I am writing this blog to help or rather inform other sufferers of bilateral quadriceps tendon rupture, which I suffered on the 1 April 2014. If you wish to add a comment, please do, or if you would rather email me with your experience or any questions, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will include as much as I can. I found that most of the information online is medical based, but there are quite a few forums online dealing with the injury. Most other information out there is usually about people who have had a bad experience. Do not get me wrong there is nothing good about a bilateral quad rupture, but now at week 10, I have not had that bad an experience. Well not as bad as some I have read about. But we all have a different experience and outcome. I am writing this as I am hoping it will be cathartic for me, and pass on any hints, tips or help other injured people.
I suffered my bilateral quadriceps tendon rupture on 1 April 2014, and it just so happened to be ‘All Fools Day.’ My day started as they usually do on the first of the month. I send all my friends a good luck text message that reads; “White Rabbits.” I did not realise then, but this was not going to be a lucky day for me.
I am 62 and I work in the UK for a south coast based advertising agency, and live in Bournemouth, which is in the beautiful county of Dorset.
The day following my accident the agency were presenting to a prospective client. We were going to stay overnight in Derby as our meeting was at 10am in the prospects East Midlands office. The presentation team was anticipating leaving Bournemouth at around 9pm, as the creative department was still working on the presentation. You know when your spider senses tell you not to do something, well I’m about to do a favour, one which I am going to regret.
As I was walking through the office, one of our other account teams asked if I had enough time to deliver some leaflets. It transpires, they want me to do a door-to-door leaflet drop for one of our clients. As it was only 3.30pm, I thought I had time. After clearing it with my boss, I picked up the leaflets and the map of which houses I was supposed to be delivering to. Then left in the car for Sutton Scotney, the destination of the leaflet drop. Sutton Scotney is a relatively small village in Hampshire, close to Winchester and about 50 miles from Bournemouth. It was a damp, dreary day, and when I drove into the village I parked close to our client’s development. The client is one of the country’s largest housing developers. I was about two thirds of the way through the drop when it happened. I was in the Stockbridge Road delivering to what looked like a row of almshouses.
I was leaving one of the houses, I lost my footing on some loose gravel. The gravel had broken free from the concrete pathway outside the almshouses. In hindsight, I should have just let myself fall, but my natural instinct was to try and stop myself. As I struggled to stop myself falling, I fell forward anyway. The next few seconds were a bit of a blur, apart from the loud pop from my knee/knees, and the searing pain. I fell on to the concrete path and thank god, not on my head. I later found out that the loud popping was my quadriceps tendons tearing from my kneecaps. In lay terms the tendon attaching my thigh muscle to my kneecap had ripped away.
I lay there for a few minutes and tried to get up. The pain radiating from my knees as I tried let me know this was not such a good idea. There was a grass verge running alongside the pathway, and I thought it would be better to drag myself onto it. I remember the long damp; cool grass seemed to sooth my painful, fiery knees. At this point, I was in denial, thinking I’ll give it a bit and all would be ok, nothing is going to be further from the truth. After a few minutes and realising I was not going to get up just yet (still in denial), I saw some railings about thirty yards from where I was laying. I thought if I could drag myself there I could pull myself up by the top rail (still in denial). I then proceeded to crawl to the railings. I grabbed the top rail and tried to pull myself up. I soon realised it was futile, the pain was indescribable.
The scene of my accident
It was now time to realise I was fucked, especially as I could now fit my fingers behind my kneecaps. Luckily I had my phone in my pocket, I called 999 and the nice lady on the other end said help was on its way. The time now was 5pm, and a couple came out from and adjacent almshouse to enquire if I was OK. They obviously had seen me crawling around on the grass. I explained what had happened and that I had called an ambulance.
I then called the office to tell them what had befallen me, and that someone was going to have to come over and pick the car up. I gave the keys to the car to the couple that had come out to help, and told them someone from my office would be over to collect her. I didn’t realise it at that moment, but I was going to be able to give the guys coming to collect the car; the keys myself! The ambulance arrived at 7.10pm over two hours after I made the first call (thank you coalition!). I was left hanging onto that railing for just over two hours. Apparently according to the dispatcher and then triage nurse, I wasn’t an emergency. Sorry, it is getting late, its cold, I’m now damp, I’m in extreme pain and my legs don’t work. In hindsight, I should have said I had chest pains. But what if they had come to me and someone had died of a heart attack, more ambulance crews needed me thinks. I’m not a politically motivated person but hey do you know how much tax I’ve paid in my life.
