08:42PM 27 July 2000 - Singapore
So... After 3 great weeks in the USA, on vacation spending time with JR, Alexis, Gerri, family and friends... Alexis and I arrived back in Singapore on Sunday night after having left Gerri and her sister (Kathy) in Hong Kong where they were spending 2 days shopping and touring. Alexis and I bummed around all day Monday. Tuesday morning (suffering from early wake due to jetlag) I decided to head up to Malaysia to play 18 holes and be back before Alexis woke up.
I hit the road at 6am so I could tee off at 7. It is raining when I arrive so I wait for it to stop before heading to the first tee. It is caddies day and I find a group of 8 in front of me... The starter tells me to jump up the second hole, which I do gladly. It is a short par 3 with a nasty horseshoe shaped sand bunker surrounding the green. My trusty 5 iron puts me 10 feet from the cup (I'm a happy camper...). I hop in my buggy and pull up along the path next to the green. I grab my putter and start up the wet wooden railroad tie (spelling??) steps knowing to be careful, as they are very wet. I look at my watch it is 7:30... it is going to be nice quiet day!
I hit the second step and my right foot starts to slide left... the rest of me slides right... There is strange snap.... I'm suddenly on the ground hoping no one saw me go down and am trying to brush off the mud from my right arm.... I try to get to my feet but for some reason that isn’t working... I look down my right leg and see that I have my right leg up about 8 inches off the ground (the entire leg is parallel to the ground) but my foot is dangling perpendicular to the ground. It is wiggling back and forth and I suddenly realise it hurts like hell!
As one often does in a situation like this you start to think of your options... hmmm I guess I can drive the car with my left foot working both the gas and brake, after all it is an automatic... The cart is only about 15 feet away, I can drag myself over there and ride back up the club house and ask for some help... Maybe I can just use my golf towel to wrap up my ankle and go onto the next hole.... Fortunately... reality hit quickly and what was concern about embarrassment from falling down has turned into frantic waving to a nearby gardener hoping he spoke English... As it worked out he did not speak English but when he approached and saw my leg he uttered "Allah Ma" (Malay for" Oh my God") and ran for help. In minutes, caddies and gardeners surrounded me. On average they stood 5 foot and probably weighted in at less than 100 lbs. How six of them managed to lift all 250 lbs of me into the van I will never know.... They suggest we head to a local clinic so a doctor can have a quick look at the leg which they have applied wooden gardening stakes to as splints. I don't disagree... It smarts but the pain is not unbearable... I assume the doc will wrap it up and I can head home....
30 minutes later we pull up in front of the clinic. A wheelchair appears instantly and the 3 resort staff and I do a great job of helping me down onto the chair. We roll inside. The doctor starts to untie the splint but stops in the middle and suggests that I go immediately to the hospital in Johor Baru. She asks if I want a general or private hospital... I say whichever is quicker... She says private but more expensive... At this point I'm starting feel some pain so I go for quick and expensive as my best option... Getting back into the van didn't go as smoothly as getting out... I whacked the leg on the door on the way back in. The scream was deafening to anyone within 100 yards....
I'm wheeled back to the emergency room and the doctor follows shortly with x-rays and says my ankle is broken and requires surgery... At this point I'm looking around the room and seeing very antiquated equipment, missing ceiling tiles and a janitor pushing around a mop that is black from never having been rinsed out... I had already broken into a sweat a couple of hours ago... now the sweat is pouring off of me... The doctor is calling to have an anaesthesiologist brought down... My mind goes to all the ER's and Chicago Hopes I've watch where people die on the table from too much anaesthesia... I'm starting to panic.
I grab the caddie master's hand phone and make a call to Singapore... I think we subscribe to SOS, which moves people to "FIRST WORLD" facilities when they are hurt in third world areas... Christy my secretary gets on it and things start to happen... I also place a call to Sean to see if he can catch a cab over the border and help get my car and more importantly passport and id which I suddenly realise are back at the resort. SOS explains to the local doctor that I'm only covered in Singapore to avoid any hurt feelings.... The only problem with this is now that I have been turned over to SOS the Malaysian staff will not administer any painkiller... It is now 7 hours since the accident. I'm starting to lose it... BIG TIME!
