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January 19, 2005

just don't tell them i deserved it

Beth bought me dinner and came up to the office on Lake City Way so I could show her some computer moves. I got out of the car and waited while she rifled through her back seat with her door partially open.

I saw something strange happening out of the corner of my eye and looked just in time to see her car door window explode in a shimmering mist of safety glass. "What the fuck!" I heard her scream, indignantly.

bethcar_tinyblog1.jpg

The truck that had crushed her door permanently in the open position sped on and I craned my neck to catch a license plate number. They were almost a block away though, and I didn't think to look at the make and model.

They made a right turn and were gone. I turned around to Beth, "You okay?" I can't imagine that truck came less than a foot or two from her. Someone came down from the ActivSpace and said he saw it, but he didn't get a make or model either. We called the cops and stood around cracking jokes while it rained on us. She had me go upstairs and get the camera for insurance pictures.

bethcar_tinyblog2.jpg

A little while later this lady walked up and said she saw it. We asked her if she got the make or model number.

"Well," she smirked, "yes, actually I was behind them. I followed them and called the cops with my cell phone and he got picked up a few minutes ago up on 15th."

We stood in unblinking shock. "What's your name?" we asked.

"Betsy Ross.*"

"Holy shit, Betsy Ross. You are our hero."

So, when the cop showed up, we didn't have much to explain. They were processing the guy for a DUI, and the cop said he was evidently "pretty stiff".

Phone calls, more waiting.

"Hey Beth...now that I have photos, can I blog this?"

"Sure! As long as you don't tell them I deserved this for hitting that girl I hated's station wagon when I was 15 and driving off after a party."

"I forgot about that. Yeah, I definately won't tell them."

Actually, somehow I felt guilty! Like her door got knocked off just 'cause I was standing next to the car, or because she was only up on Lake City Way (a busy wacky street) because of me.

I guess it was just the drunk guy's fault. Yay insurance.

* name changed to protect the badass

December 6, 2004

approaching harborview

harborview_bus.jpg

Ben lost his passenger helmet for the motorcycle so I took the bus to Harborview today. As I approached I was glad I had the batphone. They cut off the cast, took films, and I sat around in the casting room for awhile cradling my tender bumpy wrist (I just condensed 2 hours for you there).

Already the bone surgeons and I have rapport. I respect what they do, and they respect that I damn well want the X-rays and my treatment options explained to me. Last time they said that it looked like they couldn't do anything much better via surgery, but this time they weren't so sure.

The X-ray was in a slightly different angle than the one 2 weeks ago, and they couldn't tell 100% if there was further degradation. They took me in the other room and used some other kind of live-action X-ray that's lower resolution. Actually it was stunningly cool to see them rotating my wrist around and seeing the bones themselves move fluidly on the display.

The two orthos studied it aloud while I sat there. They couldn't come to any serious conclusion. They were pretty sure it was still within the recommended 2mm of displacement, but couldn't be sure if it was more than last time or not. I looked real closely at what they were talking about and I admit it was difficult to even discern the similarities in the two slightly different X-ray angles.

So, one of the doctors said he'd like to see a CAT scan. I took a deep breath and said, "Hold up...is there any other way? This is out-of-pocket."

He gritted his teeth and they went back and studied the regular X-rays for awhile again, and still couldn't come to a difinitive decision. It was still within the 2mm, but he just couldn't tell for 100% sure if he could help with surgery. We made a compromise, they recast me and I come back in a week and we take another round of X-rays. If it still looks like a CAT scan is necessary then we'll do it, insane debt be damned. I want surgery like I want a hole in the head, but I'm also willing to be in debt to prevent serious mobility problems with my wrist.

They gave me another nice blue cast, but I'm understandably pretty bummed. I was kinda expecting, "See you in 6 weeks, kid." If there's a CAT scan or surgery it's really...kind of a bad scene. I'm trying to go easy on myself, but I feel pretty stupid.

I wandered aimlessly towards home, taking busses and walking, finally stopping for dinner at some Filipino place, where I chilled out over some pork adobo. It was tasty, and had these really good clear bean thread noodles...I didn't even know they had those in the Phillipeans.

As I walked out the door, this slightly overweight middle aged guy with thinning hair caught my attention. "Hey", he said, "Do you have any Demerol?"

I sputtered a little bit, indicating my cast lamely, as if to say, "They don't give you Demerol for a broken arm!" but he took it to mean confusion as to what the hell he was talking about. "You know," he further explained, "painkillers." I finally just said no, and I think he felt looked down on.

"Sorry...I just thought you were hip," he said.

I suddenly looked down at the ratty black leather motorcycle jacket I was wearing. I guess in the 50's this was a prime indicator of hipness. It was the jacket and the hair that made him ask, not the cast. Then I thought, holy shit, dude just called me a square! I snorted. "I'm crazy hip!"

Oh well, guess I really am a dork. I didn't realize black leather and Demerol was what it took.

Anyway, merry holiday thing, check my abstract batphone picture of downtown Seattle Christmas lights:

abstract_christmas.jpg

November 23, 2004

more fun with harborview medical center

A little over a week after the fracture I returned to Harborview to get some X-Rays and find out how it was all going to go down. Luckily not in the urgent care room, but up in the orthopedic hand clinic (yes, there is such a thing).

Some hopeful decorations greeted me on the way in, in the form of some sort of artistic wainscoting in the hallway made out of hundreds of bamboo canes:

cane_railing.jpg

cane_hallway.jpg

I thought I'd get lucky and be in and out of there, but it was not to be. It was almost as bad as the first night in the E.R. My appointment was at 3:40, and I didn't see a real doc until after 7!

