Sticks and Stones…

Newsletter 053 – December 29, 2023

Hi,

Yes, “Sticks and stones [and stone floors] can break my bones, but words shall never harm me.”

In the previous newsletter I led you up to an incident I had (on November 14th, 2023), but didn’t describe the incident or the aftermath. This is another long one. Sorry. Here’s what happened.

I was at the clinic that morning (8:00 AM) to get a Coronary CT scan just as a precautionary request from my cardiologist. Someone from Radiology called my name, so I walked toward the entrance to that department, carrying a sports water bottle in my right hand and a book in the left (Moonflower Murders by Anthony Horowitz — good book). I was moving at a fairly good clip when the sole of my right sneaker caught on the granite floor. I was already leaning forward, balanced on my left leg, and a second later I was on the floor, sitting on my left foot with my right haunch, and cradling my left wrist with my right hand. My wrist hurt a lot, but the worst pain was in my left knee. The one that had replacement surgery fifteen years earlier.

Several people ran up right away. Minay was all the way across the room, about thirty feet away, but was among the first to show up. She said she could see the fall happening almost in slo-mo, but couldn’t possibly have reached me in time to stop it. My book was sitting beside me, cover facing down. The water bottle was off to the right. Somehow the screw-on top had popped completely off, spilling the contents all over the floor. I cautioned a few people to watch out for the water. One of the nurses asked me if I had slipped on it. I said, “No, it’s from my water bottle.”

They assisted me into a wheelchair and examined me, asking all sorts of “How much pain are you in and where does it hurt” questions (“a lot,” and “left wrist and left knee”). They asked if I wanted to be examined for the fall, and I said I didn’t (thinking I might be bruised but not seriously damaged), but did want to continue with my CT-scan. They had me return to the waiting area. Radiology had moved on to the next patient, so I sat and waited, and periodically got up and limped around the waiting area so I wouldn’t stiffen up. They eventually called me back to Radiology where they hooked me up with electrodes, but my heart rate was too high after the fall (the scan requires a very slow heart rate to get a clear picture). They rescheduled the test for November 28th. I was hurting quite a bit more, so the tech asked if I wanted to make an appointment to see my primary care physician about my fall. I agreed. The appointment was set for 1:30 that afternoon.

Minay drove me home (about 10 miles), and I limped around the house and rested. I decided I could drive okay by afternoon, so I drove to my doctor’s office in The Woodlands (in Evie Black, my Bolt). Driving wasn’t bad, but my knee hurt whenever I bent it too much. At the clinic they took x-rays of my wrist and knee, and discovered that I had a tiny chip off a bone in my left hand (up close to my little finger), and my patella was split vertically top to bottom. They put a wrist brace on my left hand, made an appointment with a knee surgeon, ordered a knee immobilizer for me, gave me a prescription for Tramadol (because it was deemed safe for me to take that while I was still taking Eliquis), and sent me home.

Tramadol is an opiate that acts on your central nervous system. It reduces pain by blocking pain signals between the body and the brain. It *is* addictive, so I took it as directed for the first couple of days (3 pills a day, spaced 8 hours apart), then dropped that to 2 pills a day for a couple more days, then to just one pill before bedtime for a few more days, and then stopped taking them. I don’t have an addictive personality, but better safe than sorry.

I had only been home for a short while when my doctor’s office called to say they had the immobilizer, so Minay drove me back there in her car, and they fitted me with the immobilizer, which turned into a sort of clown show because they apparently had never fitted one before. It *did* work in the sense that it kept my leg straight so I couldn’t bend it at the knee, but they didn’t assemble it correctly, and they strapped it around my leg upside down. The metal brace that’s supposed to run down the back of my leg was just to the right of my knee. I kept it that way overnight, but it was extremely uncomfortable. Minay stopped at our pharmacy on the way home and picked up the Tramadol prescription while I waited in her car.

We also discovered that driving me home in Minay’s car was problematic. It’s small, and my leg was now unable to bend, so I had to stretch out along the back seat (but I’m longer than the car is wide). I found out, though, that I *can* sit upright in the passenger seat of my very roomy Bolt with a stiff leg. So Minay has been taking me to my appointments in Evie. The next morning I Googled “how to use a knee immobilizer,” and found a very instructive video that showed how to do it properly, so we pulled it apart (lots of Velcro) and reassembled it.

I’ll finish this by saying that the knee doctor told me (at my appointment with him a few days later) that I was lucky that the knee bone split vertically. If it had shattered or broken horizontally, it would have been a mess and I would have needed surgery; but he thought this break could heal on its own if I keep the immobilizer on for the next three months (except when I shower). He also made an appointment with a hand and wrist specialist to check that break, and to talk about the ongoing pain I’ve had for years in my wrists (in all of my joints, really). That visit went well. The chipped bone was small and would heal on its own.

The next week I finally got my CT scan done. The results were good, no calcium buildup in my heart or coronary arteries. I have mostly just been Chestering** around the house, waiting for the immobilizer to come off permanently. I have continued to work on the novella, but have also been taking frequent naps, reading, and getting out of the house a little bit for doctor’s appointments, and accompanying Minay on the occasional drive to the grocery store.

This is the last newsletter this year, so let me close by saying I hope you have had a useful and productive year, and that you’ll have smooth sailing as we begin a new one.

The next newsletter will be about ends and beginnings. See you in January 2024.

Michael

[“A jest breaks no bones,”
Boswell: Life of Johnson, June 4, 1781.]

** “Chestering” refers to the character, Deputy Marshal Chester Goode, that Dennis Weaver played in the 1950’s-60’s TV drama, Gunsmoke. Chester walked with a pronounced stiff-legged limp.

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