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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.

RaisingthedeadArizona Sun 20-Oct-13 22:37:17

No experience of anything similar but just wanted to wish you all the best for tomorrow and hope you are soon a lot more comfortable and able to get around again. flowers

demolitionduo Sun 20-Oct-13 23:17:25

I broke my knee cap 4 years ago so I do have immense sympathy for you as I know how hard going it is....mentally & physically.

My injury was from a fall in the garden & my kneecap split in half totally. It was repaired by sewing the bones back together with wire thread. It was apparently a very rare type of break.

I was in hospital for 3 days & in full plaster for 6 weeks (thigh to ankle). I had the plaster changed a few times as the swelling gradually reduced -the plaster dropped & rubbed my ankle casing blisters. It was also quite painful at the start with the plaster rubbing on the wound, but painkillers helped. The bruising was very colourful & was still surprisingly visible, but not painful once the plaster came off.

I contacted the Red Cross & had use of a wheelchair (with a leg support) so I wasn't totally housebound. At home I had a bath seat so I could sit high up & still shower. To aid this I would really recommend a cast cover - see this was invaluable!

When the cast came off my leg looked awful. The scar was about 8 inches long & looked raw- I thought it would never look normal again & it really got me down. I wore a knee brace initially to limit movement. I cannot lie, regaining the use was a slow process, not helped by my lack of confidence in what I thought I could do without inflicting further injury.

I started physio a couple of weeks after the plaster was off & continued with this weekly for 6 months. I drove very short distances about 6 weeks after the plaster came off.

All in all I was unable to work for 4 months.

Four years on, it's not too bad. I can't kneel on that knee & my balance is a bit off at times but otherwise I function normally. Amazingly the scar is barely visible- just a white line now. I did use Bio oil on it so maybe that helped in the early days.

I wish you all the very best for your op & recovery. Don't hesitate to PM me if you have any other questions.

Spidermama Mon 21-Oct-13 04:59:10

Wow Demolitionduo. Four months off work? Why so long?
I'm on crutches at the moment but it means I'm useless because I can't do anything with my hands. I would like a wheelchair. We live on a hill and our house is a typically Brighton house on 3 floors so proving very difficult.
Thanks for the tips about bathing and bio oil. I'm glad to here you are so much better.

Spidermama Mon 21-Oct-13 06:33:43

Hear not here.

Matildathecat Mon 21-Oct-13 11:07:44

Not the same but surgery for dislocated patella years ago. Similar casts etc.

Thing is, this has only just happened so you are basically in shock. My response to Demo's response was, wow! Back to work that soon!

You have a serious injury. Do accept all the help you are offered and all the pain meds. Slow but sure will win the race. Try to think about chores you can do ( after the surgery). Try to stay on one floor of your house as much as possible. It is hard on your DH but if it was the other way round you would be doing it for him.

So, call in all the favours you can, get your internet shopping planned and most of all rest and recover.

Good luck.

NorbertDentressangle Mon 21-Oct-13 11:25:53

Oh you poor thing! All the best for your op.

I've not had what you have but at different times I have been in plaster with a broken ankle and been in a leg brace after major knee surgery.

Its interesting what you said about your DH as when I broke my ankle DP really couldn't cope with it to begin with. I think he saw weeks of me not being able to do anything and him having to do it all. Obviously he severely underestimated what I (and probably every other mother on this planet!) is capable of doing as when the initial pain subsided and I was able to partially weight bear I just got on with things. He even still managed to go away for a week leaving me and the DC.

Admittedly everything takes longer and you do have to come up with ingenious solutions but you soon learn to remember to bring everything downstairs/upstairs in one go to avoid unnecessary trips. You learn that if you want a cup of tea/coffee you need a seat in the kitchen next to the kettle as you can't carry a mug of hot liquid whilst on crutches (or you carry it in a Thermos in a rucksack).

Accept any offers of help and definitely jump at the chance of a lift anywhere. A very dear friend of mine used to pick me up in the car once a week so we could go for coffee in town - it kept me sane to get out!

See it as time to do something different or helpful in another way - I used my time in plaster to do my Xmas shopping online (and made sure I had a note on the door warning the postman/couriers to allow time for me to get to the door!). It's also a great opportunity to write/email/phone all those people that you've meaning to contact for ages.

