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Broken knee. Operation tomorrow. Anyone been through similar?

(137 Posts)
Spidermama Sun 20-Oct-13 17:15:57

I have two fractures in my femur and tibia a depressed fracture in the top of my tibia. They're going to put a plate in my knee and graft the bone.

It happened a week ago today on holiday in Thailand and it still hurts so much.

I'm on crutches so effectively useless in terms of laundry and cooking. I'm in a full leg cast. I'm really just looking for other stories so I can get an idea of how things might pan out.

Poor dh is up to his eyeballs and cracking under the strain.

Spidermama Fri 25-Oct-13 10:30:06

I'm not on enough painkillers I reckon. Paracetamol and another thing that's 'like morphine but not as strong'. Nothing overnight so I lie awake in pain.

I feel like the screw in my knee is moving the knee cap when I bend and straighten my knee. Ill mention it to the physio.

There are certainly people worse off than me in this bay but I still feel pretty wretched.

mawbroon Fri 25-Oct-13 10:35:34

Yes, I was always aware of the metalwork until I had it removed about 9 months later.

Can you ask for more pain relief? I can't remember what they gave me, but I do remember loving the Tramadol! I think others in the ward were getting more pain relief than me, but I was pregnant so I guess there were some meds that I couldn't have.

But I did have to laugh when they sent me home from A&E with paracetemol. Fucks sake, like farting against thunder.

Orangesarenottheonlyfruit Fri 25-Oct-13 10:36:50

Oh god you poor poor thing.

I am sitting in bed at the moment with a broken ankle, which after ten x-rays, they decided not to pin, which I so so relieved about.

My advice, is take it slow, all of you. I live in a ridiculous Georgian townhouse over six floors and I cannot really go down to the kitchen more than once or twice a day so my poor DH brings me breakfast and then I slide down three flights of stairs (14' ceilings, damn you) on my bum and make a sort of lunch for my 3 year old.
Then, I drag myself back upstairs to rest my leg and put DVDs on for my little one.
At tea time this is all repeated except for a 5 year old as well.

It is do -able but the house is a tip, I just ignore it.
DH focusses his energy on making sure everyone is fed (lots of instant type meals from Ocado) and in clean clothes and sheets. The rest doesn't matter.

Tips - Limbo cast covers are amazing
- do everything that you can on the internet so you feel useful, I do the Ocado shop, buy all christmas and upcoming birthday presents
- find a project such as writing the christmas cards, that will keep you busy, I have knitted gloves, hats and scarves for everyone. It turns out that there really is so much tv you can watch without going mad
- you will feel pretty knackered for a bit, your body is in shock, just go with it, your body heals in its sleep.
- Take ALL help that is offered, I have had to do a rota for my friends for school pick ups, people are amazingly kind and helpful and I will buy them all lovely presents when I am better.
- Put some keys either on a string for you to throw out to delivery men etc or in a secret place by the door which you can tell people. People always seem to ring the bell when you are on a different floor.

I really hope that you will feel better soon, I'm sure you will. I was discharged with three hours, which was AWFUL but as soon as I was home and in bed it was all ok. My cast is off next week and I am feeling cautiously positive.

mousmous Fri 25-Oct-13 10:43:40

my fil had this over the summer. he fell off a chair when changing a lightbulb...
shatterd tibia.
first thing the suregon said to us was that the fracture was really bad, he might never walk again. shock

had op and was non-weight bearing for 12 weeks, but is now doing intensive physio (different country) in a specialised institution. swimming, weights... he has never been as fit as now!

I wish you a good recovery, this is a shit bone to break and recovery will be slow. but you will get there!
btw my fil got on well with a mix of paracetamol and highdose ibuprofen.

1leggedwobbler Fri 25-Oct-13 10:47:06

I am sat here in plaster with a broken fibula that I had to have surgery on. You have my every sympathy.

Before they turf you out of hospital beg them for some tramadol & diclofenac painkillers to take home with you. Diclofenac is also an anti immflamatory (sp?) and tramadol certainly helped to knock me out at night post surgery.

When you get home stay in bed & before your DH goes out to work get him to make a sandwich for your lunch & bring it up to you plus a thermos of tea.

Please do pm me if you want any other tips or you just want to rant at someone who will understand.

Spidermama Fri 25-Oct-13 10:49:50

Wow Oranges you really have got it tough. Some great tips there clearly born out of necessity!
Good luck when the cast comes off. They say its best to work on regaining mobility as soon as possible. I'm doing this but having to coincide it with pain relief.

Ten X-rays sounds rather excessive btw.

I think the difficulty for me us I don't know whether I'm supposed to be in this much pain or whether something has gone wrong.

Spidermama Fri 25-Oct-13 11:27:16

Gosh oneleggedwobbler there are so many of us! I think as regards pain killers I go home with my fate is already sealed as only the doc can change it and he didn't even meet my eye in his fleeting visit this morning despite me saying I need more pain relief. I'll give it a try though.

