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Deus Ex - External Tibias - Leg Lengthening with Dr. Xia in China - 2012
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  1. #1
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    Post Deus Ex - External Tibias - Leg Lengthening with Dr. Xia in China - 2012

    Hello everybody.

    I had my surgery in Beijing 2 weeks ago but I'm posting now because I did get a bit lazy after surgery and wanted to post when my condition got better. Some of these entries I wrote on the day and I am just copying and pasting. Others I had to remember what happened so some details might not be too clear. Sorry about that.

    Also I want to keep my privacy so the only detail I'll be providing is:
    Original height: 162 cm

    Warning: This is a very long post. But I'll try and put titles and colour some stuff so it's not too boring ;D It should also be easier to navigate, find what you're looking for and to read in general. Can't promise anything but I'll try post more photos as well.

    Note: For anyone wondering, my username is just the title of a game that I downloaded to play here

    But I tried to see what it meant and I found the following:

    "Deus ex", shortened from "deus ex machina," refers to when "a seemingly inextricable problem is suddenly and abruptly solved with the contrived and unexpected intervention of some new character, ability, or object. "
    Reading this, I thought this phrase fits well with my situation since my inextricable problem of being short is solved with the intervention of this Ilizarov device which unexpectedly came into my life. I found this intriguing. ;D

    Saturday, 3rd of March, 2012 - Arrival
    Arrived in Beijing Capital International airport in the morning at around 5. 40 am. Took this intra-terminal people mover train that takes you to the baggage claim. Collected our stuff and when we headed out, we met the driver. He was holding the biggest sign amongst the people outside with my name on it. Communication was impossible with the driver and as other diaries have stated, we did need to use hand gestures a lot. He has a really friendly face though

    Rest of the drive to the institute consisted of few words and it took around 40 minutes. But it was loud at times because the drivers use their horns whenever they want. I had read about this in Roc's diary and it is true.
    The courtyard and the buildings aren’t top notch and honestly as I was walking through the hallway to my room, it felt daunting. But I knew what was coming and I had already seen the pictures from the previous diaries so it didn’t concern me.





    The room I am in at the moment has no number at the top so I think it is a new room. The room inside is really neat and comfortable as well. Apparently I am lucky to be on this side rather than a room in the opposite building according to what a few foreign LLers have told me.



    I have also tried to connect my internet but the Ethernet cable didn’t work for some reason and because it was a weekend, the technician wasn't available to fix it. Also if you want to have wireless, you need to bring your own router, or you would be using other people's. And that is also difficult to achieve because you need their password. So today, I had no internet; just watched some TV shows and played some games.

    Sunday, 4th of March - Weekend
    Once again no internet because the institute/hospital doesn’t work in the weekends. Meals are pretty good. Just played some games and watched TV shows again.
    Also as many diaries have stated, Ronne is very friendly and very helpful. She does work hard to make our stay here the best it can be. There were a few problems where our hot water tank suddenly burst/popped and water began to leak and another incident where the toilet got clogged because of the tissues but Ronne was able to quickly solve these problems. I think these incidents happened because the room is relatively new. The maid is also really nice and hardworking as well. And for future patients, I recommend coming during the week such as a Monday because there really is nothing to do during the weekends. Unless you want to get used to the place or go sightseeing.

    This is also the toilet and the water dispenser.





    And the front of the hospital.



    Monday, 5th of March - Preparation
    First thing in the morning, a nurse came into my room and did a blood test. Then later I went to take an X-ray. An X-ray of my chest was taken as I laid face down on a table. And then an X-ray of my lower legs as I sat up and an X-ray of my legs as I was standing.

    My Internet was also fixed on this day (hurrah!) by a technician. It did take a while though. I’m using an Ethernet cable and the speed is pretty good. It is not as fast as back home but it is still sufficient for me.

    For food, we can choose from a menu so we can pick what we want to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Food is pretty good in my opinion but I am guessing I’ll get tired of it pretty soon.

