Tuesday, 24 May 2011

The Long and the Short of It

It all began on 23 August 1962 when, at the age of 18, I broke my femur in a motor bike accident.  I spent 13 weeks in hospital with my leg on traction (attached via a pulley to a set of weights) and at the end of the period discovered that my right leg was some 60 millimeters shorter than my left leg.  It has been like that ever since.  I  was eventually prescribed a built-up shoe and managed to do more or less everything I wanted to do. 

However, a couple of years ago I began to suffer a lot of pain in my right knee.  Eventually I went to my GP who referred me to the local hospital (James Paget in Gorleston).  I got a consultation with Mr Bowers the knee specialist.  After x-rays he diagnosed that because my femur had become bowed it was connecting to just the right side of my knee thereby causing arthritis.  A knee replacement would be of little use because the femur was the problem.  He then brought up the possibility of a major reconstruction of the femur.  He knew a consultant at Norfolk and Norwich Hospital who specialised in this sort of operation.

He arranged for me to see Mr Patel, the consultant in question, so that I could talk about the possibilities.  He explained that the femur had become deformed in three planes - not only was it short but it bowed to the right and the front.  He said that all these things could be corrected, given time, by the application of a spatial frame.  The process would take about six months, during which time the frame would remain attached to my leg. He would break my femur and then screw a number of rods into the bone either side of the break; these would then be attached to the frame and connected to a number of movable struts which could then be gradually adjusted in order to correct the deformities.  At the end of the process I would hopefully have a straightened femur the same length as the other one. 

I agreed to undergo the procedure. 

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