Fracture that would not heal

PHOTO: Fracture that would not heal

A fall at home in September last year left Madam Khew Lun Yeh, 82, in excruciating pain.

However, as it was not uncommon for her to fall, family members did not think anything was amiss until they noticed her leg seemed to be at a strange angle when she tried to walk. In hospital, she was found to have suffered a left hip fracture.

Her 10 children agonised over whether she should have hip surgery. Madam Khew's youngest son and caregiver, Mr Peter Chong, who is 42 and in the finance line, said that the elderly woman is frail and has problems like high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels.

Eventually, surgery was ruled out because she had a chest infection. She was discharged two weeks later, still very much in pain. Her family decided to allow her fractured hip to heal by itself.

However, the pain persisted and the broken bone had shifted out of position, making healing impossible. Mr Chong said his mother, who was usually able to tolerate pain, was in so much agony that she broke out in cold sweat.

In November, the family finally decided, on doctors' advice, that Madam Khew should undergo a partial hip surgery to replace the damaged bone.

After two weeks in hospital and another month of recuperation, Madam Khew was able to walk again with a walking frame.

Mr Chong said that if his mother had not had that operation, she would have remained bed-bound as it would have been difficult for her fracture to heal. She could have developed bed sores and been in pain all the time, he added.

He also believed that a prolonged period of inactivity would do his mother no good. He had noticed that when she was lying in bed with the fracture, her memory deteriorated. She was often disoriented and her physical condition worsened, he said.

This was one reason why the family decided to go ahead with the operation in spite of her age. "I will encourage her to move as much as possible and do regular exercises," he said.

This article was first published in Mind Your Body, The Straits Times.