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Summer Fun? My Broken Ankle!
My Anticipated Menue
Lookk Before You Leap!
Birthdays are joyous occasions. NJ and I have been friends since our college days, and I was anxious to share her important day with her. SQ, my roommate, was kind enough to drive me to NJ’s home, and we did arrive there eventually. This wouldn’t be much of a story if it ended with us eating too much cake and going home the next day as planned. “Plan” is one word that tempts the fates, so you won’t be too surprised that --- well--.
Before we left the farm, SQ said, “I have a bad feeling about this trip.”
“Well,” I suggested, “Maybe we should wait until next week.”
“No, we can make it. But, I do have a bad feeling about this”.
I never listen to my own premonitions. I should. If I have one that says something rotten is about to happen, it does. SQ shares my psychic ability, and we probably should have turned around. But, you guessed it, we didn’t.
SQ and I started our journey of a thousand mishaps by filling the gas tank. We bought some goodies to eat on the road, and sallied forth.
When we got to Indianapolis, which is about half way to our destination, we took an off ramp to a little shopping center to buy a snack. When we got back on the road, we put on some music, and searched for the appropriate on-ramp. It was right where we thought it would be, and we may have driven right through it if there hadn’t been heavy machinery and orange traffic cones in our path. SQ reminded me of her premonition. I told her not to be so superstitious. I was still telling her that 3 hours later when we found our way back to the Interstate.
We finally arrived in NJ’s vicinity. My contribution to the festivities was to be a birthday cake that I had ordered from the local Dairy Queen. We picked it up 20 miles later in the opposite direction, got lost, called for directions, got lost again -- and finally, we arrived at NJ’s house in time to say “hi” to her other guests as they took their leave.
I swear I was sober when it happened. I walked across NJ’s bumpy lawn without incident. We went into her house for a few minutes. Then, we strolled to where the grill and side dishes were waiting. I managed to get there on my own steam. Little did I realize that tragedy, or more to the point stupidity was about to change the whole aspect of my summer.
“Would you like to go swimming?” NJ asked.
“I love to swim,” I replied enthusiastically.
“Climb up this little, skinny ladder,” NJ directed a few moments after I dawned my swim suit. “Then, when you get to the platform –“.
“Jump!” I supplied, physically anyway. What I really said would have done honor to a sailor, because I landed in two feet of water, and although I would never admit how shamefully many pounds were involved, I can assure you that all of them landed on my ankle, and broke it in two places.
I sat in NJ’s pool for a while. I was sure it was only a sprain, and with a little help, I could get into NJ’s house, and not ruin the evening completely. I was so, so wrong.
I barely made it to the side of the pool without passing out. NJ, her husband and SQ almost had to carry me to the house. I made it to NJ’s recliner. I sat there for a couple of hours listening to music. I assumed, wrongly as it transpired, that some time under an ice pack would solve my problem.
The next morning, SQ, NJ and her husband managed to get me to the bathroom. After that, they dragged me to SQ’s car. I didn’t dare accept the Diet Coke NJ offered me for the road, because the last thing I wanted to do in my condition was try to access a public toilet on the drive home. The last thing on SQ’s wish list was to help me do it.
I slept most of the way home. I had visions of stumbling to my artist’s garret and feeling sorry for myself
For the rest of the day. SQ insisted that I get my sore paw x-rayed so, instead, we ended up at the emergency room, where I learned what I’ve already mentioned about my miserably sore ankle.
For the next 7 weeks, I sported a bright blue cast. The nurse who applied it told me I could have had any color I wanted, including rainbow. However, he had blue with him, and would have to make another trip if I wanted my ankle to glow in the dark in a different color. So, blue ended up both describing my cast, and my mood for the rest of the summer.
Have You Ever Done Something That Dumb?
RICE: Your Recipe For First Aid
Rice is one of my favorite foods. It is versatile, and goes well with so many things that I can understand why Asians are so fond of it. Although the grain has no medicinal value, the acronym RICE could be of use if you happened to do what I did. It will work whether your broken bone is caused by accident, or because you neglected the well-known safety rule that you shouldn’t jump into water unless you know just how deep it is. People have broken their necks by ignoring this advice, and it was just luck that I jumped instead of dove.
The RICE acronym for broken bones goes like this:
Rest: I am particularly good at this activity, and did not need the encouragement that a broken ankle gives. Nevertheless, the idea is that your bones can use some time off if they’re broken, and you may as well call the gym and cancel your membership for the time being.
ICE: You know, that cold stuff that enhances Midwest winters? Well, you should put it on the break to keep the swelling at a reasonable level. Don’t apply it directly to your sore spot. If you give your skin an ice burn, you’ll just add to your misery. Make sure you place a towel under the bag of ice, if that’s the method you use. Otherwise, you would do well to use a manufactured ice pack. The sooner you apply ice to the area, the better.
COMPRESSION: If you only sprained something, an elastic bandage will do. If you are bleeding, press a clean towel on the injury to stop the bleeding. If you are bleeding profusely, you should call 911, and apply a tourniquet. If you are alone when your injury occurs, remember that the “C” can also stand for “cell phone”.
ELEVATION: No matter what you sprain or break, you should place the injured portion of your body above your heart so that the blood has a place to go besides your ouwie. The less swelling there is, the less pain. Anything that lessens pain is a good thing, right?
R = REST
I = ICE
C = COMPRESSION
E = ELEVATION
Have Anything To Knock Me Out, Doc?
Hello? Room Service?
When I got to the hospital, I was very hungry and thirsty. The staff were sympathetic, and only made me wait for 5 hours in the emergency room before I had access to food or water. Meantime, we had the salubrious pleasure of going from desk to desk, convincing the staff that I was insured, and that my moans of pain were caused by, well, genuine and severe pain.
The inconsiderate jerks let another patient go ahead of me. I’m a good sport, but darn, was a heart attack really a bigger emergency? Just give the guy CPR and send him home, darn it. I have better things to do than sit here and—what do you mean you doubt it? I have email to read and at the rate you’re going, I am in eminent danger of missing “Long Island Medium”. It’s not on tonight? You’re just saying that because you don’t want to admit that you should have taken me ahead of Heart
Attack Harry. After all, I was here first.
Anyway, they decided to keep me overnight. The orthopedist was supposed to be visiting the next day, and they wanted his opinion on whether breaking my ankle in two places was a good reason to give me a cast. So, they took me up to a private room to eat some of the swill that passes for food in an institutional setting. I was so hungry by that point that the patty of something that was represented to be part of a former cow, boiled broccoli mush, and canned pears tasted good.
The next day, the orthopedist announced that a cast might be appropriate. He then sent a nurse in to install the apparatus, and I didn’t see hide or hair of him for the next two weeks.
That evening, the hospital social worker came into my room to ask if I would be willing to go to a nursing home for a few days for rehabilitation. I told her I was game, but that she’d better consult my insurance company before we made arrangements. I didn’t hear anything about rehab after that, so my guess is that my medical insurance provider had concluded that it had been generous enough by not insisting that I walk home, and come back for my pretty blue cast the next day.
At the end of the second day, I was cordially invited to check out of the Hotel Medico. This would have been easy enough to do, but SQ had to go to the notorious city 30 miles from here to stay with her son while he had surgery, and although I only live about a half mile from the facility, going home with a new cast and a walker didn’t sound real smart. Besides, I had left my mobility cane in the car when I arrived, and I decided that at that rate, I probably wouldn’t get home in time for Christmas if left to my own devices.
My sister lives in Chicago, which is about two and a half hours from here. Thankfully, she loved me enough to drive up here to take me the five blocks home. She even stayed for a couple days to make sure I didn’t starve or die of thirst.
After my sister left, my roommate’s son, PB had the dubious pleasure of seeing to my reasonable requests:
“PB, could you fetch me some water?”
“PB, could you make me a T-bone steak, a baked potato and a big green salad?”
“PB, could you fetch me a garbage bag, some duct tape and my walker?
“PB, could you grab me a towel and wash cloth and then --- Oops I forgot you are a boy.”
5 Tips To Help A Shock Victim
If the misfortune under discussion happens to fall on someone else, you have a right to be grateful. Once you have counted your blessings, you hopefully will lend some assistance to the person whose fate inspired your gratitude in the first place. If he or she is unconscious, you should call 911 immediately. If there is someone else there besides you and the victim, one of you should call 911 and the other should help the victim. Really! This isn’t a good time to go somewhere for a cold beer no matter how thirsty you are.
What you should do depends on what symptoms the victim displays. Don’t move him or her unless leaving them where they are will result in further injury. If your friend Buck falls in the camp fire, you probably ought to drag him out and douse the flames.
If the person is unresponsive or unconscious, check his or her pulse. If there is no pulse, or the heart isn’t beating, administer CPR to the best of your ability. (see below for basic instructions).
If the person’s leg is broken, or you have reason to believe that her neck or head is involved, keep her warm until help arrives. Again, don’t move the victim. You could aggravate the injuries, and in some cases, cause permanent damage to him or her.
If you can, get the person to lie down, and prop his lower extremities up so they are higher than his or her head. (see RICE above)
Finally, cover the victim with a blanket if possible, or do whatever else you can do to keep him warm.
The Hospital Can Help You Recover, But First Aid Is What Saves Your Life
CAB For CPR
If the victim’s heart isn’t beating, or he or she has stopped breathing, you should do CPR until the trained professionals get there. If you have been trained in this life saving maneuver, you should give mouth to mouth resuscitation as well as chest compressions If you are not trained, stick with the compressions, administering about 100 per minute until help arrives.
The motions of CPR are basically the same for everyone, including animals. The question is how much power you need to succeed. If you are alone with the victim, call 911 before you start. If the victim is suffocating, or nearly drowned, perform the compressions for one minute, then call 911.
The acronem “CAB” is suggested as a memory prompt by the American Heart Association. The “C” stands for “Compression” the “A” stands for air ways, and the “B” stands for breathing.
Lay the victim on a flat surface. Kneel next to the person's neck and shoulders.Place the heel of one hand over the center of the person's chest, between the nipples. Place your other hand on top of the first hand. Keep your elbows straight and position your shoulders directly above your hands.
Compress the victim’s heart 100 times per minute, using enough strength to press his chest down 2 inches. Be sure you let the chest decompress between thrusts. If you are trained in CPR, do 30 compressions, make sure the victims airways are cleared, then, give the victim 2 breaths by pinching his nostrils shut and placing your mouth over his to form a seal. Continue doing either 100 compressions if you are not trained and 30 compressions and 2 breaths if you are until help arrives.
If the victim is one to eight years of age, use only the heel of your hand to do the compressions. Do two minutes of compressions and / or breathing before calling 911 if you are alone. Otherwise, the procedure is the same as above.
For an infant, only use two fingers to do compressions. If you can give artificial resussitation, place your moth over the baby’s nose and mouth and puff two gentle breaths into him or her with your cheeks, not from your lungs. If the baby doesn’t resume breathing, check for obstructions in his or her mouth and sweep anything you can see away with your finger. Otherwise, 100 compressions per minute if you are not trained. 30 compressions and two gentle breaths if the baby’s airway is clear and you know what you’re doing. Compressions should move the baby's chest no more than 1.5 inches. Make sure his chest returns to its natural position between compressions.
For an animal weighing 22 pounds or less, lay him on his back and use the one handed method as you would use for a child, putting your mouth over your pet’s snout to form a seal.
For larger dogs, use the two handed technique, compressing from the middle of the chest 100 times per minute.
In any event, stay calm, and let the chest return to its normal position between compressions. Whether your victim is a human or a pet, stop the treatment when he starts breathing on his own, or when competent medical help arrives and takes over. Call 911 for humans, or an animal hospital for your pet. Hopefully, they can talk you through the appropriate procedure. If even that kind of help isn’t available, your calm delivery of the first aid described above could save a life.
C = Compressions, 100 per minute, or 30 compressions and 2 artificial respiration breaths if you know how to do them.
A = Air Ways: If the obstruction is obvious, get it out of the victim's mouth. If not, don't try because you might be shoving it further down and creating a choking hazard.
B = Breath. If you know what you're doing, 2 breaths every 30 compressions is the proper cycle. If the victim is a baby under a year old, puff air from your cheeks instead of your lungs.
Wow! I Could Have Had A Cast Cover!
It only took a half hour to get from my sister’s car to my artist’s garret. I landed with a groan. That was the longest 30 feet of my life.
After I stopped panting, my sister helped me take a shower. I don’t care how many of those big towelettes the hospital gives you. There is nothing like soap and water to clense that water buffalo aroma from one’s person.
Since I couldn’t get the cast wet, I couldn’t just jump into the tub and soak off the stench. So, we devised a system that consisted of a plastic bag bound to my leg by a strip of duct tape. This method worked fairly well. However, it does occur to me that someone could make a lot of money if they invented a less arduous way for a person with a broken limb to clean up. How often can you tell people that you would have taken a shower if you hadn’t run out of duct tape.
There is an easier way? Oh well, the duct tape and garbage bag get up still makes a better story.