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WESTFALL GENEALOGY

My Childhood Memories-Page 5

Chapter 8: My Surgeries

When I was about 10 years old in the fifth grade I twisted my left ankle really badly while running the bases playing ball. I couldn't walk on the ankle for a long time and it was all swelled up. Even after I was able to walk on my ankle the swelling never seemed to go away. About 2 years later in 1955 just a few months before my 12th birthday my father took me to our family physician, Dr. Jacob H. Peisker in Hardin, IL, concerning the swelling which was getting bigger. Our family doctor, Dr. Peisker, said a growth or tumor had formed on the ankle and was growing larger and would need to be removed by surgery. He sent me to a surgeon, a well known bone specialist, Dr. Joseph Mira in Alton, IL. After school was out in June of 1955 I entered Alton Memorial Hospital to undergo surgery to remove the tumor. After the surgery a large cast was placed on my leg up to my knee. I was in the hospital for about 10 days. The doctor said the tumor was benign and not cancerous, but that if he didn't get it all it would return.

I had the cast on all summer and walked with crutches. In september when school started in the fall the cast was removed. But 2 years later in 1957 the tumor returned. This time the tumor was much larger than before and had spread up my leg half way to my knee and was wrapped all around my ankle and leg. It didn't hurt or anything, but it was just this solid mass of growth. I again entered the Alton Memorial Hospital for surgery in June of 1957 just a few weeks before my 14th birthday. Dr. Mira again performed the surgery. This time the surgery was much more serious, and my father said I was in the operating room over 5 hours. After the operation a large cast was placed on my leg which went well past my knee. That night after the surgery I was in a lot of pain and had a fever. I was in this large hospital ward room which had 7 or 8 beds, and I remember I couldn't sleep and felt so hot with the fever and pain. The bed across from me was empty and next to an open window, so I got out of my bed right after just having been operated on that morning and with the heavy cast on and hopped over on one foot and got into the empty bed next to the window because I thought it would be cooler. I must have been kind of delirious. The nurses were really surprised when they came in my room and saw me over in the bed next to the window, but they let me stay there, and I was there in that bed until I was released from the hospital 3 weeks later.

The next morning after my surgery my doctor came in to check my leg. He had cut out a small section of the cast over the ankle and location of the surgery so that he could lift it off to check the surgery. He discovered a large blood clot had formed in the surgery area, possibly because I let my foot down when hopping over to the bed by window in the night. He had to take all the stitches out and sponge the blood clot out and then stitch it up again. My father who was there in the room at the time said it made him sick and he had to leave. My father said he didn't know how I could just lay there and watch and not say anything without any anesthetic or anything. It didn't seem to hurt too much, but I remember thinking that because my leg looked so bloody and swollen where the surgery had been performed that I would never be able to walk on it again.

I was in the hospital for over 3 weeks. My parents came to see me everyday. They had to make about 100 mile round trip from our farm to the hospital every day to visit me in the hospital. They also had the cows to milk and all their other farm work to do. My poor parents must have been so tired from all the long driving and the worrying about me. My sister who was married and lived near the hospital there in Alton also came to visit me every day. I spent my birthday, June 30th, in the hospital and the nurses and hospital staff had this big birthday party for me and brought me a birthday cake and everything. They were all very nice to me.

When I came home from the hospital the doctor said I could not let my foot down, and would have to leave it elevated to prevent blood clots for several months. So I wasn't able to get up or use crutches or anything. My father did get me a wheelchair with an attachment that extended out so I could place my leg on it and leave it elevated. I was at least able to get out of the bed daily into the wheelchair. My mother had to take care of me and bring all my meals to me and everything besides all her other work in the house and outside on the farm. In the fall when school started I wasn't able to attend. It was my first year of high school. The high school I was to attend was in Jerseyville about 15 miles away and required a long bus trip to the school. Since I could not let my foot down and use crutches I could not attend the first couple months. The high school sent a teacher to our house to teach me a few days a week until sometime in late October the doctor said I could let my foot down and I was able to go to school using crutches.

It was very difficult for me going to high school that fall and winter. Getting on and off the bus with crutches and packing my books, and having the heavy cast on was very difficult. I wasn't able to place any weight on the foot which had the cast, but had to keep it raised off the ground all the time. A couple of my classes were upstairs at the high school and I had a difficult time climbing the stars every day. The school did provide me a small utility room with a cot in it to rest on and eat my lunch at noon hour. The cast finally was removed after the first of the year after being on for over 7 months, but my leg was so weak I could not walk on it without the aid of crutches for another month or so. When I was finally able to walk again the doctor said it was a miracle I was able to walk as good as I could considering the extensive surgery he had to perform on the ankle and leg. I still have lack of feeling and some limitation of movement of the ankle and foot, and a very large scar. The doctor said if the tumor returned again amputation of my leg would be a possibility, but fortunately the tumor has never returned.

My Broken Arm

The following year after I had the first surgery on my ankle to remove a tumor, in about 1956 when I was 12 years old and in the Seventh Grade, I broke my right forearm at Pleasant Cove Grade School while playing basketball. The basketball hoop was attached to a large sycamore tree at the edge of the school yard near the gravel road and the other children and I were playing basketball when I tripped and fell on my right arm breaking the forearm midway between the wrist and the elbow. My teacher Mrs. Davenport put my arm in a sling with a book in the slink to keep it straight, and called my father. My father came to the school and got me, and then we drove to the Jersey Community Hospital in Jerseyville, IL.

At the hospital Dr. William Clark Doak was the doctor in the emergency room who set my arm. My father had called our family doctor, Dr. J. H. Peisker of Hardin, IL, but he wasn't able to come right away, and so Dr. Doak went ahead and set my arm. Dr. Peisker came later, but by then my arm had already been set. When I first went in the emergency room Dr. Doak tried to set my arm without giving me any anesthetic, but was unable to set it, and finally had to give me some ether and put me to sleep while he set it and put the cast on. Dr. Doak said one of the bones in my arm was broken and near to punchering my skin, and the other larger bone was cracked and bent, but not broken, and that he had trouble staightening it. After I woke up from the ether I was sick and vomited I remember, and my arm was in a large cast up past my elbow. I think I stayed that night at the hospital, and went home the next day. My arm hurt terribly and there was a lot of swelling for about a week or more. My fingers that stuck out of the cast swelled to several times their normal size. My father became concerned that the cast was too tight and called the doctor, but Dr. Doak said some swelling was normal.

The cast was on my arm about six weeks or so I think, and after it was removed there was a large open sore on my forearm at the spot of the break that did not heal for 2 or 3 months more. It left a large scar on my forearm about 2 inches long. I broke my arm in about April and I completed the school year, and since I was right handed, I had to learn to write left handed, which was difficult.

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