News & Articles

The Mishap: A Fractured Ankle

The Mishap: A Fractured Ankle

It was a bright and sunny Monday morning, 2 September 2019 and it was a national holiday, Awal Muharram. I fetched my friend, Hatta from his house at the nearby Agriculture Centre at the Pasar Tani Grounds in Gombak, to assist me in clearing my house compound. After a roti canai breakfast at a nearby stall, we proceeded to start work cleaning my overgrown compound at about 9.30am. I was wearing only a pair of shorts and slippers! Hatta climbed and trimmed the big mango, longan and other trees in the compound while I assisted in trimming the hedges and the less heavy tasks including mowing the lawn. My wife, Habibah Alias, prepared tea and served the Malay cakes that I had bought earlier. We disposed a considerable amount of rubbish to the Selayang Bandar Raya rubbish truck that came along.

At 1.00pm, Habibah prepared lunch but Hatta insisted we complete the job first and so we continued on working. We hauled two more loads of vegetation and offcuts to my kebun land some 100 meters away by tying them to the back of my Toyota Camry and slowly towing them, with Hatta following behind to collect materials that fell off.

At 3.30pm, I checked my phone and found that I had made my daily target of 10,000 steps for the day and proudly messaged my second wife, Nor Aini. I rested on the concrete outside the gate for a while. Then I joined Hatta but to my horror, I slipped over a large leaf right at the gate entrance, twisted my right leg and fell like a sack of potatoes. The pain was excruciating! I screamed! Hatta rushed to my aid and half carried me into the house where I lay on the floor of the lounge while Habibah put a cushion under my head and prepared an ice pack for my ankle which had now swollen and crimson red in colour! Lesson learnt: “Listen to your wife!” If I had only stopped for lunch as advised, the mishap may not have happened!

Habibah called my son, Dr Azhar, who arrived soon after. He then took me to Shanti Clinic in Kepong where Dr Rashid, who is my nephew-in-law, took my blood pressure, X-rayed my leg and confirmed that there was a fracture at the fibula. He advised that I go to GHKL for a second opinion and Azhar rushed me to Emergency Outpatient clinic. On the way, I called my friend, Mr Yeo Eng Siang who works in GHKL, for help and assistance.

We arrived at Outpatient Emergency clinic at 7pm! I was immediately wheeled in on a stretcher and the Orthopaedic surgeon who saw me, Dr. Nantha, who had been informed earlier by Yeo, ordered an X-ray. Out of the blue, a gentleman by the name of Encik Hisham, came to help and I was wheeled to the X-ray department where my ankle was x-rayed five times and with the images in hand was wheeled back to see Dr. Nantha. Dr Nantha ordered my right leg to be placed in a POP (Plaster of Paris) and Hisham wheeled me where Effendy fixed the POP very efficiently. This was followed by another 4 X-rays and back to Dr. Nantha. By this time, it was already past 9pm and I was tired, exhausted and hungry. I requested to be warded and Hisham arranged for me to be admitted into a first class ward. I finally was warded in Ward 7, a first class ward, very comfortable with an adjacent waiting room at 10.43pm. I was changed into hospital attire and my BP taken at 183/83 which was higher than normal. It was only then that I found out that Encik Hisham had been requested by Yeo Eng Siang to help me! “Terima kasih Saudara Hisham!”

After I was comfortably settled, Habibah and Azhar left as it was late. The nurse, Puan Ain, Dr Vernon Chen and Dr Chan (Registrars) came to check on me as well as Dr Erhan, a houseman. At 10.45pm, my second wife, Nor Aini came to help me to the toilet and washed me. I slept like a log that night! Aini slept on the sofa in the room.

I stayed in the General hospital for a day and was discharged the evening of the following day. Mr. Yeo was the first to visit me at 7.30am that morning followed later by Dr Lau Jia Him, Royal Lake Club florist Raymond and Bonny with a bouquet of flowers, Nasaruddin and Hafiz from Sultan Mizan Antartica Research Foundation (YPASM), Hafiz of RIMBA, Mrs Yeo and my colleague Khairul Efendi! I was discharged late that evening.

