Life Lessons: I broke my ankle & other things I’m grateful for


I broke my ankle last week. 

Okay. That is a bit hyperbolic.

I only chipped the bones in my ankle.

Essentially, I fell into a hole. More specifically I fell into an erosion ditch. Well, I landed on a rock jumping over an erosion ditch. The rock was big. And round.

Okay! Okay!

I fell down. But that is not the important part.

Essentially, it is a heartwarming tale of a man and his dog.

Truthfully, the story has little to do with the dog but I’ve found everyone loves a dog. Well, except cat people and they are just wrong in the head anyway.

Getting to the point, there are several things I learned from the experience.

First of all, my dog is not Lassie or Rin-tin-tin. There was no running off for help. Actually, he jumped on me because he thought I was playing. Then as I lay on the ground in agony he looked at me with his head half-cocked trying to figure out why I was on the ground. I can only imagine what he was thinking: “Aren’t you going to throw the stick again?”

I know what you are thinking – and yes – my dog uses contractions. He’s not completely stupid. He is simply a boy dog and often unaware of the needs of others.

I, however, was thinking, “Why can’t I get any fucking cell service so I can call someone to come and get me out of the god damn ditch?” Which lead to my second lesson: Verizon sucks.

So as I swallowed the bile in my throat from the pain, and as the ankle swelled against the boot, I went through the mental checklist. I wasn’t dead. I didn’t have to cut off my foot. I certainly didn’t need to kill the dog and crawl inside his body for warmth…and I had a York Peppermint Patty and dog treats in my pocket.

So I wasn’t going to starve.

On second thought, maybe that is why the dog jumped me. He smelled opportunity.

I just had to walk a half-mile. Up a hill.

Of course, it was almost dusk..and partly cloudy. It might rain…eventually.

Did I mention it was hilly?

Anyway, as I trudged up the hill, it was sort-of steep – plus there were a lot of rocks – I thought of my grandfather’s sage advice: “Rub some dirt on it and walk it off. It’s too far from your heart to kill you.”

That was the third lesson. Although a wise man, Ralph was not a doctor. Actually, he really wasn’t that wise either.  I guess that is two lessons.

I digress.

Anyway, as I trudged up the hill, it was sort-of steep – plus there were a lot of rocks and kind of muddyish – I realized that I had to ask for help.

I know – real men don’t ask for help – but after lying on the couch for an hour and taking pictures of my swelling ankle and covered in ice and brambles I thought to myself: “You know Sean, that is the worse accident you’ve ever had, might be broken…or it could be a tumor. Either way, better safe than sorry.”

So I went to the hospital. Actually, it wasn’t a hospital. It was an ER. Actually, an urgent care, that is kind of like an ER right? Much to my surprise they didn’t life flight me to a hospital which would have made the story way more exciting.

So we drove.

If it helps, have you seen the 1968 movie Bullitt where Steve McQueen drives his highland green Ford Mustang through the streets of San Francisco chasing the bad guys?

Imagine the opposite.

Let me help. Imagine my dad, who suffers from night blindness and selective deafness, driving while my overly protective sixty-four year old arthritic mother tries to type “urgent care” on her 2” x 3” smart phone.

There are a few problems with this – first her hands barely work on a good day. The second is my earlier lesson – Verizon sucks. (1G?! Seriously 1G?!)

Imagine a bad Woody Allen movie. Truthfully, if you have seen a Woody Allen movie you don’t have to imagine.

Except instead of being a Jewish mother, she is a lapsed Irish Catholic girl from the old school. And by lapsed I mean, she doesn’t go to church but decided to keep the guilt.

Did I mention, it was a Hyundai?

Yeah, it is that pathetic.

As we arrive at the Urgent Care, I’m using my mother’s walker because I can’t walk at all and I figure it is more dignified than the wheel chair my dad wanted to use.

In hindsight it is not.

So another important life, lesson, wheelchairs are cooler than your mother’s walker.

Now of all indignities I must endure the height is when my beloved mother dear calls over the receptionist to look at pictures of my swollen bloated ankle…of course the waiting room is full of people.

My ankle is throbbing and I hurt like hell and now I’m doing a slide show for a stranger.

Of course, I’m trying to take care of my mother’s feelings by saying as pleasantly as possible through gritted teeth, “Mom, thanks. Please stop helping.” It didn’t come out that way.

I know. How?

I know because I’m the one getting dirty looks from the nearly full waiting room of other mothers.  I’m the one with the walker but everyone looks at me like I’m beating my mother in a Wal-Mart parking lot with it. The receptionist responds with, “Well mothers are mothers.”

I think it is a conspiracy by women to keep men indebted to them for childbirth.

I felt like a badger with a paw in a steel trap. At that moment, eating my foot off sounded like a reasonable and viable option.

In hindsight, perhaps my grandfather was wise.

None-the-less, as I was sitting in the observation room waiting for the doctor I was reminded of the most important lesson of the day: family matters.

___________________________________________

Thanks Mom and Dad for being there and the help. It’s good to know I can always count on you both.

But mom, next time, can you wait in the car?

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