It wasn't so bad though, most of that time was spent sitting in the cast room, reading, watching all the other people with broken hands and wrists wait around and get treated, one-by-one before me. There's like 6 beds, and a few casting techs (nurses who do just about nothing but build fiberglass casts).

Doctors come in and look at the X-rays, now all-digital.

monitor_view.jpg

And then just tell the cast tech to do a "long reverse t" or a "groucho marx" (no joke!) and then they slap it on, tell them not to get it wet, stick things inside it, do any pushing, pulling or twisting with it, and send them home. Evidently there was some kind of emergency eariler in the day, because there was a shortage of doctors, so for the first hour or so I was there the casting techs had nothing to do, just sitting there with a bunch of fairly cheery broken people waiting for a doc to interpret an X-ray and give the word.

Then they just pick a color and do what they do best.

Finally they got to me. I was of course ready with the digital cam. Here's the story:

unmarked_radius_xray.jpg

I had some gnarly fracture, in the radius, a little in the joint, but only about 1 mm of displacement, so the doc thought it would heal up just fine and that he couln't do much improvement by cutting into me. (Sigh of relief). For those not experienced with reading fuzzy jpeg x-rays, here's the fracture cheat sheet, done in photoshop by yours truly.

marked_radius_xray.jpg

Then, they fitted me with a lovely short case that gives me lots of mobility in the fingers and doesn't cross my elbow. I was as stoked as someone with a broken arm who just waited in a casting room for 3+ hours can be.

new_cast.jpg

I stood in front of the hospital waiting for the Ben to come pick me up on the motorcyle (suicidal but fun!) entertaining myself by saying prayers and mantras or spacing out or taking pictures of my face in the floodlight with the camera in my phone.

light_on_face.jpg

Just before Ben came, these two black teenagers walked by. We made eye contact and for some reason it made me smile. "What's up?" they said, rhetorically. They chuckled to themselves. "My brother." one said as he passed, and then, when he was passed he looked back, "my white brother."

I laughed hard. "That's right," I said.

November 16, 2004

in which i cause absolutely no one a great deal of surprise

"Shit," I thought, "I'd better get out of the street." I quickly grabbed the bike, instinctively with my right hand and pulled it up onto the sidewalk with me, and then dropped it there.

A scrape on my ankle...okay, not too bad. A scrape on the knee, oh damn, that's gonna hurt in the morning. And uhhh, my wrist...feels a little numb and funny. Might have broken my fall with it. Hmmm...might be a little bruised there. Might not be able to keep riding. That sucks.

And wait...it's really not feeling so good. I think I'd better just sit here and rest for a moment and think about it. Maybe if I'm okay I can just take a bus to where I'm going. I don't have any health insurance so I don't want to go get an X-ray if I don't have to.

The vines and the...dirt...feels so cool. So nice to sit here. So hot from the bike ride. I'm really sweating! Get these gloves and hat off. There, that's better. Ahhhh, that's better. Now about that wrist.

Oooh, yeah. It feels funny. I guess I'd better go get an X-Ray. Maybe I should call Roseanne and have her come get me. No...I'm too embarassed. I was over at her house but begged off and went home cause I was feeling tired, went home and took a nap, and my friend from New York was in town and wanted to go out for a beer. Her feelings will be hurt.

Ben! I'll call Ben! They just found his stolen car...he'll come get me. You know, it feels like I broke the distal end of the radius. Hope I didn't get any carpals.


"Mr. Talsky, it looks like you broke the distal end of the radius."

"No carpals?"

"No...it's close to the joint, but you may not need surgery."

"That would be nice."

"Are you okay Mr. Talsky? Are you in pain?"

"umm. The... she just gave me some morphine."

"Oh, good. We're gonna hold your arm up by the fingers and put a splint on you. So let me know if you need any more."

"I'm fine...I mean, I will." (I love orthopedic guys!)


I just got my new phone with a camera on it, and now that I'm in a hall in the ER and desperately want to use it, it's short on batteries. Guess I shouldn't have played that video game on it for a half an hour.

There's a guy in a bed in front of my who's snoring loudly and his oxygen alarm keeps going off until some random nurse or doctor walks by and shakes him, "sir, wake up. Take a few deep breaths, Wake up sir. You need to breathe." Then later, once they're used to him and it's later and the drunks are pouring in and they just stop long enough to sake him and say loudly, "remember to breathe!".

In front of me there's a guy with a big bandage over a bloody patch over his forehead. He sits calmly for hours until a big black doctor gets ready to pull him into the other room. "make me look pretty," he says.

Down the hall I sometimes hear yells of drunken indignation or pain. A few times I hear the question, "Have you had any other drugs tonight?" I'm glad I was stone cold sober, for some reason, I always have been everytime I've broken something. That's nine times if anyone's counting. At least it's my left arm this time.

Ben was my fucking hero. By the time I walked out of Harborview at 3am with a temporary splint and a baggie of Vicodin, he had been waiting with me there for over an hour and a half. I had been there for over five hours.

Roseanne was my other hero. She put me up on her living room futon and I think we talked in my sweaty drugged state, it was painfully sweet like old times but not. The next morning Sam attacked my splint with metallic markers and drew Reiki healing symbols and hearts. And hey...my phone has a camera on it.

splint_illustration.jpg

April 3, 2002

infection: the explicit version

Atchung: I am not kidding. This post is very gross in some places. Some people have mentioned they had a hard time reading my other Gruesome Accident Tales, and so for people who are squeamish (I mean you, Mena) but still want to know about what basically happened, I have provided a tame version that includes all of the relevent facts and none of the gory details (and none of the prose either, really, you take the good with the bad). Consider yourself warned.
On Saturday it had been over a week since a surgery on my elbow where 2 tiny incisions were made and two tiny screws were taken out. I had felt no real pain to speak of, and went out that afternoon for a beer and a bit of lunch.

