The Day I Broke My Leg

coolasas
Posted May 15, 2018 from Philippines
This is typical street in Sidi Bou Said

Two thousand eighteen is a challenging year for me. There were a lot of "first," and it has been testing my resilience. I am praying that this is all preparation for a reward in the future. The biggest set back for me was when I had a big accident while at work or shall I say preparing for work and it followed a series of firsts for me that I thought would break me but in the end, thanks to writing and friends I was able to overcome. 

Take note that the same post first appeared on my personal blog under the same title. You're welcome to visit anytime. 

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The Day I Broke My Leg 

I am living for six days in my new house in Sidi Bou Said in Tunisia few days after the new year when the accident happened. The house that I fought to get because the people that were supposed to help me settle in my new country didn't actually help. The moment I saw the house it was for me, I felt at home immediately even if I know I will only stay for two short months working remotely for my work in Turkey.

It was also not a hard decision to make because the house and its owners speak for itself. The owners are good people, and with my accident, they've proven to be angels in disguise.

As I settle in that first week, I slowly develop my daily morning routine – waking up at the crack of dawn, take showers and get the coffee running. To be followed by simple breakfast of bread and jam and more coffee. Then I set up my workstation in the smallish dining area, roughly around mid-morning, the time my work country is also starting their day. In the afternoon, I would go out to walk around the small town, get something to eat or simply watch the people as they come back from the city center.

On the 6th day, I woke up earlier than usual and cannot go back to sleep, so I decided to just take a shower and catch up on work earlier than usual.  

I didn’t do anything different, including stepping on the rubber mat that was in front of my shower box since day one but for some reason, the mat slipped under my feet, and I found myself sitting on the bathroom floor with my legs in two separate places … the right leg was in front of me while the left leg was inside the shower box. The moment I looked at my feet, I knew something was wrong,  I felt no pain, but I was pretty sure my ankle was dislocated. I saw my left foot slightly off further to the left, away from my leg bones compared to my right leg. 

I was jolted awake because as if I was sleepwalking when it happened. It took me a couple of minutes to get my thoughts in order and my bearing to get dressed again before I called for help. Luckily there’s a grab bar next to the door; it helped me get back up, balancing on my right leg avoiding weight bearing on the left side. 

I started hopping to my bedroom, holding on the wall to secure myself until I retrieved my phone. Reaching my room and my bed, I crawled to the other side close to the window. And propped myself on the French window, leaning my back on the wall while I raised my leg – thank God for pillows! Called the only friend I have (at the moment), who happens to be the logistics coordinator of the Libya mission whom I knew would be also up and getting ready for work and said "I need help, I had an accident, bring me to the hospital please," 

I called my landlord right after, and in short time the couple was in my house fussing around me genuinely concerned making me feel comfortable while we wait for the car. 

Premonition

I am not a superstitious person, but I believe that sometimes the world has a way of telling us the future.  

Days after I arrived in Tunisia I started inquiring about logistics condition for expatriates, the information that should be readily available to share with anyone visiting the county particular on police and hospitals. As bureaucracy would have it, I didn’t get that information and then the accident happened. 

My friend E didn't know as well, on where we should go in an emergency situation, the information was provided by my landlord. Fifteen minutes tops we were at the emergency room of the only private hospital in the area known to the diplomatic and expatriate community (but not to my organization - efficient!). It offered quality services, I could attest to it with the services I received the week I stayed there before I was evacuated to the Philippines.

But then, when I think of it now, I may have had a premonition that I will be needing medical services and eventually I did. I don’t know what could have happened had I not asked for that information in the first place. But then again, premonition or not accidents do happen, and I attributed this one to be just that, an accident.

More than dislocation ... 

Forty-five minutes after the accident, as I scooted down my house and hoped to the car, I waited another hour to get confirmation of my predicament.

While I wait for the results of my x-ray, and my friend and landlord were preparing to find me a room, my ankle starts to swell. It could have been worse if I didn't apply my knowledge of acute trauma management. 

