Not just one knee, but two. Both tendons that hold the knee cap in place had come detached (the reason for the floating knee caps). The X-Rays were not picking the injury up because it looks at bones and none of the bones were broken or fractured. Dr. Frerichs though, was able to tell just by feeling his knee area. He had never done a Bi-lateral patellar tendon repair himself, but his associate Dr. Eslava had.
We would be checked in to the hospital and surgery was scheduled for the following day. (August 29th, 2016).
Jamie’s whole family came to be with him at the hospital during his surgery. We filled up the waiting room. Jamie’s surgery was scheduled for 1:00 and I went back with him while he was prepped. My big brave husband was so nervous. He just kept telling me over and over “I’m so nervous.” Jamie is the one who is always telling everyone else that it’s going to be ok, so reversing the role and being the brave one was heartbreaking- knowing how important it is for Jamie to be the protector. Seeing him so vulnerable wasn’t (and still isn’t) easy.
While the fluids started to flow and he began to drift off, one of Jamie’s buddies who is an anesthesiologist came by, “Hey Man! I can’t believe you are here! The Fracture Factory! I can’t believe it!” That was not the first time or the last we would hear that place called that. Jamie raised his fist up at his friend to drowsily acknowledge him, and seconds later he was out. Teary eyed I walked away saying my prayers for God to guide the surgeons hands, and to protect my sweet husband.
I joined the rest of the family in the waiting room. The surgeon had estimated 45 min per knee. Surgery didn’t complete until 5:30. 4 and a half hours later. About 1/2 way through the surgeon came out to update us. “I have never seen an injury this bad… it looks like two bombs went off on his knees.” No one said anything we just listened, still in disbelief of this entire situation. He continued, “It’s a lot worse than I thought. One knee wasn’t as bad and I was able to suture the tendon back together. The other did not have anything left to suture.” He went on to explain that with the second knee he had to use what he called “cord” to repair it. He said that he had used the strongest available cord and wrapped it around and around and around his knee over and over until the ruptured tendon was held back into place. He said that he hoped that enough scar tissue would form around the cord to be a permanent repair with no further issue. IF it were to re-rupture he would have to do a graft because there is just simply not any more tendon to work with there.
The disbelief. HOW IN THE WORLD can something like this happen just jumping on a trampoline!?
After surgery we all went up to Jamie’s room. He was still not awake. By this time it was 7pm. The nurse said Jamie had woke up after surgery and was in excruciating pain so they had just given him another round of pain meds. He said “Yall should just go on home, he probably won’t wake up til the morning, we have him on alot of pain medicine.” I had the kids and knew I had to get home with them to get them up and off to school in the am. Both Jamie’s aunt and sister offered to stay but the nurse assured us he would be fine and knocked out.
After I arrived home and was in bed with the kids the phone rang (9:30 pm)- It was Jamie. I couldn’t understand anything he was saying. He seemed upset, but it was just a bunch of garbled words. He hung up and I immediately called the hospital surgical floor. His nurse got on the phone and I told him that Jamie just called and I was worried, and couldn’t understand what he wanted but he seemed upset. The nurse kind of laughed and said “Yeah, I know- I am the one who dialed the phone for him.” He said that he had gotten him some water and assured me he was fine.
The next morning, I called Jamie to check on him and let him know I would be headed that way as soon as I dropped off the kids. He was VERY VERY mad at me and upset that no one stayed with him last night. He also didn’t remember anyone being there and thought he had been alone the whole time.
He had dropped the nurse call button and was unable to get a nurse to help him when he had to go to the bathroom. He had tried to use the bedside urinal and ended up spilling it all over himself- and had to lay in his own urine most of the night. I felt absolutely horrible. From then on out, Jamie’s Mom or myself stayed with him- we did not let him go another night without someone there to help him.
Jamie was in the hospital a total of 5 days. On day 4 Insurance had notified the hospital that they were not paying any longer. The hospital eventually was able to get day 4 covered due to the unbelievable amount of pain drugs he was on. On day 4 we still had not been able to get the pain under control. I was fearful of overdosing him because nothing was helping and they kept adding on more. The surgeon assured me that he would be fine and that people who are pain med addicts take ALOT more than what they are giving Jamie (which wasn’t very reassuring to me, because I know alot of people die that way too!)
Every day that we were in the hospital the physical therapists kept coming in and wanting to get Jamie up. The surgeon had told us he did not want anyone touching him, and he was absolutely NOT to get up. We had to literally keep fighting off the PT’s.