When I got home later that evening though, and was getting ready for work, I started to feel funny, and my arm started to ache pretty badly. I just felt lethargic and assumed I had overworked it. It was really hard for me to get it together and my bathtub wasn't draining right. I went over to a rzan's house and took a bath there, and felt better, but still confused and sore.

Finally it was 10:30pm (I work the graveyard shift) and it was time to go to work. I got to work and went to the first aid cabinet right off and took 4 ibuprofens and tried to catch 40 winks. It got a little better, but as I lay there, unable to sleep, I felt my arm a little and started to get and inkling that something was really wrong.

The skin was a bit swollen and stiff, and just felt strange. Finally, at about 4am I decided to chenge my dressing. I had really just been using these glorified band-aids, and I had brought an extra to work to change them if I had to. I thought I might as well look at the incision and see if anything was wrong, even though the incision felt fine. It was my joint itself that hurt.

I was lazy with pain and tiredness, and I lay on my back and halfheartedly and slowly pulled off the band-aid. It was a big cloth one, and really sticky. I got one half off and looked at the wound. The area was pretty swollen but it looked just fine. The second half of the band-aid was stuck even tighter.

I held my arm over my head and started to pull on the it rather hard, and it felt good kind of, the pressure that it was putting on my skin, and then suddenly several tablespoons of something warm and wet and thick landed on my face. With a shock I looked up at my elbow to see a gentle bubbling geyser of yellow fluid coming from my elbow.

Instantly I was fully awake and grossed out (and I assure you I am tough to gross out). I grabbed wildly for paper towels to try and get it off my face and keep from dripping my own personal biohazard all over the dispatch center. I soaked countless paper towels, and managed to get to the first aid room and find something to rudimentarily dress the wound in a way that would last until someone could relieve me in a few hours and I could drive to the ER.

The ER at my hospital on Sunday morning was deeply understaffed, and it took them forever to see me. The nurse was flustered, and missed the big ropy veins on my hand twice, drawing blood and leaving a huge mess of needles and iodine swabs all over my ER bed before running out of the room and saying she would get another nurse.

They had cable though. I don't have a TV and so sometimes it's nice to just check out what the state of TV is these days. VH1 had a documentary on the making of Bob Marley's Legend, and I watched that, and then alternated between some stupid high school football movie with Robin Williams and Kurt Russell in it, and mostly Back to the Future, which I found very diverting.

Finally the more experienced nurse came in and put the IV into a huge vein in my arm since it wasn't going to have to stay in long...just long enough to give me an antibiotic shot. I didn't have any painkillers this whole time, because if I didn't get admitted (I didn't) then I wanted to be able to drive out of there.

The doctor took a culture, gave me scrip for Keflex (antibiotic) and Percocet (dope) and sent me out the door. I didn't even get to finish Back to the Future. That just came out on some kind of super deluxe DVD didn't it? It's so 80's in it values, it's hilarious.

I drove to my friend rzan's house and she's been letting me stay there and taking care of me and redressing my gross wound over and over again. I went to my doctor the next day and he cut a hole in me to let it drain and cleaned out the abcesses with some gauze. Even with a local it wasn't too comfortable. I'm getting used to it though.

Now I have to go in every day and have the gauze in the wound changed until it's internally healed enough to let it close. I've just been taking it easy and living at my friend's pretty new house with her and her four year old son (He loves Bob Marley Legend, he doesn't understand that the rest of us have already heard it 400 times. I wish he would have been able to see that VH1 show).

It would be downright pleasant if I didn't have a big infected hole and hunk of skin in my right elbow. No, I take that back, it has been downright pleasant anyway.

The drugs numb the physical pain a bit, and it's been warm and sunny here in Seattle. I guess it was just time for me to slow it down a bit. I can feel the antibiotics working, and I've had such a craving for yogurt that I must have eaten a quart by myself in the last few days. It's good that bodies heal.

infection: the tame version

Last Saturday night my arm started to hurt really bad where I got my surgery. It throbbed and throbbed.

I went to the doctors and found out it was infected. I had to go to the doctor many times and take a bunch of antibiotics.

It looks like I have got it on the run, and it is healing. I'm sure I will be better soon.

Thank you for your support.

March 22, 2002

i'm still not dead

I didn't want to take my car to the hospital, and I didn't want to take an unnessary cab ride, so I took a bus to the hospital. It stops first at Northgate Transit Center, which is basically the big bus hub for Northgate Mall. I was really early, so I thought I'd stop in at the mall and see if I could find an interesting magazine to read, to obviate the need to read old Newsweeks at the hospital. (Cause I already read those old Newsweeks at my last surgery.)

I should have known, nothing in the mall is open at 8:30 am except for the two coffee shops that serve senior citizens walking in the mall. Let me just say that there appears to be two kinds of senior citizen mallwalkers: the kind that get their coffee at the Starbucks in the food court, and the kind that their coffee at the Nordstrom's coffee stand.

Really though, there's only two kinds of people. The kind of people that seperate people into two groups of people, and the kind that don't.

My point is that I'm okay. I have a few stitches in my arm. I have two smooth bone screws in a tupperware container on my desk, and I think everything is going to be ok.

