Prompt #16: Share the saddest experience of your year.
Back in April, I tripped on a floor mat in the breezeway at the downtown post office and I bit it. Hard. Flew through the air in seeming slow motion and could not stop myself from falling. Crashed to the ground with the weight of my body apparently all landing on my right calf. I lay on the ground in pain and incredible shock, unable to move for a few minutes because of the brain overload. In seconds, a rent-a-cop was standing over me and repeatedly asking if he should call an ambulance. I wasn't hurt THAT badly, but it took considerable effort to get up. The cop helped and, being an average size guy, didn't make a good counterweight, but we made do. I was finally able to stand and limp to my car. Drove home slowly, noticing other parts of my body that had been injured in the fall, including a scraped elbow and scratched-up thumb. I had to hobble up the many stairs outside my apartment in full view of my hipster neighbors and their many infernal friends. I didn't offer an explanation and they didn't ask. Fun! Silent, stare-y fun.
The next few days passed as post-injury days do. Limping, wincing, icing, hoping I'd make it to the bathroom before I started peeing on myself. About four days after falling, I went to St. Louis with my dad to do a poetry reading we had scheduled months before. Everything went well, but being in the car for eight hours in rapid succession led my leg to swell to ridiculous proportions. To the point where I agreed I should go to the doctor. Given that most health issues I have, from a screwy cycle to the common cold, are often blamed on my weight, I wasn't thrilled to go. But I gave in because I was starting to worry.
The doctor was concerned about my leg, as you would expect. The swelling was ridiculous and the doctor suspected a blood clot. (SAY FEWER THINGS LIKE THAT.) She recommended I go to the hospital and get an ultrasound that same afternoon. Convinced I was about to suddenly die, I drove to the hospital calmly but scared out of my mind and searched in vain for the door the doctor had told me to look for. I finally found it -- had she just told me to look for the outpatient door, there wouldn't have been an issue -- and parked in a nearby garage. I judged the distance from the car to the door. I was walking with an exaggerated limp that was almost comical. I noticed a bench outside the door and planned to hobble there and rest before going in the hospital. I ambled down the parking garage stairs (of course I'd pick the garage with no elevator) and across the pavement before noticing I could have had my car valet parked for a small donation that would have benefited some sick kids' program. Bah. I'm almost there. I got to the bench and sat down. To kill time while I caught my breath, I read the lab paperwork the doctor had given me. Under special instructions to the lab tech, the doctor had explained why I was coming in. Trauma from severe fall. Eight-plus hours in car. Morbid obesity.
That's when I started crying.
My abject aloneness crashed on me as hard as I had crashed to the ground. I hadn't asked my folks or any friends to go with me because I was all "I'm an adult! I can do this!" and because everything happened like boom-boom-boom and there wasn't a lot of time to make a bunch of calls. And yes, I was embarrassed to ask for help. Until I was ugly crying, I hadn't realized how overwhelmed I was by everything. The whirlwind trip out of town. Not much sleep the night before. Driving to the doctor in pain that would last another week before subsiding. Getting myself to the hospital. Having to lurch from the car to the hospital. Desiring medical attention but fearing how much it was going to cost my uninsured self. I wanted very badly to have someone to lean on -- emotionally as much as physically -- and it was one of the first times in my life when I wanted that person to be a partner. I wanted it to be someone who really saw me, someone I trusted, someone who I could snuggle with after everything was said and done, someone who would rub my back while I cried. And then bring me cocoa.
Long story short (a.k.a. The Stephen King Ending), I got the exam, didn't have a blood clot, and got myself home to find arnica waiting in my mailbox from a woman I know from Michfest. I was thankful for my freelance schedule and ability to work from home, even though I was ambulatory. The pain eventually subsided, I set up a payment plan for the cost of the ultrasound, and my leg continues to get better, albeit slowly. If I have any kind of hitch in my step now, I just pretend I have a very cool walk like a gangster.