Deborah’s Story

Site created on April 13, 2019

Hello, friends and family. I decided to set up this website because the task of informing and updating my "universe" is tiring, and this becomes an easy way to give you an update. I am a lucky person to have so many friends, colleagues and family members who are reaching out as I get used to  my  my new, hopefully temporary,  disabled status.  I am incredibly lucky in that I am not seriously ill, but I do have a difficult body injury with an uncertain prognosis. 

For more than 30 years I have had the privilege of coming to Colorado to ski, most recently thanks to Ray's move to Leadville, 30 minutes from our favorite area, Copper Mountain. On Monday April 8, Larry and I were taking one last run, enthralled with the great spring conditions and winding up our day, when I took a terrible fall (not a collision).  I broke my leg in two places, but the serious break was a splintering of my tibial plateau, which is the broad, flatter area of the upper shin bone upon which one's knee rests and interacts.  Orthopaedists define six levels of injury to the plateau, with six being the worst, the hardest to fix and the one with the worst prognosis for recovery. I'm a level six.  It's an injury seen mainly among motorcycle riders and skiers. My skiing days are over.  I will need one or maybe several surgeries. My goal is to walk pain free in the future. Yikes!

But back to the lucky part: I am receiving medical care in orthopaedic heaven. The St. Anthony/Summit County Medical Center is a 27-bed hospital that receives all the ski injuries from Breckenridge, A-Basin, Keystone and Copper. They do 1000 broken legs a year! And my surgeon, Dr. Bowles, is the tibial plateau master.  I had surgery  Monday night to stabilize the leg, and face the big surgical repair in two weeks ("Open Reduction and Internal Fixation of Tibial Plateau Fractures.").  I'm getting lots of metal, and some sort of polymer that becomes "bone" over the year ahead to recreate the plateau. Amazing! The entire staff at the medical center was terrific - young, peppy, fit - with a  "can-do" attitude. The hospital was only half full (ski season is almost over) and I got lots of personalized attention. They weren't in a rush to get me out of my room to make way for the next patient. What a difference from New York!!

I will stay in Leadville at Ray's for at least the two week following the big surgery, so I'm here for another month. Hence this website- most of my life is on the East Coast and far away! I hope to be back in Brooklyn by mid-May.  Larry left here yesterday. It is very hard for him to not be here with me. I'll try to update this site every few days. You can always email me at my personal address, or leave a comment on this site if you register (they won't hound you but will occasionally ask for donations to run this free service). I'm shockingly busy - each  life maintenance task takes  way too long - so I may not be able to reply. . Ray's address is 406 West 3rd Street, Leadville, CO 80461. (He is moving to New Hampshire in early June, so I'll have to be home by then!)

More on the lucky front: Ray is organizing my  life as I hold forth from his living room sofa, and Dave flies out from Oakland for a week when Ray goes on expedition with his students next week.  How could someone ever do this on their own? Larry is handling our complicated home life (construction beginning soon on our new apartment!)  

Thanks for being a part of my recovery.

Newest Update

Journal entry by Deborah Huntington

Yep, go that break. And then some.

Well, my August 30 hardware removal led to the development of a hematoma, or pooling of blood outside of the vascular system, in this case in my calf, and swelling blocked its routine draining. Last week the doctor addressed this by squeezing the area to permit a lot of drainage to be released, and then he super-glued the incision! I thought all was working out fine until Friday night, when the incision re-opened.

So yesterday the Dr. Egol went back in, through one of the same incisions (my poor, poor leg!! Three times in the same incision) and debrided and irrigated ,and set me up with an external collection bulb and drainage pump (kind of a colostomy for my leg), so now I have the latest in surgical fashion dangling from my knee.

But here’s why things got off to a great start: Our son Ray was in New York to celebrate his 30th birthday, and Dave flew in from California for the occasion. For a surprise, I had lined up tickets to eat at the restaurant on top of the World Trade Center (ok, top of the One World Observatory) for last night. Ray leaves today, and last night was to be the only time when it would just be the four of us. When the surgeon (who is going out of town tomorrow) squeezed me into his schedule for 4:00 pm, I knew I couldn't make the dinner. It was one more emotional hit. We lined up a friend to take my (prepaid) fancy meal ticket and I went to the hospital at 2:00, as requested.

At 3:30 my surgeon came for the pre-procedure check-in and I told him, a little tearfully, what I was missing at 7:00 pm. He said, “Why miss it? We’ll make this happen!” The surgery was only 30 minutes, and he left instructions with the recovery room nurses to fast-track my discharge once I was ready. I came to from the general anesthesia around 5:30, Larry showed up with our wheelchair at 6:00. At one point I had three nurses simultaneously removing the IV port and various tubes, dressing me, fast-talking discharge instructions (old hat by now, of course), and having me sign paperwork. They couldn’t believe what I was doing, but I reminded them that it was the doctor’s idea.

We were out of the recovery room by 6:25, and arrived by cab at the WTC at 6:57, where we surprised Ray and Dave. Then we had a glorious visit to the observation deck (floor 102) and the restaurant (floor 101), where we had a surprisingly delicious dinner and great conversation. We shut the place down, being the last ones to leave at 9:45. I’m sure we disappointed the wait staff by not ordering any alcohol. My leg was elevated, I was on painkillers and a nerve block, my family was all together, I felt truly on top of the world! I recommend this strategy to anyone facing surgery 😊.  See the photo in the “gallery” section - or maybe it's below.

Now I’m home, behaving myself, resting, elevating, icing, etc. If all goes well, I’ll get the sutures out in two weeks, and can return to (mild) exercising in the third. It’s been a long, long time and I’ve become a blob. But as always, my surgeon says, I should make a full recovery.

I feel like I got a wonderful launch into this repeat recovery phase, so I’m not feeling down.  Don’t want visitors or phone calls for a while - next week?

Please, dear friends and family, don’t fret over this development. I’ll get there, I know  -- wherever there is!

Hugs and thanks all around - Deborah

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