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Awakened From a Nightmare

By Betsy Yung

March 11, 2013

Here it is a new year and I have finally returned from a five-month absence.

My odyssey began on Oct. 21, when I made a rookie mistake while riding my new bike. A car cut me off in traffic and I grabbed the front brake in a panic and went down in traffic badly breaking my left leg.

The bone broke at the top, near my knee. I was not injured otherwise. I was taken to USC trauma center where, after a night with my leg in traction (a hole drilled through my heel and a sandbag dangling below), the surgeons fashioned an external fixator to my leg to hold it in place until a surgical repair could be done. They said it would be about ten days. It turned out to be 28 days. This is how it looked:

Betsy's leg with external fixator

Note the four open wounds into which the rods have been placed to fix this outer skeleton to my femur and lower leg bones.

My medical provider sent me home like this where they left me without care for 28 days.

I finally contacted my case worker at AIDS Project Los Angeles, crying and begging him to help and, although he spent several hours on the phone, he came away just as frustrated and with no answers about what they intended to do with me. Finally, I couldn't stand one more day and called an ambulance to take me to St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank. When I arrived, I made sure I was visibly upset and I demanded they admit me and find a surgeon to repair my leg. They did admit me and scheduled surgery for the following Monday, Nov. 19. Unfortunately for me, the hospital released me and I returned home to wait until Monday. I awoke the next morning with food poisoning and by the time they got me back to the hospital, I was too dehydrated for surgery. Ultimately, I was given three blood transfusions and released to a nursing facility.

To make this long story shorter, I finally had surgery and this is how it all looks today:

Xray of Betsy's leg

I'm walking with a brace and a cane and getting around pretty well. And, yes, I intend to get back on my motorcycle. This time with a hard lesson learned and a better idea of what can happen when you don't pay attention.

My mother passed away Dec. 4. I did get to see her one last time just after my surgery. The hospital released me to her same nursing home for one night and I got to sit with her and hold her hand. I knew I wouldn't get to see her again. It was bittersweet. She has been gone for a while since her stroke and I'm glad she is free to roam heaven now. I really miss her and could have used some of her wisdom these past months.

I've been staying up on my meds and even though my latest CD4 is still only 136, I feel really good. No complaints at all.

There's a subtext to my story which I'll write about in my next entry.

I hope everyone is well and thanks for sticking around.

Send Betsy an email.

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See Also
More Personal Accounts of Women With HIV/AIDS

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My Evil Hitchhiker

Betsy Yung

Betsy Yung

Just your average, hard-working, middle-aged lady living with AIDS and making the best of it.

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