So here is what happens as I grow old.
In addition to simple aging and because of my past medical history, along with progressive arthritis in ankles and knees, and two bum shoulders (one a torn rotator cuff, the other a surgical repair after multiple dislocations and separations) as well as potential neurological damage due to removal of a benign but corrosive tumor a long time ago to that area of my brain that helps with balance and the lack of a middle ear on one side, and guess what? I have very shitty balance.
Throw into the equation buying a home with a circular staircase and low railing, which would not be within code today and then carpet that set of stairs.
Then, one morning when rising late (it was a Sunday), I hop out of bed, throw on sweats, brush teeth and splash my face and then walk out of the bathroom to the stairs, barefoot.
Then, because my lead leg knee is quite sore from the day before walk and the day before the day before work out session, I lead with the non-lead leg. And then on the second or third step, I catch the very edge of the step with the heal of my foot and like a cartoon character I take a Nantucket sleigh ride – bouncing on my ass to the bottom of the stairs, yelling, “ahhhhhhhh” all the way down.
Upon coming to a resting position, I realize nothing hurts. Not my back, nor backside, nor the extremities, and, most important, not my head. MLWO34Y (my loving wife of 34 years) comes dashing in and asks if I am all right. I am about to answer, “I’m just fine” when I notice you are spilling blood all over the beige stair carpet. And then I locate the source, and it is my left foot.
And then I notice that my pinky toe is sticking perpendicular to my foot and is bleeding like a head wound. MLWO34Y grabs a kitchen towel, wraps the foot, and you say, “I think I dislocated my toe.” MLWO34Y says, we are going to the ER. With foot wrapped, I hop/limp to the car and off to the Emergency Room we go.
The wait is short, and on to triage when the triage nurse says, “Wow.” Never a good sign. She gets two other nurses to look at my toe. Their reaction is similar. Then into the ER action rooms and I meet the Physician’s Assistant, Nurse, and all the other staff members who are invited by the staff to look at my foot.
But it is not until the PA starts to irrigate the wound that I see and realize that I did not dislocate my pinky toe, I damn near amputated it, and that thing sticking up where my pinky toe should be is the end of a bone (and I have the pictures to prove it). I have fractured my toe and virtually twisted it off my foot body and the “toe part” of my toe has a cut that is 330 degrees around the base.
Further X-Rays show this exactly. It also shows that I have fractured the toe next to the pinky toe, but that break does not require any surgery as there are no bones sticking through the skin.
Now, I must say that throughout this, including up to the time I began writing this, there has been minimal pain. Do not ask me why because it confounds all reason. But there it is. The nurses think neuropathy but turns out not to be the case. Weird.
The surgeon arrives, and off to surgery you go. The doctor resects the toe under a local anesthetic, and she tells me that she “hopes” to save the toe. Because the not so wonderful alternative is amputation, which, of course, I almost managed to do own my own.
After a bit of time in recovery, the staff discharges with a foot that now looks like it belongs to a mummy and I get a wheelchair ride out to the car with a set of crutches, and home we go. Getting out of the car once home is not as easy as it was to get into the car. My instructions are to put absolutely no weight on that foot.
Upon arriving home, I lever myself out of the car at the foot of our front walk to the front door, my LWO34Y hands me the crutches that I stick under my arms into my armpits, contemplate the slight incline, put the crutches out one step and wobble backwards, failing to fall the ground only because the car held me up. I terrify my MLWO34Y by looking like a total inebriate just about to take a dive. It quicky becomes obvious that I am not going to navigate on crutches because the sad fact is that I cannot even balance on one leg when nothing is wrong. It is raining and crawling seems both stupid and undignified, if not well impossible. So, we call the local EMTs for advice and they are gracious and helpful. The show up and stick me in a wheelchair and lift me up our front steps to the living room couch. So much for dignity.
Next day, we buy a walker, and I can make it to the kitchen. Just barely. The first required trip to the bathroom will be an adventure that I am not looking forward to. The sad fact is that this would be easier if I weighed less and lifted weights more, but that is unlike to counterbalance (pun intended) my truly horrific balance. Remember all those times your gym teacher had you walk a line or walk on a 2X4? I could not do it then and I have, unfortunately, regressed since then. However, with a little practice I can now make it to the first-floor bathroom, albeit still scaring the bejeezus out of MLWO34Y. But still progress.
We progress from walker to a knee scooter and the trip to kitchen and bathroom (as that is the totality of my reality) becomes much easier.
After spending the last 9 nights sleeping on the living room couch, the last 8 days sitting mostly on the living room couch (or lying down on it), it is safe to say I am quite sick of the couch, even though it makes a great bed and does have a position by which I can view the TV.
After a week, we go for another doctor visit. Everything looks good. Toe is stable. Back a week later – everything still good, so the stitches come out. Two more weeks and I am in a boot where I can hobble around without mechanical assistance. Better yet, I can take the boot off and sleep in my own bed.
Then the next visit, and I can walk again.
With one very freakin’ weird looking pinky toe.