March 16, 2002

faith healing and late night bowling

Its been really nice to go late night bowling lately. Sunset Bowl in Seattle is a 24-hour bowling facility, and I can't believe I didn't realize that before.

I was never that good at bowling, but I suppose I have been particularly grievous at bowling lately. One might attribute that to the fact that I severely broke my elbow only a few short months ago and then had it screwed together. It doesn't really seem like it's interfering, but all my balls to seem to subtly go to the right and I end up hitting the right three pins over and over again.

Anyway, one of those screw heads is kind of poking up out of my skin, and I'm going to go into the hospital again and have it taken out. Do you want to see a picture of the x-rays of the pokey screw? Sure you do!

How does one do such a thing? Well, they just make a little incision, and then just unscrew it. My orthopedic surgeon says it's something like an allen wrench. Then he'll also take out a little bit of the tissue that has built up to protect the skin over the screw head and put in a couple of stitches. Then drugs.

I still haven't decided whether I want to stay awake or go to sleep. The whole idea of surgery is really scary, and bodies just don't like things being screwed and unscrewed into them. Mine included, even though I'm sort of used to it.

So if there's anything or anyone you pray to, or you just do some kinda Shakti Gawain creative visualization thing or whatever and you want to pray for my smooth surgery and swift recovery, or imagine me with a healed arm walking slowly through a field of daisies and having a 200+ bowling average then that would be really nice of you.

Or, if you're some kind of empiricist nihlistic fuck, then just call email me and wish me well or something, cause it's been proven scientifically that a mind at ease aids in healing...or maybe just don't bother, because we're all going to die and become duuuuuuuust in the wind. All we are is dust in the wiiiiind!

October 3, 2001

what you'd look like if you were my right elbow

patched together

Some of you may remember when I broke my right arm, or when I had surgery to put the errant piece of bone back on (or when my sister wrote a little song about it). Here are the fruits of Dr. Thomas' labors, brought to you by the miracles of x-ray photography and good ol' photography.

What you're looking at here is a thin plate that runs along the outside end of the ulna, a long bone screw that holds it on and holds the shaft of the bone together, and four smaller bone screws that hold the plate onto the side of the ulna. If that that's not enough cringe inducing goodness for you, take a look at the following detail:

pokey!

What you're seeing here, is one of the short bone screws, that goes at a sharp diagonal down into the ulna. The swelling was so much when the doctor did the original surgery, that he didn't realize how close this little screw head would be to the surface. So now, I can feel that little edge of the screw head through my skin. (Which normally is fine until I hit it on something.)

At some point, Dr. Thomas is going to have to make a tiny inscision, and use what he tells me is basically an allen wrench to unscrew this particular screw and remove it. I so look forward to it.

August 8, 2001

the cast

This is me and my cast. I was supposed to have it removed today, and the doctor's secretary called me and said that due to a family emergency, my doctor was going to have to reschedule for one more day. The darn thing is starting to get pretty itchy and chafey, and I was freaking a little bit, but I decided to blog about it, and revel in it's safety and security for one last day.

Currently on my cast (in approximately chronological order):

la bras des haricot vert (translation: green bean arm)
MY POOR ELBOW
FEEL BETTER --> (arrow pointing to elbow)
Margaret (little heart over "a")
Ummm.., Daniel Talsky, your yummy.
Loverly Boom Boom Boy -- E
Healer Monster Ladro
Ouch! Jessie Ann :)
Lisa (little heart dotting the "i")
So, today is the last day to sign my cast. Click the tinycomments button for this post and let me know what you'd write on my cast if you lived in the same part of the world as me. Even a name with a little heart over it is OK by me.

July 17, 2001

a little treat for you, from my sister

My sister was there when I broke my damn arm. That's how I tell the story.

Here, she tells it in song, in mp3 format. It's 1,200k, and even if you're at dial-up, I think it's worth it.

have a listen!

(I can't test the mp3 link from where I'm at, so if it doesn't work, let me know and I'll fix it by the end of the day.)

July 10, 2001

more broken news

Wow. Today I saw the x-rays. One big long screw down through the end of the shaft of the ulna, and then four smaller screws that hold the plate on. Groovy. I wish I would have asked for copies of the x-rays to scan! Maybe I'll think of it when I go in next.

I got to hold my tender arm and touch it. My wrist is already stiff from a week and a half of immobility and wouldn't flex all the way. Man, the physical therapy is gonna be fun! It starts in exactly 4 weeks, when I get my cast off. It's bright green! I wish I were a talented enough coder to make a little virtual cast for all my online friends to sign, but alas... maybe I'll put up a guestbook as a part of the new site. In the meantime, if you want to fly up to Seattle, I'll be happy to provide a Sharpie.

Also, I go back to work next week, which is probably when I will begin reviews again.

June 29, 2001

i'm not dead

It required 5 screws and a plate to patch me back together. My night last night was a dope filled haze.

I came out of surgery hurting something fierce. They had offered me a nerve block (read: voluntary paralyzation) but I said I wanted to see how I felt when I got out. I woke up hurting something fierce. I asked for the nerve block but my anesthesiologist had gone home and the only other one was still in a surgery. Kendall, my kind nurse, out of compassion for me hit me with one fat slug of morphine and one fat slug of dilaudid. Shortly after, the anesthesiologist became free and came over to maul my armpit with some fat needles.

Ten minutes later I was in my hospital room with a quickly numbing arm and loaded to the gills. My mom was there and I would pass out for ten minutes at a time, and then suddenly start talking and then pass out again. After she left I started coming to a little in waves. I kept having these daydreams where I thought I was moving some object and then realized that I was really just laying there.