They're now not going to transport me home but putting me in the discharge lounge until dh can get me around 8 tonight.

Thanks for sandwich and thermos tips. Good thinking.

Spidermama Fri 25-Oct-13 11:28:43

Mousmous that's an inspiring tale! I'm determined to do the best physio I can. It sounds like it can make or break you.

Orangesarenottheonlyfruit Fri 25-Oct-13 11:46:51

I know exactly what you mean about being in pain but not sure if it is OK.
My toes went black one day for no apparent reason, I freaked out, my mum freaked out but after extensive googling we found out it is fairly normal, just means I've had my leg down too much.
Also, I've had wrote a lot of pain at night, I think it is because I'm turning over in my sleep instead of lying flat and the pain wakes me up but it doesn't stop you worrying that all is not well at 3am. there quite a good forum called mybrokenleg. com which has been useful, although there are plenty of worse case scenarios on there so sometimes I'm not sure if it is that healthy to look at it!

1leggedwobbler Fri 25-Oct-13 12:35:11

Spidermama, I also found cocodamol good painkillers. they have paracetamol in though so you can only take them with ibruprofen. cocodamol can bung you up, not good news if sitting on the loo trying to keep one foot off the floor is painful!

I slept quite a lot for the 1st week I was home, due to a combination of surgery, painkillers & the fact I had been up at 5am for work for the previous 6 months.

I also recommend the limbo cover, it's great. How I have managed to have a shower is by putting an old plastic step in the bath & then sliding my bum from the toilet seat lid over the side of the bath onto the step, putting weight on good leg & keeping bad leg in air with Limbo on then resting it in the bottom of the bath. It isnt very elegant & my DH had to help me the first few times until I was confident I could do it on my own.

You might also have to send someone out shopping for you, I had to get new strectchy pjs and tracksuit bottoms because none of my trousers would fit over my cast! My normal trousers are a size 12 but only a M&S size 16 would go over the cast sad

hope you have a good journey home

1leggedwobbler Fri 25-Oct-13 12:38:46

Oranges - another one of us who has broken something! What did you do to your ankle? I completely dislocated mine & spectacularly broke the fibular which they put back together with metal plate & screws. I did it 5 weeks ago. I had a surgical cast for 2 weeks & I've now got a normal cast which comes off next thursday to be replaced by another cast for either 2 or 4 weeks, it all depends on the x-rays.

I'll have a look at the forum you suggested

1leggedwobbler Fri 25-Oct-13 12:47:21

One more tip, if the crutches make your hands hurt get some grey foam pipe lagging & tape it round the handles. Use micropore tape not gaffer tape otherwise the glue slides out and makes your hands revoltingly sticky!

mawbroon Fri 25-Oct-13 12:53:17

YY to Limbo

Spidermama Fri 25-Oct-13 13:10:56

Doh! Too late. Dh has done it by cutting up camping mattresses and securing with gaffer.

VirgoGrr Fri 25-Oct-13 13:12:27

I haven't RTFT as rushing, but just wanted to offer you a very gentle unmumsnet hug and tell you that it will get better eventually and it is possible to get back to something like normal. I get on fine now and don't have any residual pain. Like someone else said, I just have some balance issue now and then and stairs are not my favourite thing.

I had a severe tibial plateau fracture in April 2012. Had an artificial bone graft and internal fixation with a plate down the outside of my knee and shin and six screws through the tibia. On crutches, partially weight bearing, gradually increased over 6 months. Have been about back to something like normality since early this year. I never had a cast, once the plate was in, they splinted the leg and then I had a full leg brace for months with gradual increase in bending the knee. Physio is vital, try not to lose thigh muscle if you can avoid it - mine is still not the same as the other leg. Have whatever they offer - as many x-rays, MRI, whatever is needed to get the best outcome. My surgeon was a Mr Desai, he practices privately in the midlands, I understand, but I had my op on the NHS at Kings Mill Mansfield. The surgery was successful, he didn't take the graft from my hip as originally proposed and the scar is fine. It's quite neat but I just tell people it was a shark bite/fighting pirates/from the Falklands.

Some things you can get back to pretty quickly but don't rush it if you don't have to. I was at work two weeks after op, with an elevated foot but probably shouldn't have been. I was only back that quickly as I wasn't getting sick pay. I drove again in the June. Was fantastic to get freedom back. I will read the thread later and be back.

