I Broke My Leg on the Way to the Bar
April 15. Tax day. At least, that’s what they tell me. At some point of coherence following detachment from the morphine drip, doctors told me that this recovery will take me up to 12 weeks. “At least I’ll be ready for festival season,” I thought.
January 19 was the end of a lazy weekend. I got up around 11 a.m. so that I could catch the noon showing of “Captain Phillips” at The Edge before settling in for the conference championship games at Courtyard. Other than getting hit by a car, the movie was fantastic.
You would expect a story that ends with, “I was hit by a car” to be exciting, I suppose, but it isn’t. I parked my car at my apartment sometime shortly after 2 p.m. and walked up the hill toward Ramsay, crossed 12th Avenue and turned left down the hill beside Mellow Mushroom as I have done, literally, hundreds of times over the last three years. I stopped at the intersection, as the light was red, and then, when I was given a “WALK” signal, I did that, as people are wont to do. Before I could blink, a red Honda Civic was inches from me and escapability wasn’t an option. I braced myself best I could, but already felt the impact on my leg, which forced me onto the hood of the car and as it stopped, threw me back onto the asphalt pictured above.
There was a moment that I was on her hood that we locked eyes which I am sure terrified her. Awesome. And as I hit the ground and shouted R-rated expletives over dozens of quaint brunches, I’m sure a few uninvolved people left with a fun story to tell at the watercooler. But the next few moments were so lightning fast that I can’t really unravel them.
A man rushed off of the patio at Mellow Mushroom to my aid, while the driver sat in her car stunned. Surprisingly, at this point, I just remember asking bystanders to find my phone, which had landed, along with my left shoe, somewhere in the intersection. 911 was called quickly and arrived even quicker, as the incident happened less than a half mile from the two largest hospitals in Alabama. Paramedics tried to help me stand, but I knew instantly that weight wasn’t going on my left leg.
They threw me on a stretcher and began asking piles of questions that I was still a little too shocked to answer. “What happened? Where is your driver’s license? Insurance card? Are you allergic to anything? Are you taking any medications? Which hospital should we take you to?”
I don’t care which hospital you take me to, bros. It’s UAB or St. Vincent’s that we’re choosing between here, not Coke or Pepsi. Either will be just fine.
This is the first time that I have broken a bone.
This is the first time that I have been in the hospital, excluding a brief stint at Children’s when I was an infant (or, too young to remember anyhow) that ended with me being allergic to the carpet in my parents house. Like, I had verasyce eye surgery about eight years ago, but that was an outpatient thing in Atlanta. That’s it. So when they wheeled me out of the ambulance and an officer started checking me for weapons before they brought me in the ER and they rolled me into a corner, immobilized, for an hour to wait on an ER room, I was absolutely terrified. Alone, staring at the ceiling. I’m claustrophobic. And I never want to feel that feeling again.
Here I am watching the 49ers game:
I wasn’t a huge priority, because I wasn’t dying and they wanted to make sure the swelling had gone down before trying to operate. So for three days, I was high as a kite on pain medication. Morphine, Percocet, OxyContin – the works. A lot of really great people made their way in and out of my drug lair during that time, and sometimes, those visits are very blurry.
But @eazyrooster was the first, as he happened to be at the bar I was heading to and was the first to know. He spent much more time keeping me company than he ever had to. That night, @joey__t, @RickMuscles and @GTice4 showed up with piles of snacks and magazines.
I think it was the first night that my amazing stepsister arrived with a friend, but then, maybe that was night two. I suppose that’s where morphine and remembering visits becomes a bad combination. Over the next five days, @AndyLCarpenter brought me socks because Rick demanded that he do so. @MattScalici hung out with me at my most high. Really, I barely remember any of that conversation. Joey’s mom snuck in very quickly from her office somewhere in the building and brought me a pile of snacks. @cturnip brought some sweat pants and some reading material. And, frankly, I’m sure I’m forgetting someone. Of course my parents and my grandma came. That tends to happen when the family’s only child gets hit by a car. Family friends like the Bass family. And I’m sure there are others that I am neglecting. It was incredibly overwhelming.
Mom was amazing. And there’s no way I could have made it through the time inside without her. She made trips to McAllister’s and led conversations with doctors that I wasn’t sober enough to lead myself.
Joey has been amazing. He’s opened his home to me for recovery with no real expiration date as it’s on the first floor. He’s helped me eat, he’s helped me take care of myself and he’s helped me learn how to walk again, including the incident on Sunday which saw me fall off of four stairs and get really discouraged. And he’s tried to prevent that discouragement, too, doing his best to get me out of the house. That’s been a massive challenge with the snowstorm we saw in the Magic City this week, but he’s tried. I have absolutely no idea how I would have handled the time after UAB without his generosity.
Christy helped me get to my first PT, and will likely continue helping with those appointments. I’ve not yet convinced myself that I can drive, and that assistance has been and will be an unbelievable asset.
And the folks that have brought me food! Dad brought jambalaya, chicken salad, potato salad, Mac and cheese, bread – just tons of stuff that he and my grandma prepared. Christy made that meatloaf that I grew to love so much – the best anywhere! And Lynn brought by her “Million Dollar Spaghetti,” which is an extremely modest price tag for something so delicious. And Greg? That guy made amazing brownies! Who knew that bro could bake?
Dr. Min and the staff at UAB did an amazing job making my first time to deal with these circumstances bearable. His nurses never allowed me to feel alone, and they did everything they could to make me comfortable. The folks at Spain-Wallace, specifically Robin, are going to be fabulous.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. To each of those people, to each of the people that have texted, to the calls I never answered because cell service inside the hospital was spotty, to the folks that tweeted. To everyone. Thank you for being so unbelievably kind. To my employers, which have made efforts to make working from home a temporary possibility. Thank you. I’m an incredibly lucky man with an incredible collection of stories that would make a stranger think otherwise. This life has been a poster child for polar extremes.
I don’t know why I wrote this. I suppose it’s because it’s very easy to get discouraged when you have been largely trapped inside for the majority of 13 days. And when I write all of that down, I’m reminded that I’m extremely blessed and that I’m loved by a lot of people. It could have been a lot worse, but I’m eager for much better days ahead.