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Guess What

December 3rd, 2005


The good news is that this probably won’t prevent me from traveling back to the U.S. for Christmas. That’s about the only good news there is. The bad news is that I will have to cancel just about every birdwatching trip from now until January–and this was gonna be a huge birdwatching time for me. I just arranged to join a birdwatching group going to Mt. Fuji on Dec. 10th. And I had at least a half-dozen big-time birding plans made up for when I returned to the SF Bay Area.

So much for all that.

How it happened was that I was going to attend a party today. I spent a while last night preparing, using the Internet to get detailed information on the multi-transfer train trip, printing out schedules and station maps. I recharged my iPod, and chose a good book for the 2-hour train ride. This morning, I got up, showered, dressed, got the Italian Salami and chocolates I had chosen for the pot luck, and went out the door, right on time. Five feet out the door, I slipped, fell, and heard a distinct “crack.” Two and a half hours later, I’m back home from the emergency room, writing this.

I suppose there is one other slightly positive aspect: I won’t have to limp into school on crutches every day. We just had the last class yesterday, and only two final exam periods are coming next week. After that, graduation the following Saturday.

However, right now, I have to decide about whether or not I’ll be having surgery. Money is not a big deal, the operation would probably cost no more than $750, really more than triple that but with the Japanese National Insurance paying 70% it’s much cheaper (here’s where all those payments come in handy). The doc I saw in the emergency room seemed ambivalent–6 weeks of healing without surgery, and the bone heals as is (see the photo), rebuilding in the gap you can see there. With surgery, the bone heals straight, and takes 4 weeks to get better. Right now I’m leaning toward surgery, but frankly, I know nothing about the ins and outs of all this. So now for some research.

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  1. Paul
    December 3rd, 2005 at 14:54 | #1

    No question- surgery. You want that bone to be straight and as it should be; it’s got to be a relatively low-risk surgery, with only the barest minimum of a chance of the whole “he never woke up from the anesthesia” thing; and cutting your healing time by a third seems like a no-brainer.

    Without surgery, you’ll almost certainly be looking at having a risk of having a slightly-to-moderately deformed foot for some time. The little knobs on the inside/outside of the break section are bound to give you trouble down the road; I’m assuming that with the surgery, it’ll be nice and straight with fewer rough edges (probably a pin or plate in there to hold the bone correctly?)

    I know which way I’d vote, but then again, it’s not my foot. Sorry to see the X-ray but it’s pretty cool that you shared it. :)

    I’ll send you some daimoku for quick healing either way.



  2. December 3rd, 2005 at 21:15 | #2

    Man, that looks painful! Sorry to hear about it. I’m wondering how you managed to break the bone like that though? Did it break on impact?

  3. Luis
    December 3rd, 2005 at 22:34 | #3

    No, it was one of those instances where you fall and your leg goes down–but you foot remains flat on the floor. Snap.

  4. December 4th, 2005 at 20:19 | #4

    Hey Luis,

    Well, I happened to have almost the same problem as you did. I broke my forearm just around this time of the year here in Japan, in 2003 (on a kendo match). Like you, I had the option of operating or not.

    I ended up having the surgery on the 22nd of december (it took a while to get an appointment). I was out of the hospital on the 23rd, and on the 24th I went to Nikko for a xmas party. By january 10th, I was already out of my cast. I was practicing kendo again by late feb (taking care, of course).

    I heard that orthopedy (sp?) here in Japan is quite advanced (if you compare to, for instance, orthodentistry (sp?)). When I got back home, my family doctor actually was quite impressed at their work with the plaque on my arm.

    One point, though. You said “risk of not waking up from anesthesy”. Well, with just a broken feet, there is no reason for you not to take local instead of global, if you (or your doctor) were even considering that. Choosing local will cut any existing risk down even further.

    Hope it all goes well with your foot.

  5. Luis
    December 4th, 2005 at 20:23 | #5

    Claus: Thanks for the information! It makes me feel somewhat better about the matter. I’m pretty much decided on surgery anyway. I’ll be going to the hospital tomorrow morning (I was just setting my alarms right now, in fact) and getting an appointment for as soon as possible.

    By the way, that was Paul mentioning the anesthesia matter, and he pointed out it would not have to be a global, and that’s what I expect as well. A local should do it, though I hope they let me read a book while they’re working, instead of having me just sit there and imagine what all those sounds are about.

  6. Brad
    December 5th, 2005 at 12:32 | #6

    Seems like it’s a risky time of the year! 50 weeks ago, just before Christmas, I fell off a bicycle and fractured my scaphoid – the worst bone you can break in the hand/arm – low blood supply, risk of the bone dying, etcetera. They didn’t pin it, 3 months in a cast, thank Gosh it healed. Another 2-3 months with the hand being ultra sore and needing exercises.

    Bad luck on your break; I’d go for surgery too, rather than let it heal crooked. Commiserations Luis!

  7. Luis
    December 5th, 2005 at 12:37 | #7

    Thanks, all! It looks like I’ll be going for surgery, unless my father’s half-sister’s husband’s brother (the closest relation I have who is an orthopedic surgeon) gets back and starts waving his hands in the air and shouting “Noooooo!!” Other than that, surgery it is–probably a simple 2-pin (screw) deal, no plate. I have the reservations, I just have to put the rest of my life on autopilot for the short hospital stay.

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