As the morning began to dawn I looked out my hospital window and saw Venus, the only thing in the dusk sky. I pointed it out to the nurse, who was stunned. "How do you know it's a planet?" she said in her thick Guam accent.

"Because it's so big and bright, and it doesn't twinkle." She brought in another nurse to quiz me about it.

My arm was now made of stone. I touched my fingers and it felt like I was touching someone else's fingers. As the morning came, life...and pain began to creep in anew. I was glad.

June 27, 2001

thanks to everyone who suggested elbow pads

...but there is nothing, apparently, that can protect me from myself.

Tomorrow (thursday), I go in for surgery to have that darn errant piece alternately wired, screwed, or plated on, depending on how nasty it looks in there. Dr. Thomas seems like a right skillful fellow, which pleases me to no end.

Also, one-handed typing is for the birds.

I will update you all when I return. Thanks to the miracle of modern short-stay surgery, it will probably be in a few short days.

June 26, 2001

my latest Gruesome Accident Tale

my latest Gruesome Accident Tale

Evidently I didn't do a good enough job when I broke myself a little about a week ago. So I went ahead and did a job on it that was a little more thorough for my sensibilities.

I was hanging out at the Fremont Troll with my sister. We were standing near its base on a slab of poured cement, talking. She asked me a question and I turned and began to answer her. I must have shifted my weight slightly, and my feet slipped off the edge of the cement, made slippery by a powdery sand.

I fell immediately on my side, and was not able to catch myself. My hip hit the cement floor under the bridge, and my upper body landed on a small outcropping of cement...my elbow mostly. It hurt like hell, and I lay there in the dust, writhing and stunned a little while my sister made sure I wasn't dead.

I wasn't, but I crawled over to a nearby spot of grass so I didn't have to lay in the dirt. After a short while I looked at the time and realized that I had to go to work. Still in a bit of mild shock, I insisted, despite my sister's protests that I was going to drive to work (shifting left handed). By the time I got there my arm had swelled up to the size of a baseball. When I would feel my elbow for it's point, I thought it strange that it felt like it wasn't really there...just sort of mushy tissue.

I lived through an agonizing shift (proof that I don't do much at night) and then drove myself directly to the ER where they x-rayed me and fond that the olecranon process (the tip of the elbow) had been pretty much snapped off. I saw it there on the x-ray, like a hat that had been tipped...like a little island sitting around in my upper arm.

The orthopedic surgeon started to talk about wires, screws, plates and when to schedule surgery. I got a little sick to my stomach and instantly started to think about the logistics of having only one arm (I'll have to blog entirely with my left hand!).

Needless to say, this is why there's been such a break in blogging. I do intend to continue maintaining the tinyblog, albeit left handed...but reviews may have to wait a little while. We shall see. I'd like to finish them because I have my next series in mind. Thank you again so much to everyone who reads and feel free to Email me with get well wishes, but it may take some time to respond as I am already a bit behind in Emails and type about 20 wpm if that left handed.

June 14, 2001

I broke myself again

Not badly, thankfully, but in the stupidest possible way, and at work...meaning I have to file an L&I claim based on the fact that I was walking across desktops at 6:30am and decided to try and step down onto a wheeled office chair. I was trying to hurry up and answer my phone. I got the phone in my hand, and then landed with my entire body weight on my elbow. To my credit, I took the call. A service rep in Texas who wanted to ask me a bunch of questions...Slowly.

Turns out I managed to put a hairline facture in my elbow and have to keep it in a sling. I can't extend my arm all the way (or much) but apparently I can type. Lucky for you. Hehe. Too bad I drive a stickshift...this could get ugly.

May 11, 2001

Gruesome Accident Tales Part VIII: "Most of the forward bending happens at the hips, anyway."

Gruesome Accident Tales Part VIII (final chapter):
"Most of the forward bending happens at the hips, anyway."

I was on a morphine drip. That means that as often as every eight minutes I could press a button and receive a 1.5 milligram dose of the stuff that makes junkies all over the world drool in anticipation. 1.5 milligrams may not seem like a lot, but I used to play this little game with myself: I would look at the clock, and see how many eight minute intervals in a row I could remember to push the button. I recall that I never made it past 4 or 5 before I was pretty much a drooling moron.

This is when the phone would inevitably ring. Just like it did on day one of my hospitalization when my Mom called…it went something like this:

"Hi Dan…this is Mom."

"Oh hi, Mom!"

"Are you alright?"

"Yeah….I’m fine…everything’s fine."

"Oh…ok. I’ll call and check back later."

24 hours later she walked through the door of my hospital room. Evidently she had caused a scene at the airport when her plane had left the gate, and they turned it around and brought it back for her. I’m sure glad she showed up, as she dealt with paperwork and doctors like a pro.

Of course she wanted to just take me back to Rockford, IL before her, but in my extreme, morphine-induced delusion, I didn’t want this setback to interfere with my plans to escape-my-hometown-forever ™! So my mom, in an amazing show of faith and restraint, helped me sign up for welfare, food stamps, state medical aid, and whatever kind of home medical care I could get (which turned out to be none).

Meanwhile, the reality of the whole situation had not hit me yet. That I was going to be jobless and broke and living with my slightly disgruntled housemate for months while I convalesced in the big plastic shell known as a TLSO body brace. That I would have no care, and would have to come up with innovative ways to take off my body brace and wash myself without moving my torso.

I still remember the day they fitted me for that TLSO. The guy was some contractor for the hospital who had his own home TLSO making business. He came and fitted me one day and then brought it in. I tried putting it on. "I can’t breathe," I said.

"Good, " he said, "then it’s working like its supposed to."

