too full of shock and adrenaline to sleep, so I told her everything. “Well, at least I bought ice cream.” She got the container of orange sherbert with chocolate chunks out of the freezer. Just what I needed. I ate it straight from the carton. When you’re laying on the couch with a broken leg, bowls just aren’t necessary.

My bed was up high. Kind of like a bunk bed only there was no bottom bed. Instead there was a book shelf and a desk. Needless to say, I wouldn’t be sleeping up there any time soon. I had to sleep on the couch. On my back. And try not to really move because it hurt too much. I still hadn’t taken anything for the pain. I figured I’d already gone 5 hours without anything, and I didn’t die, so what’s a few more? I was very anti-drugs, in any way, shape, or form, including pain killers. Don’t worry, I’m not silly now, I will quite happily pop a Panadol if my head is pounding.

In the morning, I spread myself out in the back of my Dad’s car as he drove me to the specialist half an hour away. More x-rays were taken and a verdict reached.

“It looks like the you were born with this tumour. I’m surprised you haven’t broken your leg before. It’s amazing you’ve gone this long with such a weak spot in your bone.” Yeah, especially since I used to compete in TaeKwonDo tournaments. “I’m about 99% sure the tumour is not cancerous. It’s just fibrous tissue. Now that you’ve broken your leg, it might just fill in on it’s own as the break heals. Otherwise, you’ll have to have surgery later on.”

He plastered me up in a cast that went from the base of my toes all the way to the middle of my thigh. There were no waterproof casts back then, it was an old school, cotton, then white plaster cast. There was a slight bend at the knee, so my leg wasn’t entirely straight, but it wasn’t bent enough to sit on a chair properly either. Riding in the car was quite tricky. Because of the bend, I had to put a pillow or something under my knee and put my whole leg on across the seat. It wouldn’t fit sitting normally.

So even though I had an automatic van, I couldn’t get my drivers licence. Not yet. I’d have to wait. Sigh.

The cast was quite thick, so I couldn’t wear pants either. I had to wear shorts even though it’s quite cold in April. My mom actually had to take me shopping so I could buy an ample supply of shorts that were wide enough to fit over my cast on the way up. I had to pull out of PE class for obvious reasons, and I could no longer ride the bus to school.

I had to stop wearing a bra because the crutches sat under my armpits right where my bras did, rubbing against the bra which rubbed against my skin and made horrible sores. Not that I really needed a bra anyway. I didn’t have any boobs.

Every afternoon after school, I’d come home and fall asleep on the couch, exhausted from all the hobbling around on crutches. My classes were spread all over the school, so getting to them was no easy feat. I was allowed to be late to each and every class.

I couldn’t sleep in my bed, so instead I slept downstairs, in the rec-room, where Maria lived. She had a bed down there, but she preferred the couch, and always slept on the couch anyway. I slept on the bed and she got the couch. We were never really sleeping at the same time though, she worked nights (she was older than me).

Maria would come home in the morning just as I was getting taking the garbage bag off my cast after my shower. I was able to masterfully throw my underpants over my cast leg, pull them up with the toes of my other leg, and then reach them with my hands. I couldn’t bend over too far because that would pull on my bone and put me in terrible pain. I could not, however, manage to land my shorts on my foot. I tried and tried. But it never worked.

When Maria got home from work every day, she’d put my shorts on for me. You know someone is a true friend when they are willing to dress you daily (my parents were already at work, they left at  ridiculous o’clock in the morning, so they were unavailable for pants duty).

As the weeks went by, I went in for x-ray after x-ray, follow up after follow up. The hole didn’t fill in.

I finally got my cast off and found my leg covered in itchy hair, dirty as sin, and the muscle totally atrophied and disgusting looking.

4 months after I broke my leg, in the middle of summer and the school holidays, I got my drivers licence. Finally.

7 months after my leg broke, I went in for surgery. They cleared out the tumour (which, thank goodness, was not cancer. They tested it to make sure), and filled it in with bone that they took from my hip. I had to wear a brace for a long while after that, as it healed and the bone they stuck in there fused with the bone that surrounded it. After surgery was incredibly painful. My hip throbbed. My leg throbbed. My ankle swelled up to unbelievable proportions. I still refused to take pain killers.

When Lauren came to my house as an exchange student, I was still recovering. My brace was a thing of the past, but I still had a bandage on my leg. The incision took a while to heal after some of my internal stitches decided to become external.

Now my leg is fine. there is an area all around the scar on my tibia that doesn’t have much feeling. If anything touches it, it makes me shudder. It feels kind of disgusting. It gets goosebumps when I work out, but when I get goosebumps because I’m cold, that area does not get them. Weird.

The bone from my hip mostly grew back. When I touch the scar, I don’t feel it on the scar, but on my inner thigh. Nerves get all messed up with surgery I suppose. Other than that, there is no affect now. I can run, jump, skip, whatever. I’m all healed. I just have some cool battle scars.

Me with my broken leg and my leg after surgery. My friend’s face is covered because I haven’t asked her if her photo can be on the blog.

But you know what? Breaking bones and the pain post bone graft is NOTHING compared to giving birth. Time to get my tubes tied….

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Copyright 2012 Sheri Thomson

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