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Winter and breaking my ankle...

Posted 10-22-2022 at 02:59 PM by rodentraiser
Updated 10-28-2022 at 05:33 PM by rodentraiser

...are not the same thing, but they're pretty close.

So we hit 2022 with snow and more snow and more snow. I decided to drive to the store one day and surprisingly, with just a few mishaps, got out of my driveway. When I got stuck, I merely pulled out the shovel, shoveled down to the gravel a few feet ahead of the tires (all I could manage without collapsing), and drove forward as far as I could.

I was even able to break through that great big drift the plow had put across my driveway and get on the road.

Our private roads are sort of like roller coasters - they make gentle up and downs and curve left and right. A lot of people riding in my car up there with me get carsick (of course, that could just be my driving, but I digress). The only exception is the steep road to get up to the ridge where we all live and that's only 1/4 of a mile long with 9 turns, 3 of them switchbacks. Not usually a big deal.

In this case, the roads were still packed down with snow but I had no problem driving on them and when I got to the steep road, I found that it had been plowed down to the pavement.

Coming back, I got back up the canyon road but in the hour or so I'd been gone, the packed snow had melted to slush. And all of a sudden our small, gentle hills were impossible to go up.

I'd get almost to the top of one of the hills, then be unable to get any further. I'd back down, get a running start, hit the hill again, and maybe get a foot or two further when my tires would start spinning again.

When I had a crowd of kids chanting, "I think I can, I think I can," and "Keep going, keep going, you can make it...oohhhh" I knew it was time to hit the shovel again. Get up as far as I could, get out and shovel a few feet, then get back in the car and continue this until I got to the top. Then I slipped and slid my way home and vowed to not go anywhere else until it all melted or I was starving, whichever came first.

After a few days (which felt like months), it started raining. It rained and rained and rained and rained. I forget how many inches of rain we got (I think it was over 15 and under 20), but it surely melted that snow.

The contractor, in order to keep the neighbor's yard from flooding in just such an instance, had installed two drainpipes the size of paper towel tubes in the neighbor's lower yard, ran the pipes under our driveways, and made, for some unknown reason, a drain on the other side of my driveway. He then ran the pipes under my trailer and into a ditch he made alongside the edge of my property line that emptied (probably illegally) into the yard of the neighbor on the other side of me who had a house a quarter mile away and would probably never see all the water.

Well, that neighbor's lower property filled up, which backed up my ditch almost to my trailer, which backed up the drain on my driveway which backed up the water in my neighbor's yard, which the contractor had been trying to mitigate in the first place. The neighbor's entire lower yard and ten feet of my driveway were flooded.

I called the contractor. "My driveway and my neighbor's yard are flooded." "Give it a few days." He's no fool; he's not coming up here. It took more than a few days, but the small lake did eventually disappear. This is the second time in two years that this has happened. Last year was a once in a lifetime happening; I don't know what they called it this time.

I do know that we're on our third La Nina and our winter this year is supposed to be just as bad, if not worse, than last year. And the next person that tells me anticipation is the spice of life gets it right in the kisser.

As January faded, I finally had the window in my car fixed. The car had to be kept overnight, so I booked a room at a motel. I checked in in the afternoon and was looking forward to watching TV and taking a hot bath. A lot of hot baths, that is, as I don't have a tub at home and I love tubs.

It took two hours, two visits, and two staff to figure out why the TV didn't work. By that time I decided to just ditch the TV and go with the bath. The bathtub was one of those lovely oval ones. I was fooled until I laid back in that nice hot water and then tried to get out. My shoulders were wedged in the narrow oval part at the top and I was afraid I'd have to holler for help. I finally did yank myself free, but I still feel it was a near thing and decided showers were the way to go from then on.

Having taken a not-so-nice bath, I decided to get something to eat and walked over to the Denny's. Note to self: never eat where a highway and a motel meet. I looked at two scrambled eggs for about $8 and then decided I better make a reassessment of my finances. With what money I had, I could A) have one big meal now and nothing else or I could B) have a single scrambled egg and a glass of water now and maybe some fruit in the morning. Either way, there wasn't going to be a tip.

I chose the single egg and water and wandered over to the Dairy Queen the next morning and found out I could just about afford an ice cream cone. I was a very happy person when my car was finished and I could go home and eat like a starving camel again.

