I’ve been really sick for a while, too sick to write or do much of anything. I’m finally starting to rebound so I figured, this might be an appropriate topic.
STORYTIME: Here is a list of some of the injuries and illnesses I have had over the course of my life. Some of them are funny, some are violent or gross. Believe it or not, even though some of these things sound terrible, they have elicited big laughs when shared socially. And the bottom line is, I am tough. I SURVIVED all this so none of it depresses me. The consensus seems to be that many of my past pitfalls are interesting.
The list came about in the spirit of several things going about on social media; FIFTEEN are true, THREE I made up. Can you guess which ones?
1) I had pink eye, exactly once as a child. I was so squeamish about having the ointment squirted in my eyes that when threats of violence failed, my folks paid me a quarter to hold still every time they gave me a dose.
2) Most of my injuries are embarrassing. My clumsiness is LEGENDARY! Once, I was walking into my bedroom and was startled by the doorbell. I turned my head real fast and broke my nose.
3) It takes a lot to get me to go to the doctor or stop what I’m doing when I get hurt. I had a heart attack a couple years back, but didn’t know that’s what it was, so I just kept going and found out some time later what had happened. (I am fine, my heart is really good now) 🙂
4) I’ve had whiplash several times, from three separate car accidents over a period of 10 years or so. Each car accident I was stopped at a red light or a stop sign when I was hit and I was driving a white car. Since I quit driving white cars I can’t say I’ve had no accidents but I haven’t been in a rear end collision.
5) The worst car accident I was ever in was when a drunk driver hit me while I was with friends driving between Fresno and my home town in dense winter tule fog. The friend that was behind the wheel of the car I was in was driving too fast, but the other guy hit us so hard that I went flying through the windshield. If a cop hadn’t been on the same road about the same time. I might have died. I was told I was lucky I wasn’t decapitated.
6) I have had a lot of cuts during the course of my life. The only time I ever bothered to get stitches was after opening a can of Whiskas cat food, the kind with the pull tab. It stuck and when I forced it my hand slipped and it completely sliced through the web of my hand all the way up to the meat of it. I finished feeding the cats, went to emergency where I waited for hours in a room with a guy who had been jumped on the street and beaten. He was moaning and crying. Later, the ER doctor whose stitching was so good, I barely have a scar, bought a pair of glasses from me (this was in my optician days) and invited me along on a road trip. He was moving to Alaska. I will always regret that I didn’t just go!
7) For a few years, while living in Fresno, I was plagued by ear infections. I had a chronic staph infection in my ear that was resistant to medicine and my doctors were afraid I would lose my hearing and that it might get to my brain and kill me. I did have some hearing loss from it, but obviously, I survived. Once, a doctor tried to clean my ear during another painful infection. I involuntarily slapped him because it hurt so bad. I was once dating this guy who lived half the year in Yosemite and did things like show up when I was home sick in Fresno and say, “We’re on our way to San Francisco. You have 10 minutes to decide if you want to go.” So, I decided and went to San Francisco with a horrible ear infection. I slept on the floor with strangers in a house in the Haight, saw my first girl with furry unshaved legs and had my first Irish Coffee at Tommy’s Joynt. It was miserable and awesome. I haven’t had an ear infection since moving to the bay area.
8) Boyfriends have broken more than my heart over the years. Besides the clumsy boyfriend who broke my toe, merely by stepping on it, I once had a boyfriend who dislocated my jaw in anger because he was upset that he couldn’t punch the person who had raped me. Yeah, makes so much sense, right? I got chlamydia from a boyfriend who cheated on me with a catalog model. And when I had my wisdom teeth removed a well meaning boyfriend put chicken fettuccine in a blender so I could drink it. It didn’t cause me injury, but it hurt all the same. Soooo wrong. I got a concussion after an ex slammed my head against my own front door multiple times. The attack also left marks where you could make out the shape of his fingers around my throat. He tried to convince a judge that I did this to myself. Many of his friends chose, and probably still believe his story that I am a psycho, who made this up and duped a judge into to giving me a restraining order so he couldn’t go to concerts for fear of going to jail. On a lighter note, my hair once caught on fire while I was making whoopie. We put my hair out, moved the candle and resumed what we was doing. It was worth it. Before that, I had no idea how bad burnt hair smells or how long it takes to get the smell to go away! (Unbeknownst to me, at the same time, my house caught fire and miraculously, the fire went out on its own.)
