Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Ordinary Me: X

X: X-ray. Jacque has been waiting for this one, but this is one of the easier letters--in fact, when there are fewer words that start with the letter, I find it easier to choose something to write about. R and Y (and many others) have sent me to the dictionary. Am I the only big dork reading the dictionary as a writing prompt?

I am sure this is going to be what everyone talks about. The times we've been x-rayed. I'm not going to mention the dental x-rays because they are too many to record. Once, I slammed my own finger in the door of my dad's SUV. That was a pretty good x-ray because we were in the ruralsuburbs and went to the emergency room at the country hospital. From the time I walked in to the time I walked out with a diagnosis took probably forty minutes. Yes, I broke it. I had to wear a splint to the Spirit of Cross Stitch Festival that year. Which reminds me, I must be due for a tetnus shot...

The more spectacular x-ray took place in Tczew, Poland. I was teaching ESL in a small mining town south of Gdansk with an American foundation. I had run upstairs to give something to a fellow teacher, and on the way back down, I fell off my shoe and down the stairs. I was walking right behind the program director, and of course the words out of my mouth were unprintable. My ankle swelled, and I was helped into my classroom. The students put me on some desks and I promptly threw up in front of them. (I'm not sure what a teacher's worst nightmare is, but this is up there.) A doctor was called. Interestingly, he arrived in the ambulance. That's sort of stunning to me--the doctor came to me. Makes sense, I am the injured party. The building we were in had no elevators, so the doctor and ambulance driver carry my fat ass downstairs. One of my students, one of the Polish teachers, the doctor and I all drive in the ambulance to the country hospital, where I am again carried downstairs to the emergency room by doctor and ambulance driver (can you imagine this story in the U.S.?). A doctor, with lit cigarette in hand, begins poking my ankle. He declares it broken. In the meantime, one of the American teachers--a nursing PhD--has arrived to "oversee" the process. She's a little shocked by the state of the hospital. Smoking doc orders an x-ray. The x-ray tech sets me on table and begins to exit the room. I use sign language to get a lead vest to protect me from this old and no doubt leaky x-ray machine. It turns out that I have not broken my ankle, but I have torn so many ligaments that it must be casted. And they give me a plaster cast--and a prescription for one crutch that I must pick up at a place that I must be driven to. I am not to walk on the cast. With only one crutch. When I return to camp, the city (Gdansk) doctor for the language camp I'm at is completely outraged by assbackwards technology. She insists on getting a fiberglass cast; we go back to the hospital where this little redhead is giving all the old white men hell. Eventually, one doctor sneaks over to tell her that he can change the cast if I visit his private practice. I have to pay cash ($60) to get a new cast. Everyone tries to scare me by saying, "you know how they take a cast off?" and making buzzing sounds...if only. The doctor cuts the old cast off with gardening shears. I walk around Poland--including public toilets--with a fiberglass cast and no shoe (ewww). Eventually, we fashion shoe from a Teva and a shoelace. Unfortunately, my toes start bleeding because the cast is cutting into them. My nurse friend and I decide to take off the new fiberglass cast, which we cut/saw off with a pair of old scissors. I walk around Poland in hiking boots and a skirt. Upon my return to Los Angeles, I visit an American orthopedist who says he would have casted it too; but my ankle seems to work fine now.


Jacque said...

Donggone it...I was so hope for x-rated! : ) Being Amish, I have to live vicariously through someone!

I've learned some terrific things about you though and the x-ray story is tops as well. What a cool idea to do this!

Anonymous said...

Ok, that story cracked me up. Thankfully, my falls are not that bad *knocks on wood* (just in case ya know!!) yet!

I did fall in a crowded (very expensive and hip) restaurant while meeting my date's mother for the first time. I was on my way to the bathroom and as I sat on one side of a 8 person table, I had to walk to the other end of the table and then to an end of a hallway to get to the bathroom. When I was *thisclose* to making it to the end of the table without a disaster, I slip and fall, catch the back of a chair and thump down on my ass. I got up like I had fire in my ass and tell the waiter that there is something wet on the floor. I almost run to the end of the hallway and go into the bathroom and have fits of laughter in there, on my own btw.

Hah! We would be good together I think!