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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.

Listmaker Tue 22-Oct-13 12:42:47

Oh you poor thing. On the pain front just take all the drugs you can!

On the home front yes it has not been easy in this house! I try to sympathise with my DH who has got a lot on his plate now but I do think in lots of ways he hasn't made this easy for me or himself by getting so het up about stuff. Yes my DDs are a pain and leave cups and plates and crap about but that's just how they are (they aren't his biological children which may make things worse?). It drives me mad too but I roll my eyes and just get on with it. He rants to me about it which is just not helpful and upsets me sometimes because there is NOTHING I can do about it right now! Sorry rant over!!

It is really, really hard but I cling to the idea that it's not permanent or life threatening and lots of people are worse off etc etc. And I like to think about all the things we'll do once it's over and how I will make it up to them (we had to cancel our family holiday this summer etc).

Hope the surgery goes well and that there's not too much pain. Enjoy being in hospital and having the nurses to look after you!

Oh and my poor DH had to do the commode for a week or two at first - very grim for him! So he got some brownie points for that!

Spidermama Tue 22-Oct-13 13:48:08

It's a tibial plateau fracture. I've just been terrifying myself on Google reading all about them. Must step away from the computer!

mawbroon Tue 22-Oct-13 14:57:26

Yes, the commode was not nice, but I promised DH that if I needed a poo I would make the effort to get upstairs to the toilet, so it was only pee needing emptied. It had a lid, so out of sight out of mind. Once I was weight bearing, it was easier to get to the toilet so I used the commode less.

It was a bit of a nightmare being pg tbh, but the birth was fine in the end. I was in a removable boot by that time and my Limbo cover fitted over it, so I got to go into the birthing pool for a bit. They were hovering at one stage muttering about a CS because ds2 was a little distressed, but it didn't end that way fortunately. I cannot imagine being on crutches and having CS recovery to deal with!! Another down side was having to be wide awake during 54minutes of orthopaedic surgery because they wouldn't give me a GA because I was pg.

I think it would be wise if you don't Google. DH googled my injury (trimalleolar fracture, and the bottom broke right off one of the bones) and said it would be wise if I didn't look!

Re showering, I don't know if this is possible in a full leg cast, but what I did was get a cheap plastic stool from Ikea (or rather DH did) which I sat in the bath on a rubber mat. I then brought a stool alongside the bath and swung my good leg into the bath while remaining sitting, then I shuffled over to put my bum on the bath stool, and then lifted my bad leg into the bath. I needed help getting my towel, dressing gown etc until I was weight bearing.

I hope the surgery goes well for you x

Spidermama Tue 22-Oct-13 15:38:02

What an amazing story mawbroon. Maximum respect for enduring 54 minutes of surgery wide awake. shock

I'm glad the birth went well. You certainly deserved that!

Thanks for the bathing tips. DH has already ordered a commode. blush I hope that, post op, I can make it to the loo on my own for poos.
Mind you my four births are standing DH in good stead for being right at the sharp end of things.

mawbroon Tue 22-Oct-13 15:43:06

My midwife organised a commode for me, check in your area, I bet you would be able to have one on loan. I can't remember the name of the department, but they lent out all sorts of mobility aids and the like.

demolitionduo Tue 22-Oct-13 16:29:06


I didn't get to research my surgeon as I was admitted as a blue light emergency. However my surgeon was OK, & I think he did as good a job as possible given the mess he was presented with! I was a bit of celebrity in hospital because in his 35 years as an orthopaedic surgeon he'd never seen a break like mine.....My x-rays & I were paraded in front of various ambulance crews, nurses, doctors & physiotherapists as a bit of a freak show!

Pain-wise after the op wasn't that bad to be honest. Just keep up with the regular doses of whatever you are prescribed. There are no extra points for persevering with pain!

Do you have a shower in the nearest bathroom? Mine was over the bath but with the shower seat (which rests across the edges of the bath), I learned to manoeuvre my way in. The cast cover which I mentioned up thread really was totally watertight so I could have a proper shower & wash my hair. Despite this being VERY hard work, I made myself do this every be honest it was all I did for several weeks, other than watch TV & be on my laptop.