Then February floated by and I decided to break my ankle because there just wasn't enough excitement (or bills) in my life.

It was a cold morning and I have a faint memory (probably false) that it wasn't raining at the time. I stepped out of my trailer and put my right foot on the top stair. It didn't stay there. Instead I did a classical ballet move where the right foot went out and up, the left foot went back and got stuck between the trailer and the top step, and my body made a leaping movement - down.

Initially I didn't feel anything and I thought I just twisted my foot. I was disabused of this notion when I took my sock off (both slip-on shoes had gone flying) and found my ankle joint somewhat over my foot. Whatever, it looked like I was going to the hospital and so, cussing and swearing the entire way, I managed to crawl back up the steps and through the entire trailer on hands and knees to where my phone was in the back.

Then I found I couldn't get myself up off the floor. So I called 911, secure in the knowledge that they would stay on the line and comfort me until the ambulance arrived. They did neither. They were very businesslike about it, though, and told me that if I needed further assistance, I was to be sure and call them back. It took the ambulance 20 minutes to get there while I sat on the floor and froze and thought uncharitable thoughts.

Then there was a discussion among the EMTs of how to get me out of the trailer. Their bed-on-wheels wouldn't fit in the door and after shoving my chopping block in front of the kitchen sink (you had to have been there), it was left to me to slide my butt across the floor and outside down the steps. Why is it when you get injured or are in a hospital, dignity is always the first thing to be sacrificed?

Eventually I was lifted into the ambulance for a 30 mile ride to the ER. I was hoping for red lights and a siren and really wanted to see just how fast those curves could be taken in a real emergency, but we just ambled into town and there I even had to transfer into another ambulance.

At the ER I was put in a small room where various people stuck various things in and on me and someone else took X-rays and a doctor informed me I'd need surgery. "Really?" "Really," he said and proceeded to show me X-rays of my ankle bone sheared off from the rest of my leg.

This was about the point that the pain began. People, we all know about how bad kidney stones are. I've had them too and that day I found something that causes worse pain. All my nerves came to life and I would have sworn someone was holding a flaming torch to my leg.

I was gasping, crying, moaning, and maybe sometimes screaming. They gave me a Percocet. Then they gave me morphine. Then they gave me more morphine. Then I guess they got tired of listening to me and just knocked me out to set the ankle and put me in a cast.

A good friend came to take me home, promised to bring me back for surgery on Monday (these things ALWAYS happen on a Friday), and told me I was more or less on my own for a couple days.

I had been given crutches by the hospital and for some dumb reason they decided that crutches that come up under the armpits are no longer acceptable. The ones they gave me were about elbow high and I promptly lost my balance and fell over backwards.

Then one of my near neighbors brought over a wheeled walker for me to use. That was a little tricky because it just fit between the kitchen sink and the dinette set and could only go one way, but it was a big improvement on the crutches. That is, until I forgot to hold the brake when I fell down in it and it shot out from under me and I fell over backwards. I have a high learning curve.

Anyway, Monday finally rolls around. Since I have a squirrel (Reddy Kilowatt) who likes to roam my trailer when she can get away with it, I put out a huge paper plate of sunflower seeds on the kitchen table. Then I packed what I could and waited for my friend who, when she arrived, informed me she would never drive up or down my road again when it was dark, since she had almost gone off a curve the last time when she brought me home from the ER.

Surgery went without a hitch and I now have a plate and eight screws in my ankle and will probably be setting off a few alarms in airports from now on.

It was after surgery that the question of what to do with me came up, as I had been practically unable to care for myself the two days prior. So I stayed in the hospital a couple days (I like hospitals - it's the only time people acknowledge I'm sick and I get to watch cable TV and I get waited on hand and foot), then transferred to a nursing facility for a couple months.

The nursing facility (which was, let's be real here, actually a nursing home) wasn't too bad. I was transferred over at night and the hospital nurses made sure I had dinner before I left in case it was too late to get any dinner there. As it was, I was served dinner at the nursing home, too (which I ate - I'm no fool). The mashed potatoes weren't too bad, after I scraped about an inch of gravy off of them, but the chicken was, shall we say, inedible. I should have known that for the omen it was.

But I had a large room to myself with my own little fridge and the staff was nice and so I settled down for a good night's sleep. Unfortunately, I soon came to realize the sleep I had had the night before in the hospital was probably the only good night's sleep I was going to get for the next two months.
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