Recovery from a broken leg and surgery involves tests at various levels, physical, emotional and mental. There are some rules that everyone must follow in this recovery process and there are some that you should follow and others that are not applicable to your particular circumstances. The following Do’s and Don’ts are applicable to a single male over 50. If you live with a partner, some of this will be irrelevant.
- Make sure your skis are crossed, up-slope from the position of your body as soon as possible after you regain consciousness.
- If you need surgery, don’t stuff about. Have it within the first week if the swelling allows it.
- Obtain post surgical advice on things such as physiotherapy, nutrition, vascular problems and exercise, from specialists in these fields, not from your surgeon. Surgeons are useless and apathetic about post-operative care. You must accept responsibility for your rehabilitation. Surgery is the surgeon’s responsibility. Recovery is your responsibility.
- Get a wheelchair for outside transport and some form of waterproof wheeled commode/shower chair for washing/bathing
- Get a wheelchair with solid rubber tires, not pneumatic ones.
- Get a light wheelchair not a heavy one
- Get crutches with rubber suction ends
- Get armpit crutches to start with as they are a bit more stable, but move onto Canadian forearm crutches before you commence weight bearing. They are much less savage on your armpits
Get a gripper. Along with the wheel, penicillin and electricity, it is man’s greatest invention. If you live alone and are undergoing rehabilitation you will not be able to get by without one of these bad boys. Go the Gripper!!
- Get a pee bottle. There are male and female models. They are vital in the first few weeks after you come home from hospital. You will also need someone to help you empty it in the first two weeks. Brothers are very good at this job – even in the middle of the night. Well the first part of that sentence is true. It’s amazing how quickly a bottle fills up. Try carrying a full one to the bathroom while supported on crutches. Unless you have three hands it’s a difficult job – hey watch the spillage on the carpet.
- Get someone to help you in the first month at home, post surgery. If its not a family member you will have to invest in a housekeeper. This should be organised before you leave hospital.
- Use a suction based rubber bath mat in the shower when you feel up to standing in there.
- Get a long handled shoe-horn. These are invaluable, as it will be months before you can bend your injured knee sufficiently to allow you to get shoes on. Dressing yourself is one of the great challenges in the early months of rehab. If you live with someone it is just annoying. If you have no one to help you it is frustratingly impossible unless you have aids such as a Gripper or a long-handled shoe horn.
- Get a good physiotherapist the week before you are weight bearing.
- Begin a graduated, supervised exercise program in the same week you become weight bearing.
- Examine local, convenient gyms and get a personal trainer, experienced in post-surgical rehabilitation if you can afford it
- Don’t ski outside resort boundaries. If you do and you get injured it will void your travel insurance and you will pay for everything out of your own pocket. Enjoy!
- Don’t ski on the first day that you arrive in the USA or Europe from Australia. Wait 24 hours to get over the jet lag and make sure you have at least one night’s good sound, sleep before getting on the mountain.
- Don’t ski alone if you can avoid it. I did and consequently there was no one to look out for me on the mountain or help me afterwards. The fact that the people who saw me injured skied off and left me unattended with no crossed skis could have been fatal. At least they informed the ski patrol.
- Don’t expect your orthopedic surgeon to give you post-surgical advice on physiotherapy, nutrition, vascular problems and exercise. This is unfair. They don’t have the expertise in these disciplines nor do they have the interest. This is up to you.
- Don’t have a bath until at least 4 months post surgery. There is too much risk of slipping over
- Don’t have a stand up shower until a month post weight bearing. In the meantime, use a waterproof wheelchair or commode chair in the shower
- Don’t get up in the middle of the night to go to the toilet for a month after surgery. You will be dizzy from the lingering effect of the drugs and drowsy from sleep. You are almost guaranteed to fall over if you are on crutches. Use a pee bottle – it’s much safer. If you are alone and you fall over in the middle of the night and can’t crawl to a phone you are in a world of trouble especially if you re-fracture your leg. Don’t do it! God made pee bottles so you don’t have to get out of bed. he must have had a broken leg at some stage.
- Never put a crutch tip that has a wet end on a dry floor. Lethal!
- Get all the rugs in your house rolled up and stowed away
- Never leave wire coathangers lying around on the floor or loose shoes.
- Don’t give up the exercise program just because you can walk. Walking’s the start of rehab not the end