The Surgery That Nearly Killed Me

This is something I’ve been meaning to blog about for a while but have never really got around to it until now. I guess there’s no time like the present so… why not now?

On 24 May 2011, I went into the Operating Theatre to undergo a several-hour surgery that (in theory) would make walking easier and correct the slight leg-length discrepancy. Several years later, I can say that the goal of the operation had been achieved but sometimes I wonder whether it was worth it given the Nightmare I went through. Yes, the operation seemed straightforward enough on paper but, in hindsight, there were several things that could have gone better.

After coming out of the surgery I was high on pain medication (as you’d expect) but within an hour or so I realised that I was far from high enough. As my doctors’ knew I had spasmed in a fashion that is not too dissimilar to those of a child’s growing pains. That notwithstanding, they decided that I should be in hip-to-toe casts on both legs. Completely forgetting that spasms were triggered by stress, I launched into a spasm down the length of both legs for about 2 hours. Stopping it would have been simple enough: (1) break them physically like growing pains, or (2) medication to stop the spasm. Obviously, option 1 was a no-go and nor was option 2 as the medication, apparently “severally lower my oxygen levels” so they were reluctant to give me the aforesaid ‘lifesavers’.

Spasms, in normal circumstances, never hurt but if you were to restrict my leg’s movement during one the next valley over will hear of it. No one, especially me, was able to break the spasms that made my legs feel as if they were made of stone. If that wasn’t bad enough, it had been mere hours after a surgery and each spasm continued to tear at the freshly-sewn stitches. O, what fun.

I don’t remember much of the initial recovery period – completely understandable given that the absolute maximum amount of Morphine I could safely imbibe and was still in excruciating pain. What I do remember, though, is the year-long recovery period where I had to literally re-learn to walk at the age of 14. As difficult as the rehab was, the hardest part of that was dealing with the emotional fallout of the surgery.

Before I went into surgery, I was almost unhealthily thin but had enough weight to live well-enough. The nightmare of the initial recovery period had thrown me into what we’d later discover was PTSD. PTSD that had manifested itself in vomiting. It got to the point where I was unable to keep so much as water down for over a month. At my worst, my BMI reached the extraordinarily low level of 12 (to put this in context, a severe anorexic would often have a BMI of 16).

If it hadn’t been for my dietician which came up the idea of having what was essentially the equivalent of a daily diet’s worth of nutrients directly into my bloodstream. This was the one thing that actually worked. In fact, it worked fantastically: I gained around 12lbs (6kg) in 6 days.

Looking back now, I’m not entirely sure what my body would be like had I not had the operation when I did but a part of me wonders whether it was worth the emotional turmoil I got thrown into that quite literally came close to claiming my life.

I don’t know, I’m still often in two minds.

8 thoughts on “The Surgery That Nearly Killed Me

  1. I can’t believe doctors let your BMI to drop to such dangerously low levels; as a nutritionist I come across a wide range of BMIs, but 12 is the lowest I have ever heard of, even in extreme cases. I’m just glad the dietitian could help; I’m amazed the doctors didn’t know to give you an intravenous feed like that.

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