Whether it is a cause for celebration…. that’s a little doubtful… The fact is that today is exactly one year since I crashed on a dog sledding trip in Norway. For those who don’t already know: during the trip we went down a hill and – long story short – we flew out of the curve and I crashed with my legs stretched out against a Norwegian giant oak tree. Result: shattered ankle on the right, broken ankle and rib on the left.
Let me say that the definition of pain has taken on a whole new meaning since that accident. At first you have no idea what to expect. That I had broken something was actually obvious right away. That pain… if you have ever broken something, I think you know what I mean. And shattering an bone is even more painful.
After arriving at the hospital in Norway, X-rays were of course taken, but the surgeon on duty there took one look at my photos, was shocked and told me that she had “never seen anything like it. I can tell you: that’s not what you want to hear at such a time! After a telephone consultation with the AMC hospital in the Netherlands, it was decided that I would have to rush back to the Netherlands for surgery. A university hospital had to be the best option. In the end, it took another four days before I went under the knife on December 11th last year.
Dr. Kloen – my surgeon – ended up making a beauty of a puzzle plate and got all the bits and pieces of my ankle (talus, or ankle bone, was shattered) reasonably “glued back together” with 9 screws and a plate. The left came out a lot better with only 1 screw. There only a small bone was broken. I don’t remember exactly how long I was in the hospital. Funny how you quickly forget that. After the operation (which took 4.5 hours) I was told that there was a 98% chance that the talus would die. This was because the talus had not only been cut in half but had also been dislocated. Because it took four days for me to be helped at the AMC, the chance that the blood supply had been cut off was an almost certainty. Still, there was a tinge of hope because dr. Kloen drilled into the bone during surgery and a little blood did come out.
And then you get home, but of course that’s when the misery begins, because I couldn’t do anything. Not walking, not standing and not sitting, so poor Tom had to run around during that first six months. Because yes, even going to the toilet had to be done on a toilet chair. I will spare you the details…. 🙂 People often ask how I did that because yes I didn’t actually stop working. After only three days out of the hospital, Alexandra and I had our first shoot. Me hanging from the hospital bed, camera on tripod and Alex moving the bed back and forth…. Hahaha… I still have a picture somewhere of that amazing situation, but can’t find it right now.
Soon I wanted to be in a wheelchair, even though that was quite difficult in the beginning. Especially when you had to take pictures with this excellent contraption, because the ankle could not go down during the first months after the accident. For the first four months I was absolutely not allowed to put any weight on my right ankle. And only after the photos showed that it had stuck back together a bit was I allowed to walk with crutches. Well, that was a disappointment!
Well, I’m impatient by nature and maybe it’s a good thing that no one really gave a time frame in the beginning because then I might have given up right away. At first it was vaguely something like “it will take at least six months” but of course I soon realized that it was longer. And that “dying of the bone” always hung in the back of my mind. Even though it was better than expected every time after a check-up, but still…. Of course the risk became smaller and smaller as time went on and I tried to assist the recovery as much as possible by eating things that are good for bone recovery.
In the end, I slept downstairs in the living room for six months before that hospital bed could finally go away and I could climb stairs again – painfully. Oh and that first time under the shower again (well, in the bathtub on a stool then…) sooo nice! Going outside again was an experience in itself. Your world becomes very small when you are chained to your home.
Anyway, fast forward to today. I am walking. Without crutches. But I’m not walking well. The mobility in my ankle is not yet great enough to take normal steps, but very slowly it is getting better. I do have pain every day, but – although I never used to believe it – somehow you do get used to pain. And I am happy to be able to drive myself again, run errands and more of those daily things. My next goal is to be able to walk a normal stretch again, because 500 meters is stillquite a lot. But the physio is going well and since I changed therapist I see more progress. So that’s good… 🙂
And of course I am very frustrated at times. But I try not to let that take over. A little bit seems normal to me, but for now I am the great success of Dr. Kloen… 🙂 The last check-up has been six months now and December 20th is another exciting time. Although the chance that my bone has died is not very big anymore (plus I would probably have noticed it)… it is still exciting when pictures are taken again.
So we’re not there yet and it will probably be another year before I can function normally again, but as long as it’s progressing, it’s good! So…. you are up to date again. And sorry for this long story!