9) My sister got mad because I got tired of her “borrowing” my clothes and put a lock on my door. It’s the only time I have ever been in a physical fight. She jumped on top of me, punched me and chipped my tooth. I grabbed her in the crotch and called my big brother to rescue me. After all this time, it’s actually sort of a funny memory. In her defense she was doing a lot of coke and crank at the time.
10) Speaking of my sister; one time I was walking her family dog, a big doofy Golden retriever, named, Jeffrey. Jeffrey saw another dog and dragged me across the park. The leash constricted around my fingers and mangled my pinkie. Even though it resembled a little cocktail shrimp, my sister was convinced the finger was merely dislocated and yanked it hard. When I started screaming in pain she took me to the hospital where much to her embarrassment we found out it was broken in three places. After healing and physical therapy, I still could not make a fist or put any pressure on it to say, play piano or guitar chords. Recently, after nearly 30 years, a dog I was walking pulled really hard and my pinkie snapped. I can make a fist now and exert a bit of pressure with it.
11) Finger injuries aside, I am the queen of foot injuries, which should be appropriate since I am a Pisces, right? It’s no surprise that when my neuropathy symptoms appeared, they started in my feet. I have broken nearly every toe. One time, as I mentioned previously, a boyfriend simply stepped on my foot the wrong way and broke a toe. Several times because I just walked into some piece of furniture and rather than just stub a toe, it would break. The most spectacular toe break, was when I broke a big toe coming down a client’s stairs in the dark. I thought I was stepping off the bottom step, but actually had three more to go. I came straight down on the tip of my toe with all my weight. My ankle twisted so badly that I couldn’t move for a good ten minutes. I thought I had broken it too, but it was just my big toe that was pulverized. One time I actually did have an ankle fracture and I had a gig. I took my splint off, ace bandaged the hell out of it, took extra codeine and shoved it into my high heeled boots. I made it through the gig, running around stage being metal, more from adrenaline than from the drugs. Afterward, I collapsed. My foot was so swollen we thought we were going to have to cut my boot off. But hell no! I loved those boots so I elevated my foot for something like six or seven hours with ice packs wrapped around it until I was finally able to ease that boot off. I did my next two gigs barefoot and was more sedate.
12) One time I was doing a show and the guitar player went down on his knees, skidding across the stage and knocked me clean off of it. I pretended it was part of the act and kept going even though it turned out later I’d twisted my ankle and bruised myself up pretty badly. People talked about how cool that stunt was for a long time. If only they knew.
13) Every time I have broken a bone, I have known it was broken immediately, but my family has always had a tendency to not believe me. Maybe because I tend to break bones with what seems like low impact situations versus more dramatic scenarios where it seems like I should have broken something, I walk away relatively unscathed. When I was in the fourth grade, I broke my arm in a really weird way. I got into trouble for running late for school and my dad was chasing me to give me a beating. We had swivel chairs in our dining room that had a base with four prongs that stuck out. I caught my foot on one as I dashed around the table in fear of my red faced, bellowing father and hit the floor. Since according to him, nothing was wrong with me, I had to go to school. But the school nurse thought I was hurt so he took me to the local hospital where they decided I’d only sprained it and put my arm in a sling. Not long after I had an appointment with my pediatrician in Fresno. Can you move your arm without pain? NO! Can you lift your arm? NO. He took my arm and lifted it up. It just fell to my side. I had no muscle control. He asked, Has her arm been XRayed? NOPE. He orders XRays. SURPRISE! It’s a really nasty fracture! Oh the parental guilt!
13) I have a tendency to not be picky about food temperatures and I don’t like very cold or steaming hot food and drink. But I have learned my lesson about things being thoroughly cooked or heated thanks to food poisoning. I have had food poisoning severe enough to go to the hospital twice and I remember exactly where I ate each time. When I was a teenager, my mom took me to Marie Callender’s in Fresno, one of our favorite places. I had quiche and it was not very warm when it arrived but I didn’t complain. In the middle of the night I woke up in such extreme stomach pain I couldn’t stand and I couldn’t call for help. I had a phone in my room and I actually had to call my parents on it and whisper my distress. It was salmonella. At the hospital, they kept trying to treat the nausea even though I kept telling them I wasn’t nauseated, I was just in pain because my stomach would not stop cramping. That was horrible. Also horrible was the time I ate at Wendy’s and got e coli poisoning. It’s possible, I got the bacteria from somewhere else, but Wendy’s was the last thing I ate before I got sick and I have not eaten at Wendy’s since. I was housesitting at the time and I was so sick, I couldn’t walk the dog, I had to just leave the back door open to give her yard access. It was so bad I spent the better part of three days in their bathroom. The floors were terra cotta and I just lay on them. They were so wonderfully cool. When I was able to get up and clean myself up, I went to the hospital. I wouldn’t let them admit me because I was still taking care of the dog so I had to go in daily for several IV fluid treatments because of the dehydration. Luckily, I got well enough that I was able to clean up all my mess from being sick before they came home.
