Wednesday, September 2, 2009

X-Rays of my (Dr. Hey) broken, now healed leg over 31 years after being hit by a car

Just recently my mom and dad cleaned out and sold their home of 40+ years and moved to a retirement community.
During the cleanup, my mom uncovered one of my original X-Rays of my broken left leg from 1981, as well as a case report article about my accident which had a picture of my originally shattered leg from 1978.

Wow, that brought back a flood of memories of my ordeal as a patient as a teenager, going through 3 and a half months confined to hospital bed,  11 surgeries with constant threat of amputation and sepsis, and a 2-3 year recovery time to actually get back fully walking again.  My orthopaedic surgeon, Mark and Charles Pitman, stuck by me, and dealt with all sorts of complications and setbacks, but never gave up trying to help me get back on my feet, but also seeking to preserve my life as well.

My faith, heart, and direction took a very big turn during that “dark” period.
I simply would not be the father, husband, surgeon and neighbor/friend that I am now if I hadn’t gone through that very rough time.

My leg, although not pretty, is quite functional.  I can stand up for surgery for hours on end without a problem, and also ride my bicycle many miles, as well as exercise daily on elliptical, lift weights, etc.  I have some pain, but it is bearable.  I also have been able to even do a little bit of jogging, which has been a real joy as well.

Today I brought my old X-Rays into work and shared them with the Hey Clinic staff.  They caused quite a stir!
Emily in my office was kind enough to get my old X-Ray on the old fashioned film digitized over at Duke Raleigh Hospital Radiology for free (thanks Duke Raleigh Radiology!), and got my 1978 X-Ray that we had in a publication scanned in.  Melissa, one of our radiology technologists at Hey Clinic shot a new digital x-ray of my leg today — the first I have had in over 14 years!  You can really see the healing that has occurred over many years from my original injury where 2 inches of my tibia got kicked out onto the street and was unusable.

I learned a lot by being on the “receiving end” as a patient about what to do, and what not to do when caring for patients.  The world really does look a lot different when you are looking up from the hospital bed.

I thank God every day when I wake up, and can get opportunity to live another day, since I could have easily have died in that accident back in June 1978.  I also thank God many times for all of the caring nurses, doctors, physical and occupational therapists, pastors, friends and family that God put in my life at just the right time to help get me through, and enable me to be able to serve myself.

Every day is a gift.

What better thing could I do each day out of thanksgiving to God for the life and healing He gave me to invest each day to share this life and healing with those who cross my path.  

People sometimes ask me “How do you have the energy to do all that you do?”
My simple answer is that God enables me to do it, and I really do enjoy serving others with the skills, compassion, and problem solving gifts that I’ve been given.  I also really enjoy working with all of the great people at Hey Clinic and over at Duke Raleigh Hospital and WakeMed Hospital.  It is a blessing to come to work and serve with such great people each day, to use my hands and mind to help others, and to see the miracle of healing and relief each day.

This evening on evening rounds was no exception:  I saw all of my patients up on the ortho floor including my 2 current physician patients who had spine surgery this week.  The pediatrician that I did 3 level instrumentation and fusion and decompression this morning told me that he felt just great, with the pain that he was suffering with in both legs completely gone.  He was quite ecstatic, ready to go back and serve as pediatrician at age 72! I hope I can continue to serve as a surgeon into my 70’s or possibly even beyond as my mentor Dr. John Hall did with excellence at Harvard Medical School’s Boston Children’s Hospital Orthopaedic Service!

I then saw the 22 yo man who I performed a revision laminectomy and discectomy on this afternoon, also extremely thankful with his leg pain completely gone, ready to go home and be better father for his 2 small kids and better husband for his young wife.  I then saw the gentleman from Monday who had 4 surgeries elsewhere, but could not walk very well.  I did complex decompression fusion for him, and now he is going home tomorrow making very good progress on his walking and pain.  My doctor patient from Detroit, who had the big kyphosis surgery yesterday is doing well, and said “I wish I could do the kind of surgeries you do... It must be quite rewarding.”  -- an interesting comment!  I must say that it really is quite rewarding, although it can be stressful at times as well.

No matter who you are, or where you are at in life, your life is precious, and each day is a gift.  A gift to be shared with others.

Dr. Lloyd Hey
Hey Clinic for Scoliosis and Spine Surgery

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