The moment of truth arrived, after waiting for almost an hour since I arrived in the emergency room -- my ankle was not only dislocated but by leg bones are broken. It was explained to me by the nurse in broken English because I neither speak Arabic nor French and them English, but the x-ray plate says it all regardless of my background. 

For those who care to know -- the fibula which is the smaller non-weight bearing bone of the leg and the tibia which forms part of the ankle joint, the main weight-bearing joint are both broken. 

I was shaken a bit because I was still hoping until I saw the x-ray that they would just have to reset my ankle, and I will be in a cast and be on my way but no, the breaks are big and I will need surgery to fix it. 

I had no choice, but to accept my situation. It was not a difficult decision to make, I will need the surgery whether I like it or not but I was worried I was alone in a foreign land. All sorts of thoughts run through my head, but I was assured by my landlord that they will not leave me alone -- they officially announced in the hospital that I am their adopted daughter. They assured me too that the doctor that would handle my case is a renowned specialist known in the country (even a little bit of a celebrity). 

Late in the afternoon, I was out of the operating room like nothing happened. I was awake during the 2-hour surgery, didn't feel any pain but was very thirsty.  When they transferred me to my room, I was happy to see my adoptive patents waiting for me as if I was indeed one of their children.  

Comments 18

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QueenVirtuous
May 16, 2018
May 16, 2018

Oh, my darling Coolasas! I can almost feel the pain from here. Broken bones are very painful and can be very unsettling too, especially if the patient begins to nurture the fear of never recovering or having that broken bone restored.

How tall are you? I'm 5" and thick-thighed. I once had a bad fall. I had jumped and didn't land well on my feet. And being a thick lady..... Oh, the pain from that!

I'm guessing your height had something to do with the severity maybe?

Thank God you have a good natured landlord. And thank God for your friend. And I wish you all the divine help you need in your recovery. Please don't lose heart.

I've bookmarked your blog. Please, write us more.

coolasas
May 16, 2018
May 16, 2018

Thank you very much for the very encouraging words.

It has been four months since I had the accident and I completely recovered by now except for some residual limitations in my left ankle. I started taking vitamin D and C to counter the effect of osteoporosis when I reached that age when it will be a problem but my assessment revealed I am far from it -- but as they say, prevention is better than cure!

But just to say height has nothing to do with the how fast one recovers if they will have accidents like mine or any orthopedic conditions. Age is one factor when recovering. If you're young and active however tall or short, you are you will improve according to the expected timeline or even faster. Older people with less physical activities or in sedentary kind of lifestyle may take longer to heal and will need more support regarding supplement and diet.

Pain is also relative. I felt more pain when I was waiting for my surgery than after. In any accident, it is important that good first aid is provided because it can prevent further damage to the part or to the person. Luckily I am a physio by training I knew exactly what to do but still, it was difficult if you're the one involved in the accident like in my case.

Thanks again and God bless you.

QueenVirtuous
May 16, 2018
May 16, 2018

Wow, can't say how much I've learned from your response just now. So many things! I had to pen some down.

Thank you for taking the time to respond. And so glad to hear you're recovering well. Been thinking about you since I wrote my response. You're strong woman.

Looking forward to your next post. Love ya!

coolasas
May 16, 2018
May 16, 2018

I am glad I am able to give good information. And thank you for the vote of confidence.

Looking forward to reading yours too :)

Olutosin
May 16, 2018
May 16, 2018

Oh my, I can only imagine how painful it was! So sorry dear sister. I feel so sad as I read your post.....

coolasas
May 16, 2018
May 16, 2018

Thank you for the message ...

I've overcome the first part without a hitch thank God for good people he sent my way. The recovery was a bit of a challenge for me, and that was a more painful experience for me than the actual accident. I will share that phase too here, but it's already on my blog because I think after four months I am over the roller coaster ride!

Cheers

Tamarack Verrall
May 20, 2018
May 20, 2018

Dear Coolasas,
What a strange turn of events, and what a painful time you have had to go through, and in a country new to you! In addition to the extreme pain you have weathered, that moment of realizing that a dangerous thing has happened, and you have no way of changing that reality can be terrifying. The collection of your wits and strength is so inspiring and helpful to any who might go through something similar. I am so glad to know that with the kind help of others, and your own inner strength, you got the help you needed. Loving thoughts for full healing dear sister.

