Many of you already know I fell and fractured my upper humerus just below where the bone meets my shoulder socket. Humerus sounds humorous, which inspired me to write this column.
It started about two or three weeks ago when Anitra and I were threatened with eviction if we didn’t clean our messy apartment. A friend offered to help by arranging cleaners to come over. Anitra and I were asked to bring ourselves and the cat to the office to be out of the way. We carried the cat in a canvas grocery bag around my neck because she refused to get into her carrier.
It didn’t go as planned. They cleaned alright. We were almost completely cleaned out. Not only the TV and microwave, the cable router, wifi, a 25-foot coaxial cable and kitchen appliances; they also took everything in the cabinets including food and Anitra's meds, Kamele's water fountain and kibble, and the toilet plunger. That's a partial list.
I fell into depression first, and then I self-medicated a little and then I fell on my arm and broke it. Anitra called 911, an ambulance came and we both rode the ambulance to Harborview. I rode on a gurney in the back with a young ambulance attendant and his supervisor. The young man got my name and birthdate and took my medical stats like blood pressure and all. Then he turned to a survey. He asked my permission to ask a question. His supervisor said, “The way you get around asking Mother May I questions is to just go ahead and do it.” I loved it.
I got into the ER and was put in a screened-off area. Still in a gurney. I lost track of how many doctors and nurses checked in on me.
I was hooked up to a blood pressure monitor that automatically tested my blood pressure every 30 minutes on the hour and the half hour. Altogether from the time the medics arrived at our apartment to the time almost six hours later when I was rolled out in a wheelchair my blood pressure was taken 16 times. Anitra asked, “Are you sure?” I asked "Who's the mathematician here?” Well before then it came time for X-ray technicians to roll me into the X-ray room.
Now I have PTSD from child abuse. I spent 4 months in a coma after my first birthday due to head trauma inflicted on me. An ambulance was called then, too. I expected to be triggered by the ambulance ride to Harborview. But I wasn’t because, unlike the childhood ride, this ambulance never turned on the sirens. We live close enough to Harborview it wasn't necessary.
So at the X-ray room, I was surprised being there was triggering. It may have been a reaction to feeling rescued. I've been known to tear up upon seeing front page headlines like “Boy saves dog from freezing water.” I don’t have to be the one rescued. It’s the principle of the thing.
I got asked repeatedly how much pain I was in on a scale of 1 to 10. I remembered not to say 10 because at 10 you can’t speak. So I stuck with 8 all day, “but just in my upper arm.” I think they bought it. Then a nurse wanted to know if I’d like a pain reliever but I found out they had in mind an IV. I said I had in mind pills. So they brought me two extra strength Tylenols.
A preliminary decision was made: I wouldn't need surgery. My left arm was put in a sling and I was told not to use it. Not even the hand.
When we got home I tried to sleep but nature beckoned, at which point I discovered I couldn't get out of bed. For the next three days, Anitra had to pull me up. But finally I came up with something I'm calling my three-point maneuver in which two of the points are my knees and the third is my head on the pillow. From there I’ve been able to pull myself up with my right hand.
Thanks to all those who responded so generously to Anitra’s online asks for help to pay the ambulance bill and replace some of our property. I never would have thought to ask for help. Anitra thinks of such things.
Read more of the Sept. 6-12, 2023 issue.