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Fractured Femur in Bulgaria

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
After 4 injury-free years skiing indoors in MK SnoZone, I finally had the chance to go with a bunch of colleagues to Bansko in January.

The first morning was great: perfect conditions, not too busy on the gondola, no aches and pains etc. We stopped for lunch at the 180 and, afterwards, skied the short transit from there to the lift. That's when it happened...

I'm not sure HOW it happened: maybe I got my skis crossed, maybe my weight was not on the turning ski, maybe I hit a rut / caught an edge. All I know is I came to a halt and thought "I'm in trouble". A ride on a sledge behind a snowmobile and a nerve-wracking gondola ride later, I was in the Medical Centre and within minutes I had an X-Ray that confirmed the worst: a fractured femur in my right leg. I was told I'd need surgery in Sofia, roughly 3 hours away.

Eventually arriving at Tokuda Hospital around 9pm, I was examined and told I'd need surgery the following morning. I asked if this could wait until I got home but was told it could not. It was to be an emergency operation the next morning and I was put on a ward with 3 other Bulgarians so communication was a little limited.

Next morning, 9.30, I was taken to the operating theatre and remember nothing more until I woke up around 2pm. No pain, no real discomfort, but a swollen leg that looked like a carrot due to the iodine used to prevent infection. I later discovered that I had undergone an Open Reduction Internal Fixation (ORIF) operation. I was served lunch (soup) and by late afternoon was undergoing physiotherapy. An unexpected bonus was the doctors' concern over my blood pressure, so I was given a prescription to control that.

After a week I was discharged and the following day, once my travel insurance had finally arranged a repatriation flight, I was on board a BA plane occupying a full row of seats. My wife had since flown out to be with me and was sat across the aisle.

I have since learned that while I was away, a friend of a friend slipped on some ice in London, breaking his knee. He waited over an hour on the ground for an ambulance to arrive, then fully 11 days to undergo the emergency operation compared to around 19 hours in my case.

Things I learned:

- Always have a valid EHIC (not sure how this will work after Brexit - if that ever happens) and know where it is.
- Always have your travel / medical insurance documents with you and know where they are.
- While I accept that decent medical care in Bulgaria involves going private (as I did), when I was presented with the bill for the operation (which the insurance had already agreed to pay) I was stunned to find it was only
1800 BGN, roughly £850, which seemed good value.
- You need to keep the pressure on insurance companies to uphold their side of the bargain, particularly regarding repatriation.
- Tokuda Hospital in Sofia turns out to be an extremely good place to have orthopedic work done: people pay to come from all over Europe to be treated there, so I got lucky.
- Local knowledge is vital: if the owner of the chalet in Bansko hadn't been as knowledgeable and helpful as he was, I'm not sure where I would have ended up...
- Bulgarian hospitals serve soup at least twice a day, with a dry bread roll for breakfast, so I lost over 8kg while I was a patient
- The blood pressure medication I was prescribed turned out to be exactly right, as confirmed by my GP once home

I arrived in Bulgaria with extremely low expectations of their medical system: I was wrong (although I acknowledge that having travel insurance did mean I could use the private facilities rather than state-owned ones).

It's now 7 weeks since the accident. Physiotherapy is going very well (paid for through my work healthcare scheme), I have returned to work and expect to begin a programme of gradual weight bearing on the leg next week. Doctors in Bulgaria, my physiotherapist and the specialist at MK University Hospital Fracture Clinic all agree that I can ski next season if I want to.

Just need to convince the wife it's a good idea...
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Quote:

I have since learned that while I was away, a friend of a friend slipped on some ice in London, breaking his knee. He waited over an hour on the ground for an ambulance to arrive

That is pretty good for the UK at the moment. I hear many horror stories of sportsmen, even at a reasonable level, waiting for 2 or 3 times that length, with injuries that need urgent attention, and are eventually transferred by car or team bus.

Sorry to hear about the injury but glad you had a positive experience.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Turbobanana wrote:
I have since learned that while I was away, a friend of a friend slipped on some ice in London, breaking his knee. He waited over an hour on the ground for an ambulance to arrive, then fully 11 days to undergo the emergency operation compared to around 19 hours in my case.

A broken femur is life threatening, a fracture to the knee isn't.
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You need to Login to know who's really who.
Quote:

A broken femur is life threatening, a fracture to the knee isn't.


I get that, but surely it can't excuse that sort of delay can it?
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
@Turbobanana, some knee operations are best done once the swelling has subsided.
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You'll need to Register first of course.
Quote:


@Turbobanana, some knee operations are best done once the swelling has subsided.


Fair enough, although I'm told that was not the case here. Apparently he just kept getting "bumped" by "more urgent" cases, which must have been frustrating. I guess there were just lots more fools breaking their femurs Madeye-Smiley
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
@rjs, I was at a rugby match (4th tier of the sport) on Saturday. Nasty shoulder dislocation with numbness of the hand and pins and needles; symptoms that require prompt attention. Despite this we were give a probable window of 3 hours, which the medical staff on site deemed was not acceptable. You had to be there to see how horrific this was for the player.

This is commonplace now. Our once fine Ambulance Service (NHS) has been slowly strangled by this Government. Imagine what this does for staff moral.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
Another rugby match at the weekend, women's friendly match at the lower end of the sport, and one player went down with a suspected spinal injury. Doctor on the scene in 10 seconds, immobilised and supported by a coach who had first aid training, ambulance called and arrived 5 minutes later to take her to hospital 2 miles away. As emergency medical care goes, that's pretty much perfect. Lower priority cases will wait as necessary - same club last year, 4 hour wait in freezing conditions for an ambulance for an open compound fracture of the leg and suggestions from the ambulance service that it would be better to put them in a car and drive them as they had lots of higher priority cases...
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You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
Quote:

same club last year, 4 hour wait in freezing conditions for an ambulance for an open compound fracture of the leg and suggestions from the ambulance service that it would be better to put them in a car and drive them as they had lots of higher priority cases..

Wow, that is horrific Shocked
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 Ski the Net with snowHeads
Ski the Net with snowHeads
To give another side to it, I had a 4 way break of my shoulder at half term, the piste rescue was fantastic but I had a 30 min wait for ambulance even thou they ordered it while I was up mountain, got to hospital & had to wait another 30 mins for pain relief.
Communication was minimal & I only just managed to stop being wheeled into surgery to receive I don't know what, there was talk of a prosthetic joint!
I just wanted back, as son as I landed straight to A&E & the service has been fantastic, no complaints about the NHS from me, plenty complaints about the ungrateful self important arrogant ladies' front bottoms I was unfortunate to share a ward with, I don't think many of them would have been in favour of paying more tax to receive the treatment they thought they deserved.
Massive respect for nurse.
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