This week I received a notice from AARP asking if I was “Worried About Falling?” I was not too worried about falling down since I’m an avid yoga practitioner, my balance is good, my core is strong and I never look at my phone while walking. I get these AARP queries pretty regularly – and I generally toss them out. But not this time.
About five weeks ago, I was walking across First Avenue in the 80s with a pizza box balanced on my forearms, containing one pepperoni slice and one vegetable slice, and my iPad wedged tightly under my left armpit. I was close to home so I started digging in my bag for my keys. All of a sudden, I felt myself tipping forward. I had just enough time to think “crap” or something of that nature before I fell on my head. (If only I’d fallen on the pizza box ...)
I felt my nose graze the pavement, my knee hurt and my elbow was scraped. People surrounded me asking if I was OK. They hoisted me up – out of the way of oncoming traffic – and handed me my pizza. My first question was, “Is my nose bleeding?” I knew that would mean I’d broken my nose. “No,” was the response. The next thought I had was that I probably ripped my favorite Johnny Was leggings which I’d gotten on sale. Then I thought – I hope I didn’t break a tooth after just paying thousands to straighten my teeth. After that l noticed that the pinky on my left hand was pointing in a new, very unusual direction.
I hobbled to my building’s lobby, and sat down to get my bearings. My doorman took one look at me and asked if I wanted an ambulance. I knew that I’d be making a trip to the emergency room – but asked him to get me a cab instead. I wanted to make sure I went to Lenox Hill– the closest hospital to my apartment.
Semi-State of Shock
I was so calm in the ER that I surprised myself. I believe now that I was in a semi-state of shock. I cradled my left hand in my right arm and felt relieved that I was in a place where I’d be taken care of. I was seen after about 30 minutes. They took scans of my head and X-rays of my hand. Then I sat. They cleaned up my cut elbow, gave me a tetanus shot and checked in on me regularly.
After a while, the plastic surgeon on call introduced himself. He’d been summoned to the hospital to take care of my errant digit. He gave me a shot of Novocaine in the hand and proceeded to wrestle the finger back into its rightful place. It hurt enough that I started laughing – hysterically.
Then it was over. The doctor wrapped my hand, almost up to my elbow with a tight, thick, temporary splint. My head scan was OK although the attending doctor warned me to expect to have black eyes in the morning. I asked if there were any way to avoid that. “Well, you could sleep upside-down like a bat,” she suggested. She was right, and within a couple of days, I looked like I’d gone several rounds with boxer Ronda Rousey.
I started physical therapy a couple of weeks ago and was given a spiffy new black splint that looks like it was borrowed from a master falconer’s closet. When I went back to PT the next week, my therapist Diane asked how I liked my Googly eyes. “What?” I asked, clueless. She pointed out the two little eyes that she’d glued to my splint. I thought they were just screws, but no, I had the good fortune to find a whimsical physical therapist who pastes Googly eyes on her patients’ splints.
Now, as I reach the end of my treatment and my finger is pointing in the right direction once again, I am being super careful not to multitask outside, to pay attention to each uneven sidewalk and to walk with legs lifted high – like a highly-trained show horse or a marionette with strings attached to my knees.
And my advice to all is to be particularly careful when carrying two pieces of pizza, specifically one pepperoni, one vegetable, while clinging tight to an iPad, and searching for your keys, all while attempting to cross First Avenue.
Mona is freelance publicist who is in the middle of writing a screenplay and a book of essays about her rather eccentric mother.