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Maybe You’ve Heard, But I Was In An Accident 😮. Part 2

This is a continuation from part 1.

After I discharged myself from Theptharin, I knew I needed a better hospital that catered more to foreigners, so I made an appointment at Samitvej Sukhumvit Hospital in Bangkok.

I had been there before and this hospital, while expensive, is everything healthcare should be. As an American, I find it hard to believe that places like this exist.

At this point, all I knew is that I had two DVT (deep vein thrombosis) blood clots. I was on blood thinners and I was experiencing levels of pain that I didn’t know I could tolerate. I made my initial appointment with a cardiologist to care for my blood clots.

 

First Visit To Samitivej

I met with the cardiologist and he spoke PERFECT English. He was young, kind, polite, and absolutely brilliant. I knew within minutes I’d made the right decision and I was in the right place.

He reviewed my ultrasound and confirmed DVT and immediately scheduled a few months of blood thinners. However, the blood clot couldn’t explain the level of pain, so he referred me to an orthopedic surgeon. They put me in a wheelchair and drove me straight to the knee surgery department (yes, they have a whole knee center at Samitivej).

The doctor did an exam, and immediately said “Your PCL is gone. You will need reconstruction.” I was absolutely devastated, but I knew there was another problem with my leg that was undiagnosed. It still didn’t explain the pain though. So the doctor ordered an MRI and X-ray, to be done that day.

We reviewed my results, and from the X-ray, he could clearly see both breaks in my fibula, and also told me that my tibia was “collapsed”. With a blood clot and collapsed bone, this could explain the pain. He confirmed this would heal on it’s own in time, and did not need surgery.

However, the MRI clearly showed the full absence of a PCL. It was gone. Undetectable by MRI, so the doctor was right. It would need reconstruction.

The doctor explained to me that there was no way to do surgery until all of the soft tissue damage healed, the blood clot got better, and the pain was gone. He put me on a schedule checking in every 2 weeks, monitoring my medicine, and wanted to wait to schedule my surgery.

 

Surgery Day

Finally, the doctor booked my surgery on June 1st, 2023. About 3 months after the accident.

After 3 months of blood thinners, we confirmed via blood markers that the DVT was reduced to non-threatening size and almost negligible. I was ordered to stop taking blood thinners 3 days before surgery, and re-start 3 days after surgery.

I checked into the hospital for surgery. It was like a private hotel room with a hospital bed. I had to fast the night before and check in for tests at 8am, although surgery wasn’t until 1pm.

I spent the day being wheeled from room to room, taking x-rays, blood tests, interviews, and tons of other pre-surgery preparatory procedures. I met the anesthesiologist and she was so sweet, and clearly explained everything to me and that she’d be there with me the whole time watching over me.

 

Surgery

Finally, the door of my room opened and about 6 staff were there to take me away. The wheeled me to another wing of the hospital and the doors opened and it looked like a spaceship inside. Everything was white. White and shiny. The floors were white, the walls, the ceiling, everything.

They moved me into the operating room, and it was FREEZING. Apparently that’s to reduce germs and contamination, but it was colder than my refrigerator.

There was a ton of Thai staff standing in a circle, maybe 10 people. There were machines all around the room and a giant lighting apparatus on the ceiling, similar to dental lighting, but way bigger. It looked like an octopus or an alien.

They took my hospital robe off. I was totally naked. They covered me with a special heated blanket. I was shaking, sweating, shivering, and freezing all at the same time.

The tied my arms down, crucifix style. I felt like I was being nailed to the cross. Totally naked. Room full of strangers in masks, and now they tie my arms down. I had a feeling of relief almost. I knew that everything was out of my control. Nothing else for me to worry about or do. I was just hoping I’d wake up.

I had a mask on. They said “the doctor is here now” and I was out.

 

Post Surgery

I woke up in a recovery room and they kept me there and monitored me for 3 hours before moving me back to my room.

The doctor comes in and shows me this video, explaining exactly what he did.

 

They drilled a femoral tunnel. Then they cut part of my hamstrings, crafted a new makeshift PCL, and pulled it through the femoral tunnel. I couldn’t believe it. This seems like magic to me.

I ended up staying in the hospital on morphine for 3 nights just resting and healing up. The cardiologist came in several times, the anesthesiologist came in several times, and my surgeon came in several times. I am so grateful for all of them. 

Speaking of gratitude, I will never forget what my wife has done for me. She stayed with me every minute, attended to my every need, and never left my side.

 

Going Home

My knee was so swollen that it was creating circulatory issues. This is common and expected, but since I was already dealing with DVT blood clots, it was a bit more of a concern. My whole leg was turning red and purple.

Finally they released me and I firmly parked myself on my couch. I was ordered to keep my leg in a brace, at 100% extension and elevated for 4 weeks.

 

Recovery

The next four weeks went by VERY slowly. Less and less pain everyday. I was mostly unable to work due to the medications and the required positioning of my leg.

By the end of week 4, the pain was totally gone and the knee was healing nicely. The doctor allowed me to change my leg brace, to a brace that can bend my knee 10%.

 

Future

The future looks like this:

  • Every 2 weeks I can bend my leg a little more
  • Every 2 weeks (starting at week 6) I am allowed to put a tiny bit of weight on it
  • After I am allowed full extension, and full weight bearing, I can start physical therapy
  • The doctors estimate 9-12 months before doing full contact sports again, but my goal is 6 months, we’ll see what the future holds.

 

Cost

The cost of PCL reconstruction at Samitvej was exactly 423,000 Thai Baht, or roughly $12,000 USD. All together with surgery, medicines, emergency services, being admitted for the blood clot, and physical therapy, this accident will end up costing me roughly $30,000 USD out of pocket (no insurance).

 

Mentality

I may write more about this later, but I’ll touch on it briefly here as many people have asked.

It would be easy, very easy for me to go down a negative thought train…

  • Why did this happen to me?
  • Am I going to lose BJJ forever?
  • Can I every exercise again?
  • Why do I have to pay for this myself?
  • Etc….

Valid questions.

However, I will not let those thoughts dominate. I own my mentality. My mentality does not own me. I am not a passenger in this car. I am the driver.

I am lucky to be alive. I am lucky to be here. I remind myself of that every single day and I am absolutely overwhelmed with gratitude.

Nothing will get you through a hard situation more than gratitude and appreciation.

Love you all,

 

Jason

 

 

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