I wait for the ambulance from Singapore to arrive with the SOS team... it arrives at 3pm. They pile me in the ambulance but because of the bumpy roads they have to go about 10 miles an hours.... We reach Mount Elizabeth hospital (right next door to where we live in Singapore). Alexis is waiting for me ... She has even packed a goodie bag for me!!! 6pm I'm wheeled into surgery... I remember the mask coming down and being told to take a deep breath....
2 ½ hours later I'm brought out of surgery. I proceed to sleep for the next 12 hours... I wake to find Alexis and Gerri at my side... Gerri is not happy that I told Alexis not to tell her anything was wrong until after she arrived from Hong Kong (why screw up their two days when there was nothing she could do....). The doctor comes in and explains that I now have a plate, pin, screws and wires in my ankle... The surgery was complicated because of the swelling that was brought on by the fact that the surgery was not performed for almost 11 hours after the accident... I will remain in the hospital for 5 days... Then it is 6 weeks in bed not using my right leg, therapy etc.... So.... suddenly missing a putt or two doesn't seem so important... the doc says it will be 60 to 90 days before I can play again.... NOT ON THE AGENDA!!!!! Sorry to be so long winded. But frankly I have nothing else to do except play on my laptop in bed for the next couple of weeks.... Saying I simply fell while climbing stairs sounds pretty lame... so if you tell anyone else about my mishap you should feel free to jazz it up a bit... Something about Joe's heroic actions saved thousands of lives would be a nice touch.... Hope your week went better than mine!
12:57PM 05 August 2000 - Singapore
Just back from the doctor... I've decided I don't like him... He tries to guess the question you are trying to ask without listening to what you are saying. I like a doctor to listen to the entire question and then give me an answer. When he took off the hard cast and started cutting off the bandages he said "uh oh" and had to be prompted to explain... I never want to hear a doctor say "uh oh" when he is working on me or anyone I care about!
Bottom line, the incisions have not have healed as fast as he would like... He had planned on removing the outer stitches but after closer examination decided not to. He cleaned up the incisions and slapped pretty cool clear bandages on both sides and a tube like sock that puts pressure on the foot ankle and leg to ease the swelling. I guess I was surprised about how black and shiny most of my lower leg and foot are, he said it was from the bruising which comes on after the surgery... The black and blue is running up towards my knee from having my leg propped up all the time (this is actually a good thing and showed I stayed off my feet as instructed)...
I no longer have a cast and can start wiggling my foot around as much as possible however I cannot stand, walk or put any pressure on it for 6 more weeks. Then (and get this) after a couple of months when it is all healed they are going to go back in and take out the metal plate and screws holding my ankle together... More surgery...AAARRRGGGHHH!!!!!
Am supposed to bend it back and forth and in my mind I'm doing it just fine only to look down and see it move less than a 1/4 of an inch... This is going to take some work.... Still can't take a shower with it but at least we can use a smaller trash bag to wrap it up.... If you want a good laugh picture me sitting on stool in the shower with my right leg stuck out under the curtain, with a trash bag wrapped around it trying the get the shampoo out of my eyes....
The good news is that there is very little pain unless I turn it just right... It feels like I'm wearing flip flops and the toe piece is too tight, more annoying than painful. I'm off the painkillers for the first time in two weeks... Plenty of beer, wine and vodka martinis on standby...
Gerri put her sister Kathy back on the plane for home this morning at 5:30... Gerri is flaked out next too me... Not too sure who is more tired...More news at 11
08:42PM 12 August 2000 - Singapore
Went to the doctor today... He removed the major outer stitches. Nothing really new to report... The incisions are still not closed so cannot get the ankle wet or begin therapy... Getting impatient! Will be in the wheelchair/on crutches for another couple of weeks.
Took some pictures of me with a sign trying to get JR to send the VCR of the Friends episodes he promised..
01:17PM 23 August 2000 - Singapore
Back to the surgeon who is finally seemed happy with the progress... Took some more x-rays which apparently tell him that things are on the mend. Physical therapy can start on the 28th and can start taking a regular shower (by regular I mean with both legs in the shower rather than the bandaged leg hanging out under the curtain...
03:45PM 29 August 2000 = Singapore
Hot pads, giant rubber bands, swimming pool, lotion... and therapy begins! While I still cannot put any weight on my foot yet and can start putting it on the floor and trying to get it to bend (I guess actually I should say straighten) into the normal position. While standing neck deep in water I can practice walking again and the rubber band gets put around both feet while pointing up, down, sideways with my other foot or held with my hands while pushing away... Looking forward to taking my first steps next week! (Still with crutches but boy is that going to be better than laying in bed all day! OH and I can't forget to mention... JR SENT THE TAPES!!!! THANKS JR!
