Landing On Your Feet: Part II–Food Is Just a Thought

I had been diligently placed into the back of an ambulance. My wife, Renee, and I advised them of our preferred hospital. Brianna was borrowing our car but would remain on call for Renee and me if transport was needed later. For a brief period of time, Brianna was driving directly behind the ambulance. Brianna’s fiancée, Michael, and her son, Taelor were riding in the car with her. As they rode behind us, Taelor made an observation with his brilliant 4 year old mind. “Mommy?” “What, Taelor?” “Pop Pop needs to get a bigger car.” “Why is that?” “Because I can’t see Pop Pop inside the ambulance. This car is TOO SMALL.” How can you NOT love such logic.

As Renee and I rode toward the hospital,  the EMT was chatting us up. He mentioned that we were very fortunate that my injury did not happen the previous night. The reason why is that there was a nasty snowstorm. The weather conditions would not have allowed me to choose my hospital. They would have had no choice but to take me to the nearest one. Given that the nearest hospital to my house would have been very undesirable, I appreciated his perspective.

We soon arrived at the hospital. I was placed in a chair with my right foot propped up while I waited for a doctor to assess me. This gave me time to think about my fall more than I should have, perhaps. My mind could see my foot slip. I could even see my right foot as it was tucked underneath my body and was between my body and the stairs upon impact. I could envision the separation of the bones in my ankle. My mind was like an episode of CSI: Miami except there was no music by The Who and David Caruso was not putting on his sunglasses at the bottom of the stairs. I did, however, do a GREAT Roger Daltrey upon impact: YEOWWWWWWWWWW!!!!

A doctor came and assessed me. The next step was x-rays. I asked the doctor if I could have something to eat as I had not eaten in quite a few hours. They said they would find me something to eat after the X-rays. No sooner did the doctor say that and a transporter was there to take me to radiology.

I got in to the x-ray room and the x-ray technician helped me hobble onto the exam table. She was as gentle as she could possible be to get her job done.  She had to x-ray my injured foot from several angles which required some very uncomfortable positioning. In all of this, I could not help but be fascinated by the way that x-ray technology has advanced over the years. There was no waiting for the films to be developed. It was all digital. The doctor was even able to tell the x-ray technician that he needed an x-ray re-taken while I was still in the room. My fascination helped me take the focus off of my discomfort.

I was transported back into the emergency room where Renee was waiting. Not long after my return, the doctor came to talk to me. It was official. I had broken my tibia and fibula (my front and rear leg bones) on my right leg where it meets my ankle. I also had some bone separation around my ankle bones. I was a month away from turning 51 and this was my first fracture. Go big or go home, right? I was being transported to a bed in the emergency room and waiting to be seen by an orthopedic specialist. When I got to my bed, I, once again, asked for something to eat. The nurse told me she would reach out to dietary since my X-rays were done.

The orthopedic specialist arrived and introduced himself. He also explained the detail of how badly I had broken my ankle. He also told Renee and me that it would require surgery to correct. Furthermore, I was looking at approximately 10 weeks total of rehabilitation and recovery. THAT was a hard blow. I had a phone interview scheduled for the following morning and was planning to attend a job fair later in the week. I was suddenly becoming an emotional wreck. Renee held my hand, looked me in the eyes, and told me plainly: “It’s going to be okay”. I felt like I HAD to trust her faith. Besides, the matter was out of my control. I had little choice but to accept what was in front of me. Admittedly, this was a role reversal. It was usually Renee in the hospital bed and me trying to provide the reassurance. Still, holding Renee’s hand and looking in her eyes is always a good vantage point for me.

The orthopedic specialist told me he was going to apply a temporary cast and I would be scheduled for surgery the following day. He also told me that as he would be applying the cast, he would be resetting the fractured bone. This would require a local anesthetic to be injected into my ankle to block the pain while he was resetting the bones. I KNEW that injecting the local anesthetic was going to be painful and unpleasant. I just was not prepared for HOW painful and unpleasant.  I held Renee’s hand and closed my eyes. Then came the injection. II, once again, channeled Roger Daltrey: YEOWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW! I should stipulate that the orthopedic specialist was probably unaware of the fact that his poor dear mother was (allegedly) a victim of a rotting snakebite and was (allegedly) involved in the theft of horses. Nevertheless, when he injected that needle into my ankle, I let him know those (alleged) facts and a few other (alleged) things about his mother that he was likely unaware.

When the local anesthetic began to kick in, numbing my leg, the doctor began to apply the casting material to my right leg. The casting material was very warm and comforting. ON top of that, when the orthopedic specialist was manipulating my bones, my leg started to feel more…right. It felt almost like the sensation one gets from cracking knuckles. Don’t get me wrong. It still hurt…A LOT. But it also hurt A LOT less than when I first got there.

When the orthopedic specialist finished with my leg, I tried to relax for a moment and hope (once again) for some food. It was at this point that Brianna reached out to me. She had spoken to my younger son, Caleb, and he was VERY upset. In Caleb’s mind, I fell because I was in a rush to get outside to help him shovel the driveway. He felt responsible for my injury. I called Caleb right away to speak to him. You could feel his emotion through the phone line. I spoke to him and reassured him that my fall was nothing more and nothing less than an accident. It was not his fault. It was beyond his control and mine. I told him I would be OK and I would see him soon and we got off the phone.

