I broke my leg August 7, 2021. Prior to that I was generally healthy. I had had one surgery earlier in the year to remove a non-cancerous tumor in my middle ear. That had been my first surgery. Other than issues depression and anxiety that were well controlled, I had no medical problems. When I broke my leg I could see that the bone was pushing against the skin from the inside, though it had not broken through, I knew it was an emergency situation, so off to the ER I went during the height of Delta variant of COVID19. I waited 7 hours in the ER in terrible pain while my leg swelled more and more. Once I finally got to the back the doctor apologized that I was fully vaccinated and had to wait for such a long time to get help for my medical emergency because so many needed emergency care because they were unvaccinated against COVID19. I was put in an ambulance fairly quickly to go to a different hospital that had orthopedic specialists. I was admitted and the next morning I was in surgery to set my bones in an external fixation device until the swelling went down enough to do another surgery to put plates and screws on the bones. That visit was kind of a blur, they had me on I guess a lot for the surgery so I was totally out of it for the rest of that day. I do remember that they took me down to get some scan and when they brought me back the transport person left my oxygen tank in the bed with me. I went home after 2 nights in the hospital on strict orders to stay in bed for 23 and a half hours a day. When it came time to do the internal fixation surgery I had to wait to eat every day until after noon because they weren’t sure if that was going to be the day the hospital would call and tell me to come down to get checked in. I did that for a week. When I was finally called to go down to the hospital for surgery (after calling the hospital and the doctor's office because it had been such a long wait) admitting was closed so I had to go in through the ER. It took over an hour just sitting in the ER to get up to the room that was supposed to have been waiting for me. I told the doctor over and over during that visit that IV Morphine did not work for me the last time and that a different med did, but he continued to give me the IV Morphine for reasons unknown. During both of these hospital visits I was not given my antidepressants despite being very clear that I needed to take them since it was a daily med. I went home and figured I was done. I just had to heal up, then I could learn to walk again after a few more months. The staples were removed after a couple of weeks in the orthopedists office. He put steri-strips on the wound and said they’d fall off on their own. 3 weeks later I went back and the steri strips were still there and I got a stern look from the doctor’s nurse practitioner and advised to take them off at home. I did so throughout the next week or so but scabs came off with it. At the bottom of the wound there was an unhealed portion that had previously been covered by scabbing. I was instructed to wrap my entire leg during most of this time in an ACE bandage. After several more weeks, the wound that was still open, the hole, got infected. This easily reached the metal plates that sat right below the skin. Once infection reaches metal in the body, it doesn’t leave, it creates a biome. I developed a fever and knew I had to go to the ER. I arranged care for my son and then my husband took me to the hospital. While in the waiting room I had an episode that I called fainting and they called a seizure. Because of this I was sent to something they called “fast track” I can’t remember exactly what they did, but I believe they took xrays. They did not give me meds or clean the wound despite the fact that it was discharging fluid on the bed. I advised that I needed them to contact the hospitals ortho team (since that’s what the ortho team told me to do if I ended up in the hospital) to consult since I had the metal. I don’t know that they did, but they discharged me. Prior to going to the hospital I had called my orhtopedists office for advise on how to proceed. She said that I would need to go to the ER but she could get me in the next morning. I went to that appointment and they immediately advised that I’d need surgery to clean out the infection. They sent me home to wait for the hospital to call with an available bed. Again. The hospital never called. I had to call them and the ortho office several times to get everything worked out. I finally was given the go ahead to go to the hospital for a bed that was waiting for me. I had to go in through the ER (again) since admitting was closed (again). I waited in the ER (again) for over an hour (again) for a bed that was supposed to be ready and waiting for me. I stayed in the hospital this time for over a week. 9 days to be exact. I had surgery the morning after being admitted for ID of the hardware and bones. I woke with a wound vac. I was pumped full of antibiotics and sent home with a PICC line in my arm. I had a great medical company that sent me all the supplies I needed for the PICC line, for infusion of antibiotics, and for wound care. I had a home nursing company that came and took my vitals, did blood draws, did wound care, and changed the PICC line dressing. These people were all really great and I got excellent. In the hospital infectious disease told me that I would have to be on IV antibiotics until Christmas and that I would have to stay on oral antibiotics until my bones were healed enough for the metal to come out. I started to have problems with my primary care doctor. My orthopedists office wasn’t overseeing the infection care since that was in the hands of infectious disease in the hospital and the standard procedure is to transfer the care of infection control to primary care. My PCP didn’t want to handle the issue. They said it should be in the hands of orthopedics and orthopedics said the opposite. I went back and forth between the two trying to get care for continuing infection control after I was discontinued from IV antibiotics. I went 2 and a half weeks with no antibiotic treatment after Christmas. I got a one month supply of oral antibiotics before having to fight with my PCP again about refilling it. During this time I developed a spot on the side of my leg, just over were one of the plates was. In early February this spot opened and infection came out. I went back to the ER in the evening on February 10. This time, they consulted ortho. Ortho advised I’d need to stay in the hospital and that I’d need to have surgery. I waited in the ER for 24 hours until I got a bed. I got no sleep. This was during the Omicron variant surge of COVID. I got a room Friday evening and had surgery Saturday morning, February 12, 2022, exactly 3 months after my last surgery. This is not my full story but about the first half of it. This hospital stay was the most traumatic for me so I’m finding it difficult to write about. I’m submitting this as is for now, but I will be able to write more of this story, just not right now.
Leave a Comment