Archive for November, 2018

Broken foot

November 17, 2018

Last Saturday morning, while getting up from my desk at home, I tripped over something. I fell on the ground but my foot was stuck under the desk and could not accompany me properly in my fall. After that my foot was rather painful. Nevertheless the pain was not extreme and I did not take the matter very seriously. I limped around and even gave my lectures at the blackboard as normal on Tuesday and Thursday morning. On Wednesday I went to my GP to get his opinion on a non-acute matter. Actually I did not even really know him since I have not been to the doctor for five years apart from getting a tetanus booster. The pain in my foot had been getting less from day to day and I imagined I was on the way to recovery. At the same time the foot looked a bit funny, with some strange bruises. For this reason I showed the doctor my foot. He said that these bruises could be a sign of an injury deeper in the foot and suspected it was broken. He sent me to get it X-rayed to make sure. This is the first time in my life I have broken a bone and so I might be excused for not thinking of the possibility.

When I got to the place where the X-ray was to be done it turned out that their machine was broken and would only be working again the next day. Having already wasted so much time in attending to the foot I decided to look for another radiologist. By this time it was lunchtime and the first radiologist I tried was closed for lunch. The next one I tried did not accept me as a patient, for reasons I did not quite understand. The next one was closed the whole afternoon for a training course. In the late afternoon the fifth attempt was finally successful. The X-ray revealed that my foot was broken. Technically it is what is called a Jones fracture, which is a certain kind of break of the fifth metatarsal bone, a bone of whose existence I had known nothing up to that point in my life. It has the reputation of healing rather badly due to the poor blood supply in that area. I was told that I should see a surgeon as soon as possible. Since it was already very late in the afternoon that had to wait for the next day.

On Thursday I went back to my GP to discuss the further strategy. His practise was closed in the morning for a training course (where did I hear that phrase recently?). It opened again at three in the afternoon. Once I managed to see the doctor he called up a practise of a surgeon to check someone could see me that day. He got a positive answer and so I went there as quickly as possible. When I arrived the ‘friendly’ lady at the desk greeted me with the sceptical phrase, ‘what, you expect the surgeon to see you today?’. I just replied ‘That was the idea.’ Fortunately he did accept to see me. He explained the mechanism of the fracture. The bone is attached to a tendon and when that tendon is pulled with a large enough force the bone breaks apart. Fortunately it was a clean break and the two pieces had moved very little from the place they would normally be. I left the practise with crutches and wearing a surgical boot which looks very futuristic, like the first installment towards a space suit. I took a taxi home.

Now I learned something about how it is to have limited mobility. It just happens that Eva is away for a week so that she was not there to help me. (On Monday she was still there and took me to the university and back by car.) It is an interesting mental training. You realize how often you needlessly go from one place to another under normal circumstances, even within the home. Now it is necessary to plan an optimal route and minimise the number of times I go up and down the stairs. Yesterday I went to the university with the tram as a method to reduce the necessary walking distance to one I could manage. I also had the interesting experience of giving myself an anti-thrombosis injection. Actually it was not so bad as I expected and I suppose it will soon become routine. The professionals gave me the first one on Thursday to explain how it works. This morning I did some necessary shopping at the supermarket and took the tram one stop to get there. A neighbour saw me leaving home and was kind enough to transport me in the one direction in her car. Now I am looking forward to a weekend at home where the I will have no bigger physical obstacle to overcome than occasionally climbing the stairs.