I would ask the doctors if I was going to be a crippled freak when I got out of the brace. The big question was, how much mobility would I have.

"Well," they would say, "most of the forward bending happens at the hip, anyway." Then they would invariably bend like little drinky birds to demonstrate how I would still be able to touch my toes.

A few days before I was to get out of the hospital, they took me off the morphine and put me on a strong non-narcotic painkiller. Now let me just say that morphine is not really a pain killer. When you’re on morphine you can still feel the pain…you just care much less! This other stuff really worked for pain…when they gave it to me I barely hurt at all, but it didn’t do what the morphine did.

I experienced withdrawal. All at once the bleakness of my pathetic future and my loneliness in this city where I had no old, trusted friends or relatives to count on to help me came crashing down on me. My life was fucked…I was not going to be able to be a massage therapist…both my hands were casted (I broke my left ring finger and my right thumb), I had basically crippled myself for life and who knew how much physical pain I was going to be in from age 19 on?

Once, about two years later, some friends of mine asked me if I wanted to try heroin. I was awfully curious what all the fuss was about and said yes. Shortly after I thought, "This is like morphine! I’ve had the best of this stuff and it’s just SHITE!" I never tried it again.

I did become a massage therapist, though. I still have problems with my back but I don’t consider myself a total cripple. I can run and climb trees and shag and dance. When I get stressed out, sometimes this tension appears there and spreads out until all my guts are clutched up with tension. And no, it doesn’t appear to be weather related.

There’s much more story of course, but I think that will do it for this series. Thank you to everyone who read. Now back to our regularly scheduled blogging.

May 10, 2001

Gruesome Accident Tales Part VII: "If you drink and drive, we’ll provide the chaser."

They laid me on the ER and diligently worked to determine the extent of my neurological loss. (In case you were wondering, this involves pinching my toes every few minutes, putting a finger up my asshole, and not giving me any painkillers for six hours.)

More painful than the actual injury was the maddening poster on the ceiling above my stretcher. It was a photo of the entire set of police vehicles of some precinct. All the cars and motorcycles were shown in formation, with a helicopter flying above them, and then the picture was shot just as their little airplane was flying head-on towards the camera. The caption read, "If you drink and drive, we’ll provide the chaser." It did not get more amusing over time.

At some point George, my housemate, my girlfriend (of 4 days) and a couple of other people came to see what the extent of the damage was and wish me well. We talked for a little while and then the doctors gently shooed them out of the ER. Shit, I thought, this means they’re going to do something bad to me wherein my orifices get penetrated.

I was so right. They informed me that they were going to catheterize me (read: shove a plastic tube with a balloon at the end up my plumbing), put a tube into my stomach via my NOSE, and then inject some saline directly into my stomach so they could promptly suck it all out again through my nose. It was decidedly unpleasant. But evidently I handled it well, as several nurses bestowed upon me the "stoic award" of the night.

At some point they decided I could have some painkillers. They sent a shot down to the ER just as they wheeled me into the x-ray room. They sent the shot to the x-ray room just as they sent me back to the ER. They sent the shot to the ER just as they set me to the CAT scan room, which is where it caught up with me. "What is it?" I asked, as the pretty nurse gently slid the syringe towards me.

"Four milligrams of morphine."

"Mmm." I said…and then slightly later, "Mmmmmmmmmmmmm" as the cold reality of the pain of life gently melted away and they slid me into the big metal ring that is a CAT scan.

"You have fractured a vertebrae", they told me. "We are going to do some surgery."

"Okay," I said, agreeably.

I woke up the next day with about 40 staples holding me closed. Staples.

(gawd, is he going to drag this on forever?…)

May 9, 2001

Gruesome Accident Tales part VI: "I saw where you fell from and I think you should just stay right there."

It only took a moment to assess that I was not going to land on that top platform, and for a few optimistic moments, I was quite confident that I was going to be able to catch myself somehow. I remember trying to do so, since the ladder was beginning to whir by, inches from me. I failed for some reason (only later did I realize that it's because I broke my fingers trying). Some kernel of understanding began to form in me and I realized that my velocity was increasing, and that I was failing to think of any really logical solution. In retrospect this is where some ninja training would have been really useful.

At some point I fell through the hole of the bottom platform.

It was then I realized that I was now officially plummeting, and that this was going to be bad. Like when you see the car coming and you know there's no way you can avoid it, I began to do to do a little math about how much damage was going to be involved: By my calculations...this is going to suck!

I guess I pulled out a few ninja skills, because I didn't get impaled on anything, just landed on my back on the dumpster (burst fracture, 2nd Lumbar, dented the dumpster) bounced off, and landed on my back on the pavement. Oh good, I thought. I just knocked the wind out of myself. That wasn't as bad as it could have been. Maybe I'll be able to get up from this.

There was one positive effect. This event caused George to stop climbing in the window and come down the ladder to see if I was ok. As he climbed down I assessed my situation. My back muscles had spasmed so deeply that I could hardly breathe, but nothing felt broken. What really hurt was my right thumb, which I had broken so badly that it needed to be stabilized with two long pins while it healed.

I just chilled out for a minute. I was actually considering the possibility of getting up, and when George and some other guy finally got to me, I told them this. "I'm a doctor," said the other guy. "I saw where you fell from and I think you'd better just stay right there until the ambulance comes."

To be quite honest, that didn't sound like such a bad idea, and I was relieved to hear somebody else say it. My thumb hurt like hell, but I was able to put my knees up and take some pressure off my lower back and it was somehow bearable. It's amazing how little anxiety I felt that night, I knew that it was beyond my control at that point.