    My guardian and I was then taken to a bank by the driver to exchange $500 for Chinese yuan, which we then spent on shopping at Walmart later today. The driver helped us to find what we needed and he seemed to know quite well what was required. The most important things to buy are amenities which the hospital does not provide. So you will need items such as tissue rolls, soap, toothpaste, toothbrush, shampoo and other things such as tissue boxes, plastic cups (they provided us with paper cups but there wasn’t enough), air freshener for the toilet, a pillow (pillows are provided but it'll be convenient to use a softer one for post-surgery), detergent for washing clothes (they wash the clothes but we need to buy the detergents? I think that’s what Ronne said), etc. If you can bring these items then no problem but these are some of the things you can buy at Walmart.



    I also met other foreign patients and met Roc himself He had his frames off and instead had his supporters on as he practised walking. Everyone is really nice and it is a big relief to meet others who can speak good English after 2 days of using hand gestures and being in a foreign place. It somehow feels like I’m at home again. We talked for a while and also measured and compared heights.


    Tuesday, 6th of March – Pre-surgery Tests
    Went to the Bank of China as we needed to open our own account for the wiring of the money to proceed. Ronne then gave us the bank details and we were able to wire the money.

    Also had a brief consultation where they measured my wingspan and height. The doctors also stated that I have bow legs which can be straightened. But it seems like a lot of short patients have bow legs. Height seemed to be 162 cm and wingspan was roughly the same but the doctor said I can do 7-8 cm because my femur is longer than my tibia (which should be the case. . ) and my torso is longer than my legs. However one of the foreign patients I met the other day said that the measurement is off in the nurses’ station and thinks I’m taller than 162. I am not sure but I did measure my height in the morning of my surgery on a cupboard in my room and I was 163 cm. But that is most likely because of the time of the day so I’m not sure. Should’ve measured my height the night before.

    Later a couple of tests and preparations were carried out at the nurses’ station for the operation on Wednesday.
    • Dr Zhao (think that’s his name) had me lie down on a table as he tried to fit a frame around my legs. The first frame he tried had a diameter that was not large enough for my foot to pass through. He tried a larger one and that seemed to work.
    • Height and weight was also measured
    • A nurse performed a skin test to see if I was allergic to penicillin. I wasn’t.
    • My blood pressure was also measured
    • A thermometer was also stuck under my armpit to measure my temperature
    • ECG was carried out - they stuck electrodes on my chest and wrists


    Later in the evening the nurse shaved my lower legs and a bit above the knees (without any foam) and gave me a top and bottom to wear during the operation
    A nurse also came to my room and put some “second generation penicillin” into my body.

    A patient in the room opposite to mine whom I met earlier also visited me in the evening, wishing me luck for the surgery. He’s a very nice guy He also told me about another patient next door to me who was also foreign so I went and talked to him for a while. Another great guy

    I was told by the nurses not to eat anything after 10 pm but I was allowed to have a shower so I showered that night. One of my last proper showers

    Day 1 – Wednesday, 7th of March – Surgery
    Had a shower in the morning quickly and the maid then led me to the operating room. Had my surgery in the morning at around 8. 20 am and finished around 2 hours later at around 10. 23 am. At the beginning of the operation, the nurses put me on IV drip. Then the surgeon positioned me in a foetal position and injected the epidural into my back. Thought the injection for the back/spine would be painful so I braced myself but it turned out to be less painful than the IV injections. Just a prick. Soon my pants were taken off (note: you don’t wear your underpants to the operating room) and they seemed to start dabbing at my penis, which felt quite uncomfortable. Think they were putting in the catheter. And before I had realized it, I was asleep (even though they used local anesthesia). I had these pipes up my nose – maybe that was what made me fall asleep.
    After my surgery I didn’t have any pain at all in my legs (I guess due to the morphine) but after a while my legs started to feel uncomfortable and I felt more of a nagging, throbbing pain rather than sharp pains. The other patients I talked to did say that after a week it gets much better.