Jason from the office arrived at the scene around 6.30, it does not need to be said that he was surprised to see me still there. Now follows a scene from a sit com, we decide to see if I can get into Jason’s car. At this point, I was at the top of a grass verge that ran down to the road. Jason parked his car as close to the verge as he could. This by the way was in a small lane where one car could just pass. So we are now holding up the passing traffic. I let go of the railings and crawl down the verge to where Jason’s car is parked. I literally tried to crawl into his back seat like a dog (no comments from people who know me). This proved impossible, and the pain indescribable. As I lay on the grass, with onlookers gwaping on, the ambulance arrived. It’s now 7.10pm.
It was not until they tried to put me in the ambulance that I realised I had Tourette’s syndrome. When the ambulance guys picked me up the pain was utterly indescribable. They ask you in the hospital to describe your pain on a scale of 1 to 10…. You know when they say something is priceless; well my pain was numberless. I am now in the Guinness book of records for the most expletives in fifteen seconds.
The journey was bumpy and painful but soon I would be in the hospital. On arrival at A&E I was pushed into a cubical and moved on to the bed, this was going to be home for the next six days, I mean the bed. I wished; I really do wish, I could say my care was above and beyond, they were obviously very busy or understaffed or both. I may not be a politically motivated animal, but there’s something not quite right in the National Health Service.
To start with they have an obsession with your blood pressure, after the doctor saw me and said he thought I had a double rupture of my quadriceps tendons. A nurse/care assistant appeared and handed me a gown, said get undressed and put this on. Then promptly left, how I got undressed is a mystery to me; I was by now on painkillers, but they hadn’t kicked in yet. I managed to get my jacket and shirt off, but my shoes and trousers took me over 40 minutes and a lot of pain. I was left with just my underpants not to put it politely, and I couldn’t get them down past my very swollen and painful knees. The nurse came back in and seeing I was not finished turn to go back out. I shouted after her asking if I could have a pair of scissors, she never inquired what I wanted them for, just went out and came back with a pair, and then promptly left again. I could have wanted to do away with myself, or someone else come to that, but all I wanted to do was cut off my underpants. Can someone tell me, was it too much to ask, if the nurse/care assistant could help me get undressed? Bearing in mind the state I was in.
I now lay there in agony as my abdominal, quadriceps and calf muscles start cramping. Apparently it’s a side affect of the quadriceps rupture, and an added agony. Eventually, a porter runs me down to the x-ray department and while waiting outside I meet Darrell. Darrell had been hit by a car while getting into a taxi at Winchester Railway Station. The station is some 700 yards from the hospital. He had a similar experience to myself; had to wait one and a half hours for an ambulance; 700 yards from the hospital (well done coalition, or rather should I say Labour where did all the money go). Really I’m not political. Darrell went in first, the next time I saw him he was in the next bed to me on the orthopaedic ward. I was next in and was out back in my cubical in no time. The doctor came to see me to confirm the original diagnosis; I had ruptured both my quadriceps tendons. So no going home for me then, ho-hum. He fitted both my legs with what they call cricket splints. And the best way to describe them is that they are a bit like full-length cricket pads that go right around your leg. They have metal rods inserted length ways so your leg is unable to bend. These splints are going torture me for the next 6 weeks.
When I got to the ward it was 11.30. I drifted off into a fitful sleep.
I remember being awake at 5.30am the next day, a very weird experience. Our section of the ward had six beds, my bed was by the doors and Darrell was in the bed to my right. On my side of the ward, there was myself, Darrell and John. John was a builder and had fallen from a roof, it also happens that he is a amateur musician plays the violin for the Winchester Operatic Society, you have it, he is very own fiddler on the roof!
On the other side were three elderly gentlemen who all had or were having hip replacements. The guy opposite me also had dementia; he would sleep most of the day and then wonder around all night. How the night staff put up with him, well I take my hat off to them. He would swear at them, try to hit them when they tried to put him back to bed. It got me to thinking maybe the chemical cosh is not such a bad thing. One night he managed somehow to get a pair of scissors, and was roaming around the ward with them. It was quite scary particularly as I was trapped in bed. When a member of the night staff came in Ron that was his name hid the scissors, he wasn’t that demented. I got the care assistants attention and told him about the scissors, he retrieved them not making me Mr Popular with Ron. He was shipped out the following day thank god.
Anyway it was now 5.30am on my first full day at the hospital. Around 6am, I had a cup of tea, bliss, and the first of my daily blood pressure tests usually 4 in a day, and of course the painkillers. Breakfast came at 8am, an individual size box of cornflakes. I was so hungry anything would have done, even the box.
