Tuesday, August 30, 2011

How have I been able to walk, drive and climb stairs?

Two months ago, my left leg was pinned to the ground by a branch of a felled walnut tree that I was cutting up with a chainsaw. A few weeks ago, I included in my blog a photo taken by my doctor [display]. I seem to have recovered well and rapidly. However, a month ago, during my first and only medical consultation since the accident, my general practitioner Xavier Limouzin decided that I should obtain further images of my knee (ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging) to make sure that everything was OK. A few weeks ago, the ultrasound image confirmed what the initial X-ray photos had suggested: namely, that there was no fracture anywhere and no thrombosis. Well, this morning, at the hospital in Romans, I was most surprised to learn what MR images revealed.

I've just taken this photo of my legs. I'm still attired as I was for the MRI session: shorts and sandals. Well, although these two rather ordinary knees appear to be fairly similar, there's a big difference. The left knee has in fact been fractured, without my realizing it, for the last two months. (I'll be interested to learn why the X-rays didn't reveal this fracture.) To demonstrate what he was telling me, the friendly specialist at Romans clasped my left kneecap between his fingers and said: "I'm squeezing my fingers at the place where your knee was broken. That's probably painful. No?" I had to tell him that I didn't feel a thing. Maybe I'm becoming an insensitive zombie. I asked him what I should do, to stimulate the healing process. He replied: "Lots of rest. No hard work. Keep off your knees. There's nothing better than long hours stretched out on a sofa watching TV."

While at the hospital, I thought that I might return the brand-new blue splint they had given me on the day of my accident. It's much the same form as the leg-protection worn by cricketers. I only wore this splice on the first night, then never again. So, I imagined that I would be acting as a good citizen in returning it to the hospital. Since the MRI unit is located just alongside the emergency ward, I walked in through the landing where ambulances pull up, and promptly found myself in exactly the same hall where I had waited for treatment two months ago. The staff were handling a fellow whom local firemen had just wheeled in on a trolley, parked just alongside me. It took me a few minutes to realize that the middle-aged fellow, wrapped in a white sheet from which his head and bare feet protruded, and lying limply on his left side, was in fact dead. I was fascinated to realize (for the first time in my life) that the behavior, speech and attitudes of professional people dealing with a corpse are quite unlike situations in which the patient is still alive. Several tiny details (such as the fact, for example, that nobody seemed to be concerned that the fellow's face was pressed hard against the metallic edge of the trolley) sent out messages indicating that the patient was no longer alive. Meanwhile, a secretary informed me that I could hang on to my splint, since they did not seek to recuperate such items. I was happy to jump into my car and drive home.

No comments:

Post a Comment