Patience, perseverance and confidence: the virtues of the injured patient

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How to recover from an injury?

The traumatological patient who has needed complex reconstructive surgery often goes through different psychological phases that it is good to know so as not to fall into discouragement. Of course the choice of specialist is key in this process, we have to choose that person with the knowledge, experience and technical capacity to solve our problem and at the same time that a close person is shown, who generates confidence, that encourages us if the recovery is lengthened and that, if a complication arises does not disappear and is able to find solutions as well as maintain an honest and sincere communication with the patient seeking their well-being as the sole objective.

It is normal for a person who has suffered a serious injury to fall into discouragement in the face of the picture of a long and often striving recovery period. If the patient is a professional athlete or performs work that requires physical activity, that discouragement is accentuated by uncertainty about what consequences that period of inactivity will have on his economy and his career.

The patient’s biology and the Surgeon’s experience command over any other consideration. Shortcuts can only lead to the disaster of having to return to the exit box if the marked guidelines are not met.

Generally speaking, the first two or three months are usually the most difficult for the injured. In that period we are in the critical phase of healing, so in general the rehabilitative and lifestyle patterns will be much more conservative and, the progress, exasperatingly slow. This is the time when the important thing is “what should not be done”, which often generates frustration and impatience. But we must know that it is in these first months when we lay the foundation on which to build a successful therapy later, in which advances will become more visible and rapid.

It is also in those first months that the patient may sometimes have doubts about the evolution of his injury, “this does not progress”, one can ask oneself and that is when we can make the mistake of asking people in our environment (or Dr. Google) who have theoretically suffered “the same injury”; cracking error, as no two lesions are the same for the same reason that no two patients are the same. Biology commands, and will not be the same an injury as another, a treatment as another, or the evolution in a young athlete of 20 years, in the face of the evolution of a person with less healthy, sedentary or older lifestyle habits.

Therefore, consulting third parties, including doctors, who have not carefully analyzed your injury and the type of surgery exactly you have undergone can only be a focus of stress, confusion and frustration. If you are a friend or acquaintance who has had surgery and has done well, often with a more banal injury that may have nothing to do with yours, you will find that this is sucked and that in four days you will have recovered; if he’s done wrong, he’ll say the exact opposite. In the first case, you as a patient will stress yourself, especially if your evolution is being slower, – although surely normal-; in the second case, you can also feel frustrated and afraid of the pessimistic horizon that comes before you.

But those first two or three months end up passing, and that’s when we do need that optimistic, animosity, hard-working patient willing to reach the limit of what is acceptable to achieve recovery. The risk of relapse is much lower, and strict compliance with medical indications will lead to rapid and visible advances. Here, consistency is essential even after 18 to 24 months since the injury is improved. Regardless of the profile of the injured person, devoting the time required to recovery will lead to a progression from which those who, for different reasons, do not maintain such evidence will not benefit.

The specialist should also be an honest professional with the patient and warn him of possible complications that may arise after surgery and during the rehabilitation process. The statistics are there and although it is clear that there are surgeons with better results than others, depending on the severity of the injury, the type of patient, and the complexity of the intervention, there is always a small percentage of cases in which a contradiction will arise; in such cases an experienced surgeon will be able to expose the situation and solve the problem and our mission as patients remain positive and an open way of communication with the doctor about our fears and sensations.

In most cases, there is a solution for each injury, even the most serious and it is uncommon for a patient to fail to regain a normal and even sports life after proper treatment; and while that recovery happens, life also does not have to revolve all the time around the blissful injury and its temporal limitations, we must have confidence in us, keep open communication with our doctor and be consistent in the fulfillment of rehabilitation, virtues of all these of the good patient.

Dr. Gonzalo Samitier

Specialist in Traumatology and Orthopedic Surgery at the Cugat Institute


Contact for medical questions about Traumatology and Rehabilitation.
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