    Day 2 – Thursday, 8th of March - Post-surgery
    Since the surgery, I have just been lying in my bed with an IV in my arm as the nurses, Ronne and the maid (found out quite late that her name was Jiao Jie) have been coming in and out of my room.
    Since the operation, the nurses have been continually checking my blood pressure and temperature and the catheter in my penis have been replaced/cleaned (don’t know what the nurse did exactly because I wasn’t watching) twice. It felt really weird, uncomfortable and at times painful when the nurse twiddled around with the catheter. Felt worse than my legs. But once they leave it alone, I can’t feel anything and it is quite convenient since urine just empties automatically. They also checked my feet regularly and asked me to move my toes and asked me if I can feel their touch. Dr Zhao also said I can do some light activities such as rolling my legs left and right as I am on my back and moving both my feet up and down from the ankle.

    This is right after surgery. The tubes are removing 'bad' blood from my legs.





    The night before I also recall feeling nauseous twice as I was sleeping. I wanted to vomit both times but held it in and this feeling was the worst. Felt much much worse than my legs. However the feelings went away after a while and a nurse said it was maybe because I drank some water. I did read in previous diaries that you may feel nauseous after the surgery due to the morphine.

    For breakfast I had to eat porridge which basically had no taste. Jiao Jie fed me. Then for lunch it was this dumpling soup which was much better than the porridge. For dinner I had some noodles and they didn’t really let me eat solid food. Guess this was to prevent me from having to do number 2s. Also before the surgery, the maid didn’t do much except bring my meals but post-surgery, you realize how much you depend on the maid. She has been feeding me, emptying my pee bottle, providing my fluids with a straw, massaging my back and placing a pillow under my back. She does this thing where she flips you on one side, massages your back, then places a pillow under (for example) the left side of my back and then after a few hours under the right side. I think it is to relieve some pressure off my back. She also wets a small towel with warm water and gives it to me to dab it on my face. She also slept on the floor next to my bed for a couple of nights and I am forever grateful.

    My temperature was also slightly high and it seemed like I had a fever but Ronne said it was a typical symptom after surgery.

    Later that evening, they finally took out the IV from my arm and Dr Zhao said that I should be able to practice walking a week from today. I also asked if I got a single, double or S cut and I got the S.

    Day 3 – Friday, 9th of March - The Worst is Over?
    Felt nauseous again last night but it went away after a while. Doctor thinks it’s because of the morphine.

    I have to emphasize again that the maid is really helpful. A list of some of the additional stuff she does:
    • Helps me brush my teeth – she holds the bowl, I do the brushing
    • Gets a wet towel and rubs my arms, back and hip area
    • Continually empties my pee bottle [/li]
    • Constantly provides me with water – they told me to drink water so that my fever could go down


    My catheter was again cleaned/replaced once more today. . to my displeasure.

    The doctors also changed the bandages on my right leg because my right leg was bleeding a lot and the bandages were drenched in blood. It seemed like blood was coming out of one pin site on my right shin. Think there was a tear there. So Dr Zhao had to stitch that area and that hurt extremely bad. Later in the afternoon Dr Zhao removed the blood bags and tubes from both legs and stitched the two ‘holes’. So far the biggest pain I’ve felt so far has been from Dr Zhao performing the stitches. Apparently they should’ve given me painkillers before doing the stitches but my doctor just went straight to it. Epidural was also removed and there hasn’t been much pain.

    Day 4 - Saturday, 10th of March - Sleeping is a Pain
    Was put on IV drip twice. Apparently one was sodium chloride and the other was glucose. Sleeping was a pain the night before. My legs were so uncomfortable and I had nothing to put my mind off it so I was very stressed. My legs were in pain but there was no sharp pain or anything like that. They just felt so uncomfortable and I think it was because I wasn't allowed to bend my knees. My legs have been straight and in the same position since the surgery and they were placed on top of a thick mattress. So they were raised higher than my body. I tried a tablet of Tramadol and then a sleeping pill later but it didn’t really help. Eventually I was able to sleep a bit but I slept in increments throughout the night. The restless nights were hell.

