A Yankee Notebook, Columns

Another New Experience

by Willem Lange

BERLIN – This piece will be perforce much shorter than my usual exhalation. I’m writing it flat on my back in a hospital in Berlin, Vermont. My lovely daughter Martha is typing this as I attempt to pull together the events of the last four weeks.

In my never-ending quest to have new experiences I think I have won the lottery. The month of January this year has featured four falls, each more damaging than the previous.

I started off the new year on January first by tripping over an area rug and bashing my right knee on a hardwood floor. The good news is that the tablecloth I grabbed involuntarily as I fell did not pull the platter of cookies off the table. Once I got up, the pain wasn’t bad, and I nursed it quietly in the corner of the living room in an easy chair.

The second fall you’ve heard all about. My spikes caught on a chunk of ice in Hubbard Park while I was multi-thinking. Passersby picked me up, put me in the car with Kiki and appeared skeptical that I’d make it home as I drove away. That evening in the emergency room x-rays revealed a broken elbow. The PA wrapped it up beautifully and scheduled orthopedic surgery.

The takeaway from the surgery, besides a repaired elbow, was half a dozen oxycodone tablets. After having trouble one night sleeping with the injured elbow, I took an oxy the next night. I got up at three in the morning to go to the john and discovered that I had no sense of equilibrium at all. When I hit the bedroom floor like a ton of bricks, I peeled a patch of skin off my till-then good elbow and badly bruised much repaired left leg. I called out to Siri, hoping he was awake and, sure enough, he called my daughter. She and her husband were there within 15 minutes; amazing! They got me to the john which was the purpose of my getting up in the first place. Cleaned around the bed, let out Kiki, deployed Herschel, my walker, beside the bed, made me promise to be careful, and left. The pain was intense and occasionally my quadriceps would go into spasm.

I hobbled around like that for a few days with anxious visits from protective progeny who brought the mail and food as excuses to check in. My girlfriend Bea came to visit for the weekend. Sunday morning, we headed for church. Kiki always goes, too. I should’ve taken one look at the church parking lot and said, “This does not look good.” But I did not. Halfway across the lot Kiki saw something interesting, pulled on her leash and down I went on my posterior on the ice. Bea ran into church and found some help. They stood me up in the parking lot. They asked me if I could get back in my car. I knew I couldn’t. They brought me a chair from inside and asked me if I could sit down. I knew I couldn’t. So, somebody called an ambulance. The fire station was only a block away, so they rolled up in no time. (Later, Montpelier being a small town where everyone knows each other, they texted and messaged my daughter and husband with the news and where I was headed.) Arriving at the emergency room, I wheeled into the x-ray room, where (you cannot believe the pain!) four strong young women slid me onto a backboard on the x-ray table. Then to my cubicle in the ER to await results and a decision.

So here I lie in a lovely hospital room surrounded by pleasant people, slowly regaining my health. I may go to rehab in a day or two, and that’ll be new, too. Meantime, I’m googling brain enhancement machines to see if I can’t make February a little better than the first month of 2023.

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