You may well be assessed by Occupational Health in hospital- I was. They worked out what obstacles I'd face at home & helped find solutions or mobility aids to make things easier. If they don't offer this, make sure you ask. You potentially face being stuck at home for a while so you need that time to be as manageable as possible.

I think you'll find the surgery bit is the easy part, so try not to get too stressed about it. I really hope everything goes well for you. Make sure you check in here regularly for moral support & with your progress reports.

Will be thinking of you tomorrow.

Spidermama Tue 22-Oct-13 16:49:19

The nearest toilet is in fact a shower room. It's a tiny room with a stand up shower and a lavatory basically so not much use. The bath is on the top floor up two flights. Our house is lots of stairs but not much ground space. It could barely be worse actually!

By the way all of you -- thanks so much for sharing your stories. I'm inspired by you all and I'm already benefiting from your practical advice. This thread is a massive support to me and I'm really very grateful. xx

BasketzatDawn Tue 22-Oct-13 16:52:37

Do take your favourite shampoo etc in with you. They will probably want you showered before the op, if poss, and wards esp in orthopaedic units have those little shower chairs and accessible showers, so somebody can wheech you in and out the shower with maximum ease. Getting your hair washed at the same time not a problem and will no doubt boost you a bit. Hope it all goes well.

NorbertDentressangle Tue 22-Oct-13 17:58:43

Just popped back to wish you all the best for tomorrow. Hope it all goes well Spidermama.

A tip for hospital - take some nice food treats in as I found that the food was dire (vegetable crumble made with a SWEET crumble topping anyone?!) and you need to keep your strength up. Eating is something you can still enjoy even when laid up post-op so make the most of it. When I was in DP brought a couple of hot meals in for me straight from the oven at home!

Also take reading material that's not too taxing, something like magazines or short stories that you can dip in and out of as it can be difficult to focus and concentrate with everything going on around you. Or maybe crosswords or word/number puzzles that can distract you and help pass the time but that don't need total focus.

Spidermama Tue 22-Oct-13 19:55:17

Thanks Norbert. Sweet veggie crumble? (Gag)

Spidermama Tue 22-Oct-13 19:56:42

Thanks basketz. Lush shampoo and conditioner packed. I think I'm psyched up and ready to go.

tolittletoolate Tue 22-Oct-13 22:28:04

I fractured my tibial plateau in 2005 and it was plated and pinned and I had to have a bone graft because I compressed the tibia by 2 cm. The scar on my pelvis from that hurts the most!

I was in hospital for a week (Royal Sussex County) and in plaster from ankle to hip for 6 weeks then I had a hinged cast for another 2 weeks. I walked out of hospital on my own even though I was told to use my crutches for a while longer and 2 months after that I was back riding my horse smile

Spidermama Wed 23-Oct-13 04:39:24

Toolittle that's the same injury as mine and the same hospital good to hear your healing was so quick. I'm guessing you're younger than me (I'm 47).
My surgeon says he hopes he can graft the bone with jarred boney bits but admits he won't know til he's opened me up wether he'll need to take bone from my pelvis.
Did you have much physio?
Do you still have the plate in?
How's the knee now?

I'm all packed up and ready to go in this morning.

Listmaker Wed 23-Oct-13 08:48:35

Good luck for the operation Spidermama. Hope it goes/went well.

I haven't managed the shower at all even though we have one on the ground floor. It had a big step up into it and we tried with a stool in there and me sitting back onto it but I couldn't manoeuvre myself in so gave up - it would have involved a lot of help from DH and he was stressing and busy enough so I preferred something I could manage myself. I am desperate for a shower now though and reckon I can manage it now but again I need help and some of DH's time and it always seems too much to ask somehow......

I think heel bones breaks are a really bad one as it's so long before you can put weight onto it etc. Also I am 49, very overweight and unfit which hasn't helped (hospital food is a good diet though - reckon I've lost at least a stone since this began! I wouldn't let anyone bring me any food other than fruit so I could try and lose some weight!). So I'm sure you won't be incapacitated as long as I've been.

After the operation and before you're discharged make sure you speak to the ward Occupational Therapist - they will talk to you about your home and what you need to manage etc. They gave me all my kit apart from the wheelchair.

