Michael was on his way to his friend’s place on his electric scooter a few weeks ago on a Sunday night. It was after dark, he was going down a slight slope on a rough bit of footpath near St John’s Hospital, and some people stepped out onto the footpath. He braked too hard, came off and put his arms out, and suffered the classic ‘break your fall’ broken left wrist.
We went to Emergency, but I didn’t appreciate how bad it was until the radiologist muttered “it’s a bad break” after the X-ray. I feel bad that I had actually made Michael wait until I’d finished my dinner before I took him to Emergency. His bones didn't come through the skin but they were some way from where they should have been. [I asked yesterday at his 2 week review which bones were broken, radius or ulna or both - and they didn't really answer because to them it essentially doesn't matter. They are parallel, and one splints the other, or something].
They tried to get the bones back in place. They put a tight cuff around Michael’s upper arm and inflated it; this is called a Bier block. Then they put anaesthesia into his lower arm through a cannula. Once he was numb, one doctor held his upper arm while the other hauled on his hand to try to reposition things. This was unsuccessful so they booked him in for day surgery three days later.
A funny thing; we arrived at Emergency around midnight Sunday. They gave each of us blue stickers as we came in which I was pretty sure said NOW (they actually said to us "stick it on your phone"). I was pleased that we’d been assessed as some sort of priority. Days later I looked at the sticker and realised it said MON. Far from promising expediency, this was advertising that things were slow they had to tag people by the day they arrived, not the hour.
His surgery went well, but it took such a long time. The procedure is called an ORIF - open reduction internal fixation. He now has a metal plate in his arm. We were asked to be at the hospital at 12; there was an admissions process but he was gowned up and ready to go by 1. It was after 4 when I said goodbye on the threshold of the theatre and they wheeled him in. We collected him around 7, and he said he felt fine. Even though we arrived at 12 he was the last day patient there and they were pretty much sweeping up around us.
We had to pick up some pain relief meds on the way home. On the way, the hospital rang sounding slightly panicky asking if he still had a cannula in his arm. He did not; they had not recorded taking it out. At the pharmacy, the pharmacist was not happy with our prescription. It had two different drugs on it; it has to be one drug per prescription. Amazing that a hospital registrar wouldn’t know that. Fortunately she gave us what we needed after chewing out the hospital over the phone; and them agreeing to fax her two new prescriptions. Even more fortunately Michael didn’t need much at all in the way of pain relief.
So he started mending, and living with his plaster cast. Four days later we were back in Emergency to have it replaced, after he dunked it in the bath. Emergency made an appointment for us at Plaster Clinic which is excitingly on the 12th floor, with very interesting views. But we were whisked in and out so fast that we hardly had time to take them in.
Yesterday was his 2-week post-surgery revisit to Plaster Clinic. They took everything off, re-dressed it and now he has a light velcro/nylon splint arrangement that he can remove to shower. I finally got the answers to some vital information I had been chasing since surgery, which I will record here for posterity.
- The consultant was Mr Petterwood, the registrar was Jaye Yick.
- The metal plate is made by TriMed, and is either stainless steel or titanium. It will be fine in an MRI.
- When I asked what was broken they said the radius and maybe the ulna, maybe not.