I celebrated the end of summer by breaking my leg over Labor Day weekend: hiking accident in the Cascades (just off the PCT near Mt. Hood), displaced spiral fracture of the lower leg bones, put back together with a titanium rod and some screws. Here are a few random notes on the whole thing. Let me know if any of these ring true (or not.)
1. Having had one break fixed 20 years ago with old-fashioned casts, and one fixed surgically, I'd definitely vote for surgery. More of a jolt at first, but better in the long run not to be stuck in plaster or fiberglass for months.
2. You can make yourself physically ill by going too far and fast on crutches at the beginning. Not sure why. It might have to do with overworking the stomach muscles.
3. You can do a lot of stuff with a broken leg that you could do without one - it'll just require some improvisation and may take three or four times as long.
4. Oxycodone/percocet doesn't kill pain. It just makes you stoned. If you have surgical incisions or other wounds, it'll also make them itch. I ended up throwing away the rest of my supply and going with low-tech methods: ice packs, massage (give your leg and foot a good rubdown several times a day as soon as you can stand it), rude humor, meditation, music, beer, etc. Don't knock the beer until you've tried it.
5. The broken bones themselves settled down after a few weeks. Then there was knee pain, near where they'd put in the rod, after I started walking without crutches. That's fading away now.
6. It took about a month to start sleeping through the night again.
7. You can recover without sitting at home being pampered full-time (by some lucky soul with nothing better to do??). I got onto a plane less than a week after the accident and have been on the road in several countries ever since. What has impressed me is the kindness of so many friends, colleagues, and strangers along the way. I've got a brighter view of human nature now (and a darker view of the design of human long bones - a bit of torque and they splinter away.)
8. Tri-Gen intramedullary nails are color-coded in some way or other. I'm curious what color mine is - left tibia, 330mm x 10mm.
9. No matter how fit or experienced a hiker you are, don't run around in the mountains in cheap Spanish knockoff Tevas.
10. After reading your stories, I feel like the luckiest #*$%! in the world for having made such a quick and clean recovery so far.
Good luck to everyone. Let me know how you're doing.
kmccarth [at] duke.edu