Wednesday, October 15, 2008
An Accident That Changed My Life Totally! pt 1
Upto that fateful night of November 14th 2005, I had gone under the surgeon's knife only once before in my entire life. That was way back in 1978, when after 3 painful years of suffering from acute pains under my right knee cap and after 3 previous years of conservative treatment which did not help improve my condition, I had no choice but to agree to a major knee operation. The operation was carried out by renowned orthopaedic surgeon Prof Dr P B Chacha. It was the 1st operation of its kind called in layman's term, a surgical"Knee lift ". My operation was video-taped for future study and further research. I gave my permission for this.
The problem I was suffering from was chondromalacia patella....the erosion of soft cartilage under the knee cap leading to bone grating bone and acute pain. A common problem that many active sportmen will face especially those involved in fast racket games like Badminton.
I have been playing Badminton weekly since the 60's mostly with friends and other enthusiasts. I have also competed in tournaments and played many friendlies. Badminton was and still is a major part of why a 61 year old like me is fitter than many people half my age.
That night in Nov 2005 started out like any other night during our Badminton game. The court is of parquet flooring. Quite dry at first but our dripping perspiration could have caused the sudden inward twist of my right foot. My Badminton-made shoes were seasoned but not worn out. It was so sudden when it happened. There was a very, very loud snap, a sound so clear I can still recall today..." POP! ". And I crumpled to the floor, clutching my right ankle tightly with both hands. All my fellow players and friends rushed towards me, all wanting to help..suggesting this and that. Haha! But I never told them my background. I am a Qualified Advanced Expedition Ist Aider ( Aust/ OBS S'pore ). I am also Sports and PE trained teacher with a Diploma ( Dictinction Award Prize ) in PE...plus numerous other qualifications.
Without a sign of panic, I told those gathered around me not to do anything. I knew straight away that my right Achilles Tendon had ruptured. They asked whether an ambulance be called for. I said,"No...not necessary now." Some, using their own initiative, went off to get ice from a nearby coffeeshop. But, I thanked them as it was of no use in such an injury. After a while, I asked them to help me stand to double check if my right leg can bear any weight. I collapsed again. Now, I knew and confirmed it was serious!
Fortunately, in my large sports bag, I always have bandages available..different sizes of crepe bandage ( Never forgot my Scouting days. Always BE PREPARED !). None of my friends had my kind of training or experience. I managed to immobilise my right ankle, using my shoe as addtional support, with the crepe bandages. Not wanting to risk further injury, I asked them to pick-a-back me slowly to my car. Someone suggested I shouldn't drive. They will drive me home. Leave my car there, they said. But I knew there was no extra driver around. So I asked one of them to follow behind me as I drove slowly home from Tampines to Sg Gardens.
Without immobilising my foot, I could never have driven at all. On reaching home, a BIG problem confronted me. I had no one around to assist me after I parked my car. My dear wife D2 was out at a community meeting. I opened the car door and ambled to the boot to get my strong umbrella. Using that as support, I made it to a deck chair at my front porch...and collapsed gratefully into it.
It was about 30 minutes later when D2 came home and was shocked to see me sitting alone, with a bandaged foot and still in my sporting attire. That very night, about half an hour later, she drove me to Changi General Hospital where I was warded for an urgent operation in the morning. It was a major operation carried out under general anaestethics. And the surgeon warned me that the PAIN came after not during. He did not mince his words. As soon as I regained consciousness, I felt spasms of terrible pain coursing through my entire right leg but more so at the site of the 10 cm cut. I was told they had to use 2 screws to attach the pulled ends of my torn tendon to the heel bone. The screws will remain permanently in my ankle.
The operation took about 4 hours.
I was still groggy in the late afternoon when my surgeon came to my single room ward...to check on me, accompanied by 2 nurses. He asked," how are you feeling right now?". My response was to ask him a few questions. " Doc, how long was the operation? " Can you tell me exactly how bad my injury was ?" And my deliberate question that made all laugh..." The 2 screws inside, what happens if they rust after some years !? ". Haha! Under such tremendous pain and still joking ! That's me. Seriously, the good Doc said," they are stainless steel, won't ever rust. Your injury was very bad. The ends of your Achilles tendon were torn out from the heel bone. A small piece of bone actually shot up towards the calf during the rupture. We had to use the screws and a small piece of flap to keep the tendon end in place."
I asked how the PAINS could be reduced. He prescribed powerful painkillers...which helped but generally do not help in the healing process.
After my discharge from hospital, I was on wheelchair and crutches. I was given lots of painkiller tablets ( not paracetamol ) but I avoided taking any, preferring to tolerate the pain,
mentally and physically toughening myself for the sombre ,"dark days, still ahead,on the long road to recovery ( a full 8 months! ).
Read part 2 of this story by clicking.... Here.