Norman Wood Has Second Broken Leg Cast Replaced

by norman on December 22, 2011

About 4 weeks ago, I was standing on a table getting books down from a high shelf, I placed these books on the table, crouched down and hopped off the table. I’ve done this many hundreds of times, from chairs, other tables, banks onto the seashore, from boats. This time however, one leg got caught and held back so that I landed awkwardly on one leg with the foot at an angle.

Initially I was more concerned that I’d knocked the wind out of my lungs and also my elbow hit and might have broken a rib or two. Thisis what hurt the most. However, when I tried to get up my ankle and upper calf muscle gave me a great deal of pain. I thought it was a strained ankle and maybe a pulled or torn muscle. I walked in a great deal of pain and finished, albeit it very slowly, the tasks I wanted. I put ice on the injury and elevated it, however, my whole leg started to swell. This is the body’s natural way of immobilizing the leg. The next day I woke in tremendous pain and wasn’t able to move with out this ramping up even more. Initially I was thinking this would be embarrassing, having to call an ambulance to take me out on a wheeled gurney “just for a sprained ankle” as I was convinced it was nothing more. A visit to my doctor and then the Dunedin Fracture Clinic was to prove otherwise. A fractured upper fibula and lower Tibia with a variety of other cracks and spiral fractures. A rare injury today, normally seen after cavalry battles and jousting, one eyebrow raised by me at being told this.

As an aside, being an accident, essentially all the costs of my treatment and rehabilitation, 80% of my wages will be meet by New Zealand’s socialised ACC compulsory accident insurance scheme. In the early 1970s, New Zealanders lost the right to sue each other, and instead of wasting money and paying lawyers a small amount of money was set aside by everyone into a large pool. The scheme is no fault and covers every single person in New Zealand, this includes tourists, illegal immigrants, mums and dads, young and old. It doesn’t matter if you were trying to escape prison, it is just simple, with as little administration taken up on deciding if you are covered, you just are and your injury determines your cover. I’m a great supporter of the scheme, I’ve seen it do a great deal of good, this would make me a bit of a liberal lefty. However, there is a bit of welfarism with a number of bludgers and spongers off the hard work of others who try to ride the system as much as they can, but I think there would be these critters in a private system too, they really should be dealt to when caught as it brings the whole system into disrepute.

Yesterday was a great relief as I had my full stiff leg cast removed after three weeks. I actually had two versions of it. It was making life very difficult. When you don’t have a license or a car at least you can walk or ride a bike. With those casts it was a bit like home detention and because I needed both arms to operate the crutches it was also home detention without arms. Having said that, and although I was allowed 3 weeks off work from ACC, I only took 3 days off to rest up. Then I was back into it, so didn’t claim any lost wages. This last cast is a lower leg cast that allows me to bend at the knee and to walk without the aid eventually of any crutch.

You can see from the video that this purple cast looks like it is made from a fabric mesh. In fact this is the cast. A very interesting fabric that is dipped in water and then wound around the leg, and after a while it warms up and with exposure to the air starts to set hard, a bit like fibre glass. It is a wonderful light weight cast, and much better than the first, heavy and bulky plaster cast. It is removed by using what looks like a skilsaw that could cut through both cast, skin and bone. However, it is a vibrating saw that actually cuts through anything hard like a warm knife through butter, but just tickles the skin. Although as you can see from the video you wouldn’t think so if you didn’t know so.

While the cast is starting to become rigid the nurse starts to mould the new lower leg cast around the knee, although it cuts down below the leg joint behind to provide support while allowing movement. However, there is the potential to cause significant pain and discomfort from chaffing of the moving skin against the very hard cast. I came up with a unique solution to this problem and this is discussed in the next blog.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Robyn Muller December 22, 2011 at 1:08 am

Hi Norman
As we get older we really do splat instead of bouncing, eh? Certainly aren’t anything like our cat friends and companions!
I hope it heals quickly for you. I remember my brother as a nine year old broke his leg in a trampolining accident. He did both the tib & fib job as well. He was in plaster for twelve weeks, through the summer. When the doctor removed the cast, he found three of my mum’s knitting needles in the cast. Tim would use them to scratch the itch.
Get well soon. And to you, the staff, Solstice and any other cats keeping you company, the best of the season to you all.
Robyn Muller
(a former very happy guest of Hulmes Court and will be back again one day)


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