Injured in action: Some of us just never learn.

In mid-May I wrote about carelessness in “Inattention can cost you. Ask me how I know.” I noted that it’s important to focus on what you’re doing, lest you do something like break a toe.

Last night I lost focus, and I hurt myself. On vacation. Dammit.

I  was taking the dog out for an early-evening walk and for just a moment let my attention wander to thoughts of packing and printing out a boarding pass. The next thing I knew I was pitching forward. I’d missed the last of several steps down to the sidewalk.

I landed hard on my left wrist and left knee, my right foot twisted under me. The dog howled and tried to run away, but a good dog-sitter never lets go of the leash. As he leapt he dragged me forward, almost onto my face, and I let out a howl of my own. Damn, it hurt. Everything hurt.

Carefully I rolled over onto my back, to take the pressure off my foot. I lay there a while, taking stock of the situation. I didn’t think my ankle was broken, but the idea of standing up on it made me feel sick — especially since the first two toes on my left foot were throbbing, too.

Cars were passing, their lights washing over me, but no one stopped. I wanted to think that was because the drivers couldn’t see me.

“How the heck am I going to get back in the house?” I said out loud. The dog lay down beside me and panted. 

A sitcom shuffle

After about five minutes I sat up and scooted over to a tree. Holding the trunk, I pulled myself up and cautiously put my right foot down. Ow.

Previous sprains have taught me that things can get worse very quickly. I really, really wanted to get inside because I carry an elastic bandage in my backpack. (Yes, I overprepare. Sue me.)

Getting up the driveway was like a sitcom. I lurched heavily on my left leg, putting as little weight as possible on my right. However, my friends’ dog is easily spooked. Every time I lurched, he jumped and tried to flee. This pulled me off my Quasimodo-like stride and made me yelp — which in turn, made him skitter some more.

I was very glad that front yards in this neighborhood aren’t very big. Less glad that it’s a sloping driveway.

Inside, I found that the one time I needed an elastic bandage was the time I hadn’t actually packed one.

My ankle was swelling, my knee was scraped and my wrist was puffy. I tied my bandana around the ankle as tightly as I could and hobbled off to the kitchen for ice. The chair I picked was the one closest to the back door: If the dog had to go pee, I could let him out without getting up.

Within half an hour my friends returned. After driving for eight hours, they had to turn around and go back out in search of an Ace bandage. Did I feel like a doofus.

And all I could think was, “How am I going to manage at the airport?” The Burbank airport is fairly small, the Phoenix one much larger. I had been looking forward to spending a week with my daughter and son-in-law, maybe cooking them a meal or two, taking Abby shopping and joining her on her early-morning walks.

Walks. Right.

No one but myself to blame

My friends were kind, bringing me Aleve and fresh ice and dinner on a tray. I felt uncomfortable being waited on hand and foot, as it were. More to the point, I hated feeling immobilized.

Right now I’m giving my ankle the last ice-pack of the night. Then I’ll wrap it again and shuffle off to bed. I need my rest — after all, I have a plane to catch.

Last May when I broke my toe I referred to it as a painful reminder to focus on what I was doing. “Next time I might not be so lucky.” And I wasn’t.

I know that it could have been worse. The ankle is painful but I can move it, so it’s not broken. I’m just so frustrated at being unable to move around easily. Specifically, I’m frustrated that this was my own fault: I should have been paying attention.

I’m hoping I can get a window seat so that no one accidentally hits my foot.

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  1. Ouch! Darn minds and their wandering ways. That’s usually how I end up breaking dishes. I hope you have a quick recovery and the ice does it’s duty.

  2. When you go away, you need to be packaged in bubble tape.

  3. Sarah L

    I’m so sorry, that sounds really painful. I hope you’ve managed to get back home without too much pain. 🙁

  4. Man, that sucks. Hope you feel ambulatory soon!

  5. ImJuniperNow

    Donna – Please tell me you went to/are going to see a doctor.

