31st October 2017
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Day 0 | Sunday 23rd April | 12pm-2pm
There were two Orthopaedic Surgeons on duty that Sunday. The first an Indian fellow (I will call him AB), perhaps in his forties, he was the consultant surgeon and had a real air about him. He came in and commanded the room, he shook my hand and instantly put me at ease. I was relieved for the first time that day that I was in really good hands and everything might just be ok. The second was an eastern European chap (I will call him OS), probably in his 30s, seemed switched on and spoke very good English, but appeared to be lacking a little in social skills.
The two surgeons studied the photos, got me to wiggle my toes and very quickly decided that I needed to have emergency surgery. Consultant AB explained that it would be a 30 minute operation to clean the wounds up and stitch it back up again. He made it all sound very straight forward and I was fairly chilled at this point.
They warned me that because of the extent of the damage to the knee it was likely that I would need some plastic surgery at Sheffield. But AB was quite adamant he wanted to have a go at fixing my knee himself rather than sending me off to Sheffield; no arguments from the other 3 or 4 medical staff in the room and certainly nothing from me!
It was around lunchtime and I had been in for over three hours but I had now been told that I was next up for surgery so happy days…
I’m not giving consent!
An hour or so after the surgeons’ assessment OS came back to tell me that another emergency had come in and I would be delayed. At that point he talked me through the operation in more detail and discussed the consent form. As I mentioned his social skills weren’t the best and unlike AB he certainly didn’t reassure me when discussing the technicalities of the op.
He also made it very clear that he thought I should have been sent to Sheffield for plastics so that also made me a bit nervy about the operation I was about to embark on at Barnsley.
He very formally ran through what sounded like terms and conditions before I signed the consent. It all sounded sensible and I nodded along. He then passed me the clipboard and said:
“There is one more thing I need to warn you of… there is a small risk that we could have to amputate your leg at the femur depending on the wounds and infection…”
What the f***?! Have you seriously just dropped the A bomb as a subtle follow up to the rest of the consent form?! I immediately thought there is no way I could live without half of my right leg! Could I?!
I looked at Becky and almost burst in to tears… I pulled myself together, got in to a work mindset, switched to audit/fraud investigation mode and started interrogating him…
He looked stunned… I’m not sure he had ever been challenged when doing consent before… I was obviously going to sign but I was just looking for some sort of reassurance that he wasn’t going to cut my leg off…
Reassurance was not forthcoming… he didn’t know what to say… I looked at the wife who smiled through a grimacing face… I signed and hoped for the best!
Fortunately the A&E doctor registrar must have overheard the tail end of the conversation and he came rushing in shortly after saying don’t listen to that guy they are not going to amputate. He has to tell you that to cover himself, the risk is very low, like less than 1%.
That reassured me again briefly… but that was the only thing I could think about for the next 4-5 hours whilst waiting for the op!
Was this going to be my new reality when I woke up from the surgery?!
Next up I will be blogging about the surgery itself in it’s full gory detail…
If you are squeamish I suggest you pass on the next blog post!