My Night at GHKL with my foot in POP (Plaster of Paris)

A few days later the swell on my leg reduced and the POP was loose. I went back to the orthopaedic unit of GHKL only to be told that I had to wait at least another week but the pain worsened. Finally on the following Tuesday, I returned to GHKL and the POP was removed and replaced with a “backslap fibreglass” cast that was lighter but covered only the foot and the back of the leg. An X-ray was taken which showed that the part of ankle bone has moved. Unfortunately, the pain continued and finally my son, Dr Azhar, decided to take me to see an orthopaedic surgeon at Prince Court Hospital who specialises in ankle injuries.

On Wednesday 11 September when I was seen and examined by Dr. Yeap Ewe Juan, an orthopaedic surgeon and a specialist in ankle injuries, a pleasant and soft spoken gentleman. Dr Yeap then referred me to Dr Yap Swee Hien, a cardiologist who ran several tests on me to check whether I was fit enough to go through the ankle operation.  Alhamdulillah, I passed all the tests for the operation which was scheduled for the 14 September 2019.  I was asked to fast on the day of the operation. Before the operation, I was given a local anaesthesia injected into the back of my spine by the anaesthetist, Dr. Ghazaime Ghazali, who remained on duty throughout the operation that lasted an hour.

I was warded for two nights after the operation that implanted a three inch titanium plate onto my femur. I had a number of visitors that included HRH The Sultan of Terengganu who “mencemar duli” and honoured me by his visit during which HRH Tuanku was briefed personally by Dr Yeap. The implant was X-rayed and I was advised to keep my foot raised and not put pressure on the foot as well as undertake regular physiotherapy. My dear friend and former classmate from Tuanku Muhammad School, Kuala Pilah, Dato’ K. Radhakrishnan and his “gang” were one of the first to visit me and since then had regularly visited me at home!

Since then I have been resting at home, being pampered by Aini as my mobility is limited. My friend, Dr. Lau Jia Him of GHKL presented me a walker to move around while I borrowed a wheel chair from my sister.

The X-Ray showing two views of the 3 inch long Titanium Plate

It had been a frustrating month with limited mobility and often pain in the ankle and lower leg. I had cancelled all my meetings including attending the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) Annual General Meeting in Terengganu, various meetings of the Malaysian Scientific Association (MSA) of which I am a Council member and the Academy of Sciences Malaysia (ASM), as well as Convocation at University Technology Malaysia (UTM) Johor Bahru where I am Pro-Chancellor. I also cancelled a planned trip to Saudi Arabia for a consultancy project. I also postponed trips to Terengganu and Pahang on some projects. I am currently working with FRIM Inc on a carbon offset project but had not been able to undertake any field trip. I had only attended the Royal Lake Club (RLC) General Committee (GC) meetings on two occasions, as I am a GC member, upon the request of colleagues to push for certain issues that needed my support. I am indebted to the RLC General Manager, Mr Geoffery Anthony and the House and Grounds Executive, Mr Sri Venggadeshwaran, who had supported me during my period of absence from the club to fulfil my duties as Chairman of House and Grounds Sub-Committee. At one GC meeting, the President who chaired the meeting refused to allow the specific item on the agenda that I was interested in, to be moved up the agenda and as a result, I had to stay until past 10pm that night from 5.30pm. That night my leg swelled and was also painful. I had an uncomfortable sleepless night that night.

However the confinement to bed allowed me to read but every time I started reading, I tended to fall asleep. Nevertheless, I have read two books, “Ascent” by Chris Bonington, one the greatest mountain climber and am now reading John Grisham’s “The Rooster Bar”. I have three other books to follow that include “Climate Terror: A Critical Geopolitics of Climate Change” by Sanjay Chaturvedi and Timothy Doyle, “It’s a Jungle Up There” by Margeret D. Lowman and “Tulipmania” by Mike Dash. However, my free time has been spent seeing movies on NETFLIX that I have now mastered. I have so far enjoyed such shows as “Prison Break” an exciting series of action and human relationships, “Resurrection of Ertugrul” about a Turkish historical hero, “The Vietnam War”, “Hitler”, “Narcos” about the drug trade in Colombia and Mexico, The Crown about England Monarchy and a number of others.

