Many orthopedic surgeons rarely get this question from patients. For some who do, explaining “sex after orthopedic procedure” would be a daunting, if not an embarrassing challenge. One patient boldly asked this question on follow up, two weeks after his orthopedic surgery. He has an external fixator on his right thigh and leg of his right lower extremity.To break the ice and downplay a potential embarrassing moment for both of us, I told him a story about a similar patient I had during residency.
Let’s call him Mr. Y.
Mr. Y sustained multiple open fractures from a vehicular accident . He has a 6 cm thigh bone gap, and beginning osteomyelitis on his right thigh and leg bones. We applied three ilizarov fixators (external ring fixators encircling an extremity to stabilize fractures)- one in each leg and one in his thigh. The fixators on his right thigh extend up to the hip and is also connected to the leg through a knee spanning connector. The other thigh bone is also broken but we’re planning to do an internal fixation for this, so we hanged it on a balanced skeletal traction (see picture on the right) temporarily until infection is controlled.
Mr. Y’s will be admitted in the orthopedic ward for at least two weeks and seeing his extremity ‘immobilization’ – the fixators all over and balanced skeletal traction, he definitely needed assistance even for his personal commode. We asked his wife, his lone “support personnel” to be with him in the ward at all times and assist him in all his personal needs.
Mr. Y is in a charity orthopedic ward, where around 25 beds is spread out almost side to side. Hanging a makeshift “curtain” around their bed is the only privacy that each patient “enjoys”. The wife sleeps in the patient bed together with his husband, Mr. Y.
A month after Mr. Y was admitted (yup, closing the 6 cm bone gap would take months to heal, not to mention the time poor patients pool funds to spend for their surgery), in one attending service rounds, we were surprised when the wife mentioned she needed to go home temporarily because she is pregnant.
The look of amazement in our eyes is undeniable. We were not so concerned with the discharge anymore but rather, the repercussions of Mr. Y knowing his wife is pregnant while he is almost ‘tied’ up in his hospital bed. The possibility of Mr. Y being the father of her wife’s unborn, is unimaginable.
Close to impossible.
Caught in a perceived dilemma and being the resident in charge of Mr. Y, I was warned by my seniors any disagreements or fight (possibly arising from this impossible feat) between Mr. Y and his lone support personel (his wife) will not be helpful to his orthopedic rehabilitation. I have to confront the wife to prevent something like this to happen. Or refer them for counseling need it be.
“Who’s the father of your baby?” I asked the wife dryly, “uninterestingly” after she asked for permission to go home temporarily.
“Si ______ po, asawa ko.” answered the wife smiling, referring to her husband Mr. Y .
I didn’t ask further for fear of conveying “doubt” and losing trust of our own patient’s bantay. But I swear that incredulous look and bewilderment in my face is undeniable. Even Mr. Y’s wife noticed.
I have to confront Mr. Y himself.
“I’ve heard your wife is pregnant” saying this to Mr. Y while appearing busy dressing his pin tracks and wounds. “Yes doc, pangalawa po namin” (Yes, doc our second child). I never showed amazement but I totally could not concentrate on what I’m doing. I hurriedly finished dressing his wounds and before I left, threw my last question to Mr. Y.
“How did you do it?” “You’re tied up on a balance skeletal traction, all those Ilizarov Fixators jutting out of your legs and thigh, how did you do it?”
Mr. X just smiled sheepishly a bit embarrassed then answered “dito po sa bed ko” (here in my hospital bed).
Didn’t ask further.
I left the patient with his wife watching in a nearby bed smiling. Stupid me to ask that and doubt my patient’s “ability” and to do “feat” despite his “predicament”.
After relating this, I returned the question to my current patient and said,
I only told him what he could not do and the rest is probably up to his innovative and determined way.
So if patient’s ask me now if one can have sex after orthopedic surgery, I will relate this story. I still don’t know how they did it but they did it anyway. I cannot argue with a father who is tied up in his bed with all those fixators jutting out and still impregnate his wife. “Magaling ang Pinoy!” With sheer determination or lots of innovative ability maybe. But sure they can.
They did what?
Maybe let’s ask my fellow surgeons and physicians how they deal with such questions threw at them by their patients during or after treatment.