Orangesarenottheonlyfruit Fri 25-Oct-13 14:34:34

1legged - you sound much worse off than me. I just slipped over one Sunday morning while walking the dog! total nightmare. Anyway, I dislocated my ankle and snapped the tib. They weren't sure about pinning it so I had it manually reset in hospital (hurt like hell) and lots of x rays. Then had to go back a week later to have more x rays and check it didn't need pinning and then have it manually reset again ( oweeee). I had to go back after that to check it was healing right, so more x rays but thankfully no reset. The cast will be coming off next week but I think I got off lightly, if I had torn the stabilising ligaments rather than pulling them it would have def been pinned. So close, but OK thank goodness!
Anyway start physio next week so hopefully should start to be more mobile then.
who knew walking the dog was such a dangerous activity?
How about you?

Spidermama Fri 25-Oct-13 17:41:28

Thanks Virgo. Your injury and op sound very similar to mine. Bloody painful isn't it? Your story is inspiring though.

Spidermama Fri 25-Oct-13 17:45:23

I'm not sure how its possible to not lose thigh muscle on the affected leg because exercising it won't be possible until its weight bearing again.
I'm already bending my knee around 30 or 40 degrees. It doesn't hurt at the time but throbs for 20 mins after.

NorbertDentressangle Fri 25-Oct-13 18:13:55

Wow its great that you can move it already - that will really help in the long run! Has the physio given you exercises to do?

I had to keep mine straight for weeks and then gradually start bending it by setting and increasing the maximum angle on the leg brace. As you can imagine after weeks of not bending it, it becomes very stiff and difficult to move.

Also, I recommend cycling gloves for using with crutches of your hands are sore (fingerless gloves with gel pads on the palms!)

mousmous Fri 25-Oct-13 18:50:51

wrt to thigh muscle.
my fil was given deep tissue massages from about 2 weeks after the op and passive physio (= them gently moving the joint).

Spidermama Fri 25-Oct-13 18:53:40

I think the new thing is to avoid casts and get mobility back as soon as possible.
I like the idea of cycling gloves. I'm looking forward to an increase in upper body strength as a result to this. Hopefully I can kiss goodbye to the ol' bingo wings.

Spidermama Fri 25-Oct-13 18:59:02

Ooh mousmous I like the sound of PASSIVE physio.

scurryfunge Fri 25-Oct-13 19:20:09

Hello Spidermama. Hope you are feeling a bit better.
Agree that rucksack and flask is a good idea. With regards to bathing, I put a plank across the bath so my leg could stay out of the water. I was in a half leg plaster though and could bend my leg, so not sure if that would suit you.
It does take a long time to recover but you need to be patient and accept help from everyone.
The worst part for me was disturbed sleep through the pain and not being able to get comfortable easily in bed. It does get better though. Hope everyone is looking after you. Take care.

VirgoGrr Fri 25-Oct-13 23:23:47

Are you home yet Spidermama? Hope you are in your own bed by now. I do remember that the trip home was very difficult, felt every single pebble in the road. Have you had fixation on the femur fracture as well as the tibia? Mending one break takes a lot out of you, quite exhausting - I imagine two is going to need to bit of resting up.

You will indeed banish the bingo wings - crutches are exhausting to begin with, but once you get your stamina up, you'll get about much more easily. If you go onto partial weight bearing, its a lot easier once you can put the foot on the floor at least, just to give yourself a bit better balance.

Re: showering, its much easier without a cast - get in the shower with a seat and take the brace off once you're sitting down. I assure you that even though it feels like your leg is going to fall off without the brace, it's going nowhere and you'll be fine. It's most undignified being helped in and out like a pensioner, but it won't be forever. I did just do strip washing for a few days and went to the hairdresser across the road a couple of times to get my hair washed, but once I got the hang of showering, there was no need.

What you said about your kneecap feeling pushed out - it's the swelling. It will take a loooong time for the swelling to start going down. Remember there's a foreign object in there and your body has to get used to it. Don't worry about anything being in the wrong place, it'll be fine, they will have checked, double checked and x-rayed from several angles to make sure it was all fine while you were knocked out. You will feel better about this when you go back for your first check up and to have the staples out. They will show you your new knee on x-ray if you ask and I found it made me feel more confident about its 'integrity' iykwim.

BTW, If you need a recommendation in the next week for morphine induced constipation - it's glycerine suppositories, I'm afraid. Whoever invented those should have been awarded a Nobel Prize.

VirgoGrr Fri 25-Oct-13 23:33:24

Also, re: thigh muscle - your physio should be also recommending exercise straight away to straighten the leg as well as bending - the break will have damaged ligaments and you will probably have found that it was more comfortable to have the knee bent with a pillow behind before you went for your op and also now the op is done?

It's important not to let the ligaments mend like this or when it's mended you will find it difficult to push your knee back to 'lock' when you're standing and it will be unstable. You need to practice pushing the knee down gently while you're sitting or letting the weight of your leg straighten the kneed and you can do extended leg lifts in that position to exercise your thigh muscle.

Do what your physio recommends anyway, but I do recommend seeing a private physio for maybe once a fortnight if you don't mind the ££. Worth it imo.

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