Coming home from Spain with a cast and spiral fracture of the fifth metatarsal was less of a hassle than expected. Acquiring an airport wheelchair, no problem. Assignment of extra legroom seat with items stacked to keep my foot up, no problem.
Cast causing pain on heel…problem. Terrible bed-sore type skin injuries can occur when a cast rubs. Known as pressure sores or ulcers, you don’t take a chance of reaching stage 2, much less stage 4. The images online were too horrid to add one to the blog.
I didn’t think of a cast doing this. I only knew my heel was hurting more than my broken bone. On the advice of our medical insurance hotline, we dragged into Holland at bedtime, left the lil’ guys in the care of their older brothers, and headed to the Dutch E.R.
In contrast to the Spanish E.R., everyone spoke English to me. The doctor’s orders were to take paracetamol (similar to Tylenol) as opposed to ibuprofen. Although the replacement cast was plaster, it didn’t do a full wrap around my foot which left space for the ups and downs of daily swelling. Rather than being plain white with a tiny red line in the wrap, the top wrap was now blue. “To match your scarf,” the attendant said. “It is heavy now but lighter as it dries. Drying takes 48 hours.”
The doctor was aghast and told every staff member who happened by as shifts were changing, that my leg was put in a full cast and then, oh my get ready for it, I was allowed to fly. Considering my age, medical history, lower extremity injury, and such, the doctor was adamant that in The Netherlands I would not have been permitted to fly.
The doctors thoughts seemed to be, Were they trying to give me a blood clot in Spain? Unbelievable.
Well, not so unbelievable when you consider the Spanish doctor was unable to give me any after care directions in English. I told the Dutch doc as much, but she shook her head and pointed toward Schipol, “Our airlines would not let you board with this.”
Wow. Honestly, it made me glad we’d flown out of Spain. Don’t break a leg in The Netherlands, folks. You might be stuck for awhile.
Now was the time for yet another first in my life. In the Spanish E.R. I got my first cast. In the Holland E.R. I got my first self-administered shot in the stomach. In The Netherlands it is standard operating procedure to take daily meds preventing blood clots while your limb is immobilized. “An ounce of prevention…” could be a Dutch Calvinist saying.
Several times the staff told me the shots would do nothing for a clot if my body had already formed one while I was traveling. Then they would mutter disapprovingly to each other again about my day’s travel.
A linebacker like tall, wide, intimidating nurse demonstrated what to do and then stood over me, bearing down with narrowed eyes, till I plunged the needle into my soft belly skin. Growing up with a diabetic friend, I watched her to do this countless times. That didn’t make it any less foreign an experience to have to do it to myself.
I did have to. My husband was leaving town the next day, or he’d have given me the shots. One of the children later offered to do it. I declined. The thing is, they were really tiny needles. Still, my chest tightened each time. Once I didn’t jab hard enough, the needle was only half in. I started over only to learn later I could have kept on. Once the needle went in at an angle instead of nicely perpendicular to my flesh. That’s when I learned why my mother had so much bruising with self-administered injections. In The Netherlands I was given my own bio-hazard box to dispose of used needles. In Spain, a friend told me, you just throw them in the trash. I remembered my diabetic friend bending each used needle to prevent unauthorized reuse.
I learned all sorts of things and could continue to blog about them. Did you know the pinky bone of your foot gets so little blood flow that healing times range from 8 to 19 weeks on average rather than the typical 6-8 weeks? Rebreaks are so common the doctor recommends you continue to wear the support boot till all pain is gone. At least two of my friends had rebreaks that took surgery and 3+ months to heal. In Sweden the boot would have been fitted to my foot rather than my shoe, so I wouldn’t be hobbling around with one leg a couple inches longer.
In the U.S. surgery for my break might have been the first recommended course of action from day one because the gap between bones was wide (in mm). Your foot builds up enough dead skin under a cast that even after a second bath the skin might look as if leprosy is settling in. I recommend several applications of an exfoliating scrub. Did you know it’s not uncommon to wake up to your healthy leg being a different color than than the one nurturing healing? It might be lighter or darker pink depending. And diagnosing blog clots in the leg? Don’t get me started.
But enough about pain and weird or scary medical conditions. Wouldn’t you rather hear more about fabulous, historical Spain? I would.
Up Next —A Bite of History in Cartegena, Spain, Guest Blog by Ryan King
Kristin King continues to limp around and have a surprising (to her anyway) amount of pain seven weeks after breaking her foot. She misses riding her bike in the recent, unseasonably sunny Dutch days.