At 10am Mr Bailey my surgeon came to examine me, and informed me that I would be going down to surgery in the afternoon. The best outcomes are from early intervention; the earlier it’s done the better the outcome. The rest of the day goes slowly, the splints around my legs are now somewhat irritating, the thought that I have got to keep them on 24/7 for the next 6 weeks is appalling. Darrell goes down for his surgery me next, I hope. Mind you that depends on how long they are with Darrell. During the afternoon I have seen three different anaesthetists, all really saying the same. Am I allergic to this that or the other, had I had anaesthetic before. And that they might give me a spinal anaesthetic. What would I prefer? How do I know, I just want to get it over with. It comes to my turn for the operating table; off I go still in my trusty bed. Best thing about the hospital, the bed. I arrive in the theatre area, soft music playing. I’m pushed through some more doors and I’m in the anteroom, the next doors take you into the operating theatre. It’s in the anteroom that they put you to sleep, not literally. I don’t know if you the reader have had anaesthetic, I was expecting something slightly different. They had decided not to give me an epidural as I could not lie on my side. So we went for the (Full Monty), the anaesthetist said as she administered the drug, you’re go off to sleep and awake after the procedure. So I’m waiting for the lights to go out, they didn’t. I now start to panic and start mumbling, I’m not out, its not worked; a nurse at my side said its ok its all over! What, it didn’t even seem like I went out at all, two hours of my life in a millisecond. I got back to the ward around 9pm and slept like a baby till 6am.
I was awoken by the usual 6am blood pressure and med’s round, the day slipped by slowly, Mr Bailey and his registrar came to see me, he told me how the operation had gone, and that the splints had to stay on till I went back to the hospital for my six-week check. He also said that I would probably be in the hospital until they thought I was fit enough to go home, somewhere between a week and two weeks. And then it would be bed rest for six weeks! When I asked him when I could get back to work and normality, he used an apparently new medical term, ‘Suck it and see.’ Apparently people with a singular rupture get back to normality within four to six months. I have a rare bilateral rupture, so it’s how my body responds, hence the new medical term ‘Suck it and see.’ I’m now depressed, and it’s hard to make me depressed.
Hospital food was good; washing consisted of a care assistant coming once a day with a bowl and a flannel and you got on with it. Where was the busty nurse to give you a bed bath, gone with the carry on films and my teen years? I had a visitor from work, who brought me some books, biscuits and fruit, nice. Thanks Tiff x.
As mentioned earlier, the day of my accident I was going to be ending up in Derby, so I had my overnight bag with me, and my computer bag. So I had my Ipad, Iphone and wash bag…. The Ipad was invaluable? Email, music, Sky Go, Netflix and Porn. So here’s my second bit of advice, always carry and overnight bag and all your communication devices. You never know there could be a calamity around the corner. Towards the end of the day, they shut our ward down, Bartlet Ward by the way. The old guy opposite to John had an infection, so now we are a closed ward. That meant the doors stay shut and everyone coming in has to wear a silly plastic apron what good that does, who knows. This went on for the next four days. My abiding memory of that stay in hospital was the heat, no air-conditioning. I run on hot anyway, but I was covered in perspiration virtually all the time I was in the hospital.
The rest of the time I was concerned mainly about my bowel movement, not to put to a finer point on it. The painkillers also kill your ability to pooh. What concerned me was this, they were feeding you well and they were, but where was it going? I had been a three times a day man, now I’m a no times a day man. I tried on a couple of occasions to use a bedpan. I had this weird idea that it was going to be something substantial; the care assistant produced what only I can describe as a cardboard flat cap. You could have worn it. Well, I sat on it for and hour, nothing, the idea of having a dump in that thing put you off anyway. If I had managed to do one, it would have gone everywhere. You have to remember I’m stuck in bed, and in reality it was a godsend I couldn’t pooh. Also, bearing in mind I’m 230lbs, when the thing came out from under me, it resembled more a flattened, flat cap……
The next night I gave it a go again still no luck, so they wheel in the commode. High tech stuff, and also a chair to rest my legs on. Commodes are not made for men; I lower the bed to the height of the commode, and drag myself across the bed to shuffle my bum onto the seat. As I’m writing this some ten weeks after these events, I have to tell you I still have to do this from my own bed on to my commode just to be able to get out of bed. Anyway as I say commodes are not for us guys, there is no room to manoeuvre your privates into the bowl, that’s if you can call it a bowl. I don’t know about anybody else, but nine times out of ten when I have to go, I also need a wee. So this is the picture you need to have in your mind, it comes with and over eighteen warning.
