I broke my tib and fib on May 2nd, 2002 after fainting on the steps while leaving work. I had given blood the day before and had almost fainted there. They kept me for an hour and a half, giving me lots of juice and fruit and cookies (LOL), and I was fine when I left. But the next day I was tired. I ended up feeling even more tired at lunch so instead of eating like a smart person would do, I just had some soup, which I didn't even finish.
It was a hectic week, actually more like a hectic semester. I had my two classes left, one that night and one the next morning, then my crazy semester was officially done and I would graduate with my BS in Computer Information Systems. I had been knocking myself out with all the papers and assignments I had been doing for weeks straight. So I just was tired overall, and I had the 'girl' thing if you know what I mean. I don't know why I gave blood then. They just always were at my company. Every 8 weeks the Red Cross blood donor team from was there, and I had been seeing them for a year (approximately how long I had been working there). So that day, the day before I broke my leg, I went down to the cafeteria to get some tea and saw Red Cross set up. I remember thinking I should do this because I've got it so good and I've been so blessed. It seemed to me that I should give something back.
So the next day, when I was leaving work, going down the back stairwell as I always did, the last thing I remember was seeing a man in a navy suit walk through the doors to the outside. I glanced down at the steps. I remember seeing 4 left... almost at the bottom.
The next thing I know, I'm opening my eyes and looking up from the floor at the stairwell. Something stung, but I don't remember what. I think my arm because I noticed a bruise there later. I remember thinking I must have fallen and had to hurry up and get up. (I didn't want anyone to see me like that). But when I tried to get up, my right foot kept flopping around like a dead fish. And I must have still been dazed because I literally took my shin and placed my foot on the floor, thinking my foot fallen asleep. (Don't ask. I think I was pretty spacey from fainting and the fall.) That's how I sprained my other ankle, trying to get up. I must have tried three, maybe four times before I realized something was very wrong.
I dragged myself to the steps and hoisted myself onto them and sat so my feet were planted firmly on the floor. I remember thinking I broke something and better stay in perfect line so nothing breaks through the skin. (I used to be a nursing assistant). I was trying to figure out how to get help. I remember thinking that I had my cell phones (yes two - work and personal) but I couldn't think straight about my handbag -- where it was or how to find it. Then I heard the door at the top of the stairwell open, looked up, and I knew the man so I asked him to get the nurse. (The company I work for has a nurse on the premises because it's the corporate headquarters.) She came and stayed with me. I kept going into shock, and she kept making me be alert and oriented. I remember counting the waves of pain where I almost passed out. Five of them. I would get drenched in sweat then start shaking and turn sheet white (I remember looking at my arms, and they were paler than a sheet of paper.) Every wave seemed to be worse than the last. And every wave made me exceedingly more nauseous.
When the paramedics arrived, they cut off my sock and my right ankle (where the fractures are) was swollen to the size of a grapefruit, all red and weird looking. I almost passed out when I saw it. I remember the paramedics wincing, and I thought it must be really bad if they're wincing. Then they checked my other ankle because I must have said it hurt. It was all swollen too... the size of a large apple. Both feet and ankles were all red and didn't even look like parts of my body but like some alien attachments.
They rushed me to the ER where I waited SIX hours for x-rays. So much for efficiency. But I met a lot of nice people there, in the triage area. They all saw how both my ankles were wrapped and they were really kind to me and gave me looks of empathy. I remember thinking, those looks are prayers -- that whenever someone empathizes with you it's like a prayer. Maybe I'll heal really quickly.
I knew I had fractures, but I didn't know if it was my ankles or legs. I guessed my ankles. And I was afraid they were both broken. That was the most horrifying thought -- that I wouldn't be able to stand or hobble or crutch because both might be broken.
Finally, I got x-rayed, and the x-ray techs told me they just got the order. I was well after 9pm. They hadn't x-rayed anyone for hours. That floored me, but was pale in comparison to the pain of my ankles.
They moved my legs very cautiously. The worst was turning my legs to the left and the right and holding them there while they snapped the shot. I don't think I was ever so scared in my life. I had no idea what the x-rays would reveal and I had no idea how I was going to do anything with my feet looking like that. And yes, the x-ray techs winced at the sight of my feet/ankles, too.
Alas, news! "Yes, the right leg is broken. The left is not. But it is badly sprained so you cannot put any weight on it either. And you'll probably need surgery. We're going to give you an IV and something for the pain."
Before I knew it I had an IV in my arm and was receiving a shot of demerol. The nurse said I would feel it right away. I swear it went straight from the IV to my brain because I had a hell of a head rush. I thought back to my nursing days (I had actually gone to college to be a nurse and had taken most of the required courses and some clinicals before quitting deciding it wasn't for me), and there is something called the blood-brain barrier. Basically, some drugs can get through it and others cannot. Well, I was sure that this one got through no problem.
My mother and the nurses and even the doctor were talking to me, and everything seemed to move in a slow haze, just like on TV. Now it was official. My life had become a soap opera! Little did I know it had only just begun.
When the ER doc told me I would need surgery, I remember being grateful I was medicated because that thought horrified me. He asked me if I had an orthopaedic surgeon, and I laughed. 'Boy I must look like a clutz,' I thought.
"No, why would I?" I replied.
"Some people do," he said. I wondered about that, but not much because my brain was too foggy and thinking made me queasy.
Then he spouted off some doctor's name and asked if I knew him. Again, I wondered, 'Why would I?' Then the doctor looked at me oddly, like I was a smartass, and I realized that I actually said it. Great, now I'm a cliche in a movie.
I called my professors from the hospital. They were super sweet to me. I wasn't sure if it was because I sounded totally drugged or because I said 'surgery' or because I was one of their pet student's -- holding an A in both classes. They didn't care if I missed the class, but were concerned for me.
I was admitted about two hours later. It was midnight. I had arrived at the hospital before 5pm. So much for speedy service.
With the threat of surgery looming over me, I was too terrified to sleep. But the pain killers did wonders for that.
Many years ago, before I found my spirituality, I used to say, "No good deed goes unpunished." But I have grown over the past decade, and I no longer think like that as I can clearly look back and see that everything does happen for a reason, and while it seems like it's for the bad, it's always for the good. You just have to be far enough away from it to be able to look back and clearly see what the good was.
I don't regret giving blood. I know I helped a few people... one of them being me. But I won't be giving any again, as I think my body really wants all of its blood and will do whatever it takes to teach me to hang onto it.
The way I see it, sometimes stumbling blocks are really stepping stones in disguise.
Heal well and heal quickly.