In a year that brought me the joyous experience of being a first-time Dad, I finished out the year with a new, extremely unwanted “first.” I got to ride in an ambulance to the hospital.
That’s right. Mere days after writing about my fear of being an old Dad and making a joke about hurting my back…..I hurt my back. The Comedy Gods punished me for my hubris, and yet Larry the Cable Guy goes free.
It started out innocuously enough, as a nagging pain in my hip which I attributed to a spill that I took in college after tripping on a beer bottle and walking 10 miles when the Datsun which my brother and I were driving decided to call it quits. Back at a time when having a car phone was reserved for the super-wealthy or perhaps Crockett and Tubbs. (Nothing brings in a young blog audience like references to “Miami Vice,” car phones and an automobile brand which hasn’t been sold in 30 years.)
As with most responsible adults, I chose to respond to this return of hip pain the way I handle most medical issues. I ignored it. In a little over two years of marriage, I have discovered that you get little sympathy from your wife when you wave off her numerous requests to call the doctor and instead adopt a “wait and see” approach to your hobbling around like a retired rodeo clown.
After putting up Christmas lights outside and moving several pieces of furniture into the basement in a manner which I am sure would appear in the “Don’t” section of some OSHA pamphlet, I received quite a surprise the next day when I tried standing up from our recliner while holding my son and felt like I had shattered my hip.
After several hours of sitting in the recliner and trying to think of a way to get to my bed without walking, Jen’s calmer head prevailed and she called 911. Just a heads up to anyone who finds themself in a situation where they need to call an ambulance, it doesn’t matter if you tell them to keep it quiet, there will be flashing lights in your driveway within 5 minutes.
I later found out that all of my neighbors were very worried that something had happened to Matthew or Jen, but gave a “Yeah, that seems about right” shrug when I was wheeled out to the ambulance. Luckily, my mother-in-law Diane was there to fill them in on all of the details.
The awkward silence of the ambulance ride had one bright spot, when the paramedic replied with “I wouldn’t have guessed that much” when I told him my weight. Coming from someone who had just yanked my fat ass out of a recliner fifteen minutes prior, it meant a lot. And it helped take my mind off of the searing pain in my hip for about 5 seconds.
After several hours in the Emergency Room, a CT Scan, and an awkward attempt to pee into a plastic jug while laying flat on my back, the ER doctor attempted to send me home by saying that I had arthritis and that they would give me some ibuprofen and load me into a wheelchair. Several tear-filled attempts to get out of bed later, Jen and I asked that I be admitted.
To determine what was wrong with me, I was sent to get an MRI, which I quickly figured out was like being trapped inside a water slide while listening to extremely loud German Techno music for about an hour. I am convinced that if my shoulders had been a centimeter wider that they would have had to ram me out with one of those long poles they used to load a Civil War cannon.
It was determined that I had a bulged disc in my back which was pressing against a nerve that ran down my right leg. I guess years of picking things up in a jerking, lock-kneed fashion and carrying all of the grocery bags inside in one trip had finally caught up with me. All I knew was that any hopes I had of becoming a professional strongman were officially over.
Due to surgical scheduling and an ill-timed blood thinner shot, my hospital stay would end up being stretched out to three days. Since becoming a father nearly eight months ago, I have sometimes fantasized about having some quiet moments to myself, but those three days which I spent in the hospital were not exactly what I had hoped for. It is hard to get some rest when a different set of doctors comes in every fifteen minutes to ask “Does it hurt when I do this?” while twisting your leg.
With a shot in my back to relieve the swelling on the horizon, all I had to do was lay back, endure occasional poking and prodding, watch several basic cable shows about people rooting through other people’s trash and deal with Jen’s seething jealousy of a student nurse who reeeeaaalllly wanted to give me a sponge bath for some reason.
After having my first hospital experience, I can safely say that once was more than enough. I need to make some changes in my life, but until that time, at least I have an excuse for why I can’t help anyone move.
Since it seemed to work so well last time, it would be foolish for me to not end this with “Oh my God, I just won the lottery.”