NorbertDentressangle Mon 21-Oct-13 11:31:23

ooh, I meant to add re:knee surgery.

When I had mine I think it shocked me how painful/sore it was afterwards and for how long. I soon learned to take the painkillers and anti-inflammatory meds that were on offer - its not worth trying to go without.

At one point I did feel quite down as it was all much more debilitating than I'd imagined but I believe this is quite common - just keep an eye on how you're feeling. Remember that it will get better, it just takes time. Our bodies are amazingly clever but complex things!

Spidermama Mon 21-Oct-13 11:59:54

Thanks Norbert. I'm already finding that my usual productivity is being channelled in different ways. Great idea about Christmas shopping and the thermos flask in a back pack so I can get myself a cup of tea.

It's been over a week now since I fell and I can feel improvements. However I dread being knocked back again by the surgery (now on Wednesday morning).

DH is really losing it now. I broke my knee in Thailand and he's had an horrendous last five days or so battling with the insurance company to get us home. He's also lost a bit of work. He's been to Wickes because he wants to put rails on the stairs etc to help me get around but I'm trying to get him to prioritise on things like laundry and a bit of pastoral care for the kids. At the moment he's rushing around like a madman shouting at them to help and making the whole house very tense. I don't mean to be ungrateful as he's had to do so much for me over the past week and it's been difficult, but he's SO STRESSED OUT!!

Any ideas as to how I can help him chill? My friend up the road gave him diazapam which is a tranquiliser apparently but he hasn't taken it yet. Should he?

Spidermama Mon 21-Oct-13 12:01:53

As for work, I was thinking I can get back just as soon as I get the full leg cast off and can bend my knee again. I just need to be able to get under a desk. I can keep my leg just as still at work as I can at home can't I?

I even wondered about getting them to adapt my desk so I can go back, if necessary, with a full leg cast and put my leg up under the desk.

Matildathecat Mon 21-Oct-13 12:33:39

I honestly wouldn't start thinking about work yet. As above, it took me a long time to bend my knee. Once the plaster came off I actually felt much frailer for a while as the protection was gone. You'll get back when you're ready.

Re your husband, you are right, he needs to calm down. The insurance thing sounds very stressful, though. Have you got anyone you can ask to help? Friends are usually delighted to be able to offer practical help. Ie could you come for an hour and help me get the laundry done? School runs, batch of quality treaty meals, push the Hoover round?

Hope tomorrow goes well and very soon things will settle down.

Btw, I would recommend doing the stairs on your bottom.

NorbertDentressangle Mon 21-Oct-13 12:40:18

You will probably have to spend a lot of time with your leg up to reduce swelling which makes it difficult to be anywhere but on your sofa TBH.

Do you feel under pressure from work to go back?

How did you do it BTW? It sounds like a nightmare to happen anywhere let alone so far from home!

Spidermama Mon 21-Oct-13 12:54:16

Norbert dh and I were on holiday in Thailand. It was our first ever holiday alone since the first of our 4 children was born 15 years ago. We had a combination of grandparents and friends looking after the kids. We'd spent weeks filling the freezer with meals we'd cooked and writing detailed notes in a special diary about their various clubs and engagements.

We had three days of dream holiday then I walked on the rocks to watch the sun rise on a beach in Koh Phangan and stepped onto what I thought was a small rock but turned out to be a space between two rocks. So my left leg plunged down jarring and twisting the knee. I pulled the leg out with my hands and it flopped onto the rock. I thought, 'I'll just sit here for a while 'til the pain subsides a bit' but deep down I knew the holiday was over. sad

I had to be stretchered by speedboat to the hospital on the neighbouring island of Koh Samui where we spend five days arguing with the insurance company who wanted us to stay in Thailand for the operation, despite the Thai doctors suggesting we fly home for it. Very stressful.

Spidermama Mon 21-Oct-13 12:56:22

Work are not putting me under any pressure at all but I feel it none the less. Also I don't see why I can't work at a computer while my leg heals. Maybe I'm being naive.

NorbertDentressangle Mon 21-Oct-13 13:09:08

Spidermama , that's awful. After all the planning that must have gone into that, not to mention how much you both must have been looking forward to it sad.

Be kind to yourself. Don't rush back to work as the GA, the op generally, the pain (even when well managed), medication and the healing will take it out of you especially if you're not sleeping well.

