Herald and Journal Herald & Journal, August 16, 1999

The fractured tibia

By ANDREA VARGO

Last week, a small problem with the location of the house was quickly rectified.

The next problem might take a little longer.

Last week, as I merrily tripped down the sidewalk in Howard Lake on my way to take a picture, I literally tripped.

Mike Main said to Joe Drusch, "A lady just went down outside. And she is still down."

Joe quickly came to my assistance, and helped me to a chair inside his sport shop.

Being an emergency medical technician, he could see something was really wrong with my knee and wanted to take me to the hospital in an ambulance, but I couldn't face the humiliation of being hauled off like a dead deer.

Even though I knew Joe was right and I was wrong (public apology), I just couldn't do it if I could make it on my own any way at all.

I also knew something was drastically wrong with my knee, but I could still move my ankle.

Jane Otto, my friend and talented typesetter, brought my car around to the front of the shop, and she and Joe helped me into it. I was being a bit of a pain to them, refusing any assistance to get home.

"I can do it myself," I said.

I drove carefully, downshifting as much as I could, instead of braking the car. I made it, because everything was still somewhat numb.

Ron, my husband, went into the house to call the insurance company, Choice Plus. They wanted me to go to Urgent Care in Buffalo. It took about 10 minutes, but I managed to make it feel like hours.

How? Well, I was still in the driver's seat of the car, and I needed to get into the passenger's seat.

I can do it myself, I thought, if I am careful and slow.

Ever so slowly, moving with the greatest of care, I inched myself out of the car.

Leaning on the hood of the car, I hopped sideways an inch at a time. Sweating, feeling faint, I was relieved to reach the door handle on the passenger's side. It was locked!

In tears, I shuffled and hopped back to the front of the car, where I could lean on the slope of the hood. After two hours (five minutes), Ron came out to help me.

The insurance company really gave him the runaround, before he got them to tell him where to take me.

Into the clinic I go in a wheel chair, greeted by Kathy, the receptionist with, "Hi, Andrea. So you're the lady with the knee thing."

Off to the urgent care section of the waiting room I was wheeled, and this really nice nurse said she would wheel me back to x-ray right away.

We got about six feet, when someone walked by and told her she was needed for a lady with chest pains.

I know chest pains take precedence over a knee, but she left me in the wheelchair in the middle of the hallway. People are walking around me. Lots of them.

Several women ask me where I'm going and is anyone helping me. I think so, but no one does.

After about two hours (five minutes), another woman wheeled me to x-ray.

I don't know what kind of training these x-ray technicians have, but gentleness doesn't seem to be part of it, at least when my knee hurt and I was really crabby.

It seemed like two hours (five minutes) before she was finished.

Then I was wheeled on a cart to the urgent care desk. No one knew what to do with me because my insurance only deals with certain doctors in the Wright Medical Clinic.

The orthopedic surgeon that was on duty told me about my options with a fractured tibia. I looked at the x-ray myself (I can do it myself) and was pretty sure I didn't need surgery. He agreed (so good of him to agree), as long as it stayed stable.

So, while the surgeon and doctors and insurance people went around and around, I was stashed across the hall in a room used for storage.

After two hours (really, two hours) in the storage room, I was finally admitted.

All the nurses were really nice and helpful, as were all the staff that worked with me.

I was the cranky, difficult patient. In fact, when the doctor said he was going to keep me over night, Ron said, "Make it a week."

Now, we have sold the house and need a new place to hang the toothbrushes for a couple of months.

Packing needs to be done, and the big move will happen Aug. 28 and 29.

Lots of friends and relatives have offered to help. Will I let them?

The time I spent in the storage room gave me time to think.

I can always do everything myself. Maybe this is a wake-up call. Maybe I need to let people help me. Is it selfish of me to deny them the chance to "do" for someone else?

Spiritually, I've learned I can't handle everything alone. Maybe this is my next lesson in letting go of the control I seem to need.

Do you think Ron is looking forward to taking care of me while we start building the new house? Any volunteers out there?

Can you picture me pulling myself along on my stomach, laying drain tile in the new basement?

I guess I can't do it all myself. I need a little help from my friends.

I have a whole new perspective on and respect for people who need crutches or wheelchairs. Perhaps I will be more considerate and kind.


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