More important, it gave me the opportunity to assess my own future and my priorities in life. I realised who my true friends were and have decided to prioritise my life for my family, my true friends and for myself. I had dedicated enough of my life to public service in the past, having played active roles in the MNS, ASM, MSA, Friends of Bukit Kiara, Friends of Kota Damansara, Royal Military College Old Putra Association (OPA), NanoMalaysia and the Malaysian Turtle Protection Society (MTPS) as well as the Royal Lake Club (RLC). Above all, I recognized the importance of my family, good friends, good health and exercise. I have a number of books to write as well as read. I am still working on my first novel!! I also realised that age is catching up but that should not limit one’s activities. It was the first time that I had spent my birthday in bed at home although Aini did take me out for a lovely dinner and Azhar to a belated lunch at the Royal Lake Club with the family and my elder sister. I also had an hour long video call with my daughter, Azleena and her family in the United States. I also followed an ASM 32nd IdeaXchange seminar on “The Haze” via Facebook Live! On the 11 October, ASM sent a TV crew for a personal interview for a documentary on “Seandainya Tiada Pokok Di Bumi” (What if the world has no more trees). This is to be part of a 26 episode documentary entitled “Logika Alam” to be aired next year on RTM. I have published two books during this period, “FRIM: The Untold Story” and “Mount Everest: We Made It To The Peak” jointly with Aziz Afif Ishak and Farul Aidib Mahamad Yusof. This book records the achievements of Azim and Farul to reach the peak of Mount Everest in May 2016. This project that started in 2010 with me as the “Chef D’ Mission” also saw me reach Everest Base Camp in 2012.

I thank all my friends who had messaged me their “get well wishes and prayers” as well as supported me in one way or another including friends from UCSI University (Dato’ Peter), MINHO Bhd (Dato’ Loo), MNS, MSA, ASM, YPASM, MTPS, OPA, RLC, NanoMalaysia, KOREJAB, KOPERMATA, KOMANIS, my former colleagues in FRIM and TropBio Sdn Bhd. I thank all my friends who had found time to visit me at home including family members, relatives from Seremban, Klang and Johol (Zainal Bador, Rahim, Zaiton and Jamal), Anne Martin, Mark, Khairul Effendy, Shahredza, Tuan Syed Haidzir, Yong Leh Ching and his wife Pat, Norizan , Junaidi, Farid and Emilia (the Ulu Bendul Group), Raja Herel and his father-in-law, Ho Tet Shin and his wife, Dr Helen, Yeo Eng Siang, Captain Najib, friends from Taman Harmonis and Taman Permata, and my primary school friend Dato’ K. Radhakrishnan and his “gang”. Zainab, the caterer at Unit Latihan Kepong canteen, made for me my favourite Laksa Johore and Lontong, while Anne made me her famous pie! I also had a bad bout of toothache and rushed to my regular dentist in Gombak and had a number of costly fillings.

Finally, I am grateful to Allah for “testing” me with this accident. It was truly “God sent”! I realised the need for me to lead a new life when I fully recover which I hope will be soon. What have I missed? I miss my regular workouts at the RLC gym, my games of squash and occasional table tennis, swimming, my foray at the karaoke at the RLC and my walks in the Lake Gardens with Aini! I also miss my Saturday morning visits to Pasar Tani in Gombak!

I am grateful to my son, Azhar, who was always available whenever I needed his help. Above all, I thank my second wife, Nor Aini, for patiently looking after and caring for me during the whole period of my “confinement” and my first wife, Habibah, for her continued prayers! Habibah and I never failed to call each other daily. I shall always be grateful to HRH The Sultan of Terengganu for “mencemar duli” and visiting me while in hospital. “Junjung kasih Tuanku”. At the time of writing, I am beginning to put pressure on my right foot and look forward to walking normally again soon! Life is wonderful. I need to make the best of what remains! May Allah give me guidance and His blessings. InsyaAllah!

Tan Sri Dr. Salleh Mohd. Nor

31 October 2019

*Tan Sri Salleh is a member of the Board of NanoMalaysia Berhad. The views expressed here are entirely his own.