44 days in hospital

It was today, 22nd August, back 8 years ago in 2001.

It was a sunny Wednesday morning. At 08:20 I was on the motorcycle lane of the Federal Highway going towards Kuala Lumpur, passing through Asia Jaya, a Petaling Jaya neighborhood, and cruising at 80 km/h. Only 10 minutes to go before I was to arrive at office in Damansara Heights, Kuala Lumpur. I could see the Hotel Armada building looming on my left side. An exit into the main road was about 30 meters away. 10 meters in front of me on my left was a small capacity 100 c.c. motorcycle.

Suddenly and without signal or any warning, the motorcycle cut to the right, directly into my path. I pulled hard the front disk brake’s right lever and simultaneously pressed my right foot hard on the rear drum brake lever. The bike abruptly halted. I jammed my left leg hard on the tarmac to prevent the bike from falling to the side. At the corner of my eyes I could see the small motorcycle exited the lane into the main road.

The next thing I know, I was lying on a hospital trolley, being pushed somewhere. Then I passed out. At 09:30 I regained consciousness. Someone told me that I was in the emergency room of University Malaya Medical Centre. Then I saw a syringe. Arrgh… I hate syringes…

When I came to, I was in the hospital’s orthopedic ward. A steel bar pierced my left foot behind the ankle. Both ends of the bar were tied to two small nylon ropes which went up to a pulley on a high bar at the foot of my bed, and went down connected to something which I could not see. Initially there was little pain, but some time later it came, after the drug and painkiller wore off.

I had suffered very serious fractures to my left leg main bone (tibia) near the knee cap (patella). And then there were skin wounds on my left knee cap, on my left elbow and cuts on my left eyebrow and cuts on both knuckles. The area surrounding my left eye was swollen black and the white part of the left eyeball was blood red. The joint on my right hand thumb was dislocated, and my left face area from the eye to the upper lips felt numb.

On Friday 24th August 2001 they removed my ankle bar, but replaced it with another bar drilled into the tibia bone about two inches below the fractured area. They did that while I was unconscious under the anaesthetics. The other end of the nylon rope was tied to a 2-kilogram weight. I was told that the contraption was called a “balanced traction”, to pull the tibia back to normal position.

Balanced suspension traction using slings. Patient in hospital bed with skeletal traction applied to injured leg, which is supported in slings.

Balanced suspension traction using slings. Patient in hospital bed with skeletal traction applied to injured leg, which is supported in slings.

14 days later, on 4th September 2001 I was told that the treatment was not giving expected results, and thus the weight was increased to 5 kilogram.

On 6th September, Day 16, the doctors told me the results were still no good. The weight was increased to 7 kilogram.

On balanced traction hospital bed, with 1-year old Adib

On balanced traction hospital bed, with 1-year old Adib

Imprisoned for 43 days on this bed..

Imprisoned for 43 days on this bed..

It turned out later that I was only 1/3 through my stay in the hospital. The traction contraption stayed with me, and I was imprisoned to the bed until 3rd October 2001, Day 43 of my hospitalization.

On 4th October 2001, Day 44, I was finally discharged from the hospital, with my left leg encased in plaster cast. I was given sick leave to recuperate at home until December. On 22nd December 2001, I returned to office.

My bike, a Yamaha Virago XV535S, a 535 c.c. V-twin was in slightly better shape than me. There were only light damage to the headlamp, turn signal lamps and the rear view mirrors. After repairs, the bike was as good as new. And I still ride the same bike even today.

The bike at a workshop, awaiting repairs

The bike at a workshop, awaiting repairs

Another view of the bike

Another view of the bike

As for myself, psychologically there were no scars. I did not experience any trauma or nightmares. Maybe it was because I immediately passed out in the milliseconds after I fell down head first onto the lane’s grass verges. A case of the body machine shutting down ahead of extreme pains, to preserve the mind. Physically, apart from the leg fractures and the cuts and grazes, there were no other permanent damage. It could have been much worse had I not been wearing an AGV full-faced helmet and a pair of thick leather gloves.

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