Let us know how you get on

tolittletoolate Wed 23-Oct-13 09:04:58

Yes the plate is still in, I'm assuming it's staying there for ever!
I had a bit of physio but my recovery was very good, the only real problem after the break was that my knee wouldn't straighten but my physio gave me exercises for that.
I have had to have another operation to take the cartilage out of the knee but I'm unsure if it is connected to the break or not. As far as the initial injury is concerned I have no trouble with it, although I do still have a bit of a limp.
It's quite a serious bone to break!

Hope all goes well xxx

Spidermama Thu 24-Oct-13 17:44:10

Well I had the op yesterday. It was horrendous for the two and a half hours after I woke up. They gave me 'enough to knock out a horse' including ketamine but I was still in really bad pain for ages.

I was 'out of it' all night on drugs and didnt even have the jaw strength to eat a biscuit.

Then medic I hadn't seem before told me this morning 'you should get home today' and I was horrified.

I had a bit of a meltdown at lunchtime with flashbacks from the aftermath of the op. I told them I'm not ready to go home and they agreed thank God. (I heard them yesterday talking about a bed crisis).

The cast is off and I have a hinged brace. I've been bending my knee slightly and have now managed a few steps on crutches.

The pain is bad but I don't like the morphine much as it makes me feel sick and woozy.

Ill probably be going home tomorrow evening. Dh has borrowed a commode and a wheelchair. The real recovery starts here I reckon.

demolitionduo Thu 24-Oct-13 18:15:06


Glad it's all over but sorry to hear you are having a rough time with the drugs.

No plaster cast is great news though as I'm sure it will speed up your recovery as your muscles shouldn't waste as much as they do in a cast.

Take it easy for the next 24 hours and if you really don't feel well enough to be discharged, dig your heels in. Having said, weekends in hospitals are pretty grim so home might be the best option if you can manage it.

Push to see the occupational therapist too before you go, even if it's just for hints & tips on how to manage.

Sending you healing vibes & best wishes for a non-eventful & speedy recovery.

Listmaker Thu 24-Oct-13 19:29:43

Sorry it's been so painful Spider. I had my opinion on the Tuesday but didn't come out til the Friday so don't let them kick you out too soon!

Hope the pain subsides a bit. You're on the road to recovery now!

mawbroon Thu 24-Oct-13 19:40:43

Urgh, I remember the post surgery pain, it was by far the worst pain I had ever experienced sad

BUT it only lasted 4 or 5 days and then disappeared. I hope the same happens for you hugs

mawbroon Thu 24-Oct-13 19:41:24

Ooops, sorry that wasn't supposed to be a link to nowhere!

NorbertDentressangle Thu 24-Oct-13 20:33:18

Glad the op is over. Good on you for standing your ground and refusing to get turfed out. Make sure that when they discharge you that:
-you have enough painkillers
-that you've seen the physio and OT (and have follow-up appts. with them if necessary)
-that you know who to contact in case of any concerns or problems
-that you know when you need to see the consultant again

I think the hinged brace sounds like a massive improvement on a full-leg cast . It should make life a bit easier especially if, further down the line, you can remove it briefly for showers etc.

Take it easy and here's to a speedy recovery!

tolittletoolate Thu 24-Oct-13 22:06:37

I was in hospital for a week after my op, I wasn't allowed home until the physio's had taught me how to go up and down stairs safely with my crutches. I was totally non weight bearing on my leg, apparently it would have broken again with just the slightest weight on it.
I Hope the rest of your recovery is good, don't forget to take your painkillers! xx

Spidermama Fri 25-Oct-13 09:53:42

They're turfing me out today. I asked if I could wait til evening when my husband could pick me up and be at home for me but they're insisting in getting me transport home to a potentially empty house this afternoon.

Honestly I'm in worse pain than ever but they're making me feel like a malingerer.

I can feel the screws in my bones. Could you feel the screws?

tolittletoolate Fri 25-Oct-13 10:15:19

omg you poor thing, yes I could and still can feel the screws in my leg.

I can't believe they are being so bloody uncaring, although being in hospital over the weekend is not nice at all so maybe it's better to be at home.
What painkillers are you on?

tolittletoolate Fri 25-Oct-13 10:16:44

I used to live near Brighton but have moved to Buckinghamshire recently, what a shame I could have come and visited you.
Will you have any help from friends and family?

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