09:30PM 08 September 2000 - Singapore
Well we are heading into week 7 of “the great golfing accident” 6 of those weeks were spent in bed, something that I always thought I wanted to be able to do... Only to find that the grass is actually greener on the other side... what I really would rather have been doing was golfing, working... anything other than laying on my back with my leg stuck up in the air! Looks like a couple more weeks on crutches then am told will go back in for a “quick hardware” removal will involve some surgery and just a day or two of bed rest... (I sure hope they are right this time....) Going to physical therapy and in neck deep water can walk normally... it’s when the water gets shallower that it is more of a challenge...
09:38AM 16 September 2000 - Singapore
Went to the Doctor on Wednesday and had a very good visit! New x-rays taken reveal that the bones are healing nicely. One incision is still not fully closed but the doctor was not overly concerned about that and said it will close up in the next two weeks.
The big news... I can switch to a cane. GOODBYE CRUTCHES! They are going in the trash where they belong! The therapy has helped tremendously and we are working on convincing my ankle that it is OK to bend... The doc has decided to leave the hardware in for 10-12 months so I'll be setting off metal detectors at the airports for awhile longer. The last visit I told folks there was finally light at the end of the tunnel... This week there is not only light ... I'm standing in the bright sunshine!!! I figure driving range in 2 weeks and back on the golf course in 4! Wish me luck.
08:52AM 07 October 2000 - Singapore
Still 3 legged... am good without the cane for short distances but more than a couple hundred feet still need it... Getting there slowly....
10:43 AM 10 November 00 - Singapore
It is 4 months, 2 weeks, 6 days and 30 minutes since the, now, infamous ankle breaking... at Palm Resort Golf & Country Club, Malaysia I decided it was time to head back up to Malaysia and give it another try. The cane safely stuffed in a closet for a couple weeks, I decided it was time to get back into the saddle...
I picked up a colleague at 6am and we made the hour drive over the causeway. We arrived to find that the only course where golf carts are allowed was closed for some repairs... The other two courses are walking courses and I have to admit that I broke out in a sweat making the decision about if I should proceed on foot or come back another time when carts were available... I dug deep for that “inner strength” and committed to Allamanda Course on the proviso that I could quit after 9 holes (just in case...)...
We were on the 1st tee at 7:30... I panicked and realised that I’d forgot how to place my feet, hold the club, tee-up the ball... I pushed the tee in the ground and miraculously the little white ball stayed right on top... The caddie handed me my club and to my surprise my hands seemed to know where to go and how to hold it... I looked down at the ball and started remembered things like... head down, eye on the ball, follow-thru... PING! The club made contact with the ball and it went 230 yards (actually I think the months on crutches has considerably strengthened my arms and I got a nice roll....). Most importantly, it went in the right direction!
The good news was I managed to make the full 18 holes... the limp got more and more noticeable as the morning went on and it did take me about 4 ½ hours to complete the round but I got through it unscathed... Got home with a swollen leg, ready for a hot water bottle and a few aspirin but otherwise none the worse for wear... Already planning my game next weekend. Things are back to normal!
Gerri, Alexis and I are heading up to Bangkok for Thanksgiving and I’m leaving the laptop at home so take this as our best Thanksgiving wishes to those of you who partake in this holiday. For those who don’t... Hope you have a good one and have something to celebrate.
06:45PM 15 June 2001 - Singapore
Leg has been doing fairly well however had had bouts of swelling and some aches here and there. It has been almost a year and so I went in to see my orthopaedic surgeon to check on my ankle... A few x-rays, poking and prodding later... The good news is that the bones are fully healed and he is very pleased with my progress. The bad news (not really bad but not something I've been looking forward to...) is that on 3 July I'm heading back to the hospital for surgery to remove the implants. The Doc says I'll have to be off my feet for a week and on crutches for a few more weeks but after that I should be good as new...
