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There were never any "good old days" — they are today, they are tomorrow
attacked by killer bookcase 
20th-Aug-2007 02:48 pm
it only hurts when I exist
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.
21st-Aug-2007 03:20 am (UTC)
Ow ow ow ow ow ow ow! I'm so sorry this happened to you!

I hope you're able to get some relief... and also some compensation. Poor thing. :-(

I hope you're feeling better really soon-- and enjoy those triceps!

(ps: I am totally guilty of doing the verb tense shift-o when I start a paragraph with "So." That was a fun read.)
21st-Aug-2007 06:39 pm (UTC)
Thanks — I keep reminding myself that it could be a lot worse (at least it's not broken)... and then keep having brief waves of "dammit, this HURTS!" Phooey.
21st-Aug-2007 04:35 am (UTC)
Oh man! I'm glad you're OK but sorry to hear about the pain. Did they give you Vicodin or anything?
21st-Aug-2007 06:42 pm (UTC)
The ER docs said to take up to 600 mg of ibuprofen a day for a week*, but since I avoid NSAIDs (just too many people injured and killed every year because of them) I'm taking the vicodin left over from my last round of back issues. The bottle says 1 tablet every 4 to 6 hours; I'm trying to spread them out to 1 every 6 to 8, just to be on the safer side of things.

*If they prescribed something, KP would have to pay for most of it; if they recommend an OTC drug, it comes out of my pocket. Thanks, doc.
1st-Jan-2008 03:36 am (UTC)
True, but 600mg of Ibuprofen costs about 3 cents.
21st-Aug-2007 04:17 pm (UTC)
Yikes! That's really horrible. Bad, too, that the workmen didn't do anything more than just ask if you were okay. Seems like minimally they should have offered to call a cab and pay for the ride to ER.

Hopefully, if you're back at work, you sit somewhere that you can prop your foot up on your desk. It looks strange, and isn't completely comfortable (typing being hard), but you'll heal up a lot faster that way.
21st-Aug-2007 06:52 pm (UTC)
The guy I was dealing with was as responsive and helpful as possible under the circumstances — told me to be sure not to leave before he got me the contact information for the company and kept checking in periodically — but yeah, calling a cab would have been nice. (As it was, spiritualmonkey hightailed it over to Broadway & 13th to find a cab.)

Several people in my office have dealt with foot injuries or surgery, so they're very understanding. One of them brought me the stool that she used to elevate her foot after her foot surgery; another one has assigned herself the duty of getting me coffee in the morning (yay!); and I can't pick up anything bigger than a piece of paper without somebody hollering "Let me get that! Don't you try to carry that, you'll hurt yourself more!"

One of the annoying aspects is that this was a totally avoidable accident. Grrr.
21st-Aug-2007 09:47 pm (UTC)
That sounds somewhat better.. if still quite painful; and, yes, it should have been quite avoidable. Maybe you can find out what company was moving and tell them you sacrificed your foot to save one of their bookshelves and hope for a reward. ;-)

A stool can help some, but it's always best to have the inflammed area at least at the same level as your heart (if not higher) unless you're icing your feet or taking anti-inflammatories.
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