    I was daydreaming, skipped several stairs at the top of the stairway, and caught myself with the side of my foot. I tried to let my sprained ankle heal itself and ended up at a specialist (or should I say $pecialist) because it didn’t heal right and the tendons shortened, blah blah blah.

    • Donna Freedman

      @ImJuniperNow: Yes, my hostess has insisted — a friend of hers had a broken foot and didn’t know it. I’m reading this while eating the oatmeal she fixed for me. After that we’ll be off to the ER at Kaiser Permanente, which has a partner agreement with my Seattle HMO, to get an X-ray.
      Grrrr. Still feel dumb. I used to be on the Health & Safety Committee at my old workplace. Sylvester, our leader, must have told us a hundred times to remind co-workers always to hold on to a handrail (there wasn’t one in this case) and to watch where we were putting our feet. “There are no accidents,” he kept saying, “only preventable injuries.”
      Hope he’s not reading this.

  6. Oh no, an injury while on vacation is twice as bad. Hope you recover soon!

  7. Ouch! I’m so glad you’re going to see a doc. My best friend (“La Maya” over at FaM) blithely ignored what she thought was just a sprained ankle. Let’s put it this way: she would have healed a whole lot faster if she hadn’t self-diagnosed.

    It’s extremely scary to fall on a public street or sidewalk, especially in the dark. I also fell when walking a dog–it was still light out. Since I was sitting on the sidewalk in tears, it was pretty obvious that I was hurt. Several people passed, and not one person even so much as slowed down. Finally managed to drag myself to my feet and limp home. But if something had been broken…can’t imagine what I would’ve done. The dog and I would just have sat there and starved to death, I guess.

    At Sky Harbor, you don’t have to show any doctor’s proof to ask for a wheelchair. They’ll provide one and have someone roll you to (or from) your gate. Just hobble in and tell a sky cap you need a wheelchair.

  8. I had a slip and fall yesterday myself on a wet deck and other than a bit wrist pain and a cut hand I am fine today. I think the difference may be that you fell forward while I fell backwards onto my generous backside. Seriously, I am so sorry to hear of your fall and hope that nothing was broken and you are on the mend soon.

  9. I’m glad they have Kaiser Permanente because GH can be a bear to deal with when using an outside network hospital. You might want to e-mail your physician and see if there are any exercises or massage techniques you can do to speed recovery. And remember, elevate above your heart. We will keep you in our thoughts. Maybe Abby can line up a wheelchair while you are visiting so you aren’t housebound.

  10. Also – for future information – you can make nifty reusable cold packs using foodsaver bags or a couple ziplocks and Dawn dish detergent. Just put the Dawn in a bag and freeze. I prefer the foodsaver bags because they tend to seal better. You can add glitter if you are into booboo bling! They work like the store bought ice packs, last longer than ice, you can make them any size you want, and they are super cheap. I don’t know if you can use other types of detergent, there is something about the consistency or composition of Dawn that freezes well.

  11. Hope things heal and get better soon!

  12. I was deliriously happy and in a Christmas mood when I fell as I came to the steps to my door. My knee buckled and down I went. Luckily, I caught myself on my forehead. NOT! The ER only took xrays of my knees and elbow which were not a problem! The NP said I just had a “big ole bump” on my head and I should go home and take a hot bath. Okay, I won’t say a bad word.

    Donna, Donna, Donna, let go of the leash. My friend lost the skin and flesh on about half her face because she held onto the leash when her dog wanted to chase squirrels.

    Oh, I got a wheelchair at the airport in Atlanta by just asking.

  13. Jersey Meghan

    From OSHA to Oh, shoot! Sylvester would definitely revoke your orange safety vest. Hope you’re feeling better!

    • Donna Freedman

      @Jersey Meghan: Ha! And you’re right: Sylvester would be shaking his head in disappointment. I feel that I’ve let him down.
      Incidentally, I am going home to Tastykakes in the freezer — my brother sent them for Christmas. Woo hoo!

  14. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Being human means making mistakes. I daydream so much I see myself doing this kind of thing over and over.

    I hope it feels better by now!

  15. Just got around to reading this sad story. So sorry, Donna! Dang.


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