09:51PM 07 July 2001 - Singapore
Checked into Mt. Elizabeth Hospital at 8:00am, Tues, 3 Jul. The usual hospital "hurry up and wait syndrome", lots of paper to fill out and then sitting in the room waiting for perturbed to still find me in my street clothes (no one had told me not to be...). Was stripped down and given one of those delightful blue gowns that are split down the back to insure the world gets a good look at your butt... Was wheeled down several corridors and pushed into pre-op. The anaesthesiologist arrived and inserted an IV in my wrist and told me they would come for me in a few minutes. I waited about 20 minutes watching people being rolled out of their surgeries looking pretty green, not very comforting! Was wheeled into a very high tech operating room with several nurses and the anaesthesiologist was waiting. Immediately the mask came down over my face and I was being told to breathe deep. 2 hours later I awoke in the recovery room.
I was wheeled back to my room where Gerri was waiting and remember saying "Hi" and that is about all. Woke up a couple hours later with a severe burning sensation in my leg. Nurse showed up with a needle and gave me a jab in my hip. Sleep again... Don't remember much about the 24 hours following surgery other than getting woke up every couple hours for the obligatory "temperature, blood pressure, pulse checks" by the nurses. Next morning Gerri was there waiting for me to wake. Doctor came and told me everything went fine, I could go home as long as I stayed off my feet. The check-out procedure is almost longer than the check in process. Wheeled out to the car, discovered I had not forgotten how to use my crutches and got into the apartment easily. Sleep, sleep and more sleep... The pain killers, "happy pills" work great!
This morning I put some weight on the foot and other than irritation from the incisions and stitches on both sides the ankle feels pretty good. Decided not to take a pain bill this morning and appear to be doing just fine. Back to work on Monday then see the doctor to hopefully have the stitches taken out on Wed. As is usual practice in this part of the world... I was given the removed hardware and, of course, I've scanned it for your viewing pleasure!
14:57PM 15 July - Singapore
I wish everything involving my leg had gone as easy as this past week... By last Monday (9 July) I was on a cane and doing real well getting around. On Wednesday (11 July) I went to the Doctor and the incisions had healed well enough for him to remove the external stitches (the internal stitches are the dissolving type). Him yanking out 7 inch long pieces of nylon thread that ran the length of bothincisions was not one of the highlights of my day but it was over quickly. I immediately felt better and realized that the irritation I had been feeling came from more from the stitches pulling than the incisions themselves. He told me to take it easy for a few days (no football or rugby... like that is a challenge for me...)
Goodbye cane! Goodbye Doctor! We mutually agreed that it would be best if we never saw each other again and I walked out with a smile on my face! Other than a bit of swelling and a hint of a limp (both of which will soon pass) I'm a happy camper again. Heading to the golf course next week! Wish me luck!
14 November 2000 - Johor Baru, Malaysia
It is 4 months, 2 weeks, 6 days and 30 minutes since the, now, infamous ankle breaking… at Palm Resort Golf & Country Club, Malaysia I decided it was time to head back up to Malaysia and give it another try. The cane safely stuffed in a closet for a couple weeks, I decided it was time to get back into the saddle…
I picked up a colleague at 6am and we made the hour drive over the causeway. We arrived to find that the only course where golf carts are allowed was closed for some repairs… The other two courses are walking courses and I have to admit that I broke out in a sweat making the decision about if I should proceed on foot or come back another time when carts were available… I dug deep for that “inner strength” and committed to Allamanda Course on the proviso that I could quit after 9 holes (just in case…)…
We were on the 1st tee at 7:30… I panicked and realised that I’d forgot how to place my feet, hold the club, tee-up the ball… I pushed the tee in the ground and miraculously the little white ball stayed right on top… The caddie handed me my club and to my surprise my hands seemed to know where to go and how to hold it… I looked down at the ball and started remembered things like… head down, eye on the ball, follow-thru… PING! The club made contact with the ball and it went 230 yards (actually I think the months on crutches has considerably strengthened my arms and I got a nice roll….). Most importantly, it went in the right direction!
The good news was I managed to make the full 18 holes… the limp got more and more noticeable as the morning went on and it did take me about 4 ½ hours to complete the round but I got through it unscathed… Got home with a swollen leg, ready for a hot water bottle and a few aspirin but otherwise none the worse for wear… Already planning my game next weekend. Things are back to normal!
Gerri, Alexis, and I are heading up to Bangkok for Thanksgiving and I’m leaving the laptop at home so take this as our best Thanksgiving wishes to those of you who partake in this holiday. For those who don’t… Hope you have a good one and have something to celebrate.
Hope this finds you well!