Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Update on Liam

You may have seen an early post where I told the sad story of my cousin's mining accident.  Here is an update I pieced together from various edited e-mails.
 
Liam is still on a lot of morphine, but is resting and Friday's operation went well. His red cell blood count is low, so they gave him two units of blood over the weekend.
 
Regarding his injuries ... 
 
His Tibia (the little bone) 
  • does not carry a great deal of the body's weight, and exists to allow the ankle to rotate.  
  • There were enough pieces to wire together with a wire mesh.
  • The  gaps will fill in over time.
  • It will also ensure that he has ankle rotation
  • Thank goodness!
The femur (the large bone)
  • carries all the body's weight
  • Liam's was missing a large section.
  • They moved the knee cap, inserted a steel rod down through the top of the bone they had to the center of the the other available piece and screwed and plated it.
  • The doctor says that eventually it will probably be stronger than his real bone.
  • A sizable quantity of muscle and flesh is missing from the front of the shin.  The doctor said that he will have a plastic surgeon determine whether to "pull flesh and muscle from the sides and stretch it to the front", or do a skin graph from some where else.
  • We are hoping for the "stretching idea," as it will be less traumatic, won't cause another involved site, or bring up rejection issues.  
All  in all, Liam was very lucky. It could have been a lot worse. He could have damaged both legs, hip, chest, or head. He was not wearing a seat belt. He needed to do a short job, and he was in a hurry. Fortunately, the accident occurred was on dirt, not cement.  Although the doctor said there was coal dust all through the wound -- even on all the crushed bone tips that were not sticking out through the skin.  
 
Amazingly enough, Liam did not pass out during or after the accident, although he claims he tried very hard to do just that. He couldn't lift any part of his body, and he event started digging the dirt out from under his leg,
 
However, the other mine workers were there almost immediately, They are all young workers, and Liam says the first guy just started crying, and Liam had to yell at him to calm him down.  
 
Robert and Tam, Liam's father and mother, have had a very enlightening conversation with Dan -- educating and very helpful -- about how workman's comp. works, so Liam doesn't have to worry about all the many medical bills.
 
At this point he hopes to stay in his apartment with his two friends -- who are brothers who grew up in Imlay City (near where Liam is from,) and near their parents -- who are like an Aunt and Uncle for Liam. Their apartment is only 3 blocks from the hospital, and the hospital has a trauma unit -- so Liam has access to a very skilled bone surgeon.  You obviously realize that not a great number of people live in Wy, and many of them are miners -- hence the trauma unit.  
 
But Liam says he doesn't think he'll stay too long- too cold.
 
Anyway, that is the update. Liam is one lucky boy. And thank you for all the calls and support.
 
It will be a long and difficult healing process -- at least a year the nurses say, but eventually he will be fine.  Dan says -- and he should know -- you don't get arthritis in your long bones, only the joints.  So he may be spared that life-long chronic pain.
 
In some happier news -- Liam says he has some recent art pieces, and an art show was scheduled for March 6. No one is sure if that will happen now, but nice to know he is still working on the fun stuff in life. Also, he and his friend have been doing research, and formed a bike company -- the pedal kind - called "Slo Bikes."  Putting together a business plan, and working with the Small Business Associating to learn about the paper work, loans, etc.
 
Even if you are all doped up on morphine, it is scary to be a long way from your family when serious stuff happens. His nurses are mothering him pretty good -- probably because it is a small hospital -- and although he says he is fine, they seem to think he is pretty scared. I think the family contact is really a life saver.
 
Thanks again for the love and support.

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