Fracture Recovery Part 2: The Fracture Clinic (With Tips!)

Feet on bed, one in cast

Did you miss part 1?

The thing about complex fractures is that they often do not heal well on their own and will often require surgery, and in the case of Sunnybrook, this means you need to pay a visit to their fracture clinic. I was able to get an appointment for the day after my fracture, which meant another trip up to the hospital, the morning after my first seven ho ur visit. I figured (incorrectly) that since I had an appointment, it would only be a couple hours the second time around. Oh boy was I wrong. I was in the fracture clinic almost as long as I was in the ER the night before.

Now I certainly learned a lot from that visit to the fracture clinic, though not as much about my injury as you might hope for in a six hour visit. Here are some of the things I learned that you can take advantage of if you visit Sunnybrook’s fracture clinic:
Show up very early. Your appointment time doesn’t really matter, it is actually first come first served (mostly).
Be prepared to not have anywhere to put your leg up. This was not super surprising to me, but good to know anyway. The whole time I was there all or almost all of the chairs were taken, so I wasn’t able to sit with my leg up until I was taken back almost 4 hours in.
BRING FOOD. These appointments are much more bearable if you’re not also hungry. The food options at Sunnybrook are not absurdly overpriced, but I would still recommend bringing food.
Don’t expect to see your surgeon on day 1. You’ll see probably a couple of office staff, but you are far more likely to see a fellow and/or resident than your surgeon.
Bring all your patience. The fracture clinic saw 80 people the day I was there, and there are nowhere near enough staff to deal with everyone in a timely fashion, and the staff there at that time have no control over the number of staff, which is why your wait is so long.
Bring your own pain medication. If you’ve got a prescription for something, great, otherwise bring the strongest OTC stuff you’ve got.

The fracture clinic is the hub of all kinds of injuries, some of which involve surgery and some which don’t. People are in and out of this area of the hospital for ages post fracture. People were in and out of the fracture clinic for all kinds of complications and concerns beyond the fracture and operation themselves. This means that it is constantly busy, which is not ideal when you’ve only just had an injury and you’re trying to see someone to figure out what your treatment plan is.

Once I finally got out of the waiting room, the visit was not terribly long (even though it felt super long). I was taken into the back and sat on a bed, where I waited some more. Then I was told that I needed more X-rays, which was something I very much was not looking forward to. It had only been a little over 12 hours since the ER x-rays, but at this point, we weren’t looking at whether it was fractured, but figuring out whether there was ligament damage in my leg as well. This meant comparing both ankles, to compare the distance between the bones in my leg. Unfortunately, the care taken to get me to and from the x-ray was certainly not ideal. First they cut off the splint I’d had put on the night before and threw it out. At this point I asked the staff for some sort of pain medication, since the process of having an x-ray done is so painful but was told they didn’t have any pain medication in the fracture clinic, which still shocks me a few days out.

The other big shock to me was the lack of forethought for how they were going to get me to the x-ray lab. They had taken off my splint, and I needed to move in a wheelchair without much in the way of leg support, so they pulled my splint back out of the trash (which thankfully had been emptied just before they put it in there), wrapped a tenser bandage around the whole thing (which really hurt btw) and sat me in the wheelchair on a crutch back out of the fracture clinic.

I got the X-rays done pretty quickly, but the next problem came when they were finished. I guess this isn’t a situation the X-ray techs encounter often, since they didn’t know how to re-wrap my splint in the tenser. So I was now headed back to the fracture clinic, having not eaten for I don’t know how long, with almost no pain medication (just a couple Advil I had on me), sitting on a crutch with my splint pulling on my broken leg. I. Was. Miserable.

We made our way back to the fracture clinic, and into the back to wait a little longer. At this point, the fracture clinic is closing, and I still haven’t gotten much of anything in terms of information about my injury or the treatment plan. Eventually, I was able to see the same resident/fellow who had sent me for X-rays earlier in the day. He let me know that I would be headed for surgery, but by this time, the admin staff had left for the night (since the clinic technically closes at 3 and by this time it was nearly 5:30). I had to wait for the following day for information about my surgery date. I finally got a new splint and then was able to get on my way back home to wait for a phone call so I could finally plan the next few weeks.


-Alicia, Endeavour Office Manager


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