Boy, I really did it this time. Usually, I am a cautious person, carefully navigating around my house to avoid mishaps. In the US, roughly 18,000 Americans die every year from accidental injuries which take place in the home.
Last week, the cloak of caution was eaten by moths in the middle of the night. Just as I was about to transfer back to my wheelchair, I fell and broke the femur in my right leg. I didn’t know it was broken until the next morning. I have little feeling in my legs and consequently woke up to a sequoia sized purple hued leg. I knew it was trouble. All color drained from my face, I felt light headed and immediately knew I would be composing a dirge in the back of an ambulance.
I arrived at the hospital 15 minutes from my home; one that doesn’t have a high rating according to many of my friends. I am used to going to one which is 50 minutes away which I refer to as a “country club” because the food is palatable, run efficiently, affiliated with Columbia Presbyterian (one of America’s best hospitals) and where I can expect a private room. The dump where I arrived has long wait times, understaffed and a waiting room with a medley of characters. I was curious to learn more about them. Some looked inbred, some baby mommas with MIA baby daddies and some drunk, gaunt men with ripped tshirt covered in blood, who possibly passed out in front of a sports bar.
An hour went by before I was placed on a gurney and deposited in front of the nurses’s station awaiting a private ER room. Already bored out of my mind and uncomfortable, fever setting in, I had to use my strongest weapon to get me through this harrowing tribulation–HUMOR.
I HOLLERED to one of the young nurses:
Me: I am in pain. I need heroin. Who can get me some heroin? And a foot massage. I need a foot massage.
Nurse: (Cracks a smile and looks back down at her endless bureaucratic paperwork).
Me: No, seriously. I know I am going to die within the hour, so I am entitled to heroin and a massage. I know someone here can supply me with a dealer and a massage. Tick tock, tick tock.
Nurse: Burst out laughing and said: “We don’t supply heroin, but I can put in an order for a pain killer. We don’t do foot massages either.”
Me: Even for women who will be dead within the hour? Seriously, I know my time is up. Look at the size of my leg. I look deformed. What kind of pants am I going to wear if I am released? SWEATPANTS? Jesus, please kill me now!
Nurse: You can also wear wide skirts and dresses.
Me: Ok, that is an option. I need a seamstress to design me a pair of palazzo pants with a trompe l’oeil print of a broken femur on my right pant leg. Very Moschino. They don’t have custom clothing for people with tree trunk casted legs do they?
Nurse: Hum, not sure. That would be a good business to start though.
Me: Yeh, I would call it DeformedLegCouture.com.
Nurse: (She bursts out laughing.) Ok, you are officially my favorite patient today.
Hours later, after X-rays and a CAT scan, I met a young, humorous and respected orthopedic surgeon, who cast my leg from the toes up to the top of my thigh. He told me I would have to wear it for four weeks and that I would be uncomfortable. But, he said, look at the bright side. That being that I would not miss out on an entire summer housebound and that if I was careful, the leg would heal well. Given all the terror and misery I have endured from countless surgeries in the past, I would be able to use my coping skills to get through another blip in my life.
He was right. There is always a bright side to everything. My mother and father are supportive and have been through so much with me, that this would be another ‘blip’.
Thank God for my mom who is my primary caretaker and helps me transfer in and out of bed. I won’t be able to drive for at least 4 weeks, but will be able to catch up on movies and an HBO series I missed. (True Detectives is one series I had been dying to watch starring Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson.)
Of course, I will get into arguments with my mom–which we already have. She loves to watch prime-time nightly news at 6:30pm, which I absolutely hate and don’t consider news. And nothing is more annoying than the endless commercials. I can’t get over how Big Pharma dominates the air waves. In a half hour I counted 7 drug commercials. Everything from invigorating a man’s weiner to aching joints to fibromyalgia. I don’t consider these to be sales pitches, rather more like comedy sketches. Do you listen to all the side effects at the end of the commercials? HILARIOUS. SNL skits par excellence!
I hate pills and have always managed–so far–to employ a holistic approach to health. When I left the hospital, the doctor gave me ZARELTO to thin my blood for one month since I won’t ambulate much, therefore susceptible to blood clots. Taken once a day this pill costs $300 for a 30 day supply. I don’t have a drug prescription plan, so this was a punch in the gut. The first thing that entered my head was: What the f*ck?? $300 to thin my blood? There goes my shoe allowance for the month. But my rage turned into a fit of laughter when I read the drug precautions and interactions on the sheet of paper the pharmacist stuck in my paper bag. (Am I the only person who reads these verbatim? I do, and am always entertained.) Here are the some of the side effects of ZARELTO.
1. Coughing up blood, vomit that is bloody or looks like coffee grounds. (I wonder what the dip shit huckster was thinking when he or she decided to use America’s favorite morning beverage to describe this side effect? I will never look at coffee in the same way.)
2. Bloody/black tarry stools. (Awesome. Who needs blood anyway? Anemia is underrated. We should embrace iron loss by engorging ourselves on an entire Holstein cow. Bring it on.)
Speaking of anemia, I now have that as a result of my injury. I developed a huge hematoma and swelling due to the cast and injury. My tree trunk cast limb had to be widened several days later and rebandaged. A fever lasted for an entire week, so blood work was done to make sure there wasn’t a major infection. The diagnosis was that the fever was caused due to the injury and the pooling of blood in one area. I developed onset anemia and now have to take iron pills three times a day for one month.
In all my years on this planet, I am very grateful that I have family and friends who can look after me. I hate the thought of having strangers look after me; something so many people have to endure within their life time.
The most important thing when facing any tribulation is to laugh and concentrate on eating well and thinking positively to aid in the healing process.
For the next week I need to concentrate on how to make my deformed limb look fashionable, hilarious or both. I have several ideas in mind. One requires muppets and stuffed animals and was once worn by Flea of the band, The Red Hot Chili Peppers.