Last night while getting out of the van, I “hit and missed” the curb, slamming full-length on the sidewalk, and on the way down, hearing a sharp snap in my foot. The pain was jarring, as was the idea that I was flat on the ground, my right foot broadcasting wild information, and my vision jumping around a bit. I thought I was going to faint.
Colleen had gone down the block to drop off some trash in a bin and we were to meet up at the Chinese restaurant, one of the few places open, it being Queen Victoria’s birthday and a national holiday in Canada. Colleen was nowhere in sight until I pulled myself up by grabbing onto the van door. The pain blew up in my face, big gusts of it when I tried to stand on my foot. And Nikita was trying to get out of the door–why not, it was open? Suddenly, what I could see of Colleen was rapidly disappearing into the Golden Phoenix. I got the door closed and rode another wave of shockshockshock. I wasn’t being able to figure out what to do since I wasn’t sure what had happened.
I was the one who had parked the van and noticed the dinky curb. I was the one who stepped off into familiar space only to get it all wrong. I knew I had broken something–ankle or some foot bone, I wasn’t sure–but the sharp report as my foot rolled over meant to me that I hadn’t just sprained my ankle.
I wobbled across the street, not moving well because my foot wasn’t exactly in weight-bearing shape. Then I saw Colleen running toward me and all I could say was “I think I’m going to pass out.”
It was nice of the manager of the restaurant to let me sit on the floor in the foyer while I got my bearings. Colleen brought ice-water, and while i got a drink, she picked up directions to the hospital. The manager was nice enough to give me a take-out/delivery menu.
We spent the next 6 hours in the Emergency Room. The table of contents included a boy bitten by a dog, a boy with a high fever;a teen-aged girl who stepped on her hot hair straightener wand; a drunken teen who had also cut her wrist and was accompanied by two police officers; one elderly lady who fell and cut her head; a young woman with a non-stop cough; a man who had tried to kick a soccer ball and, missing it, had knocked himself out on a wheelbarrow handle; and a very cute teen-aged boy who’d cut off the tip of a finger. Only one doctor was in attendance.
The vastness of the middle of British Columbia is matched only by the emptiness of the territory. Few of the hamlets along the road had many inhabitants. Some towns were still putting up a successfull main street, but many businesses were bust or wearing old and weathered For Sale signs. Recession in the hinterlands. Luckily, I had taken my tumble in a thriving community of ten thousand folks that had a hospital, a cheery staff, and very inexpensive crutches which they were willing to sell me.
This morning, we went back to the hospital to get a quick check up before the doctor went off-shift. Then, we turned around and headed south. No Alaska this time. My fifth metatarsal was fractured and our trip cut short.
It’s still travel, that’s what I’m telling myself about the long trip back to Los Angeles. I won’t be driving, of course. Not now, not for two months minimum. The mother of the dog-bit boy said to me, “Well, God is just telling you to slow down.”
A divinity who in snapping his fingers to get my attention also breaks my foot is not the guy I’m eager to have advising me.