    Got my catheter pulled out today as well and that felt weird. The feeling was weird because it felt like a lot of fluid just burst out of my penis but it was just the cathether. There wasn’t any pain at all, just felt really weird and uncomfortable when it came out. But it was really quick so it was not a problem.

    Also took out the mattress from under my lower legs and it was replaced with a flat-ish pillow.

    Day 5 - Sunday, 11th of March - First Adventure to the Toilet
    I read in Roc’s diary that once you do this operation, you should pray that you don’t need to take a sh*t. Well all I ever felt like doing for the past 5 days was piss but today, I finally needed to sh*t. My maid, Jiao Jie and my guardian helped me get to the toilet with the 2 office chairs and it was a tiring process. But even though it was a pain to do I started laughing pretty hard during the ordeal because I couldn’t believe I was in this state, doing something like this to get to the toilet. Made me realize not to take these every day things for granted.

    These are the office chairs I use. Pretty standard chairs.



    Also sleeping the night before was a bit better than the previous night. Didn’t take any Tramadol or a sleeping pill but I slept okay. I'm starting to dread sleeping. The days seem to be going really slowly as well since all I've been doing is lying in bed and just shifting around because of the legs. For the entire 5 days my legs have been in the same position except for times when I had to do light activities like rolling them around and bending my ankles. Even without frames keeping your legs straight and in the same position is a tiring feat but with frames on, it really felt like hell. I also have this protector that goes over my legs that prevents the blankets from touching my legs. Been using it for the past 5 days.



    Dr Zhao also gave me one more light activity to do: to tense and then relax both my quad muscles a few times. It’s similar to what body builders might do with their pecs but you do it with your quads.

    Day 6 - Monday, 12th of March - I Can Bend My Knees?
    Sleeping last night was excruciatingly uncomfortable and somewhat painful. Just found out today from Ronne that I am allowed to bend my knees a little bit. That was a big relief.

    Day 7 - Tuesday, 13th of March - X-ray
    Left my bed for the first time since my surgery; got into a wheelchair (with some difficulty) and went to the X-ray room and got my legs X-rayed. One was done with me lying down with straight legs and two more of my right and left leg individually as they were lying bent and with the knees outward. From the X-rays I was definitely able to see the S-cut. It started from one end of my leg to the other. Looked like a very long cut; thought it would be smaller.

    Day 8 - Wednesday, 14th of March - Bow Jow/Bao Jiao
    I finally got the famous "Bow Jow" or "Bao Jiao" or however it's spelt. My maid, Jiao Jie, wrapped these wet hot towels around my feet (they were really hot) and kept re-applying them every few minutes. Initially they may be really hot and a bit painful but you get used to them. They start to feel weirdly comfortable and soothing. She also washed my feet a bit.

    Dr Zhao also said I can start lengthening tomorrow and I was very happy to hear that because I thought I had to wait another 1-2 weeks. At the moment, I still need to get my bandages and gauzes removed, my pins cut because the other patients have been saying they were too long, and have a rope tied to my left and right leg so I can lift them up with my arms if need be.

    Day 9 - Thursday, 15th of March - Lengthening Has Begun
    Tried sitting for the first time today and I was really enthusiastic about it since I had been lying down for the last week or so. I also thought it would be easy but I totally forgot about this thing called gravity. There was no pain but the weight of the frames just pulled my leg down and I felt the areas around the pin sites, and just my lower legs in general, stretch. It was a scary feeling because I try to be cautious with my legs and this almost felt damaging to my legs. But Dr Zhao and Ronne both said that I should be sitting and moving around more so I sat for around 20 minutes and it felt good in the end.

    Dr Zhao also taught me how to lengthen today. I got my own spanner and I use it to loosen the nut before I turn the blue things with my hand.

    My spanner.



