Monday, September 22, 2008

Laid Up

So, I had a little accident yesterday. My lovely cottage tenant left at the beginning of September, and he sold me his cordwood. He'd gotten it late last year, and the only place he found that would deliver it had a 3 cord minimum. The cottage is little, and 3 cords is a lot of wood. Its arrival last fall was a drama in and of itself--the delivery guy dumped it on the driveway, which I said was fine as long as it didn't block anything. (I also said, 3 cords is really a lot of wood.) It was both impressive and scary to see that much wood on my driveway. Early in the morning, my tenant started moving it, load by load, up the hill. He had already started by the time I got up. By the time I got home from work that evening, the driveway was clear, as if 3 cords of wood hadn't been dumped there that morning. Sometime in the early afternoon, he told me later, a friend came with a second wheelbarrow and helped him. But all in all, between the two of them, it took more than 11 hours to get the 3 cords of wood from the driveway to the cottage.

What he didn't use spent the winter neatly stacked and protected by a tarp, so I was excited when he offered me to sell it to me, especially because I kept reading about a cordwood shortage. (We couldn't estimate exactly, but we guessed there was a generous 2 cords left.) I was very sad he'd decided to move, but the wood seemed like the silver lining to his departure. And in August, I started bringing it down. Nearly every day, for the past month, I've been carting it down to the house. While I was impressed with his 11 hour- all-day-wood- moving extravaganza, I had no intention of repeating it. I figured that if I brought down a wheelbarrow load or two a day, by the time the new tenant was in at the end of September, I'd have the pile moved. And I've been making progress. Probably, at this point, I've moved 3/4 of the pile, and my front porch is nearly full. On Saturday, I had my best day yet and moved 6 wheelbarrow loads.

I put in as much wood as will fit in the wheelbarrow--somewhere between 15 and 25 logs, depending on the size. So, the wheelbarrow is heavy and sometimes unwieldy to maneuver. But I've been lifting weights for years now, and I figure that the point of having muscles is to be able to use them in real life.

So, maybe I was getting a little bit cavalier with the heavy loads of wood, the backwards trip down the hill by the cottage til I got to the point where I could turn the wheelbarrow around. Maybe it's that I'd spent a lot of the day inside on the couch trying to work and wasn't properly warmed up. Maybe it's that I was distracted by the sudden swarm of mosquitoes that greeted me up there and wasn't watching where I was going. Maybe it was just a freak occurrence. Maybe I just took a bad step.

Whatever it was, I felt something ping, or perhaps pop, in my right calf, and I had to sit down right where I was, swearing loudly and steadily. It reminded me all too much of the day I broke my leg when I was 19, except that that day, I was by myself on a mountain trail in a thunderstorm rather than in easy sight of my house. I managed to get up and limp inside, but, also reminiscent of the day I broke my leg, after I'd walked just a little ways--yesterday, I just made it into the kitchen--I felt like I was going to faint. (I should add that it was clear to me that my leg was broken when I fell, given that my foot didn't feel attached to my leg in the usual way. The walking I tried to do was after the first rescue party had arrived, and my leg had been splinted and I was on crutches.) Yesterday wasn't nearly that dramatic. I managed not to faint, and I grabbed the phone, collapsed into a dining room chair, and called Alex.

So, that's how we ended up spending our Sunday night in the emergency room (other people occupying the waiting room included 3 buddies of a college guy who did something to his ankle and a teenager with whooping cough). We waited, talked to a nurse, got fast-tracked to a room, got un-fast-tracked because there wasn't a room for us, waited some more, waited in a different room, and finally, after about 2 hours, we saw, in rapid succession, a nurse, a doctor and another nurse. I didn't need x-rays, as it turns out. The doc said he could tell by the way I couldn't put any weight on it and the way I yelped when he touched a certain part of my calf that I had torn my gastroc muscle. Apparently, it's a common injury among the "middle-aged." Ouch. It turns out that it's also called "tennis leg," though when I googled it later, it turns out that people did the same thing doing other equally dumb or innocuous tasks--taking out the garbage and tripping over a step, lunging the wrong way in fencing class, doing an agility class with a dog.

After 2 1/2 hours, I was sent home with a set of crutches, a prescription for Vicodin and an ice pack, with instructions to rest it, ice it, elevate it and take painkillers as needed. We also learned the interesting fact that one of the nurses has a 27 pound cat. That's two Chayas in one cat. That's a cat the size of a toddler. I'm still contemplating it. (And feeling slightly bad that I call Chaya a big lug and say that if he were a boy, he'd have to wear husky jeans.) Alex and I managed to find an open Chinese restaurant, and in negotiating the trip from the car to the restaurant and back, I immediately remembered how much I hate crutches.

So, today was day one of being housebound. (I can't drive, and given that I'm supposed to elevate and ice my leg for at least 20 minutes every 2 hours, going to work didn't seem like an option if I did work Mondays.) It turns out that little New England farmhouses with one bathroom on the second floor are not ideal for people on crutches. (And just yesterday afternoon I'd been thinking longingly of the day that maybe I can put an addition on the house, an addition that would include a downstairs bathroom, among other things.) Emily brought the boys over for a visit in the late afternoon, and while Emily kindly performed a short list of tasks more easily done while not on crutches, the boys entertained me--Jamie sang and Tommy wanted to talk about "Star Wars," which he's added to his list of obsessions which already include the Revolutionary War period and Ancient Egypt, this despite (or perhaps because of) the fact that he's not allowed to see the movie til he's 8. Or maybe 7 1/2.

I'm not sure how long this state of affairs is going to last. I couldn't get an appointment with the orthopedist til next week, which is annoying. I may call every day to ask about cancellations, and maybe they'll be so annoyed with me that they'll find a slot. I think I need to rest and ice and elevate for at least another day, but I still don't know if I can drive after that. Plus, my new office, which I adore, is on the third floor, and in the few weeks I've been up there, I've found myself running up and down the stairs fairly frequently, which is definitely not possible now. I'm not in terrible pain, which is good, but I also definitely don't want to put any weight on my foot yet.

So, I've entered a state of gimpiness for the forseeable future. I'm trying to think of how productive I'll be able to be, since most of my time today has been spent on the couch with the computer on my lap. All those blog posts I've written in my head may actually make it to the screen (not to mention the freelance work I'm being paid to do). I'm trying not to think about losing all those hard-earned muscles. And I'm also trying not to think about the 1/4 of the woodpile that still needs to travel down to the house, propelled by someone other than me.

I think it's time for a Vicodin.


Cara deBeer said...

Such a big drag. But I am looking forward to seeing more blog posts, so there's a silver lining (for me.)

Kitt said...

Oy. You're probably kicking yourself, except that would hurt too much. Hope you heal quickly!

Lisa said...

Oy. I was just thinking the other day, kind of idly, how in the world I would negotiate my house/street/life if I were on crutches. Much sympathy, and I hope it heals up relatively fast. If I lived closer I'd bring you a casserole or a bedpan or something.

Sue Dickman said...

Well, I admit, I'd rather have a casserole than a bedpan, but thanks for the offer! And for the general commiseration.

Gina Hyams said...

Yikes. Are you healing okay?