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1st big surgery: haven’t broken too many recovery rules yet — Beer vs. Bread

Held Together by FiberWire and Firewater


by Greg I. Hamilton on April 16, 2010

What better way to head into tax day than with residual anesthesia working its way through my system, fat Percocet pills every four hours, and a stack of medical bills that will be large enough, for once, to deduct on our tax return? I know celebrating the tax benefits of an injury like this is akin to calling your beer glass “partly full” when there’s just a splash of backwash in it, but hey, I’m a rosy guy.

Doc says the tear in my Achilles was more significant than guessed from the MRIs. The four “slices” of MRI indicated a tear over maybe 50 percent of the tendon and a comparable amount of damage to its attached muscle— the soleus. Once in there (Dad said based on the planned incision point, the surgeon better have long fingers), Dr. Dolbeare said the tear was more extensive. In other words, good thing I decided on the surgery.

From what I saw on the MRI, “torn” is an awfully friendly euphemism for something that looks a lot more like “blown to bits.” While potentially well over half of my tendon was shredded in that way, the doc says there was one good strand left, which gave him an effective platform to work from. He stitched up what he could with FiberWire* and It should heal nicely— if I behave for the next two months.

For the first time in my life I have a genuine empathy for all those people I’ve wished well on their surgeries. I don’t mean to woe-is-me, but it’s no small undertaking. When my surgery nurse said the couple hours I was going to be knocked out would feel like five minutes, it didn’t really soak in. Five minutes later I woke up with stitches and an ache in my calf. Pretty cool, if you think about it. Of course I knew this is how general anesthesia worked, but it’s a whole ‘nother thing to experience it. Kind of like hitting the “fast forward” button on life, as in that awful Adam Sandler movie, Click: clever premise, lame story.

But in some respects, I don’t want to fast forward past all of this. The workings of the body (even when my recent snowboarding technique seems to have worked against my body) are truly fascinating. Over 15 years ago I pondered what ski injuries contribute to the world and now I have the opportunity to find out, first-hand.

So with a couple sips of McClelland’s single malt (earmuffs, Doc) to celebrate the beginning of my healing, here’s to medical technology and the foolish snowboarders who put it to the test. Cheers,

* Had to namedrop a bit of the technology that’s holding my Achilles together: “FiberWire suture is a new generation of polyester suture with a long chain polyethylene core. FiberWire has greater strength than similar sized polyester suture with superior feel, smooth tie ability and lower knot profile. FiberWire is the ideal suture for most orthopedic soft tissue repairs, virtually eliminating suture breakage during knot tying.” Fun stuff, right? I asked Dr. Dolbeare if he was a fisherman, figuring the same knot-tying skills might apply. He chuckled to humor me.

MRI by Boulder Community Hospital

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Mom April 18, 2010 at 2:38 pm

So. . . when did you say your were applying for medical school??
Tee Hee !!!!!!!!!!!!!


2 Greg I. Hamilton April 19, 2010 at 7:34 am

The world needs doctors and doctors need patients. I’m there for them. 😉 GH


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