Not out of the woods yet
ASSIGNMENT 11 - 2
The original plan was to follow yesterday's blip with separate follow-ups for the other two aspects of the current assignment, but circumstances conspired against me, and the grand plan tottered and fell. So ... taking as read the usual warnings about advising squeamish people to look away, this is my alternative treatment of The Bad and The Ugly combined.
At the risk of boring the entire population of Blipland, this is also yet another episode in the ongoing Saga of the Broken Wrist. I was up and about at 7.00 am to get some breakfast into the system before catching the bus for my 9.00 am hospital appointment. Once again I was far too early, but (also once again) the Fracture Clinic reception was manned when I got there at 8.30 and I didn't have too long to wait before my number was called. From then on, though, things went far from smoothly. In fairness, my experience with the Irish health system has been much better than I'd been led to expect, and I think the problems this time were more to do with several other patients also being due to have their casts taken off than with any inherent inefficiency. But there's no escaping the fact that it was after 12.30 by the time I left the hospital, just a bit weary of the whole thing.
It took a fair while before I got my first call, which consists of being sent for x-ray, and then there was a very, very, very long delay afterwards before I was called in to see the orthopedic staff. The word was good, and I was told that the cast would indeed be taken off and the pins taken out. Unfortunately, the Plaster Room was chockablock, and I had to go back out for a fourth period of waiting. My name was called eventually, I went in to the Plaster Room, where the nice nurse reassured me that what looked and sounded like a circular saw isn't really that at all and does away with the plaster cast by vibration rather than by cutting. That was fine, and the plaster was soon off, at which stage I got my first shock when what looked like somebody else's arm was revealed -- surely this emaciated, withered thing couldn't be mine? Reassurances convinced me that this was normal, but it took more to convince me that having only half the normal rotation in my wrist was also normal after weeks of inaction. 'So', said the nurse, 'you should also be getting the pins out now, but first you need another x-ray.' So off I went, back to the x-ray department. 'Please wait', they said. Then it was 'We have a problem. We don't have an actual booking from the Fracture Clinic for an x-ray. You need to go back and clear things with them.'
Consternation broke out at the Fracture Clinic. Nobody could explain why the nurse wanted another x-ray taken, she'd gone a break, and I'd have to wait again until she returned to get t the bottom of things. The nurse's 'ten-minute' break turned out to be more than 30, the doctors pooh-poohed the idea of needing a second x-ray, and finally I was brought back inside to have the pins taken out. Ouch! I would have thought a quick look at the x-ray would have been enough to establish how many pins there were, but first the nurse and then the doctor actually asked me how many there were. Three is the norm, apparently, and three there were. The first came out without any problem, and I thought 'that's a breeze'. It wasn't. The second was more stubborn and involved the addition of tweezers to the mix of equipment on the tabletop beside the trolly, but it was the third which proved the most reluctant of all to bid farewell to its cosy home. 'I'll need a scalpel', said the nice doctor, 'and I better have a set of pliers too -- and we'll definitely need a local anaesthetic.' By the time the stubborn thing came out both the doctor's shirt and mine were blood spattered and my wrist looked like a World War II battleground. Added to all of that was the final disappointment of being once again fitted with a 'splint', which is the metal reinforced wrist band with the velcro fastenings which I had originally, before the plaster cast went on. I'll be stuck with that for a further week while the pin-extraction wounds heal under their protective dressing.
'Are you okay?' asked the doctor. 'You look a bit faint' said the nurse. I did feel a bit nauseous after the ordeal, but at least it was finally all over, the plaster was off, and the pins were out. Unfortunately I'm far from being back to normal. I have an appointment with the surgeon on Friday and another Fracture Clinic checkup is scheduled for next Tuesday. I'll do my own little bit in terms of using my right hand and doing finger flexing and wrist twisting exercises until then, but I hope to get some professional physiotherapy during both these visits so that I'm in some sort of fit state when we head off to Croatia on the 15th.
So that's it for now. Today's hospital visit was a pretty BAD experience, and those pins they shove into you in these circumstances sure are UGLY things!