Last Wednesday I was walking along the sidewalk on Webster past a building that's been under construction (or renovation, same diff) for some time now. There were several workmen moving furniture and cabinets and suchlike off a truck and onto the sidewalk, in preparation for moving it into the building. There was a lot of furniture, enough to line the sidewalk along the full front of the building, and only a narrowish walkway left between the furniture and the curb.
There was no room to go around, short of backtracking half a block so I could cross at the light and walk down the other side of the street, so I walked along behind one of the workmen who was pushing a handtruck, figuring that he'd turn into the building and I'd continue on my way.
I'm not entirely sure what happened next. There was a sort of crash/thud
noise and a whoosh
, and suddenly one of the bookcases that had been standing upright is now flat on the ground and I'm clutching a lamppost to keep my balance as a wave of pain rushes up my left leg and seems to envelop me.*
"Omigod!" says the guy with the handcart, who has spun around to face me, "are you okay?"
"...." I say.
".... I'm not sure. Gimme a minute...
I stayed there for a while, leaning against one of the cabinet bases. It took about 10 minutes to realize that no, I wasn't going to be able to limp back to work. Then another 10 or 15 minutes to try (fruitlessly) to compose myself enough that I wouldn't burst into tears when I phoned spiritualmonkey
. After I called him to say "Help!!!" I limped down the block to my favorite hole-in-the-wall lunch place and sat with my foot up on one of the tables for the half hour it took Pirate to get there.
It was a huge relief to see him heading up the sidewalk towards me. Didn't hurt any less, but I felt better.
We went to the Kaiser Oakland emergency room, which I don't think I'd ever been to. It wasn't hugely busy, so the wait wasn't too bad. And almost everybody I dealt with was helpful and nice. To the first security guard we dealt with: When I am painfully climbing out of a taxi because my foot has just been crushed by a bookcase, if you start in on "you can't stop here! this is a driveway! you can't stop here!" I'm going to ignore you. If you had said "pull up right over there for emergency room drop-offs" we would have paid attention. To the second security guard, who said, "You coming to the ER?" then disappeared and reappeared 5 seconds later with a wheelchair for me to ride in, bless you.
Nothing broken, according to the X-rays. (Although I just wanted to BITE the doctor when he was palpating it. "Does this hurt? It does? How about this? Oh, that too. And here?" YEEEEEOOOOOOWWWWWWCH STOP THAT!!!)
I've been on crutches since Wednesday afternoon and am just beginning to feel like I know how to use them. Haven't fallen down stairs yet, although I've come close a couple of times. Pirate picked up a pair of fingerless, padded-palm bike gloves for me to deal with the pain in my hands from crutching around. And my upper arms — yow. I'm going to have triceps like nobody's business after a week on the crutches.
When it first happened, I was thinking "well, as long as they cover my expenses, it'll be fine." But after four days of dealing with this — including having spent all day Saturday and all day Sunday immobilized, with my foot elevated and an ice pack on it — the idea of compensation for pain and suffering** begins to sound good. Paying $10 for a cab to the ER and $50 for the co-pay doesn't make up for the serious, ongoing pain I'm dealing with and for the way this has massively disrupted my life. Especially because it could have been avoided if they'd been paying attention to what they were doing and how it could go wrong and had thus taken appropriate precautions.
Luckily, this is one of the areas that my department deals with (usually from the other side of the table), so I'm getting plenty of good advice from my manager and co-workers. "Call the company and tell them [blah, blah, blah]. Notify Agency X within 60 days. Keep track of all your expenses — you're going through 2 bags of ice a day in your icepack? Write it down."
I have periods of doing not so well — the first time I took off the dressings so I could shower, seeing the swelling and bruising on my foot made me feel all squicked out and sad, and I started crying — but overall I feel mostly okay. Credit for this goes to the zazen and the reading about Buddhism that I've been doing, I think. "Wow, this hurts like hell... and that's okay. I feel miserable and puny... and it's okay. I'm pissed off that I have to deal with this, and that's okay too."
*I can't do it. I just can't. I tried writing this in the past tense, but I'm a fourth-generation Californian and apparently the rule that Stories start with 'So' and they're in the present tense
is so firmly engrained that I can't escape it even when I try, and it just gets things all confuzzled.
**Not in the Buddhist sense, of course.