When the ambulance came, they strapped me and my legs down to a backboard and that was much less comfortable. There was some discussion about where to take me, and since I had no medical insurance at the time it was Harborview Medical Center all the way. George started to trip out, "Don't take him to Harborview...Harborview is the worst...". He was starting to worry me...he was not taking it well.

"George," I said. "I need you to help me. Take my backpack. I need you to make sure it's safe. Will you hang onto my backpack and make sure I don't lose it? Will you look after it for me until I get to the hospital?" He took it from me solemnly. Now he had a mission, and he offered no further resistance as they loaded my broken, tiny little self into the ambulance.

(to be further continued...)

May 5, 2001

Gruesome Accident Tales Part V: "Hey, I know where there's a really good view."

Gruesome Accident Tales Part V:
"Hey, I know where there's a really good view."

Nothing is more boring than a Tuesday night in a city where you’ve lived for a month and a half when you don’t even have money for coffee. I had made a friend…a bold Leo frosh living at Haggett Hall on the University of Washington campus. He was trouble in an energetic, fun, egotistical, attention deficit disorder kinda way.

We were at the Allegro with a girl who was telling us about her newfound stripping career, when he suggested it, "Hey, I know where there’s a really good view." In our boredom we were willing to follow him anywhere. We followed him to an alley on the side of the Neptune Theater, a few blocks away. The Neptune is a famous Seattle theater, with a huge reader board topped by a neon sign where the final "E" in NEPTUNE is a trident.

As he began to push a dumpster underneath the fire escape ladder, we realized with some trepidation that this was going to be the illegal kind of good view. Now the Neptune is housed in a three-story building that also houses a retail store on the first floor, and some residential units on this alley side.

We climbed up on the dumpster and began to ascend the ladder. I could swear I saw someone poke their head out one of the apartment windows…although I don’t remember too well now. In any case, we got a little sketched out as we climbed up past the platforms for the 2nd and 3rd floors. At the top, I was disappointed to find that the view was mostly of I-5 at 45th, and a little of downtown. It was really not all that spectacular especially considering how spooked we all felt up there. We looked down and saw a cop car cruise by really slow. It was at that point that we decided it was a good time to get down from there.

George went down first, and I got on the ladder after him. The girl was still on the roof. I was a little ways above the top floor platform when he reached it, got off the ladder, and started climbing in the window of the building’s hallway.

How foolish, I thought, if we are coming down the ladder just as the police come, we can just say, "We were just leaving, Officer." But if we’re entering the building, then it’s breaking and entering instead of just trespassing. I was about 4 rungs above that platform, and so I jumped down to the platform to tell him so.

That’s when I realized that there was no platform directly beneath the ladder. Just a hole.

(to be continued)

May 4, 2001

Gruesome Accident Tales Part IV: "Why don't you use those big muscles to..."

This happened when I was 18, right around the time they first started making Zima clearmalt beverage (the party line :: the real story). I went over to a friends house to hang out with a few friends and B.S.. I walked in the house and was led to a freezer full of Zimas. Evidently they thought more people were going to show up...it was me, Brian, and the two girls (who were drinking wine).

I quite honestly don't remember how many Zimas I drank, but it was a lot for me. I am a cheap bar date. We were drinking and clowning and trying to play poker I think. At some point MACHISMO entered stage right, and Brian and I suddenly had our biceps out and were flexing madly. (I'm always eager to show that I'm little sturdier than I look from my scrawny frame...must be that robust Russian heritage.) They were duly impressed of course, they were only pretending to give me a hard time.

Well, everytime Brian went to the freezer to get a Zima...he got me a Zima too. After a while I started to slow down...and after number eight I think, I still had a full bottle in front of me when he got up to go to the freezer.

"Oh Bri," I slurred, "Dude I think I'm done."

He stopped halfway to the freezer and gave me a long look, "Why don't you use those big muscles to..." and pantomimed lifting a bottle to his lips. I think I got part of the way through #9...#9...#9...#9.

I went home and passed out in bed, woke up later having to pee something wicked. Got up....misjudged the location of the door. Tripped over the big TV on the floor. Fell all over it. Ripped my forearm open on the sharp plastic back corner of the TV. Ouch. I went upstairs to pee. When I saw what I had done I almost fainted. (You know, when there's a little bit of stuff gooshing out?)

I knocked on my mom's door. "WHOO!" She said "...you smell like a liquor cabinet." She looked me up and down, "My advice is, slap some gauze on it, go to sleep on the couch, and make a doctor's appointment in the morning...they wouldn't even give you any anaesthetic if you went into the ER like that."

"Okay," I said, puked, and passed out on the couch. The next day, not only did I get stitches, but the doctor had to cauterize the wound. He told me to look away. I told him I wanted to see, and told me no way. He thought I would throw up or something if I saw my own flesh being burned. He was wrong I think...I still wish I would have insisted.

Ok, tomorrow I'll tell the Grand Finale!

May 3, 2001

Gruesome Accident Tales Part III: "No Stitches."

I couldn't jump curbs or anything with my first bike. My craving to do just that made me ask for a real dirt bike, with fat traction tires and no gearshift. It could jump curbs or just about anything else. It was a sturdy white Huffy.

My friend Tom Emmerling was cruising the neighborhood with me. I had found a good thick stick, about two feet long, light and strong. I was letting it rest lightly against the spokes, vibrating satisfyingly in my hand and making a klonking hum as each spoke struck the stick. It was all going so well, and then for some subconsciously self-destructive reason, I just shoved the stick all the way in between the spokes.