Every. Single. Person- whether nurse, doctor, surgeon, nurse assistant, custodian- YOU NAME IT- that we came in contact with would say something like “Oh The Fractury!” or “Hahah we call that place The Fracture Factory!” or “We are pretty sure the Surgeons here have investments in that place!” or, “We should have a South Baldwin Banner hanging in that place.” As the days went on Jamie would get more sick of hearing these things. Finally the last couple days when someone asked him what happened he would say “I fell off a roof.” Just so he didn’t have to hear any more Fractury talk.
Jamie did not eat (but a few bites of bread, or a few nibbles of banana) for 5 days. He also did not potty (#2) for those 5 days-which eventually turned into 10 days…
On day 4 (I believe, since the insurance decided it was time for Jamie to go) we finally got the go ahead to get Jamie up and into the chair. Two physical therapists came in to attempt this. I am not exaggerating when I tell you, this was the biggest sideshow circus act I have ever seen in my life. These two people were akin to dumb and dumber trying to get Jamie up. You would truly believe this was their very first attempt at something like this. I watched with my hands over my mouth in shock and horror from the corner of the room. Jamie was screaming, I was screaming, it was awful. At one point one of his legs was trapped between the walker and the chair and he was yelling “My legs!” So I am yelling “Get his F@cking Legs! Oh my God!!” (Yeah I”m sure they loved me).
They finally get him into the chair, and I am just balling. All I can think about is, “How am I ever going to be able to help him at home if two trained Physical Therapists can barely do it?”
Both of Jamie’s legs were in immobilizers which prohibited him from bending his legs at all. He was able to bear weight albeit painful, but learning to use a walker stiff legged would not be easy.
After witnessing the difficulty of getting Jamie from the bed to the chair, I became increasingly fearful that I would not be able to care for him at home. We were told that Jamie would need to leave the next day (due to insurance) on day 5, and we weren’t sure if day 5 was going to be covered at all.
There were a couple dilemmas at this point. 1). HOW were we going to get Jamie home? His legs HAD to remain straight out and rigid. There was zero bend or give. I began to search for handicapped vans or services that we could transport him in his wheel chair in. I came up with nothing. The hospital had no resources either. At this point the only option that we could come up with was ambulance transport home. And SURPRISE SURPRISE, of course insurance wouldn’t be covering that. Of course my frustration was fueling my smart mouth, as I told the hospital, “Well I guess we’ll just tie him to the back of the vehicle and drag him home!” I mean really, what were we supposed to do?
The 2nd dilemma was still that nagging fear of HOW? How can I get him from the bed, to the toilet and back to the bed? The hospital said that moving him to a rehab center was a possibility. They started trying to get the ball rolling on that and said as soon as insurance gave us the ok, they would have him transported to a rehab facility in Foley. This was a relief because, it gave us more time for healing with some help, as well as solving that transport issue for now.
By 3pm on day 5 the insurance still had not responded to our request for rehab (which is supposedly covered according to our insurance policy). Very frustrated and just ready to do something, I told them to just forget it, and to call the ambulance- We are going home!
I was given the number to a home healthcare company and arranged to have a hospital bed, and medical toilet delivered to our home. I met the man there, got everything quickly set up (Thank God for the quick response and delivery! They were great, the regular delivery person was on vacation so the owner of the company Ken personally delivered and set the bed up for us. He also had an abundance of bedside tables and sold me one for $40 which I thought was a great price, and it has proven to be a great purchase in our situation…. highly recommend this company- Express Healthcare).
By 7, the ambulance arrived. Two tiny women. Really? The two tiny women had to call two larger male nurses to help move Jamie from the hospital bed to the gurney. As they wheeled him out into the hall one of them says to me, “Where do ya’ll live?” I said “In an apartment on the 3rd floor.” You should have seen their faces. Priceless.
I laughed and told them where we really lived. They were quite relieved that they wouldn’t have to take him up any stairs. In addition to that our brother in law had built a mini wheel chair ramp at our front door while were at the hospital for the last week- which was wonderful.
I arrived at home before the medics and Jamie.
As I waited outside the ambulance pulled up. Then a firetruck. Um?
I met the fireman in the street and said, “Oh they called in reinforcements huh?!” The laughed and said, “Yep!” I was happy there was additional help here.
It felt really good to be home. But we were both scared. Our little living room was inundated with hospital crap everywhere. But at least we were home.