Tuesday, 3 July 2012

#74: Carry That Weight

My dedication to blogging has been admittedly poor recently due to some very good reasons so here is a summary of said reasons...

Last Monday (25 June) I was travelling by bike along Dundas when I had a most unfortunate 'track-cident' with my bike tire getting caught in the streetcar tracks sending me flying. I managed to land on my ride side but somehow braced my fall with my left thumb, breaking it, specifically my 1st metacarpal, close to the base of the bone near the joint (see image above). Unaware of this at the time, I continued home on my beaten up bicycle using my beaten up body and after enduring an afternoon of increasing pain and discomfort, I was advised to seek medical attention. I got back on my bike and made the very slow and incredibly painful trip to a hospital where I proceeded to wait 4 hrs for an xray (oh how I love our universal healthcare system... no seriously I do... it's free!) which soon confirmed the broken appendage. After some more waiting, I was given a temporary splint and sent on my way... just in time to do a track workout with some of the guys! 16k including 5 longish intervals at 8k pace with some added weight on my arm.

The next day I decided to go home to Ingersoll since I hadn't been in awhile and was also quickly realizing that I couldn't really do much with only one hand (even for the non dominant hand, it's incredibly useful to have both thumbs!). I was also beginning to have a hate on for Toronto, specifically my new-found dependence on the TTC for transportation (oh, the irony). So I went home and spent some time relaxing with family and friends, continued to run every day, ate a tonne of pancakes with my Oma and Opa, and discussed and debated the meaning of life with Tom Butler over a couple pints (Hint: It's something about "being content with the pockets of subjective truths that we personally ascribe too") .

I came back to the city on Thursday since I had a follow-up appointment at a 'hand clinic' at Western General on Friday morning. I arrived at the hospital at 9:30 just in time for my appointment. Little did I know it would be more than 15hrs until I would be able to go home...

The specialists (plastic surgeons and residents of 'plastics') were not happy with the alignment of the bone in the splint so twice (that's TWO times), they cut off the cast, froze my hand with a massive needle and manually pulled, tugged and manipulated my thumb in a (vain) attempt to better align the broken ends of bone (this also meant two rounds of xrays). After the second time and still no sufficient progress, the chief resident suggested surgery in which to pin and wire the bones in place. I hesitantly agreed to comply and so began the long wait for my stint in the operating room (OR).

The first step was to be formally admitted to the hospital so I could be officially put on the ' white board' (which I would later discover to be electronic) to have my surgery. This happened around 13:00. I then went to the 9th floor and got a room with a lovely view towards the west which coincidentally looked out along Dundas towards the very spot I took my spill and broke my thumb, just north of Trinity Bellwoods park. Oh the memories...

I then proceeded to wait and wait and wait. Around 17:00, a resident who I saw earlier in the hand clinic came by to get my signature to consent to surgery and explain the procedure. Turns out as far as surgeries go, this would be pretty minor and relatively simple. It didn't even involve a knife or plastic! She also said we could be good to go in as little as an hour since all the surgeries in front of me had been moving along quickly.

An hour came and went and so did the next one. Around 19:30, I was collected by some nurses from surgery who brought me to the OR 'prep' room. I again was asked to sign some documents and explained more about the surgery. I waited some more.

I was finally taken into the OR at ~20:20. I made some jokes with the surgery team about not wanting to wake up without a right hand and within 10min, they must have tired of me and put me under. I was asleep for almost 90min since the next thing I remember is waking up in a 'post' room and seeing 22:xx on the clock. I also recall feeling very tired and not being very happy, partly because I was now sporting a massive plaster cast on my arm almost to my elbow (I had asked repeatedly for the lightest, smallest one possible but clearly to no avail). I then got an injection for the pain I was supposed to be feeling and felt better almost instantly. Not ALL drugs are bad you know.

Since I will never know what happened in those 90min while I was asleep, I am going to guess that they cut off my cast (but not with a knife), applied a local anaesthetic to my arm, waited until I felt no pain, stabbed some pins through both ends of the bone using even more xrays (probably now enough  to keep my boys from swimming for awhile), wired them (the bones!) together to secure the alignment, cleaned up the disappointing lack of blood, put on but another cast and were then satisfied with a job well done and celebrated by eating some delicious cake.

Shortly thereafter I was taken back to my room on the 9th floor and it was now completely dark outside. I was soon met by my lovely lady friend Melinda, who against my instructions had been waiting at the hospital essentially since I went in for surgery more than 2 hours ago. What a wonderful, kind and caring individual (what is she doing with me?!). I might not have showed it, but I was very happy to have her there. I seemed to be recovering quite quickly and was feeling much better and became adamant that I wanted to go home immediately. The nurse said I couldn't leave until I had taken a piss... something about ensuring that everything was working... so Melinda got some water and Gatorade and I cautiously proceeded to fill my body with fluids (oh, did I mention that I hadn't been allowed to eat or drink anything since breakfast at 7:30 that morning!). It reminded me of the stories I'd read about elite athletes having to give a urine sample (like 90ml too!) for a drug test immediately after a race and being made to wait until they got it. Luckily, no one had to watch me do it since we were all comfortable with the honour system.

Anyway, it wasn't until after midnight that I finally was able to make the magic happen and we then packed my things and got ready to leave. We arrived home around 1230am and I was surprisingly awake and alert. I was also amazed at how little pain I felt. Feeling peckish, I ate leftover pasta and became much happier.

I had a very restless night in which I managed to piss like every hour (no doubt trying to eliminate the waste products of anaesthesia) and was also preoccupied with a racing mind. I hypothesize that being put under for the time I was (90+min) secured me my daily quota of high quality sleep and so I didn't need any more.

Ok, ok. This story is getting long and boring and is lacking any blood or gruesome details so I'll try to wrap it up...

The next day (Saturday 30 June) I felt great so ran a 5k race in 16:56 and placed 7th overall (1st guy in a cast!). I then hung out with my closest friends and drank many a beer.

Pride 5k. From left: Doyle, Darren, myself, Kevin Gough, Rob C, Dave Clark and Roger's right elbow.
The next day (Sunday 01 July) Spain won the Euro Cup (surprise, surprise) and I celebrated how awesome it is to be Canadian by going for a long run (28k) with my crew, eating a Dairy Queen Blizzard, sleeping, more sleeping and some eating. Happy Canada Day everyone. Our country rocks. Free surgery for everyone (even you Quebec)!

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