cbrauchli’s AchillesBlog

Rupture is a scary word

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Week 0 | The Operation

November 26th, 2020 · 21 Comments

I got in touch with my doctor in an atypical manner: I sent him a LinkedIn message. It can be slow to get in touch with doctors themselves in the Netherlands, due to the healthcare system being referral-based. So your GP will refer you to someone (you can ask for a particular doctor or they can suggest one), then you will get an appointment with the doctor, and then you will meet said doctor to confirm the diagnosis and potentially schedule an operation. Just based on availability and turnaround time, this means it takes at least 24 hours to go from referral to talking to the doctor. If the doctor proposes a treatment plan that you don’t agree with or you’d like a second opinion, then it’s another business day or two before you can talk to someone else.

I was injured on Tuesday the 17th. I spoke to my GP on Wednesday. I went to the first orthopedic surgeon on Thursday and she proposed open surgery. I was looking for a minimally-invasive surgery, so I got back in touch with my doctor, who referred me to another surgeon on Friday, but that meant that, at the earliest, I’d be talking to this surgeon the following Monday. Surgery wouldn’t happen until Tuesday, if it all worked out perfectly. From what I had read, minimally-invasive procedures are only preferred in the first week or so after injury, after that open or conservative is preferable (I’m not sure why). Tuesday would be right on the cusp.

So, I got a little frantic and did even more research on doctors in the Netherlands. Ultimately, I found a doctor who had written a paper I found promising (mentioned in my last post) and sent him a LinkedIn message explaining my situation. To my surprise, and good luck, he responded! He was great. I was put on waitlist for surgery on Monday. If there weren’t too many accidents over the weekend, I would be operated on Monday!

I went in to the hospital (OLVG West) Sunday night for a COVID test, which fortunately was negative. I started fasting Sunday at midnight.

Monday (Nov 23) at 2pm I got a call to go to the hospital. I went in and, after my vitals were taken, was pretty much immediately whisked off to the operating room, where the team was waiting. I met the man I’d sent a LinkedIn message to, was given a spinal nerve block, some form of tranquilizer, and laid prone. I chatted with the anesthesiologist throughout the procedure. I could hear the surgery team at work and occasionally a pull, but nothing at all painful.

Afterwards, I said goodbye to the team, was taken back to the recovery ward, then to my room. The nerve block took quite a while wear off, about three hours. I didn’t feel much pain initially. My girlfriend came to pick me up, we picked up my medicines, and we went home. They are definitely lighter on the painkillers here than in other countries—I was only prescribed paracetamol for pain and some injections for anti-thrombosis.

At home, some more pain set in. It was pretty uncomfortable, 5 or 6 out of 10, and woke me up a couple of times, but not alarmingly high. Today, Thursday, three days after the operation, the pain seems slightly less. I’ve made an effort to keep my leg elevated as I lay on the couch all day, which seems to help.

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21 responses so far ↓

  • 1 michelleg // Nov 26, 2020 at 1:42 pm

    Wow you were awake the entire time during the surgery?!

  • 2 cbrauchli // Nov 26, 2020 at 1:54 pm

    Yep! They told me they prefer local anesthesia or epidurals when possible right now, due to COVID. Thought the intubation equipment, etc., is sanitized, if somehow some virus got on it, it would almost guarantee infection. I would have preferred general anesthesia I think, but this wasn’t a problem at all. My heart rate was high at first—I was definitely nervous—but the anesthesiologist gave me something that brought it down.

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