Wellness Wednesday: Recovering from a Serious Injury


This last weekend my son Vale had a major skiing accident. He broke his femur, had a pulmonary contusion, a broken rib, and a mild concussion.  He had to have emergency surgery. We quickly travelled to attend him, and since then we have been making arrangements for his recovery care. 

Though he will be off school for a time he will stay at college and we will return home. Therefore, I have been working with a team of friends and relatives to accomplish his care. This will, of course, consist of a series of wound checks, physical therapy appointments and post op appointments. It will also consist of a calendar of people doing shopping, making meals and doing laundry. When he returns to school in two or three weeks, it will mean getting driven to campus and wheelchairing around. It will mean seeing how it goes.

It has also meant getting correspondence passed back and forth between the doctors, physical therapists and the university faculty. To coordinate all this, I have had to send no end of contact information. I have had to create shared calendars and documents in the cloud, and distribute them to all his friends and family who have stepped forward to help.

Vale has had to deal with pain, disappointment and disruption. It is taking all of us together to shore him up during this trying time. It is taking everything from favorite foods to ice packs, but it is worth it. Even though it has been only four days, we can see distinct and major improvements every day.

 I am in awe of his caregivers. The surgeon and anesthesiologist spent significant time on the phone with me both before and after the case. It was easy to tell they were top notch, but they were also genuinely invested in my son, and empathized with me having to be so far away during the surgery.  I will be forever grateful for the time and energy they spent. I later leaned that that they spent this kind of energy during the entire weekend, since Vale's hip fracture was one of five such cases. The winds in the mountains had been high, and had swept the ski slopes to a hard shiny gloss. It took its toll.

Vale's physical therapist was a ray of hope. She came from both academic and clinical practice backgrounds, and was deeply invested in her field. She was immediately able to put us at ease and to identify all kinds of helpful strategies. Vale felt 100 percent better after one appointment, from a combination of the physical treatments, but also the encouragement of knowing his prognosis.

All this touched me as a mother and as a physician. It sheds renewed light on what I do.