My nurse came and I hoped it would be good news about some food. NOPE! Instead, she informed me that I was being transported to a patient room in the hospital to await my surgery the next day. This meant my food got delayed (AGAIN) until I was in my patient room. Since I was waking from a nap just before I fell, I was going on nearly 12 hours since I had last eaten. I was getting a bit irritable about the issue.

I got up to my new (semi-private) room and even got to see and hug Brianna and Caleb for a couple of minutes as they had come to pick up Renee and take her home. I kissed my wife goodnight and got used to my new surroundings. I met with my new nurse and came short of begging for some food. The nurse said she would try but it was getting close to midnight and midnight was when my stomach turned into a proverbial pumpkin to prepare for my surgery.

For the first time since I had fallen, I had a moment to myself. I was able to just breathe in and breathe out and try to process everything. I was miserable. Fortunately, the misery was short lived. My nurse came with a tray of hot food. Even better, she had pain medicine for me. Life wasn’t great but it was better for the moment.

Landing On Your Feet: Part I – Hi Froggy!

Life is nothing without having the occasional monkey wrench thrown into the works that forces you to bring your routine to a grinding halt and completely restructure your daily routine as well as any plans you might have for the near future. My life has recently faced such a mighty monkey wrench (plumber’s crack and all). However, I feel that I must back track a couple of years with a story to provide a bit more background and context.

A couple of years ago, it was a Sunday morning pretty much like any other. My wife was out running errands. My younger daughter, Brianna, was meandering around in the front yard. My grandson, Taelor, was spending the weekend with his father. Brianna was spending some time to herself before Taelor came home later that day. Given all of these factors, the house was QUIET!

I did a few routine tasks on my laptop which is located upstairs and proceeded to make my way downstairs. I got about two steps down and one of my feet slipped. In an effort to break my fall, I wound up sliding down the stairs face down, all the way to the bottom. Imagine a baseball player sliding down a ski slope into home plate and you get the idea.

First of all, let me assure you (as I know you are nervously reaching for your popcorn). I was not injured at all in this fall. Still, I made this slipping, sliding, thumping fall and no one was inside the house to be aware of it. As a matter of fact, Brianna was just outside the dining room window in the front yard. She was completely oblivious to my fall (or anything else going on inside the house). Instead, she shouted: “HI, FROGGY!” She had just seen a little baby frog outside in the front yard. The frog brought a big smile to her face.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I am very grateful that I wasn’t injured that day. Still, there was a small, vain part of me that couldn’t get past the idea that I had fallen and no one was aware. There was no slip…..sliiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiide…thump…thump…THUMP to be immediately followed by ANYONE saying: OMIGOSH!!!! ARE YOU OK? Instead, what I got was a slip…..sliiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiide…thump…thump…THUMP…HI FROGGY! Like I said, it’s a bit vain and it actually got to be a bit of a running joke between Brianna and me since that day.

Fast forward a couple of years later, I hadn’t been feeling well so I took a nap. I told my wife and my son, Caleb, that I would be up later to help shovel the driveway as there was some small accumulation in the driveway. Several hours later, I awoke to look at my clock. I had overslept about an hour past my intended time to get up and help Caleb shovel the driveway.

I made my way to my office to text back and forth with a former colleague. I had peeked out the window to see that Caleb was already outside and shoveling the driveway on his own. I told my online colleague that I needed to step away from the computer. The last thing I typed to her was “Snow shovel beckons”.

I started to make my way down the stairs. Around the second step down, one of my feet slipped (YES, I notice a pattern too). My right foot curled underneath as I was falling and wound up being between my 300-ish pound body and the stairs upon impact. The pain upon impact was excruciating. I yelled so loudly that several production workers at the local factory mistakenly clocked out for the day.

Since my right foot was curled underneath my body, I had less friction to slow or break my fall. In the brief few seconds before I got to the bottom of the stairs, I was really worried that my momentum was going to slingshot me head first into the front door. Fortunately, such a slapstick outcome did not occur.

When I got to the bottom of the stairs, I pulled my right leg out from underneath my body. I decided to try and put just a teensy weensy amount of weight onto my right foot. NOPE! The end result of that was another scream that sounded like James Brown portraying a Klingon. Workers at the local factory were frustrated and confused by the second alarm and were now threatening to strike.

My wife was in the living room and came running into the dining room when she heard all the thumping and screaming. OMIGOSH! ARE YOU OK? (Yes, she said it). When she asked me if I hurt. I could only get out: MY ANKLE!!!!!

My wife had me hop into a nearby chair and removed the shoe and sock on my right foot. The swelling had already begun. Renee called Brianna and explained that I had fallen and needed help getting me into the car. Since, I had a mild stroke in 2015. Brianna decided it would be wiser to call an ambulance (which she did). It seemed like it was no sooner that Renee got off the phone with Brianna that Brianna was coming through the front door. All while this was happening, Caleb was outside, still shoveling the driveway and unaware that I was hurt.

Brianna came into the house and explained that she had already called an ambulance. Renee and I weren’t exactly enthused about that at the time but Brianna made the right call. There was too much risk of further injury if we tried transporting me in our Ford Focus.

Brianna walked over and tried to comfort me. I simply could not stop myself. I looked my daughter in the eyes and said: “HI, FROGGY!” It was less than a minute later (or so it seemed) that the ambulance was pulling into my driveway. Next thing you know, I am making my way onto a gurney. For the second time in less than two years, my grandson is watching ambulance doors close with me in the back.

The (mis)adventure would continue as I got to the hospital.