You'll get tired physically hauling yourself around on crutches (but on positive note you'll develop very toned arms and shoulders and great upper body strength smile)

See how you go and if you're itching to go back then maybe do so on a trial basis part-time? Or could you do some work from home?

Personally though I know I would have struggled to have gone back to work before the plaster/brace was removed and I was mobile again.

Spidermama Mon 21-Oct-13 14:45:42

Yes we're fairly gutted. I feel a bit foolish too for messing up something so simple.

Oh well I'm sure it'll be another journey and I'll certainly get plenty of reading done and eat healthily.

demolitionduo Mon 21-Oct-13 19:06:19

Sorry to hear you are still waiting for your op. Horrible waiting around.

I agree with Matilda & Norbert. Don't even contemplate work. Me going back even after 4 months was a nightmare & with hindsight I could have done with longer. I had to have a Personal Evacuation plan devised & agreed to get me out in the event of emergency (couldn't walk up & down stairs with any speed for a long time), they ordered me an Evac-chair which we had to test I could use. The loos were on a mezzanine floor so more difficulties there..... before you think of going back just make sure you think everything through & can manage without putting yourself at risk.

As for painkillers YES! I found Diclofenac the best all rounder but it doesn't suit everyone.

Be aware the op itself may knock you for six. I'm not sure if you have had surgery before but be prepared for extreme tiredness for a good few days & maybe a dip in mood too. All very 'normal' but not always expected.

I bought myself one of those 'overbed tables' like a hospital one, but from an online mobility aid store. It was a godsend for eating & using the laptop as it kept additional weight off the cast & meant I could sit up in bed but still do things.

I am almost a lone parent (ex lives in the house but we don't communicate- a whole other story!). My twins were 11 when I had my accident & they had to do a lot to help around the house as ex would do nothing. To make life easier for you & your family, you may need to cut a few food shops were a must. I got the delivery man to put all the bags on the work tops so I could unpack (slowly!) and put stuff away. I did all my Christmas shopping that year online too.

If you have friends & neighbours you can call in favours from, now is the time you need them! Don't be afraid to ask- I am sure they will want to help.

I had friends help with the housework/change the beds etc....all relatively simple everyday things until your leg is in a cumbersome plaster, you are in pain & tired out!

If I think of more I'll add to it, but I don't want to frighten you. Everyone responds differently to surgery etc & your experience & recovery may be completely different to mine.

Hopefully the fact you have a husband & teens to help out, it will take some of the pressure off you. You just need to concentrate on resting when you need to & not overdoing things which may jeopardise your recovery time.

Spidermama Tue 22-Oct-13 06:20:35

Gosh demo that sounds really tough. I.m glad your twins helped out. My kids are beginning to realise they have new roles! They've not been great at helping out traditionally.

It must have been incredibly hard for you with an unhelpful husband around. Mine's extremely stressed but at least he.s trying. The bed table's a good idea.

I am braced for a drop in mood and ability after surgery. It seems a shame as there's been a slight but hard earned improvement in the nine days since the accident.

I'm finding inability to wash one of the biggest challenges. I sit on a towel on the floor with a bucket of warm water and a flannel. I haven't yet worked out how to wash my hair. I want to do it today as the op is tomorrow and its only going to get harder.

I am worried about not going back to work soon, as it took me about ten years to finally secure that job however so far they're being very understanding.

Thanks so much for sharing your experience. It's been very helpful.

One more thing ... My mum and a couple of my friends have been telling me I should research surgeons and try to find someone known as an expert in the field but quite honestly, with the op imminent and at my nearest hospital, I don't feel I have the time or strength. All these comments have done is made me worry about potential botched jobs. Did you research your surgeon?

NorbertDentressangle Tue 22-Oct-13 09:20:05

Dry shampoo is your friend! Normally I wouldn't touch the stuff but when needs must....

I tended to use it between washes as it was such a faff to wash it properly even with just a below knee cast on (which meant I could lean over the edge of the bath and use the the shower attachment).

Do you know how long you'll be in hospital for after the op?

At a guess they'll have you up and walking down the ward on crutches before you know it! I remember when I had my knee op I was on a ward where everyone else was at least 40 years older than me and, even with the old ladies who had had hip replacements, they had everyone up and about really quickly.