There was a moments delay as the stick came around to the fork and its strength was tested. It held fast, and the front tire was stopped immediately. My chin sailed over the handlebars and landed brightly on the pavement. What a surprise!

"Wow," said Tom, "You're gonna need stitches."

"No stitches." I said.

Six blocks later, my mom concurred. "You could probably use a coupla stitches."

"Stitches, stitches." Tom chanted ominously.

"I don't want any stitches." I said.

My Mom was cool, she was gonna leave it up to me, but wanted to point out the cons, "It's going to leave a little scar on your chin that you'll be able to see when you're grown up."

I thought about it, I really did, but no stitches. You can still see it, if you know where to look, but no one's ever noticed without my pointing it out. I stand by my decision. No stitches.

May 2, 2001

Gruesome Accident Tales Part II: "We’re home, you can take that thing off now."

7th Grade. 7th Period. PE Football. The tough little kid blocks me hard and I fly backwards. My hand goes out behind me to catch myself. I land on my wrist and I feel it break. I sit there looking at it, thinking so clearly, so logically, "How can it be that something can just continue to hurt this badly without wavering?"

I went to the nurse’s office and she saw how badly it had swollen. She went into the little nurse’s cabinet and got out something called an "air-splint". It was a little water-wing lookin’ thing that went over the arm, and then was inflated to immobilize it. It was clear plastic, and it was kind of cool.

The nurse tried my mom at work, and left a message. She tried her at home. Then I remembered my mom was in Chicago on business and wasn’t going to be home for hours. With a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach I realized I was going to have to call my step dad. I will say that he is greatly reformed, but at the time, he could really be counted on to be an asshole in such a situation and I knew it intuitively. I had never called him at work from school before and I just had this feeling it wouldn’t go well…but there I was at school with a broken arm and a parent really had to be called.

He was called. He came to the school and got me, and I could tell he wasn’t happy about it. I guess he got the idea that I had faked it to get out of school. (Never mind that 1st period might have been better timing. It’s unlikely I would pretend I broke my arm to get out of one hour of school!) He didn’t really say anything and was nice enough to the nurse, but his demeanor was confirmed when we got home.

I started to go in my room to lay down and he said to me, "You’re home, you can take that thing off now."

Eventually my mom got home. "I think I broke my arm," I told her, calmly. At her strong recommendation we went to the hospital and I was never so glad as when the x-rays showed that the arm was indeed broken. Shit, he didn’t even apologize.

May 1, 2001

Gruesome Accident Tales Part I: "I'll close the door, and you can scream as loud as you want."

Pete Saladino, my neighbor and best friend, had two pool tables in his basement (one regular and one bumper), two older sisters, and two VERY ITALIAN parents. He also had a house with a white stucco-y brick exterior. One day, and I’m not sure how this happened, but we noticed that if we put water on the mortar, it looked like it was a totally different color. We got his Mom to grudgingly hook us up with a couple of spray bottles, and then we went outside to "paint" his house.

For some reason I found this really exciting. I was sort of dancing and spinning around like the little dorky nut I was, all giddy with the pleasure of the spray bottle. How exciting! In all my spinning, though, I tripped over myself and plunged to the ground…with no outside assistance whatsoever, and landed on my poor little pinky. Pete and I both heard the yucky sound of it, and I unhappily nursed my hand all the way home.

When I got home, my mom was on the phone. I sat down in the chair and sort of whimpered (cause, you know, you didn’t disturb my mom when she was on the phone) until she was finished. When she was done, she hung up and asked me what was wrong.

"I think I broke my pinkie," I said calmly. "What?! And you just sat there for twenty minutes?" she said. She took me to the hospital.

We got there and the doc told me that not only did I break the damn thing, but I also dislocated it. Now what exactly did this mean to a terrified second-grader? It meant that he had to get my broken finger in his hand and sort of bend it back the other way until the offending joint popped back into place.

I expressed that I would rather he didn’t, if it were at all possible to avoid it.

"Well," he said, (he was a "funny" doctor) "either I do it, or you have one pinkie that points south for the rest of your life." When he saw I was considering this as a viable option, however, he informed me that I really didn’t have a choice. My parents confirmed this grim reality.

"I’ll close the door and you can scream as loud as you want," he said.

It hurt a lot, as I remember. Then he casted me up in a good old fashioned plaster cast, (These kids nowadays all have purple fiberglass ones!) and sent me home. The darn thing is still a little crooked to this day.

You think that’s bad? Well, my friends…we have a lot of week left.

April 30, 2001

accident prone: intro to gruesome accident tales

I got in a car accident yesterday. For once it wasn't my fault. It was rainy and this lady just pulled right out in front of me. I was going the speed limit and hit the brakes the moment I saw her. My good ol' Honda Civic was hardly hurt but her front left wheel was hanging at a sickly angle, and hel-lo $250 deductible.

There's many things I've compared to that moment. You know the moment. I see it's gonna happen and I have that calm 3 seconds when I realize, "Oh yeah, it's gonna happen, and it's gonna make my life more difficult for a while." And then there's that sound. That thick plastic whump that sounds so wrong. The jarring feeling.

The, "I'm OK.........am I ok? Are you ok?"

Believe me, I've had my share of accidents and not just MVA's. I've broken 7 bones if you count fingers...I don't even count toes. When I was a kid, I had a friend who was forbidden to play with me after dark because I was "accident prone". I think I'm gonna do accident week this week.

So fair warning, the tinyblog is not going to be for the faint of heart for a week or so. If you don't think you can take it, email me and I'll write you and tell you to take your hands off your eyes when its done. (wuss!)