50 Shades of Purple
My winter folly began innocently enough, one mid-November evening as I drove my beloved, geriatric BMW convertible on Route One. Now I’d like to tell you exactly what happened next, but I have no idea. I’ve been told that two cars, one being mine, merged simultaneously onto the same stretch of pavement. If I knew the details I’d know whether to be pissed off or guilty, but no such luck.
The luck was saved for me, for after a bounce, crunch, and an oddly slow motion impact, I said to myself, “Wow, that was a mess, but I’m fine.”
I reached for my phone, pushed the button for home, and said to my spouse, “I’ve had an accident in front of China Buffet, I’m fine, but come get me.” Then I dialed 911.
The following few minutes are lost in space, but the 1993 tank I hit or hit me (Buick? Olds? Titanic?) sat smashed against my driver side door, and its driver, who said she was fine, refused to move it until the police arrived to investigate. By the time Bonnie and some friends showed up I was still behind the wheel in a stupor. As Bonnie poked her head in the passenger door I was struck by an adrenalin rush, causing me to boost my fat butt up over the gear shift, flip my legs up onto the windshield, and propel myself sideways out the passenger door like some Eastern European gymnast.
“I’m fine, I’m fine,” I hollered to no one in particular as I executed an ungainly dismount. Bonnie gently said, “Look at your hand.” Ewwww. It looked like a deep purple baseball mitt with a lump the size of a softball atop it.
Amid my moronic protestations of fineness, Bon ordered me to sit/stay on the curb and wait for the ambulance, which, in turn, hauled me off to the ER. There, I was assessed by a team of terrific nurses and docs, sent to x-ray, and treated with extreme nurturing.
Turns out I broke pretty much every bone in my left hand.
“Anything else hurt?” they asked.
“Nope,” I said, confidently.
While the team installed a temporary cast on my hand, a nurse tried to distract me from the pain.
“Are you still working or retired?” she asked.
“That’s nice, how long have you been retired?”
And so it was. I went home with my paw in a sling, swallowed some industrial strength pain meds and fell asleep.
Now here’s the interesting part. I awoke to discover I couldn’t walk. I was unable to put any weight at all on my right knee and I was in excruciating pain. What the ????
Turns out I was a victim of a cognitive brain syndrome, where intense pain can only be perceived by the brain at one site at a time. Who knew? Well now I did. Not only was my hand broken, but later that day an MRI revealed a complex meniscus tear in my knee. So much for being fine. I wondered whether the knee injury was achieved on impact or from my compulsory gymnastics routine on exit.
One week later I had three hours of surgery to put together the jigsaw puzzle that was formerly my left hand, followed several weeks later by knee surgery. In fact, I had knee surgery on the predicted December 21 Mayan Doomsday, figuring if the worse were to happen, I’d be under anesthetic and go quietly for once.
So I spent the holiday season ensconced in my living room recliner, holding the ice bag on my swollen right knee with my swollen left hand, for a two-for-one. Too dopey from drugs to read or write, I mostly watched television. If Honey Boo-Boo doesn’t foreshadow the end of civilization, perhaps Storage Wars does. However, I do think SuperNanny should be shown in high schools. One episode of shrieking, manic children and frantic, frazzled parents and teens would keep their panties on.
A charming surprise was that Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan are actually wicked smart and hilariously funny, a perfectly matched odd couple and a pleasure to watch. I atone for being previously dismissive of them.
In hand therapy they asked my goals and I said I lived to be able to flip the bird once again and, of course, type with more than two fingers. Several weeks into therapy I could press the keyboard shift button with my index finger. Ladies and gentlemen, we have achieved CAPITALS.
Then came the really bad news. The insurance company totaled the BMW. Like the character of Eponine in Les Miz, she gave her life for me. For a long time, shards of the sea green left front panel sat in a pathetic pile along the side of Route One, a make-shift shrine. One of my artsy friends offered to scoop them up and make a mobile for me, but by the time we got organized, somebody’s trash service had eliminated the option.
By the end of December, Bonnie had been cheerfully channeling Clara Barton and Julia Child for six weeks and our friends had gone wonderfully wild on both casserole duty and ferrying me to and from therapy while Bonnie worked. For me, stuck in the house, unable to drive, type, tie my shoes or even put a brassiere on by myself was abject torture. Required meds precluded martinis and I was insane. Ah, for a barstool at Mixx, or hanging out at the Ale House.
But by Christmas Eve, the turn-around began. I was mobile enough to go out dining and visiting. I made it to the New Year’s Eve Gayla, even if I didn’t make it to midnight. And a week later I walked to my neighborhood stop sign.
All in all, things are looking up. Yes, the Beamer is gone, and after eight weeks, I think I also totaled the living room recliner. But the knee is healed and the hand is improving. In fact, with this column, I surprised myself by typing again on all cylinders. And yes, despite the splint still on my hand, I can flip the bird, which I do several times a day as therapy while watching Congress on CSPAN.
Oh, and except for my writing, I really did retire. So did Bonnie. And we’re in Florida for a couple of weeks as you read this. Some events just put things in proper perspective.
Fay Jacobs is the author of As I Lay Frying—a Rehoboth Beach Memoir; Fried & True—Tales from Rehoboth Beach; and For Frying Out Loud—Rehoboth Beach Diaries. Contact Fay Jacobs