When I heard about Tiger Wood’s accident on Today’s Show last Tuesday, I had a momentary flashback when they mentioned that he had emergency surgery with rods, plates and screws on his leg. My first major surgery happened on May 5, 2017. It was an open reduction internal fixation (ORIF) surgery of my left ankle.
Shanghai, China. It was the first day of the 3 day weekend when I decided to head to the shopping center to watch a movie, enjoy a good meal and shop for new shoes. I took a bike from my apartment to the shopping center. I remember when I got there, my legs were like jelly. After I watched a movie, I was just walking around the mall when I notice a crowd in the children’s fun area. A child fell from one of the jungle poles and hit his head. I observed for awhile but the emergency services were taking there sweet time that I moved on. I then headed to the shopping mall across the street. Since I don’t want to cross the street in traffic, I decided to take the basement route through the subway station. I remember I was holding my phone but was focus on the path I’m taking. When I reach the entrance to the mall, I suddenly crashed on the floor as if I twisted my ankle. When I tried standing up, I knew it wasn’t just a twist of my ankle but something more. The shopping center personnel said they can call an ambulance for me. As I wasn’t that familiar with the hospitals in Shanghai, I just asked them to bring me to a place where I can have a sit. I called some friends of mine who helped me pick up some clothes in my apartment and brought me to their place for me to stay while I recuperate.
When we went to the hospital the next day, the doctors had my foot x-rayed. After half an hour, the doctor told me that I fractured my left ankle in 2 places. He told me that I would need surgery and referred me to another hospital as they don’t have a surgeon available at that time who handles this type of surgery. I was scared as throughout my whole stay in China, I never was sick enough to stay in the hospital overnight. Now here’s a doctor saying I need to have a surgery and in Shanghai, where I’m not too familiar. The surgery experience was the most challenging experience I had in China. To the doctor who can’t speak English well to explain to me what they plan to do, to the pain control procedure that the hospital had, to a hospital where you’re required to have your friend purchase a pair of crutches in the street across the hospital, to the heavy blanket they put in my feet (including the left foot which they did the surgery) during recovery where I woke up in pain, and to my hospital stay where the TV channels are all in Chinese (I’m staying in the international wing).
So what’s an ORIF surgery? It’s a surgery to fix severely broken bones. These injuries are usually fractures that are displaced, unstable, or those that involve the joint. “Open Reduction” means the surgeon makes an incision to re-align the bone. “Internal Fixation” means the bones are held together with hardware like metal pins, plates, rods or screws. For me, the surgeon put me under a general anaesthesia. They made an incision to the right side of my left ankle and placed 2 screws. On the left side of my left ankle, they made a bigger incision and placed a plate with 7 screws. The doctor told me that they can remove the hardware after two years. Since I moved to the US in September 2017, I consulted a doctor here in 2019 and they told me that if it’s bothering me, we need to schedule to have it removed. However, if not, they can leave it as is.
How long did it take for me to recover from the time of surgery till the time I walked again? After the surgery, I was in the hospital for 3 more days. They didn’t put a cast or splint on my left foot. I was using crutches for 2.5 months and was slowly walking on my 3rd month. What happened to Tiger Woods is more serious than what I experienced, I would imagine that it may take him at least 3 months to recover and more months of physical therapy to be back to normal again.
They put titanium screws and plate on my ankle. I may be a bionic woman but I don’t trip the airport or handheld sensors. I still have the option to have the hardware remove but I’m a bit scared again for the time of recovery and any potential side effects. Right now, it’s not good to wear sturdy boots that hit my ankle. Sometimes when it’s cold, I feel a slight twinge on my ankle.
To Tiger Woods, I pray for healing and speedy recovery. May God give you the strength as you recover. For your family, your support and assistance will help him a lot.