Monday, March 9, 2009

Back on my feet again

  Boy, did my weekend turn out differently than I was expecting.
  It was supposed to be warm weather, photoshoot on the National Mall, lots of rehearsal and working on the Easter Island stuff. Instead, it was pain, an ambulance ride and physical incapacitation.
  Saturday morning, I had just finished running and I was preparing some breakfast. Suddenly, it felt like somebody hit me in the lower back with a baseball bat. I literally cried out and dropped to my knees. I can’t recall a time I’ve ever felt a more intense and paralyzing pain.
  Shortly, I ended up in the fetal position on the kitchen floor, unable to straighten out or move. My phone was on the kitchen counter, only about three feet away, but it seemed like miles. Every attempt to sit up or move brought stabbing pain. Over several minutes, with tiny movements, I made my way to the counter and was able to reach up and get the phone. I dialed 911 and silently thanked God that my phone hadn’t been upstairs.
  For the next few minutes, I lay on the floor answering the 911 operator’s questions. During the course of the conversation, I remembered that my door was locked. They were going to have to bust it in. I told her I would try to make it to the door and get it unlocked, but it was going to be difficult. I was right.
  It took several minutes, and the operator was patient while I yelled in her ear every couple of feet. She told me a couple of times to just stop and let them break in, but I was determined (and a little stubborn). Just as the fire truck pulled onto my street, I was able to reach up and twist the lock open.
  So, long story short, the paramedics came in, slid me onto a stretcher and carried me out. I still couldn’t straighten out or lie on my back. Outside, they transferred me to a cart and slid me into the back of the truck. Luckily none of my neighbors were outside, so I was able to at least maintain some dignity.
  I’m pretty sure the fire truck hit every pothole in the city on its way to the hospital. I was sweating and breathing a little hard by the time we got there from enduring the painful jostling.
  I was transferred to a bed in one of the ER rooms, where I spent most of the day. The doctor came in and did a few tests and diagnosed me with a strain/sprain injury to the lumbar region. It’s still a mystery to us all how it happened. They gave me some pain pills and discharged me later in the afternoon. I still wasn’t able to stand up fully and could barely walk, but they ushered me out anyway. They told me there was a phone where I could call a cab, since nobody was coming to pick me up. I laughed out loud when she pointed down a very long corridor to the exit. Just getting from the bed to my feet had been a major endeavor.
  Like a stooped and broken old man, I hunched and shuffled my way very slowly down the corridor, past a roomful of staring patients. Bye bye, dignity. I then crossed a waiting room with more stares and called the cab. He arrived a few minutes later and took me home.
  The next problem I faced was having to drive to the pharmacy to get the muscle relaxers and Vicodin the doctor had prescribed. Thankfully, my Jeep is an automatic, which made things a little easier. The drive through window was an added bonus.
  So, the remainder of Saturday and much of Sunday was spent in bed, all tranqued up. I couldn’t take the Vicodin, because it contains the only thing in the world I’m allergic to, it turns out. I made significant progress yesterday and was finally able to stand upright by the middle of the afternoon.
  Today, I’m back at work, using this time to take care of things I can do at my desk. I’m walking with only a small amount of pain. I’m a quick healer, and I think I’ll be over all this completely in a couple of days. I think I’ll have to be, really, because I’m going to walk five blocks to class tomorrow night and deal with a lot of Metro staircases.
  Word of advice if this ever happens to you: avoid sneezing at all costs.

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