There you are sat on the commode in your open-backed hospital gown obviously designed for that dwarf from The Game Of Thrones, with your pee bottle on your ever shrinking manhood. After half an hour, I realised the game was up and I was never going to pooh again. Shuffle my bum back on the bed and carried on sitting on my golf ball. Well that’s what it felt like.
The Physiotherapists came to see me on the Friday, which would be the 4th April. They wanted to start to get me ready for ambulation. Two very nice girls, they had not come across someone with a bilateral quad rupture before (if another person tells me how rare it is I’ll scream). It seems they had practiced on themselves with the cricket splints. They brought with them, a walker (Zimmer frame) and a pair of crutches. I still use all these things to this day 23 May. They had worked out a way of my getting out of bed with assistance and the Zimmer frame. So this is the picture, I get myself into a position after a lot of shuffling around where I’m perched on the side of the bed, with my legs, angled to the floor. One of the physio’s counterbalance one side of the Zimmer and I hoist myself up, it took several attempts. But I was up, hooray. Now the crutches, after a while, I got the hang of it. It wasn’t pretty, but I could very slowly get about. They asked if I would like to sit in a chair, yes was my reply, so they parked me in a chair got another for my legs and departed saying they would be back…. They never did. After four hours my bum got numb and I couldn’t get anyone’s attention, so I decided to take matters into my own hands. I used one of my crutches to push away the chair supporting my legs and then with my bum on the edge of the chair pushed myself up on my arms. I still use this method for getting out of a chair to this day. I can only sit in chairs with sturdy arms. So now I’m up, I balance on my crutches and get to the side of the bed. The beds to low, so I use the remote control to raise the middle of the bed get my arse on to it, and literally throw myself back onto the bed. That was enough for Friday. I’m now exhausted.
Lynne came to see me the next day on the Saturday. It obviously shook her seeing me like this. She doesn’t drive distances, so it was really great she drove down from North London. It was good seeing her, but I made sure she headed home before it got dark. I was sad when she had left, and worried till she calls to say she was home safe and sound. In the evenings, a nurse comes round and gives you an injection into your stomach. It’s to stop you getting deep vein thrombosis, and it stings for ages.
On the Sunday, the sister tells me I can go home today and they are arranging transport. At this point, I didn’t realise there was a hidden agenda. I’m asked if I have had a bowel movement, apparently I cannot go home till I have had a movement it transpires. I told her the hospital had done four things, fixed my broken knees, got rid of my appetite, made my penis disappear and screwed up my digestive system. She saw the funny side, I think. So it was a suppository for me (maybe she did not see the funny side). First there was the examination to see what was up there. I had to roll over on my side and the sister was going in. She asked if I would unclench, I had to inform her I wasn’t clenching just had a tight bottom. I was eventually probed and informed I was full, you don’t say? She obviously didn’t find the golf ball up there. The suppository was inserted and I was instructed to hold it in. Within ten minutes, I was shuffling towards the commode. The relief.
Later as I lay there, I think to myself I have nothing at home to help me, I called the Red Cross to see if they could lend me a high-backed chair with arms to sit on, which I am doing as I write this, a commode, and a table, for my bed. There was no reply. Sunday? I waited all day for the transport that never came. At 9pm, the sister came and told me I’ll being going home tomorrow now. But they needed my bed space and I was being moved, that’s why there sending me home they need my bed space. That Sunday night I ended up in a corridor come cupboard. It’s was cold, and a shock from the greenhouse heat of my ward. In the morning, I’m moved to the outpatient ward. It was a bit like going back in time, this was an old fashioned ward if I could only have spent the last six days here. I had gone back in time to ‘Emergency Ward 10’, they asked if you would like a cup of tea, I mean whenever you wanted. I called the Red Cross again and got through to a nice lady and told her what I wanted. She said they could help, but it would be at least 4 to 5 days. That was no good to me; I needed the stuff today. Because I was out of my NHS trust area I couldn’t get the things I needed from the occupational therapy department at the hospital. Well done whoever thought that one up? You’re not always conveniently going rupture your quads in your own NHS trust’s area. Anyway I decided to call a local to where I live disabilities equipment supplier. They could deliver that afternoon, so I bit the bullet and purchased the items. All the time being frustrated by the poor phone signal, it’s amazing it happened at all. At 1pm the ambulance arrived to take me home, we arrived back at base at 2.30pm, the reason it took so long? The driver got lost, the irony was not lost on me.
My friend Peter was there to greet me; he had agreed to move in for as long as it took. I wouldn’t have been able to come home if had not agreed to help me. He was a lifesaver. What the cost of private home care would have been I don’t know, but two hours a day at least, for 7 days a week you work it out.
Anyway I’m home now.