Glazing distance was brief as I engaged my intelligence to cope with the situation. Pumped with anxiety, I fidgeted in search of my phone, it had slipped out of my shorts pocket when I plunged to the sweltering asphalt, pebbled-skipped and came to rest ten feet from where I lay. A car-wreck-bystander, who exhibited an immeasurable degree of desperation to help, sensed my urgency and was thrilled to have a function! He sharply walked over to the freshly scratched-up phone and brought it to my side. 911 … I wanted to ensure I hadn’t sustained a MAJOR injury and resisted acting stupidly by not calling medical-personnel.
Calling my wife was out of the question, she was two weeks out of chemotherapy and was getting over the massive strain and havoc it had wreaked on her body. Beginning in three weeks time, she would be undergoing six weeks of radiation, i.e. every day … for six weeks. I’ve sat by her side for the duration of her chemo infusions and I had full intention of keeping her company throughout radiation treatment. Suddenly, images of interruptions to the plan, the wrench-in-the-works were scrambling, squirreling, break-dancing around my brain. The immediate realization that it was my right foot sent me into a tailspin. Not only would it inhibit my ability to drive, it shall render me useless on a grand scale, around the house, the dog, the kitchen, the mail, the trash, the cup-of-coffee, the grocery store, the pharmacy … Keeping her stress free was of the utmost importance, so, I refrained from calling her.
The ambulance arrived quietly, backed into position and stopped. From the rear of the van alighted two people dressed in medical-blue with an array of sewn on patches, one holding a bottle of peroxide, the other a clipboard. Spout aimed at my foot, knee and elbow, the peroxide flowed, dissolving, gurgling, hissing as it painted a volcanic pink-hue over the long shallow scrapes. Meanwhile, the man with clipboard excitedly jumped in with an onslaught of questions and began writing. The medic with peroxide was now applying clean gauze and began studiously wrapping my wounds, I thanked her for her good-work, and was happy for the band-aids, but … what about my swollen ankle, is it sprained, twisted, broken or WHAT? Sensing my genuine concern, she helped me up off the ground, at this point even Clipboard Man caved in to my needs, he motioned forward to help, but too late. I was already up-standing before he had time to place his pen neatly into his crisp, clean, starched shirt pocket. Upright, balanced on two feet, albeit my right foot aimed weirdly lame to the side, I was asked to make a couple of movements, this clearly answered their uncertainties … “No it’s not broken, seems like you can stand okay and bear your weight, probably a sprain”, he said, before reaching back into his pocket for that shiny pen! … Strangely enough, I was standing. Content, I decided not to go to the ER, I still had those errands to finish, and if it’s only a sprain I can handle that with a little ice when I get home. My objective for calling the paramedics was to rule out a nasty trauma. With my objective having been met, I collected my thoughts, dusted myself off and with my best rendition of Richard the Third, I crab-walked, forsaken and joyless to the driver-side door of my car.
Foreign pain, immediately spun furious over the nerve-way on the top-side of my foot. Hmmm … that’s not good, I thought as I timidly steered my way through rush hour. I had a trolley full of unwanted hardware, 30 days looming, stabbing determination gnawing away in my head, I can’t take the risk, I have to return them today, no matter what. I pulled into the hardware store lot, blue Disabled Parking Only was making faces at me, taunting me, teasing me, tempting me with forbidden desire. Daring me! It crossed my mind if indeed, I would eventually need a free-pass to park. Reassured, I told myself, a sprain is a sprain is a sprain, buck up, return the damn goods and get on with it. Richard The Third was working over-time this evening, inelegantly skidding awkward across the lot, a rusty-chrome cart with one jammed wheel to boot. Dragging, scraping and gasping for breath I reached the counter, the store clerk looked at me and quickly registered I was insane. His hand-held scanner danced around the goods and produced a rather quick refund. “Whew … Wow …boy, now what?” Okay, the list … “Arrh, no, no, I can’t do that, no, no, not now, but, she said she would need it by the weekend.” Well, today is Thursday, I could always rush out tomorrow and get it. Lots of ice, lots of ice, keep it high off the ground, above your heart, no worries, elevate, ice … yep, she’ll be right.
Alright, I’m heading home, my phone rang, my wife, my ordeal suspended! I blurted it out but played it down, she agreed it was probably nothing more than a sprain. Words of salve coated my anxiety and upon my return, the promise of a hot tea. The phone snapped shut as the car in front swerved to avoid a pot hole, throwing me off kilter. My foot, now screaming, pumping pressure, electric haphazard horror, ricocheting, shooting unbridled spasms of pain amok up my shin-bone. My face agape, onlookers would think I was being drawn and quartered as I drove. Glancing the rear view, I gingerly eased my foot back on the gas, all the while letting out huge gasps of airy sighs. Three cars behind me, birds-a-plenty, shot me in unison as they passed. I held my focus steadfast ahead, made out I was totally unaware of any disturbance. The honking-echo was swept up and replaced with a windy silence. Slowly, I regained my composure, deep breaths, nestled in the comfort of soft leather, I darted off towards the nearest uncrowded detour.
A sprain …? I kept asking myself, A sprain …?
I maneuvered the car one last time down the narrow drive, A sprain, he said, “Probably, A Sprain”
But, what was that noise, the sound, the pop, the click, that crack? Why did I fall? … Instantly, slumped without control, immobilized like a stunned mullet. I’ve had sprains before, playing football, running cross-country, and of course the one time I was imitating chef’s by wearing those ridiculous clogs.
A sprain, he said, A sprain !
To be continued:
Happily eating, breaking the last piece of crusty bread, sipping the end of my creamy espresso and finishing off a to-do list for the remainder of the day, I scribble in the tip, head toward the exit and leave. The lot was pretty empty, 3.15: in the afternoon and the lunch-crowd had long disappeared. It was the middle of a humid, windless, deplorable Floridian summer, my doctor had me on a course of pills designed to stamp out toe-fungus and the effect was just starting to come into play. Before leaving my home, I thought, wow, my toe’s are actually beginning to look half human. With my new found pride I ventured out on this sultry day game enough to wear nothing on my feet but a pair of old trusty thongs. With two big feet, naked and breezed I headed out. The car was parked about 200 feet from the cafe, I picked up the pace a little because my list was quite long and the late hours were hovering low. I really wanted to complete every chore today, for tomorrow, I had plans to clean out the overstuffed storage room. Reaching the end of fifty feet I broke into a slight canter, occasionally I will do this as a way of fooling myself that I exercise, I get puffed out, and that’s my measurement of a daily required FDA approved aerobic workout! Today, scorching air prompted me to go out on a limb and perhaps if I broke into a short sprint I’d be able to crank the AC to 64 before the sweat has time to soak the back of my shirt. One giant leap, then another, whew … whew … oh boy, I’m almost at the car.
CRACK …SNAP …POP …DROP … Mangled and torn on the ground, confused, ashen-faced, whirling in pain I scan the entire car park searching for the perpetrator. I ask myself over and over, “What just happened?” I don’t see a soul, was I shot, sliced or tasered? Discombobulated, convinced my right foot has been completely severed from my leg I become transfixed on my ankle, scrutinizing every inch, every bone, vein, big-toe, little-toe. Out of breath, I stretch my arm in order to remove my bloodied and twisted thong. I stop for a moment and wonder to what extent I’ve done damage … a few people gather around and offer their help as I helplessly glaze off into the distance and wallow in sorrow over my inclination to start a course of fungus pills.
To Be Continued: