What happened to me…
Oh, my, where to start this story. I want to write it down before I forget it, as I know I will. Well, not the experience, per se, but the details. And I don’t want to forget them. As I’ve learned all too well over the years, these experiences that shape me come back to haunt me in the future, and I’d rather know and remember what happened, and when, so that I can be ready when that does happen.
So where to begin? I traveled out east for a visit with an established specialist to try to get some answers to my chronic undiagnosed medical issues. And it gave me an opportunity to see my family – bonus! The trip started well, with travel going smoothly, a wonderful visit, and time with my parents. Since my brother and his family live near where my medical visit was, we had lunch with him, before my appointment, and my parents hung out with him while waiting for me. That night, we’d planned a family dinner, in part to celebrate my parents’ 50th anniversary.
We arrived at the restaurant with my parents, brother, and his family (2 kids, spouse), and were seated on a lovely outside patio, and had a toast to my parents after we ordered. Then I made my way to the bathroom… which was in a basement requiring me to go down some outside steps and then into the basement of the restaurant itself.
And that’s where things went off the rails. I caught my foot on what was apparently a 2 inch high threshold that was not marked in any way, and could not catch my balance on the rug inside the door, which propelled me… right into a cinderblock wall, which I hit with my arms (I’d stretched them out at some point) and eventually my head (ow).
The next thing I knew, I was face down on the ground, my left shoulder was killing me, my glasses were knocked around, and I was bleeding a lot from my forehead. Cue chaos – some poor kid from the kitchen found me immediately, and then there were staff and lots of paper towels for my head. Someone finally found my parents and brought them down, then the EMTs arrived. Fortunately, I never lost consciousness, and my glasses, while somewhat worse for the wear, survived, too.
A short ambulance ride later and we were at one of the inner city hospitals that was one of the only ones accepting patients that night. Who knows what was going on, but all the others were closed. To make a VERY long story short, they were so busy at that ER that my parents and I decided to leave (I was very stable and just fine other than ow, my shoulder, which was probably dislocated) and get me to the ER near where they live, which would be much faster. This ER actually saw me, took some x-rays, gave me a sling, and sent me to a room to wait for the PA. Whew.
The PA showed up to look at me, told me she’d reviewed my x-rays, and when I said, “oh good, I think my shoulder is dislocated” she looked at me and said, “actually, you have a fractured humerus” (that would be the upper arm bone). Oh. Oh great. I think I said “Really?” And she said yes, again. Management is typically conservative – sling, then PT, and she said I could travel home and then follow up with ortho here. She did stitch up my head quite nicely – and without a numbing injection, which I requested since I HATE them. (She was a bit… doubtful but I did just fine!)
I finally got a shower when we got to my parents’ house, got maybe an hour or two of sleep, and spent the next day trying to do some work and figure out how to do things with one arm. I couldn’t move my arm much more than bending my elbow – I couldn’t move it out to the side, or up, or put any weight on it or carry anything in my hand.
Everything seems to take forever when you only have one arm to use and you’re used to having 2. Think about dusting (If you dust, that is…). You pick up things with your nondominant hand, usually (fortunately, I broke my non-dominant arm, which has been a huge blessing in a way!), and then dust with your dominant hand, right? When you have to do that all with the dominant hand, it takes for freaking ever!
I also had to break the news to my friend, who’s also in charge of our academic programs, to let her know I’d have to be teaching online for a few weeks since my face looked like, well, like it had met a wall. Sigh. She was fine with it, of course! Otherwise, I haven’t told many people here. This friend, the person for whom I was supposed to guest lecture today, my ex, and his mother, who lives locally.
The next day, I was traveling home. Mom got me to the airport well ahead of time since I was worried about traveling with one arm in a sling, and an unstabilized and painful fracture. The only problem… the check-in line when I arrived was not moving. At all. People were just standing there and EVERYONE at the counter was taking forever and that’s when I learned that my first flight was delayed and I’d miss my connection, but the little “find an alternative” link in the app didn’t have ANY options. I didn’t know that Thursday had been an epically bad day of travel due to the weather that week in the Midwest and south so everything was backed up and people had been rebooked from Thurs to Fri and so everything was overcrowded and delayed and awful.
Then began the debacle of trying to get home. When I finally got to the counter – an hour after I arrived, I think – I explained the situation, and through some miracle the agent found a seat on the later flight from my connecting city home. But then the first flight wasn’t as delayed as anticipated, so she also put me on standby on that – my original – flight. Which, unknown to us, put me on standby on the first flight to the connecting city. Oh yeah, it was a mess. And I didn’t find out until I got to the gate, and the poor agent told me I did not have a seat, and I lost it. I just dissolved into tears for the first time since this had happened. I was in so much pain, and so tired, and just couldn’t believe that this was all falling apart at the last minute.
A couple of minutes later… probably wanting desperately to be rid of the crying girl on the other side of the counter (I NEVER cry but, well, this was hard. Really hard.), he handed me a boarding pass with a seat on it. I didn’t even care if it was in the bathroom at that point. I thanked him profusely and finally – finally – got on the plane. In the way back. With a tight connection. Fun! After the deplaning debacle when we landed (Everyone had tight connections, seriously), I moved as fast as I could to the original connecting flight, got to the desk, looked down, and… there was a boarding pass. With my name. And a SEAT. I HAD A SEAT. Cue the tears, again. (I was really really tired and in pain, obviously, but even weirder? No one noticed, or seemed to notice. No one asked if I was okay, or if I needed help. Maybe I just looked too scary? [I had a major black eye and bruising and oh, yeah, stitches on my forehead…] Maybe COVID? Who knows, but… it was a bit odd…)
We finally landed, finally got off the plane, and miracle of miracles, my bag finally arrived in baggage claim. Getting the suitcase in the car and then myself was interesting – and painful – as was figuring out how to drive with one hand, but I managed and finally got home. Where I’ve mostly been for the last almost two weeks.
Because the saga isn’t over. Oh, no. But that gets its own post. I’ll just say that I’m okay for now, but the road to recovery is never smooth and I’ve definitely had some… bumps.
I’ll be back as soon as I can, but dealing with some of those recovery-related things today, so it may be a day or two. But I’ll be back! I swear.