Part 4 ended with Hannah prepped for surgery in the ER at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital. Three hours before on the San Ysidro Trail in nearby Montecito, she fell 15’ into a 40’ ravine of jagged rocks when the trail gave way beneath her feet. The two significant, deep left leg wounds are on the very same leg that she busted while water skiing five years ago. Click here for the first of the three part series on Hannah fracturing her tibia while water skiing in 2012.
In walks another angel on Hannah’s journey. Dr. Anthony Anagnostou introduces himself as Tony, her surgeon. As he looks around the wound, he is calm, professional, and encouraging. After getting the details from Hannah of the accident, he says, This is a deep cut. It must be thoroughly irrigated to reduce the risk of infection. I will place needles of medication around the wound in your thigh. The anesthesia will take about ten minutes to kick in. This is a serious cut, but it is something I have seen before and it is routine.
With those words (it is routine), I feel elation and relief knowing that this isn’t his first rodeo and Hannah is going to be okay.
Explaining that he will first repair the deepest tissues near her thigh bone, then sew the middle layer of tissue and finally the outer layer. There will be staples to keep it all altogether until they are removed in 10 to 14 days. Amazingly, no muscles have been ripped, no tendons torn nor bones broken.
Three two-quart bottles of saline cleanse the wounds. Hannah and I both feel she has been most fortunate that her capri pants weren’t torn away by the slide over the sharp rocks when she fell. In fact, the upper part of her capris never ripped. How could they not tear at all when she had such a deep wound? They kept more dirt and grit from infecting the wound.
One Ed Tech squirts the solution from the first bottle while another siphons out the bloody liquid, like dental hygienists do as they clean your teeth.
At this point, Tony comes in to irrigate the wound with the final two bottles. Always looking to his expression for signs of good news, I see a dedicated professional going about his business. Later, he is referred to as an Ivy Leaguer who wants to save the world; he’s going to Africa. That is music to my ears that we have such a man.
Now that the medication has kicked in, Tony goes to work. Karen and the Ed Techs all watch the deep tissue work, something I cannot see, or even want to see, sitting opposite where Tony is operating.
When he needs assistance, he is professionally polite, and appreciative of their support. As he works calmly and intently, Tony pulls out his smart phone to take pictures of the wound and the stages of his care. Later, he mentions that the wound on her thigh was so deep that he could put his hand in up to his wrist. He says he will send the pictures of Hannah’s wound for us to see, if she wants. (Two weeks later, Hannah sees them, but I am still not ready to look at them.) Though Hannah will have scars from the surgery, Tony wants Hannah to know how fortunate she is with just scars. Hannah knows!
Hannah, eyes closed, face turned my way, feels nothing. She is on major painkillers that will keep her in a fog till she gets to bed tonight. Only later do we count the 8 staples in her lower leg wound and the 17 staples to close the thigh wound.
Soon an orderly comes in and says that there is a need for examination room 4. Tony turns matter of factly and responds that he’ll be done in five minutes. That works for everyone and pleases me no end that he is almost done 40 minutes after he began.
Tony our surgeon and RN Karen wrap first her lower leg, then upper leg in gauze; they then put a compression bandage over each section. She is good to go. That said, when she looks at me, she says, You have three noses.
This six-minute video from the Cleveland Clinic captures the importance of encouraging words when doctors are dealing with patients. Tony our surgeon could have starred in this video.