Category: Health

Tribute to a Filmmaker

A tribute to my nephew, Filmmaker Ryley Beach.

Again with the Broken Ankle

I’ll shut up about my ankle soon, I promise.

In the meantime, if you want to read about how I broke it, go here.

If you want to read about the first couple of weeks with a busted ankle, check this out.

If you want to know the rest of the (sadly, increasingly dull) story, you’ve come to the right place.

Spent the first couple of weeks of my pseudo-convalescence trying to get a Medical Absence Form filled out. Work needed to know the surgeon’s official opinion on whether I could continue to work, and if so, how. I was kind of interested to know myself.

Discussing it over the phone with someone at the surgeon’s office, I suggested emailing the Medical Absence Form to the office so that the surgeon could fill it out.

“We don’t have email,” I was told.

“You don’t have email?” I was incredulous. “How is that possible in 2017?”

“You’d have to ask the IT department.”

“What do you have an IT department for without email?” I asked, though of course just because they didn’t have email didn’t mean they didn’t have computers and other IT paraphernalia.

The woman I was talking to turned sullen. I realized I’d been rude, which, apart from being uncalled for, probably wouldn’t help my cause.

“How do I get you the form?” I asked.

“Drop it off,” she suggested.

“I have a broken ankle,” I reminded her. “I’m not exactly mobile.”

“Fax it,” the woman suggested.

That sounded like ancient technology to me. Briefly, I wondered if the attitude toward technology displayed by the surgeon’s office in any way reflected his approach toward medicine. Had he employed ancient Roman bone levers and tile cauteries during my surgery? Would I find leeches beneath the cast? An uncharitable thought. All indications so far were that he’d done a bang-up job, leeches or otherwise.

“Okay,” I told the woman, hoping I’d be able to find a free fax service online (I did).

It took another week, but all parties involved finally got the Medical Absence Form sorted out, permitting me to work from home until I was back on my feet.

For my first follow-up appointment, my wife and I arrived at the Fracture Clinic at Oshawa Hospital twenty minutes early. To my surprise, they took me in for an X-ray right away, and no sooner had I finished that then they led me to an examination room. Within minutes a technician showed up and called my up X-Rays. Seconds later another technician cut off my cast. The place was a model of efficiency. During a brief lull, I snapped a couple of pictures of my X-Rays with my phone (later, I would call someone on my camera).

With the cast off, I admired my injured foot. It was one damned ugly appendage. It was swollen, blistered, and stitched, not to mention battered and bruised. Four ugly red blisters graced the right side. Rows of stitches over the ankle on either side of the foot made it look like the work of Frankenstein (I mean the mad scientist, not his monster, for those of you to whom such distinctions are important.) A massive red bruise ran along the right side from the ankle almost to the toes. Another one covered the heel on the left side. Later, at home, both my daughters refused to look at it after an initial glimpse. (Naturally, I wanted to show it to everyone. Only herculean self-control has enabled me to refrain from posting pictures here. I could still be talked into it.)

A slim man with curly black hair showed up and began riffling through a folder presumably containing information about me.

“So, what happened to you?” he asked me.

“Slipped on ice,” I told him.

“Who’s your doctor?”

“Dr. Ibrahim.”

“Oh, that guy,” he said.

“Aren’t you him?” I asked, confused.

“Yes,” he admitted, with a chuckle.

A joker, I thought. Good. I had a list of questions I wanted answered, and I’d been afraid he’d be aloof and impatient.

Some of my questions had already been answered, such as when would the cast come off (it just had), and what hardware did he place in my foot (the X-ray clearly indicated 9 screws and 1 plate).

We talked about when he thought I’d be able to return physically to work (about 6 weeks, after I could put weight on the foot) and when I should start physio (same time).

A young woman in scrubs arrived to remove the stitches. At first I assumed that she was a nurse, but she soon set me straight.

“I’m a technician,” she told me, as she plucked the first of twenty-seven staples from my leg. “Actually, I’m not even a technician yet. I’m a student. This is a work placement.”

Her name was Francesca, and she went to school in London, Ontario for this sort of thing.

“Does that hurt?” she asked, as she dug a particularly stubborn staple out of my leg.

“No,” I lied, which only emboldened her to dig deeper for the next one.

Once all the staples were out, a second technician came over with a big black boot called an air cast, all rigid plastic and velcro. She also had two white sock type affairs, a loose one with a hole in the toes, and thicker, snugger one more like an actual sock. “Use the loose one at first,” she said, “until the swelling goes down.”

She also produced a small rubber bulb with a spout on either end. Pressing the bulb produced air out of one spout and sucked air in through the other. There were nodules on either side of the air cast where you could insert the spouts. “Use this to make the boot comfortable,” she said. “Pump air to make it tighter, remove air to make it looser.”

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