Friday, July 04, 2014

Broken in New Orleans

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.



More Gators


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.
 
The Stairs
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.
 
Frankenleg


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.




22 comments:

David Quiles said...

My goodness!!! I'm so sorry to hear about your fall. I'll pray for a speedy recovery. Get off those pain killers ASAP. God Bless.

David Quiles

Amelia ML Montes said...

Just reading your post makes me say "ouch" more than once! So glad you are in the healing stages and I agree- more time to write! And now you have new material for story and poetry. Sending you healing energies!

Melinda Palacio said...

David, Thank you for your comment. Yes, I have been off the pain pills. I didn't like taking them. I wasn't able to think clearly. I am no longer in pain. The operation went well. Thank you.

Gracias, Amelia.

Sister rA said...

I love how you take the firey physical reality of your experience and translate it into a story that's just waiting to happen ; )

Lynne Thompson said...

Tough way to get a wake up call! Sending prayers and hugs!

Anonymous said...

Melinda, I'll say this, even if others don't agree: don't feel you have to "woMAN UP." Write if you feel like it, not because you think it's your responsiility to not waste time.
Pain killers are for pain; if the body hurts, tell the mind it has to wait until later, for its clarity.
Sleep, rest; the body needs that more than you need to not feel useless.
Face it--you're going to be a "burden" to some people; it's obviously your turn.
There--now you know everything to cure yourself.
Suerte, RudyG

starfield said...

Good morning Melinda, I was shocked to see you standing there, always smiling, but the crutches! After reading your blog about the fall, I am struck yet again, how everything can change in an instant. I so admire your resilient spirit, your positive attitude. I second what your friend Rudy G said, don't let guilt push you, let healing lead you. Sending healing energy in your direction.

Anonymous said...

Have a restful July 4th watching fireworks on TV!
Ah, yes--Your grandmother would fuss at you for not wearing "sensible" shoes.
Be sure to Get Well Soon!
Mary Helen

Martha Lannan said...

Oh my, what a saga! I hope you recover well & quickly, and encourage you to rest and take your time, even if it's not your style.
Sending excellent energy your way!
Martha

Anonymous said...

All the good blessings for a speedy recovery Melinda. I met you once at the Gene Autry Museum and we discussed both being from Huntington Park, Southeast L.A. area. You're a strong H.P. homegirl and I know will be at a quick stride soon!
Healing blessings,
Diana Aviles Shields

Anonymous said...

All the good blessings for a speedy recovery Melinda. I met you once at the Gene Autry Museum and we discussed both being from Huntington Park, Southeast L.A. area. You're a strong H.P. homegirl and I know will be at a quick stride soon!
Healing blessings,
Diana Aviles Shields

Anonymous said...

Sorry for the double dose!
Diana

Perie said...

Happy 4th to you also, celebrating your freedom from at least less pain. I didn't know the full impact of your leg/foot injury until I just read your blog. My daughter joins you, with her broken wrist/arm, in hoping for more liberating days ahead. Speedy healing. Good time for a poem. ~Perie

Maddalena said...

Guaw!!! That was some fall and a very steep staircase!!!!
Sorry to hear about your accident, have a speedy recovery. Madda

Maddalena said...

Guaw!!! That was some fall and a very steep staircase!!!!
Sorry to hear about your accident, have a speedy recovery. Madda

Kathy Cano-Murillo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kathy Cano-Murillo said...

Oh, Melinda, I felt your pain through your words. So sorry you had to experience that, sending prayers for you to heal up very soon! xo!

AlvaradoFrazier said...

Ai, Melinda, so sorry to hear about the fall and your pain. I hope you take time to heal, it's okay to lounge, think and create. Hugs, healing energy, and prayers. Mona

Juanita salazar lamb said...

Ouch!! Wishing you a full recovery. Happy it was not your neck or head that broke.

Karen Cordova said...

I winced inside, reading about your fall. I also felt amazed at your resilience, wit, and presence of mind to take notice of the view through your car window, while lying on floor. I live in shoes sans backstraps, and your experience makes me wonder if I should be on the search for strapped shoes to love, as much as I love my current favorites. Here are more good thoughts for you to be walking, pain-free, and standing in front of as many microphones as you can garner. You're such a fine poet and reader.

Karen Cordova said...

I winced inside, reading about your fall. I also felt amazed at your resilience, wit, and presence of mind to take notice of the view through your car window, while lying on floor. I live in shoes sans backstraps, and your experience makes me wonder if I should be on the search for strapped shoes to love, as much as I love my current favorites. Here are more good thoughts for you to be walking, pain-free, and standing in front of as many microphones as you can garner. You're such a fine poet and reader.

Olga Garcia Echeverria said...

And despite it all, you still managed to write a wonderful blog. Gators, Frankenpierna, broken huesitos, and the resilience of a joyful spirit. Let the healing continue and may you mend quickly.