Re: surgeon - I didn't research mine, but this was about 20 years ago and TBH I think this 'researching your consultant' thing is, on the whole, quite a recent thing enabled by the internet, increase in private healthcare etc.
I had my knee done at the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre in Oxford by a surgeon who specialised in knees so I was happy with that.

Listmaker Tue 22-Oct-13 10:52:47

I broke my heel bone 3 months ago and am still very much housebound so in a similar situation and have faced/am facing the same issues.

I work in IT and have been able to work from home - my company wouldn't let me into the office (on the 2nd floor) as I wouldn't be able to manage the stairs unaided (or at all!). Could you work from home? It has been a godsend as to have all this time off would have been really hard and I'd be on 2/3 money by now. It has kept me sane though as it fills the time.

I too got an overbed table which has been great. I still haven't managed the shower - I used to wash in bed with a bowl and flannel as best I could, now I get to the bathroom and do it there in the sink. I can bend my knee so have been washing my hair over the kitchen sink with my knee on a stool. I didn't wash my hair for about 10 days whilst in hospital - horrendous!

The Occupational Therapists should help you with things after your operation - I have a thing to go over the loo to make it higher so easier to get on and off and a commode which I used in the early days - luckily not for a while now! I also have a zimmer frame and crutches and I got a wheelchair from the Red Cross as someone else mentioned.

My DH has coped well on the whole but finds the kids' mess hard and rants and raves about it which makes the atmosphere at home a nightmare at times. My DDs are 15 and 13 and have been good at times but have found it tough as I always did everything for them. That has been the single hardest thing of all - not being able to look after them all and just get on with things in my way. Asking people to do every little thing is a nightmare.

I was lucky that my Mum comes over a lot and helps with the washing and ironing as my DH seems incapable of managing it all. I also got a cleaner to come in once a week. I do online shopping as well.

Crutches are just so useless though as you can't carry anything which makes you pretty useless.

I am hopefully only a few weeks away from walking without them now but it's been a long old haul! So good luck and try and keep smiling - try Netflix and Breaking Bad - got me through a few weeks that did!

Listmaker Tue 22-Oct-13 11:28:56

And also we bought a bed and installed it in a room we have downstairs (was my DH's 'den'!) and I've been sleeping there and sitting on it in the day with my foot up most of the time - it's only in the last couple of weeks that's it been OK down for any length of time. So I haven't been upstairs in my house for 3 months! We are lucky to have the room and a downstairs bathroom of course so this may not be an option for you?

mawbroon Tue 22-Oct-13 11:37:32

I obviously have no idea about your house layout, but ours only has an upstairs bathroom.

When I broke my ankle at 32 weeks pg, getting up the stairs to the toilet was a real challenge, so I managed to organise a commode which I kept downstairs.

I found that the pain after surgery was excruciating, but after about 4 days, it just disappeared. Take all the pain relief that's going!!

Has anyone recommended a Limbo plastic cover? I would really recommend them.

I used a rucksack for moving things from room to room and had a little bag over my shoulder at all times with the house phone and my mobile in it, just in case I fell, or went into labour or whatever.

Listmaker Tue 22-Oct-13 11:47:34

When I was using the zimmer I tied a bag to that to carry things about as well! Crutches are more of a challenge so a rucksack or cross the body bag is the only answer.......

Spidermama Tue 22-Oct-13 12:27:48

Wow Mawrboon it must have been really difficult breaking your ankle while heavily pregnant! What a tough start. I can only imagine how THAT birth went.

Listmaker I wish I could work from home but I work in radio so need to be in the studios to do anything. I was imagining being off for a few weeks not months but I think I've severely underestimated healing time judging by all the experiences on here.

Another huge challenge is that out house is a typical Brighton terraced house with three stories and then three lavatories in between the floors meaning I have to go up and down a small amount of stairs every time. That's proving very difficult. A commode sounds pretty grim I must confess, especially for DH who'd have to empty it.

My DH is really stressed. He's quite stressy anyway so this has sent him right over the edge. Like yours Listmaker he keeps shouting at the kids and it just makes it harder for everyone and I believe they're LESS likely to help in this sort of atmosphere. I see it's a long road ahead.

Spidermama Tue 22-Oct-13 12:30:00

The surgery is tomorrow so even though I'm in pain today I know it's going to be a whole lot worse afterwards for a while. I'm really scared.

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