Jeff Zern  
 
a.k.a. Jeff Miller cell phone (914) 565-9458 email: jeff@hihojeff.com

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  Break a Leg!
On February 8th 1999 I was leading a rehearsal of Humerus, a medical school improvisation group. At about 9:30pm I got up on the stage with an actress to demonstrate a game. The scene was going quite well. We were husband and wife who owned a chocolate factory, but she was eating all of the chocolate. Learning that she loved chocolate more than me, I climbed onto a chair while pretending to be climbing up to a vat of chocolate. I cried out, "I will be the chocolate husband!" and leapt off the chair.

When I landed, I was on my hands and knees. I thought this was odd. I couldn't figure out why I wasn't on my feet. I looked down and saw that my left foot was now out the side of my leg. I didn't feel anything (doctors tell me it is because of endorphins), but I was terrified. Even during all the pain I was to suffer over the next few hours and weeks, nothing was as bad as that first moment of seeing my foot in the wrong place on my body.

 
       
Modern Medicine
I was surrounded by medical students and was in a hospital, so I got to the Emergency Room very quickly. However, it felt like an eternity before I got some painkiller. I can not imagine what it would have been like if I was in the woods somewhere. I got an Xray and was told I had broken both my Tibia (the big bone on the inside of your leg) and the Fibula (the smaller curved bone on the outside). I would need surgery to put in some hardware to hold the broken bones in place (called Internal Fixation). They would reduce the leg (wrench my foot back into place) right now but I would have to wait until tomorrow for the surgery.

The surgery went well, but it would be 2 months before I could ever set my left foot down on the earth.
 
       
From the Couch: A Unilegged Perspective
I could work from home, because I make computer applications and websites. A computer was moved in next to the couch for me to recline on. However, without my acting and improvisation, I lacked a creative outlet. So I began writing a newsletter to share with my family and friends my experiences. Here are the issues:

Issue 1:A Painful Slip, Dreams, and My Support
Issue 2: My Wife, Heart Trouble, Poll
Issue 3: Excuses, Body Odyssey, Poll Results, Horoscopes
Issue 4: Anxiety?, Toilet Trouble
Issue 5: Standing, Doctor Visit, Splint
Issue 6: English, Therapy, Stepping Out
Issue 7: Up from the couch, Tamagotchi, Goodbye


Therapy Rocks
The cast came off and I could put my leg down. But I could hardly bend my ankle and the circulation was bad. I could not stand up without my foot filling with blood and turning purple. It was in this condition that I came limping into the Rusk Institute on my crutches. There I met my therapist, Nicole. For the next 8 weeks I would go in 3 times a week for a a hot pack, stretching and exercises. Bit by bit, Nicole and I built my left leg back into shape.


Walking Tall
I can do just about everything now, although my left leg is still weaker than my right. I can not tell you how great it feels to walk. I have a new appreciation of my life and all the wonders of our world. I feel reborn.
   

Pulling out the Hardware
At the end of October, my leg started clicking. After I ran, it was very painful for about 2 days. I went to see my doctor. The screw between my Tibia and Fibula had broken and I was feeling the screw slamming against my Tibia. The good news was that my bones had healed nicely and I could get the hardware out. I went into day surgery on December 13th. The doctor had said I could walk out of the hospital. He failed to mention the fact that I would have 40 painful staples in my leg and enough wrap to be a cast. I could put weight on it without pain, but bending my ankle was impossible. I could not begin to hobble for 2 weeks. Then, once the staples came out I healed rapidly. I can now run again without any side effects. Better still, my leg feels better. I do not get the same stiffness that I used to, and the circulation is better. I highly reccommend getting hardware removed if you can. My leg feels like my leg again.