Tam

coolasas
May 22, 2018
May 22, 2018

Hello Tam,

Yes, what a turn of events ... the price I have to pay for the kind of work I do but hey, I am not complaining.

To be honest, I was not really afraid when it happened. Calmly I was able to get myself to the hospital and gone through the surgery in a foreign land all because I had good people with me, ready to help and keep me at ease, that being my first surgery ever. But it did change my way of thinking about people I encounter and had more insights on the life of the people I am working with for the longest time.

Thank you for taking the time to read the post and giving me positive comments ... I hope to inspire others like I know how you inspire me.

Cheers,
Coolasas

Beth Lacey
May 22, 2018
May 22, 2018

I am sorry for your pain, but happy that you have a support system. You must be a very special person.
Beth

coolasas
Jun 01, 2018
Jun 01, 2018

Hello Beth,
Thanks for the good wishes. Just an update, I am all better now, already walking without any assistance.

This experience taught me a great deal of lessons for sure. Thank you for thinking of me as someone special and I would return it back to you and to the sisterhood we have here in WP.

Cheers,
Coolasas

Sister Zeph
May 28, 2018
May 28, 2018

My dear Friend I am very sorry to hear about your accident, may you get well soon and remember you are not alone we are here for you all your sisters around the world, praying for you to be recovered soon and have a great future ahead

coolasas
May 28, 2018
May 28, 2018

Thank you Sister Zeph for the well wishes.
I can say that I am all good now and life starting to go back to normal for me although I still go and visit my therapists but likely I will also stop soon and manage my full recovery on my own.
Good luck to your school ... I follow your activities since I joined WP and I am happy to see how much you have made an impact on the lives of the girls in Pakistan.

Coolasas xox

Karen Quiñones-Axalan
Jun 01, 2018
Jun 01, 2018

Hello, (Ate?) Coolasas,

Napakatatag nyo po na kinaya nyong maging kalmado sa sitwasyon na yun na nag-iisa. I salute you for staying strong and brave. Your mental ability proved you are a great leader by the way you handled yourself on an unexpected situation. I mean, you being able to help yourself to be in bed and to call the few people you knew? Amazing!

And I am proud of you that you made it through. Thank you for sharinf you well-written story. You are a gifted writer.

So nice to find a Kabayan and a fellow development worker in World Pulse!

Get well soon po!

coolasas
Jun 01, 2018
Jun 01, 2018

Hello Karen,
Thank you for the message and the well wishes. I am all good now, the worst is over and I am fully independent.
When we are faced with adversities, like you and many of us here we always try to find the strength within us first and with others to keep us afloat. My experience taught me a lot and I hope the lessons stay and best if I can share them with others too.
Your experience was no easy feat as well and I salute you back ... we all have each other here in WP to support each other as kindred spirits.

Cheers, Coolasas

Bim Adegbite
Jun 14, 2018
Jun 14, 2018

Hope you are recovering very well. Still wishing you the very best under these difficult circumstances.

coolasas
Oct 29, 2018
Oct 29, 2018

Thank you Bim for the well wishes. I was able to overcome the difficulty of being disabled and now I am back to my old self and looking forward to going back to work again.
Love back
Coolasas

Adeola Samuel
Oct 23, 2018
Oct 23, 2018

Oh even thou it's been months since your post but I still feel the need to say God is always making provision for His people. Thou you were in a strange land, yet you experienced love and timely help. I rejoice with you sis.

coolasas
Oct 29, 2018
Oct 29, 2018

Thank you Adeola,
Indeed it's been a while since i started to be on my own and free of assistive devices. And I am happy to say that I had been doing quite a lot since pursuing my disability advocacy and meeting new people that enrich my life as a person.
The love abounds here and everywhere, I am just happy and lucky to be put in contact with the people that have so much to give and share without them knowing it.
Sending you love
Coolasas