I woke up in the recovery room at the Whittington Hospital and immediately burst into tears of relief that I had actually woken up from my general anaesthetic. There ended two hours of my life that I hadn’t experienced, while surgeons used 2 stainless steel pins and some wire to pull the three broken parts of my knee cap into one, so that it could heal properly.
One of the things I remember from the recovery room is the nurse saying he would give me some “morphine”. The next morning, as I woke up to snow, the nurse gave me “diamorphine” which my phone told me was heroin. Pretty strong painkillers and I was sent home that evening with a fortnight’s supply of three different painkillers. After the first night, I barely took any painkillers as I wasn’t really in pain. I also read that there was some evidence that ibuprofen (one of my three prescribed painkillers) might actually interfere with bone healing. This seemed a big deal at the time so I stopped totally.
I had my first physiotherapy session three and a half weeks after the accident. I knew my foot was swollen before I saw her but I think she made me realise just how swollen it was. So since then I have been elevating and icing my knee a lot more. I also found that a few days of foot pumping really got the swelling of the foot down.
However, approaching five weeks since the operation, my calf has remained stubbornly swollen. It then got more and more uncomfortable and I have been fiddling with my knee brace. Too tight and it hurts. Too loose and it slips down. The knee brace which I loved as a replacement for the heavy and rigid plaster cast suddenly became a great source of irritation and discomfort.
More googling made me realise that I might not get the calf swelling down until I could properly weight bear on the affected leg. This is at least another week away (my next visit to fracture clinic). So I started wondering about taking ibuprofen again. It’s a member of a family of drugs known as NSAIDs – Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs – a pretty strong clue that it might help. Five weeks after the accident, knowing that my last x-ray three weeks ago showed the bone looked fine and that I haven’t done anything dramatic to it since, I am less worried about a possible impact on bone healing. I also looked at a review on NSAIDs and bone healing and concluded that the risk was probably less than I had thought.
So I took my first 400mg tablet of ibuprofen two nights ago. I woke up yesterday morning feeling that my leg was much more comfortable. As a sample of one, I can’t do a double blind trial or claim any statistical significance. It may just be that I had a better night’s sleep. In fact it wasn’t until I saw the box of ibuprofen on the kitchen table and took my second dose with breakfast that I associated my more positive feeling with taking ibuprofen but it seems to have worked. Also, the NHS advise that the anti-inflammatory effect can take up to three weeks to get the best results, so overnight seems pretty good going. Two days on, six does of ibuprofen on, all seems much better.
So, it seems to be working for me, so I will take it at least until my next visit to fracture clinic in a week unless I get any side effects.