Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Broken Ankle in Orlando

This time I have a really good excuse for not blogging. On Friday, in Orlando Fl., I slipped on a non moving outdoor escalator while it was raining and landed in a hurdle position. My right leg went to the front and was fine, but the foot on the back, left leg was turned at an unnatural angle and the ankle immediately swelled to twice its normal size. I managed to get both legs pointing forward and worked my way down each step on my butt until I sat at the bottom. There, several passerbys helped me to a patio chair while Joe got ice and Allyson stood at the top of the escalator so no one would start down and fall on top of me.

We called 911 and two very friendly paramedics arrived and took me by ambulance to Dr. Phillip's hospital. Dr. Phillips was not a MD, but rather an agronomist who owned huge orange groves, which he had the foresight to sell to local developers before the Florida citrus industry was destroyed by citrus greening and citrus rust. He donated quite a lot of money to build a very pretty modern, private hospital, which seemed extremely clean and quiet compared to those in the DC area. Everything was done efficiently. Miraculously, M.D.s appeared as soon as I asked for them, and mobile X-ray and ultrasound equipment came and went on a moment's notice.

In the emergency room, the hospital orthopedist appeared quickly to examine my X-rays and tell me that on a scale of to 1-1o, my ankjle injury was a 12. He said I would probably suffer complications including blood clots and infections and would need mulitple surgeries to correct the multiple breaks, and broken ligaments. I would never be the same again because arthritis would set in.

He asked me if I would like a pain shot which I gladly accepted, hoping it would help me deal with Dr. Optimism. I asked him a few questions, saying that I generally healed well and was sure I would be able to sustain, at least a diminished life style after many months of painful healing. I asked him if he was a Board Certified Orthopedic Surgeon. He said I was asking the wrong quesions, but replied that he was, and produced a card that said he specialized on the knee. I joked between holding back sobs that I hoped he could extend his expertise a little lower on the body. By this time, Joe was furious and wanted to punch him for making me cry. I composed myself enought to ask about the timing of the surgery. He said this was a much better question and that the next day would be best. With this I signed the surgical conset form and and the upbeat bone man left the room.

Various technicans and a charming cardiologist then appeared to asses if my general health was good enough for surgery. I haven't had time to blog about it, but I had my annual physical last week. All the results were good. My coleseterol was down to 200 and my fasting blood sugar was 98. I had lost, according to the Dr.'s records, lost 10 libs in the last five months. So, fortunately, my general health is good. Several of the technicians and nurses who were coming in and out asked how I was doing, and I replied not bad considering the terrible prognosis I just received from the orthopedist. The EKG technician replied "Oh, he was probably just in a bad mood. Sometimes we think he is bipolar."

I was admitted to the hospital and after a sleepless night, prepped for surgery the next afternoon. Looking back on this, I wonder why I trusted Dr. Positive with my life and limb. The best I can explain is that something in his demeanor made me like him. Intuitively, I thought he was a nice guy, who just wanted to make sure I didn't go through life blaming HIM for my bum ankle. Or at the very worst he was trying to paint a bleak picture so I wouldn't be surprised with a bad result from surgery and and sue him. In short, I thought he was sensitive to criticism.

My surgery went well and Dr. Death was in a much better mood when I awoke. I only needed one plate and a few screws, and may not require another surgery he opined. I had a much better outcome than he had originally thought possible.

While I was leaving the hospital on Sunday night he dropped by to sign my discharge papers. "So, what do you think ?" I asked. "Will it be three or six months until I am more or less recovered? "

"I tell good looking patients like you three months," he replied with a twinkle in his eye.

"Oh," I said grabbing his hand, "aren't you quite the charmer. Thank you so much for being such a good doctor and putting me back together."

"Well, you were a wonderful patient," he murmured as he waved and disappeared out the hospital room door.


  1. Martha, we're saving a spot for you at our newly-christened fitness facility here at the lab in Albany. We're expecting you for aerobics pronto! Get well soon! love, Dave

  2. I am sorry to hear about your ankle, but I am glad it wasn't as bad as Mr. Charmer thought. Please let us know if you need anything. Get well soon!!