Today I shall mostly be feeling sorry for myself. I think as it’s the first time in nearly three weeks, I’m entitled. It will be three weeks ago this Wednesday that a series of decisions culminating in a somewhat life-changing event (albeit temporarily) resulted in the situation in which I currently find myself: laid up in hospital in a not insignificant amount of discomfort, unable to find a comfortable arrangement of me and my left leg that will afford me a moment of relaxation.
Three weeks ago on Wednesday, at around 7pm while crossing the road at Tower Hill in London, I was hit by a moped. The jury is still out on exactly what happened, but I’m hopeful there was at least one CCTV camera pointed at the incident that will shed some light on it.
The collision resulted in an open fracture of the tibia, and also a fracture of the fibula, in my left leg. Two days later, at around 9:10am on Friday morning I was put under general anaethesia for around three hours, during which time they put a titanium rod down the centre of my tibia. Recovery was expected to be pretty quick, but complications from diabetes, hypertension and compromised kidney function has meant “home in a week” has turned in to “hopefully home tomorrow.”
Today is Sunday. I’m supposed to be going to Rome with an amazing bunch of friends, but instead I’m stuck in this hospital bed. So today I shall mostly be feeling sorry for myself.
In amongst the bouts of pain, discomfort, learning to walk again (first with an armpit-height zimmerframe, then a waist-height zimmerframe, and finally, crutches), and racing against biological processes to get to the toilet in time, there is a calming sense of regularity to life in hospital.
Meals are served at the same time every day, including Sundays. Pills are also served at predictable intervals. And most importantly almost everything is done for you. It’s like a hotel nobody voluntarily checks in to. Thankfully it’s also one that they’ll happily kick you out of as soon as medically possible.
All this regularity and regimentality leaves ample time for reflection on paths not taken and choices not made; reflection on what could have been if you’d skipped across the road that little bit quicker, or crossed at the crossing instead of the place where you’ve successfully crossed hundreds of times before, and on the thousands of other near-misses that could so easily have resulted in an outcome very similar to this. Was it just a matter of time?
Shades of yellow and red indicate a powerful infection. They pump me full of antibiotics hoping to get rid of it before the exposed bone gets affected. Twice daily they expunge a huge syringe of clear liquid in to my canula, and then attach a drip of another clear liquid that gets delivered into my broken body over the course of two hours.
Day by day I can see the change. The yellowing reduces, the redness retreats. Two weeks later the redness is all that remains and the liquid antibiotics are stopped. Two syringes and two bags are replaced by a few pills a day. The infections is not gone, just under control. The pills are left to do the cleanup after the heavy artillery has returned to base.
Strength seems to return to my leg in meaningful chunks. One morning I wake up and was suddenly able to straighten my leg. Another morning it was quite painful to put any weight on it, but by the afternoon it seemed like nothing.
And the fire, dear god, the fire. This infected leg is a sensitive son-of-a-bitch. The slightest touch ignites the nerve endings like sandpaper on jelly. One encounter can last for minutes that feel like hours. It burns, dear god how it burns.
There are pills for this, too. There seem to be pills for everything, and some work while others give the impression of having no other effect than to fill out my pill pot of a morning.
Now, two and a half weeks later, I can hobble around on crutches. I can almost straighten my leg and put my left foot flat against the floor, but walking heel-to-toe is still a challenge. Practice, practice, practice; ever the battle cry.
And what of the diabetes, the hypertension, and the infinitely frustrating kidney function. Oh how I’d love to say that the accident caused problems with all of these and that they weren’t pre-existing issues. But I can’t, because they were.
For the past three years I’ve firmly buried my head in the sand and la-la-laaad my way through life, knowing deep down that these silent issues were there, biding their time, eating away at my health without any clearly visible signs, or at least none that I was interested in acknowledging.
Some would say that I had this coming because I needed to make some changes. I’m not currently sure where I stand on that view of recent events.
So where are we now?
Diabetes: I’m on insulin, and quite a lot of it. My current dose would be strong if I were an elephant! Thankfully it now seems under control, but good diet and exercise is needed to gradually reduce my dose and reduce the strain on my system. I’ve struggled with this beast for eleven years now, mostly by ignoring it and hoping it would go away, but I can’t do that any more. I have diabetes; it’s part of me so I have to deal with it, and deal with it I will!
Hypertension: This seems to have caused some controversy around these parts. I’ve had hypertension for a while, and so far all medical involvement I’ve had have blamed my weight but that doesn’t seem to be enough for my doctors here. They’ve been searching for another underlying reason. Unfortunately they’ve not found anything, and it would appear they’ve given up; more pills ahoy.
Kidney function: Sometime after I was originally diagnosed with diabetes I was put on a drug called Metformin. They gradually increased the dose in an effort to get my diabetes under control until eventually we hit the maximum dose. Shortly after that they decided to switch me over to something else because the Metformin was affecting my kidney function. When the doctors here mentioned that my kidney function was compromised I thought it was a recurrence of that same problem, but I’ve since found out that they think there’s something else underlying that. An extension of my stay in hospital and lots more tests are aiming to get to the bottom of that.
It seems I can’t ignore my medical status any more, and I have no intention of doing so. I’m exhausted for so many different reasons, and not many of them have anything to do with my broken leg.
So, today I shall mostly be feeling sorry for myself, because I’m entitled. I’m absolutely entitled. Totally. It won’t do me any good, but it’s what I needed to do when I woke up this morning. As I think of my friends flying off to Rome for a few days of fun, food and flamboyance, all I can think about is how entitled I am to feel sorry for myself.
But I’m done with that now; it does nobody any good whatsoever.
So what’s next?!