Thursday, June 24, 2010

A Pregnant Woman with a Broken Leg: Part one

In April 1983 I was three months pregnant with our son.  I had been pregnant twice before but both times had a miscarriage.  When I threatened a miscarriage this time, I was beside myself.  My doctor decided I should quit my job and stay home on complete bed rest at least until the symptoms subsided. 

I did what I was told and in late May I had no more symptoms.  My doctor was cautiously optimistic and told me to continue with the bed rest.  I was a good girl and followed doctor's orders until June 8th.  It was a gorgeous North Carolina late spring day and I needed some fresh air.  I decided I would go get the mail which was a short walk up the road.  When I got back to the trailer and opened the door, I stepped backwards off the three foot high concrete porch!

One second I'm standing on the porch and the next second I'm sprawled on the ground surrounded by the all important mail.  After a few seconds of confusion, reality slowly dawned.  I was laying on my left side and I couldn't move my right leg.  It didn't hurt but something told me I couldn't move it.  What was I going to do?

I started yelling for help.  All my neighbors worked but maybe someone stayed home that day.  No such luck!  I don't know how much time passed but I heard a truck on the dirt road that ran between the two rows of trailers and I started screaming at the top of my lungs and thankfully was heard.  My landlord stopped and came running to me.  He was in a panic and didn't know what to do!  I had to tell him to go inside, call an ambulance and call Michael and have him meet me at the hospital.  By the time the ambulance came, I was shivering from cold and my leg had started hurting. It didn't take long to get the air splint on and load me into the ambulance.  I was finally on my way to the hospital an hour and a half after I fell.

Womack army hospital at Ft. Bragg was my destination.  Since Michael was already on base, he met me as I was wheeled in.  I was so glad to see him but so afraid he was going to kill me!  I wasn't supposed to be off the couch let alone outside.  I shouldn't have been worried.  He was glad to see me and wanted to make sure both me and the baby were okay.

By this time my leg was aching but it wasn't painful.  That is until they removed the splint and started taking x-rays.  They made me turn and bend my knee, and up til that point in my life I had never felt such pain!  Thankfuly the worst was over for the time being and I was told I would be admitted because I had broken the right tibial plateau of my right leg.  In addition to that, I hadn't felt the baby move since I fell and there was some concern there.

I was taken to the orthopedic ward and waited for the doctor.  If I had known what was coming I could have waited forever!  He arrived with an entourage of other doctors and nurses.  It turns out that I was going to be a guinea pig of sorts.  This particular fracture would normaly be treated with surgery and a cast.  However, I was 5 months pregnant and surgery was out of the question.  Instead, they were going to put my leg in traction and use a constant motion machine to keep my knee from becoming stiff.

The procedure for inserting the metal rod into my leg for traction was explained.  My leg would be numbed, they would make an incision on each side of my leg and using a drill, they would drive the rod through the first incision, through the bone and out the other incision.  There would be 6-8 inches of the metal rod on each side of my leg.  I was assured I wouldn't feel a thing and it would be quick.... be continued


  1. I don't know if I want to continue...I'm squirming in my seat as it is. You poor thing. I sure hope this story has a happy ending.
    PS...on a happy note...I gave birth to my second son Sean in June of 1983!

  2. OMG !!! Nice to experiment on a pregnant woman - ACKK - My mother in law got pregnant with my husbands brother with my father in law in a full leg cast ! LOL !!!

  3. You tell a great story! I am on the edge of my seat and I already know how things turned out. Hahaha


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