So what did happen after my second surgery?
Well, I woke up to see that there was very much still a cage of metal around my leg. Which was odd, because I was super psyched about the idea of that not being there after the surgery. Also, my entire leg was numb (and right ass cheek, but more on that later).
What the hell?
Well, later I fully intend on writing a dramatic reenactment of what I picture happened during surgery, but for the purposes of this article, I'm just going to go ahead and tell you what the lead surgeon told me after I asked what the hell happened.
The lump was my ass. It was an odd realization that the pain I was feeling was not muscle pain. I was actually feeling the pain in my fucking bones.Apparently there was so much pressure and tension on my joint, that when they removed the metal fixture, it literally popped back out of place completely. My tibia was overlapping the joint by two to three centimeters. And if you don't know how much a centimeter is, it's exactly one hundredth of a meter. Switch to a measurement system that makes sense if you still can't figure that out.
The lead surgeon had to call in the heads of two different medical departments to try and figure out what the hell to do. And their solution proves that sometimes life is a really dumb cartoon.
"Just, ram it back in and put the metal back on?" Was apparently the solution that they came up with, so it took three grown men apparently pushing with all their might to hold my fucking leg in place as another team screwed the metal cage back in.
So I know what you're all thinking. What's up with that comment I made about my ass cheek earlier?
Glad you asked, because I always love having a solid excuse for talking about my ass.
The joint wasn't the only focus of the surgery. They had to repair several major breaks as well. One of which was in fact by the joint. And they told me before the surgery that if the part that broke off (yes, off) was too shattered, they might have to remove a bit of bone from my hip, and use that instead.
And apparently they went in through my right ass cheek.
Which created a very unique sensation when I woke up, partly because the feeling hadn't properly returned to my body yet, but also partly because nobody told me that they wound up taking out a bit of my hip. So I just thought my ass muscles where really sore for some reason (I assumed the surgical staff, like most humans, couldn't restrain themselves when presented with an unmitigated opportunity to fondle my hind quarters). But it was weird, because it felt like there was a weird lump around the pain.
The lump was my ass. It was an odd realization that the pain I was feeling was not muscle pain. I was actually feeling the pain in my fucking bones.
…Except none of that stuff is true (the part about my ass, at least). I wouldn't find out until later, but they didn't take out part of my hip. What had actually happened was that I had been completely under for so long, everything went numb.
You see, getting knocked out is not the same as sleeping. The main difference is that your body is totally numb, when you're knocked out. And when you're totally numb, on a hard operating table, and your surgery explodes into a bit of a rushed emergency, but it still lasts over four and a half hours, shit goes numb in the kind of way that takes days to come back from.
So what was the painful bump? Not sure. Never got a medical explanation, but I think it was my bone. It wasn't damaged, or anything, just something that you can apparently feel when the skin goes numb. I don't know. If any of you reading this are ass doctors, please let me know in the comments what you think happened.
So what next? Well, the surgeon (who, by the way, freely admitted that mine was one of the top ten most interesting surgeries that he had ever had. Seriously) and the other doctors recommended leaving the metal brace on for a few weeks this time, giving the joint time to heal, so that way when they opened it up the next time, it wouldn't react like a less dick shaped version of the chestburster scene from Alien.
So, if they didn't even have time to cut my butt open, did they get any of the other shit fixed?
The other fractures where so severe that they had to put in some metal plates and screws, and then close up my leg on both sides with staples. I assume they're some sort of medical staples, but I still can't help but picture this exchange in my head.
"Doctor! We have to close him up!"
"We're improbably out of stitches in the entire hospital!"
"Well, I just went to Office Depot, maybe I have something we could—"
"It'll have to do, dammit!"
And then a team of trained medical professionals used a household stapler to put my leg together. In my head at least.
So, how many staples?
Seven? Ten? Twelve?
How about twenty-fucking-nine. Nineteen on one side, twelve on the other. It's kinda crazy to look at, really. It's amazing how many things in a hospital look like cheap horror movie props. It's even more amazing how many of them are attached to my fucking leg right now.
So, what happened after that? Did I just sit around in a hospital for the three weeks the doctors suggested until the next surgery? Yes and no. But mostly yes.
Keeping my mother from coming out to help had been tough up until this point, but after she heard that I would be here for a few more weeks, it became impossible. So she came out for Christmas. We decorated my leg brace and everything.
See? I'm so adorable it hurts sometimes.
So right now we're going to take a brief pause from my hospital story to bring you a thrilling prison break story. I'm only sort of joking.
The hospital had told me that we would have to wait three weeks to take another scan of my leg, at which point we would see how the leg had healed. If it was good, they would take the metal off and send me on my way. If it was bad, they would take the metal off and my joint would explode horrifically out of place again. So…pretty "broad spectrum" on the list of possible outcomes, there.
So, knowing that ankle-explosion related trauma was the sort of thing that could require another surgery, I decided to go to another hospital that had a better regarded Orthopedic Surgery department, and also hadn't refused to give me necessary surgery because they couldn't get as much money as they wanted from my insurance.
This is where things got weird.
Around Christmas time, my mother and I asked several of the doctors about the hospital transfer procedure and how exactly we should go about keeping my leg clean and safe during that transfer.
Three separate doctors in the hospital said it was no problem to transfer me, and that it was my right in Germany to select my own hospital for whatever reason I chose (although I assume "wanting a plastic surgeon to give me Rocket Fists" is not one of those reasons). They also said that it was normal for them to call ahead to the hospital I chose and explain my situation to the doctors there.
None of these things happened.
A new hospital was eventually selected, and we were ready to move me. Out of nowhere, every doctor suddenly stopped offering assistance, and even declined to help with the transfer in any way.
And when I finally did manage to wrangle out some discharge papers, they said I was leaving "against medical advice" (even though I had been there a while, I don't think all of them knew I could read German). When I called the doctor on that, he tried to tell me it meant the same thing as "non-necessary leave" I told him bullshit. One way means I'm leaving of my own free will and it's not dangerous, and the other means the doctors are saying it's dangerous and that I should stay put. Two guesses which of those options means my insurance can avoid paying?
Regardless, we got him to change it.
Turns out the senior doctor (who I won't name here, because lawyers exist) decided that they didn't want to lose my sweet, sweet insurance money (and charming wit and personality, probably) so he told the staff doctors to not assist me (and apparently fight to keep me there). This is simply a guess… corroborated by several of the nurses who were around to witness the whole "against medical advice" fiasco. Apparently I wasn't the first to have this happen. One of the nurses said "It's the administration, not the doctors. But now that you're leaving, poof! Six thousand euros gone, if you needed another surgery." (Spoiler alert: I totally needed another surgery.)
So we got the discharge papers, and wheeled my ass into a taxi (yes, a taxi) and drove me over to another, hopefully less crazy hospital. (Second spoiler alert: It was not, in fact, less crazy.)
Read about the next hospital and 18th surgery in the final chapter of the Clusterfuck Saga here!