    I was told to do a total of 5 turns every day at 2 hour increments. And there are numbers on the blue things so every 2 hours, I would, for instance, go from 1 to 2. And there are four blue things on each leg so you do that to all eight of them and you wait another 2 hours and turn from 2 to 3 on each blue thing. And you keep going until you do 5 turns. Hope that made sense.

    As you can see, 4 blue things on each leg.





    The doctor also changed my bandages and gauzes and cleaned my lower legs, getting rid of the dried blood and other liquids that got dried up. Then he got a big shear and cut the pins that were sticking out.

    Pin after it is cut.



    So I did 5 turns today and lengthened 0. 833 mm. I have finally begun my journey ;D

    Day 10 - Friday, 16th of March - Standing
    Tried standing for the first time. This was much harder than sitting or any of the other exercises and my arms were shaking. Dr. Peng (I think) and Ronne came into my room today and helped me get up and I just tried to stand for as long as possible and as straight as possible. I felt my lower legs stretch (especially the area behind the knees) and I had to look forward and push my bum forward so that I was straight. It was very hard but still doable. Stood again once more later in the evening with the help of my guardian and Jiao Jie. Felt easier already.

    Day 13 - Monday, 19th of March - Walking
    Since the 16th, I have been doing exercises in bed everytime I did a turn (so I did leg raises and other exercises a total of 5 times a day) and I stood 3 times a day for 1 minute each. Sometimes I might get lazy and miss out on one session or so. I try not to. The other foreign patients have been advising me not to get lazy because you will have to make up for it later. Without exercise, knee bending and ballerina feet will be definitely worse so I am determined to walk a lot once I can walk properly. A patient I know has lengthened around 7-8 cm so far and he has absolutely no knee bending or ballerina feet at the moment. Everyone says he is incredible. He says he walks for around 2 hours and stands for 1 hour everyday (I think that was it). So basically he exercises a lot and he has no problem at the moment. He can even stand and walk a bit without the walker

    Anyway I finally decided to walk a bit using my walker today. It was more of a drag rather than a walk since I wasn't really lifting my legs. But in the end I walked like 1-2 metres and sat back on the bed. Sitting is easy now. I no longer feel any weight dragging my leg down. It might feel a bit tiring after a while but sitting is no problem now. Walked 2 more times today. Felt good

    I do have a slight pain in my right knee though. I can bend my left leg and just sway it around no problem on my bed. But once I bend my right leg and start to move it, it will start to hurt. It feels as if it's not meant to be bent that way even though it should be able to. I don't think it's a big problem though. Hoping it will go away soon. Jiao Jie has also been doing the Bow Jow once every day for the past few days. It feels really good and soothing.

    The nurses have been coming in and checking my temperature every day for the past few days since my temperature has still been slightly high from the fever. Has been varying from 37-38. It seems okay now. They stopped coming today. Ronne also visits regularly and has been giving me Chinese medicine for my fever and has been generally checking up on me and seeing how I was doing, giving me advice as well. I emphasize again that the people here are very nice. There are some problems with the food though. As in sometimes, they give us food that we don't order - even though a man comes every day to write down what we want - but we don't mind too much lol.
    Last edited by Deus Ex; 11-06-2014 at 09:05 PM.
    go to makemetallershoes.com

  2. #2
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    Day 14 – Tuesday, 20th of March – Ropes
    Dr Zhao came in and checked my legs and my mobility. Told him about my knee pain and he reckons it’s no problem. He also told Jiao Jie to make me ropes from surgical tapes to tie onto both frames. Jiao Jie did a nice job – she got 3 parts of the tape and made a braid and then tied the end somehow and this is how it looks.



    I also walked to the toilet for the first time to do a number 2. It was very tiring but I can feel that my walking is getting smoother, stronger and easier. But I’m trying to take it easy at the moment because of my right knee. I’m planning to listen to (the user) Tramadol’s advice. Don’t think I should over-exercise and make things worse.