14) Other clumsy injuries I have had include slipping on stairs outside an apartment, landing on my tailbone and bruising it badly on two separate occasions and falling backwards off a ladder and fracturing my sacrum. Once I reached into the trash to pull out shards of glass from a broken photo frame because I realized I probably should have put them in a paper bag first so that they wouldn’t puncture the trash bag and hurt someone. However, in doing this I ended up with a triangle of glass the size of a slice of pie puncturing my hand. The point went in far enough that it just stuck up out of my hand, firmly embedded. I heard it go in before I felt it and the sound effect was pretty much like sound effect on TV and movies when someone gets stabbed. Gross.
15) Despite working with animals, I’ve actually come out fairly unscathed. I’ve only had two dog bites. Once when I was holding an antisocial chihuahua and someone came up to pet her. She bit my lip and severed a nerve. It took several years before I got feeling back. The other was when a client didn’t have a firm hold on their vicious dog and she surprised us all by getting loose and hitting me like a 70# rocket. She tore my shirt and bit through my jeans twice, but because they had spandex in them, they didn’t tear so I had no idea how bad the injuries were or that she had even broken the skin and I told my clients I was fine and stayed for the rest of the visit, about an hour. When I got home, I discovered bloody bites and big bruises on my thigh and groin. No, I didn’t sue. Yes, they replaced my tee shirt.
16) I’ve also had cat bites so severe that my fingers and fingernails were punctured. Once, a couple brought their fractious cat, who several vets had refused to see after bad experiences, into the vet I worked at without telling us their cat was vicious. The cat was really sick and docile when I took him out of the carrier but when I tried to weigh him, he went berserk. He bit me, then had a seizure and died. I went to the emergency room where they tried to irrigate the wounds and flat out told me, you need serious antibiotics! This is going to get infected. This is really bad! I told them, yeah? Well, you should see what happened to the other guy. He’s dead. My boss wanted to avoid a worker’s comp claim and she didn’t want to pay for the antibiotics so I took the dog version and to get the correct dose I had to take a lot of extra pills. Another time I brought a cat who had had a leg amputated home to convalesce. I had her set up beside my bed. Her pain meds wore off and she started thrashing around in the middle of the night. I reached for the lamp, but she’d knocked it over. She caught my hand and arm as I groped in the dark and latched on, kicking and biting hard. I got the light on, went to the bathroom cleaned up all the blood and bandaged myself as well as I could. When I came back to my bedroom, she blinked at me earnestly as if to say, I don’t know what tried to attack me in the dark, but boy am I glad to see you! More antibiotics for me. She healed up nicely and went to a wonderful home.
17) I joke that my cat tried to viciously murder my face once, but oh maybe 15 years ago, I was lucky enough to pet a tiger at the zoo who was in the on site hospital going under anesthesia to get his teeth cleaned. He flailed while he was “asleep” and I am the proud wearer of a scar from being sleep mauled by a tiger!
18) The most glorious and ridiculous way my sister managed to get me injured was, once when we were out camping and tramping around in nature, we hiked down to a small beach. I had a backpack which had held our picnic lunch, and afterwards, she convinced me to let her pack it full of shells, driftwood and rocks. We lost track of time and the tide had started coming in which was cutting off the path we had taken down to the beach so basically we had to scramble up a cliff. I got about 20 feet up when I could feel myself peeling away from the rock because of the weight on my back. I lost my grip and fell backwards all the way down to the beach below. Thankfully, I did not hit my head, but I did land on my back on top of the backpack full of lumpy, pokey, hard objects. I had the wind knocked out of me, but no limbs were broken and the tide was coming in so I had no choice but to attempt the climb again, yes with the backpack strapped to the front of me, still full of rocks. It was hard to tell my sister, no. Six bruised ribs, no broken bones. Amazing.
I am a walking boo boo factory so I have more stories, but I think these are the most flamboyant. Can you guess the ones I made up? You won’t win a prize but I’d love to see your guesses.