Sunday, March 8, 2015

Grafts of a Girl

     Bone grafts have helped to fix some of my joint problems associated with my injuries received during my car collision.  It is a small part of a major recovery, but they have made a powerful difference in my progress.

     What exactly is a bone graft? 

      Basically it is transplanting a piece of your bone from one part of your body to another part of your body.  It is beneficial in fixing bones after trauma, joint problems and growing bone around implanted devices. 

     Well, I don't have just one of those, I have all three!  

     My initial bone graft was taken from my left hip.  My right lower leg was crushed and sustained open fractures where my tibia(larger bone) tore through my skin and splintered into many fragments.  My fibula(smaller bone) was crushed, but it is not a weight bearing bone so my trauma surgeon put those pieces back together like a jig saw puzzle, wrapped them in netting and set them back in place. 

     The tibia bone, sadly was splintered so badly he could not identify where they all originally fit together.  He ground them up, along with the piece of bone from my hip and filled the holes in hopes that new bone tissue would grow around the injuries and give me some stability.  

   To date, I have given three bones grafts, one from my right hip and two from my left.  The surgeons have also withdrawn bone marrow from my right hip by inserting a needle into the very center of my bone and pulling out the marrow.   That was integrated with another artificial substance and injected into one of my ankles when the decision was made to fuse it. 

That first bone graft was so large that it did not grow back in my hip.  Running my finger gently across the rim, I can feel a triangular dip that would make anyone shudder.  This scar is so long because my orthopedic took my third bone graft directly below where my first one was taken.  Extending that scar to four inches.  I am undeniably grateful that both of my surgeons really performed a magnificent job on minimizing my scarring. 

My right hip lives with this two inch scar and there is a smaller half inch scar where they removed the marrow.

Each surgeon repeated that enduring the bone grafts would not be pleasant.  I really did not know what to say to them.  There was no way it could be worse than what I had already endured.  It was not pleasant by any means, but felt trivial compared to the pain of the other surgeries.  I have had eleven surgeries and four of those were also accompanied by the surgery of bone grafts.  It all sucked, but look at the progress I have made because of it!

     Of course with that many operations, I was bound to have some kind of counteractive effects.  I seem to like being included in that category of " This only happens to about 3%-5% of patients."  

     After recovering from my right bone graft, I noticed a lump appearing a few weeks after surgery.  Apparently this can happen due to all of my tissue being moved around, it did not find it's originally position and formed something like a hernia.  Now I have a nice bulge on my right lower abdomen.  If I could get some major abs going, I could camouflage it by being ripped & buff, but..............

     During one of my left bone grafts a resident nicked a nerve.  Just a small nick and just one nerve, but now the left side of my pelvis is partially numb. 

      The lasting effects of bone grafts are that they ache just as my ankles do, just not as severely.  I cannot lean against a counter, wear low rise pants or belts around that level of my hips.  A few friends have been so happy to see me that they have tried to pick me up around the waist and nearly lost their arms as I disengaged myself from them. 

     I envision myself with the word, Fragile, stamped all over me because of all of my injuries.  But I would choose those embraces over a little pain every. single. time. 

          I have much to deal with each day, but it seems so small when I visualize my future.  I look at the larger picture and ask what my end game will be.  My disabilities will not keep me from accomplishing my goals, I may have to be more creative about how I'm going to get there.  And maybe, just maybe I will have to learn to accept help from those who wish to give.