    Day 16 – Thursday, 22nd of March – First Post-surgery X-ray
    Finally went to get my X-ray done in the afternoon. You can clearly see the S-cut and the gap. I am not entirely sure whether the leg on the left is actually my left leg and the right is my right leg lol. I might've been holding it the wrong way. And also the leg on the left is curving because I was holding it there when I took the photo.



    Dr. Zhao said it was great and I am almost at 1 cm. And I can definitely see the difference in the size of the gap in comparison to my first X-ray. But I didn’t take a photo of my first one and the doctors have my X-rays so I can’t really show you guys the comparison. Sorry about that. And even though Dr. Zhao said my legs looked great, I wasn’t too encouraged by his words – even though I was grateful – since at this point there shouldn’t be any problems. If there was, I would be really worried since I haven’t even reached 1 cm yet.

    Ronne also came later in the afternoon and told me that my sore right knee is because of my tendons. She helped me bend my right knee and such and it didn’t seem to hurt. But at this point I don’t think the pain in my knee has increased or abated much since 5 days ago or so when I first got it. I’m getting slightly worried but im hoping it will go away soon.

    Ronne also said that for around 2 hours at a time during the day, I should be sitting or lying in bed with my lower legs on a pillow so that that they are raised a bit. This really stretches the area underneath the knees and my legs are straight. She says this will help prevent knee bending later. It does get really uncomfortable so she advised to take a break every 2 hours or so. But during sleep she says I don’t need to since I need to have a comfortable position to sleep. However it is better if you sleep with your legs straight. If you can handle it.

  3. #3
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    Day 21 – Tuesday, 27th of March – Pin Site Cleaning
    Not much happened for the past few days except I’ve been turning 0.666 mm every day. I forgot to mention that I reduced from 5 turns to 4 since March 22 when I got my X-ray.

    Today, Dr. Zhao finally removed my gauzes and bandages and I was able to see my lower legs in its entirety – and the pins that went through my legs – for the first time since the operation. I think I was pretty late in removing my bandages and gauzes; doctors should’ve removed them ages ago. I counted 14 pins in each leg. There are 5 at the top near the knee, 5 near the bottom of the leg, and 4 at the sides of my ankles. It looks pretty shocking and gruesome. I am always surprised by the fact that all these pins are piercing my skin and muscles yet my legs don’t hurt.



    I also started cleaning my pin sites today. These are the Q-tips and alcohol that I use. I’m planning to clean twice a day but I’m guessing I’ll get lazy in the future and miss a few days and get some infection/s.



    There will be times when it stings but it’s no big deal. And the pins at my ankles are a pain to clean because they are far from reach. I managed to clean them but I’ll need to find some easier way to reach them. I was also ensured by a fellow patient that it’ll get harder as my legs get longer.

    Regarding my knee, it has been pretty much the same for the past few days or it might’ve gotten a bit worse. Not sure. It is always stiff when I try to straighten or bend it and hurts quite a lot. Have to always take it slow when I bend. However it doesn’t hurt when I walk since my legs are straight so I do a bit of walking and standing but not much. Trying to take it slow. (I’m also a bit lazy.) Fortunately, Ronne visited me today and gave me this Chinese oil that she told me to apply 3-4 times a day. And each time, she instructed to apply 3-4 drops and massage the knee area in circular motions. It has a strong smell and reminds me of tiger balm but it seemed to help temporarily with the pain. I was also told to apply a wet hot towel on my knee since it’ll help with the circulation and the stiffness.

    A new maid is also here learning from Jiao Jie and a new patient came and had his surgery in the morning. A couple of us went to visit him the night before and he seemed to have done quite some research and looked mentally prepared. I wish him the best of luck

    Day 22 – Wednesday, 28th of March – 1 cm
    Reached 1 cm!

    Technically 1.05 cm on paper.

    A pin site on my right leg also keeps bleeding every time I walked so Dr. Zhao came and had to bandage that up. But it wasn’t thick blood, more like diluted water-y blood. Apparently it happens to everyone so no big deal.

    That's about it. Nothing more to report since every day is basically the same. But there are days when we gather together and have a chat and that's a lot of fun

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