|Aligator at Avery Island|
What started out as an outing to one of my favorite gatherings, the Women's National Book Association (WNBA), turned into an evening spent in the Emergency Room at Oschner Baptist in New Orleans, followed by surgery two days later.
Two weeks ago, after putting on a dress and summer shoes with no back strap, I simply tripped and fell down the stairs. I never made it to the WNBA potluck. There's no exciting story about twerking gone wrong or fancy foot stepping in a second line or a heroic jump into the swamp to rescue a child from the jaws of an alligator. Given the magnitude of my injuries, my story is mundane.
I descended the green carpeted, angled, spiral stairs. My shoes went flying off, I tumbled down the last steps leaving me with a swollen and bruised left ankle, a broken right fibula, a dislocated right ankle and my right foot twisted and turned in the wrong direction. One very painful misstep.
There was no doubt at all the fall was bad. Steve found me on my back, cradling my wrong-facing foot. He scooped me up, asked me if I could use my left swollen ankle, and put me in the back floor of our green Honda Element.
|My Bird's Eye View|
From the floor of the Element, I had a bird's eye view. I tried to focus on the beauty of seeing nothing but branches from leafy oak trees and the upper stories of shotgun houses. I did my best to visit a place beyond the pain of every little bump and pothole. The tiniest bounce from the car caused ripples of pain to radiate from my broken foot to every inch of my being.
When we finally arrived at the ER, I was taken aback by three things. First, I'm in a wheel chair, saturated in the most pain I've ever felt, and before any formalities, a nice hospital attendant puts a sheet over my lap to protect my modesty. My grandmother would be happy that I was wearing good underwear. Second, the faces and expressions on everyone at the hospital said it all. Each person winced, mouthed Ouch, some chimed in with the obvious, OOOh, That Must Hurt. And, third, the most irksome part of the situation, was the formality of having to fish out my ID and insurance card while I sat with my bent knee, leg pointed towards the sky, cradling my broken leg and wrong-facing foot.
I panicked when I saw all the people in the ER's waiting room. I wondered if they would wheel me to the side and tell me to wait because I didn't have a life-threatening gun shot wound or something potentially fatal. Relief came when they wheeled me to a room, started a morphine drip, along with other powerful drugs that left me relaxed enough for them to relocate my ankle and contort my foot into place.
|in the E.R., patched up, ready for a cast|
The doctor, who shared a name with my sister Emily, told me I would be fitted with a hard cast the next day and that I would be sent home, after six hours of being in the ER, with a prescription for pain pills. All this information was acceptable to me. I was dejected, however, when the orthopedic surgeon, who was supposed to put a cast on my leg, apologized and said he had to operate immediately. Immediately, in medical bureaucracy speak, meant the next day.
I've had foot and ankle injuries all my life from years of ballet and modern dance. However, I have never broken anything, let alone had to have an operation with pins and plates inserted in my leg and Frankenstein stitches to hold the two halves of my leg skin together.
On Tuesday, July 7, the surgeon will remove the stitches. Next month, I will be able to put weight on the leg. After three months, I will be able to drive again.
|Let the Healing Begin|
My freak accident forced me to slow down. I didn't need all this pain to get the memo. But as many friends have pointed out, I have more time to write. I also realize how lucky I am to have so many people rooting for my speedy recovery, sending love and healing thoughts my way, and taking time to make life a little easier for me. I am blessed.
Have a safe July 4th
Melinda Palacio is the author of the novel, Ocotillo Dreams, and the poetry collections Folsom Lockdown and How Fire Is a Story, Waiting.