So it has been 20 days since I had my accident in Chile which resulted in a shattered Talus bone in my ankle. So here is what has happened in those 20 days.
1) Fell and broke my ankle while scouting Salto de Nilahue. My friends were excellent and managed the scene perfectly. They helped me through the initial pain and set up a pulley system to get me out and back to the car.
2) I had a 2.5 hour drive to the nearest hospital of which a hour of it was on bumpy dirt roads.
3) We arrived at a large hospital and thankfully with Pete’s Spanish I got an x-ray and put in a temporary cast. What we were told was that this was a public hospital and I wouldn’t be treated until after the weekend but since I had insurance I should go down the road to the private hospital. So a short ambulance ride later I arrive at the private hospital.
4) At the private hospital I get x-rayed again and told I will need surgery. The surgeon will see me in the morning.
5) The morning arrives and the surgeon arrives. Thankfully he speaks relatively good English. He explains that the ankle is also dislocated and needs to be reduced before any operation to fix the break can happen. So I am taken down to theatre, given an epidural and have my ankle pulled around for about an hour. After this the pain is very minimal.
6) I stay in hospital for 3 nights while the swelling goes down enough to travel. During this time I am playing ping pong email with my insurance company trying to get a flight asap. The problem is there are no direct flights from Chile to the UK. The insurance company try and get me to go via the states with a 12 hour wait in JFK. I am not impressed with this and insist I got on a direct flight to Europe. I eventually win and get a business class ticket from Santiago to Paris and then onto Manchester.
7) The problem is I need a flight from Temuco to Santiago. The insurance company insist I need 3 seats so I can elevate my leg. Rather than buy three seats they apply for medical clearance. Until this happens I can not start my trip home. So I am placed in a hotel in Temuco, and for some reason without crutches!!
8) While in the hotel I have fun trying to order room service as no one again speaks English. After 2 days I win again and I fly the first flight without clearance. As it happens I get 3 seats to myself anyway.
9) The actual trip home itself goes smoothly, at each airport I get met by a porter with a wheelchair and taken wherever I need to go.
10) On landing in Manchester (Friday 17th) I get picked up by a taxi and taken straight to Lancaster Royal Infirmary. I am met by my parents who have rang ahead and arranged for me to go direct to orthopaedics. The doctor examines me and says I will need be booked in to see the surgeon on Monday the 20th at Kendal Hospital. He is an ankle specialist so am happy to travel the extra distance. I get sent home until then.
11) I attend Kendal hospital on the Monday to be told by the surgeon that my ankle is too swollen to operate on. If he opens it up he would not be able to close it. So he books me in for surgery in 8 days time on the 28th on the premise that the swelling has gone down. I spend one night in hospital and then with the help of the nurses convince the doctor to let me go home until the operation. During the next 7 days I am very strict and have my leg elevated and I religiously do my exercises to help reduce the swelling.
12) I return to Kendal hospital on the 27th to thankfully be given the go ahead for surgery. The surgery takes place late afternoon on the 28th. I end up needing 3 screws. During recovery from my general anaesthetic the first thing I say to the nurses is “you’re speaking English” to which they respond “where do you think you are? Chile still?”.
13) I spend 2 nights in hospital taking a wide variety of pills. I speak to the surgeon who tells me that he is very proud of the work he has done and that it couldn’t have gone better. This is good news. The bad news (well for me) is the recovery time he goes on to explain. I am going to be non weight bearing for 12 weeks (6 in cast and 6 in a boot) and partial weight bearing for another 12 weeks. So a total of 6 months on crutches. I jokingly mention that I would like small crutches so I can fit them in my kayak. He doesn’t find this funny and says I will not be kayaking for up to 1 year!!! The reason behind this, is that the Talus is complicated bone to break. It basically connects the foot to the leg. When broken the blood supply can be easily damaged which can lead to the bone never healing properly and as a result could mean the joint needs fusing in place. The surgeon can not see how badly the blood supply has been damaged until a CT scan after a year. So I guess if I want to maximise my chances of full mobility for the rest of my life I best take his advice. One glimmer of hope is that he will reassess after 6 months and may reduce the time limit. Fingers crossed.
14) I am now sat at home with my leg elevated trying to reduce the swelling so that the constant pins and needles disappear! In 2 weeks I will go back to have my sutures removed and a full cast put on. In the mean time I will have to find a new hobby to entertain me.
Things I have learnt.
1) Having someone who speaks acceptable Spanish was a life saver. Thanks Pete.
2) Having an internet dongle was even more of a life saver since my mobile phone didn’t work in Chile it was the only way I could easily communicate with my insurance company and family. I would not travel again without one.
3) Check that your phone is going to work. It worked in the states but for some reason not in Chile. Out of 4 phones between us only Pete’s worked fully, Tom’s could only text and mine and Ewan’s didn’t work at all.
4) Do not travel without travel insurance!!!
UPDATE – 21/02/14
Just over 3 weeks since the operation I went back for my first outpatient appointment. Today I had my stitches removed and my wound checked. Then a full cast was put on. I will return in 2 weeks to have another cast. Each time gradually moving my ankle back into a normal position.