As the photo above shows, it was a gnarly plunge.
Covered by the impressive bandage on my forehead are six stitches, sewn with thread that’s royal blue. The black eyes match nicely, and are hematomas, a collection of blood that pools outside broken blood vessels, and which often appear after this kind of injury.
I’d like to say the accident happened while diving off the spectacular cliffs of Acapulco. Or, I’d like to say it
took place while perfecting my curtsy for an upcoming visit with Queen Elizabeth II. I’d be happy to recite either
of these scenarios.
But the fact is, where and how the fall happened was ho-hum.
I was walking on an uneven, black gravel road near the house where my daughter lives. Then I lost my balance.
But like every accident I’ve had, time slowed down during the descent.
My right foot caught first. Unable to catch myself, the other foot followed. Next my knees buckled, and finally, my forehead hit the ground with a loud thwack, taking the brunt of the fall. Thanks to that impact, I started to bleed, a lot. (Since there are a number of superficial blood vessels on our heads, even a minor cut can bleed profusely here.)
The wind was knocked out of me. But after a few minutes, or maybe more, I stood up and ever so slowly, returned to the house where I’d started the walk.
Then I looked into a mirror, which was a mistake.
This is because I saw that a chunk of my forehead had literally detached from my face. Thankfully, a washcloth placed over the mess calmed me down a bit because then I didn’t have to look at it.
Luckily, my daughter was less than five minutes away, and talking incessantly, she drove over and rushed me to the nearest urgent care clinic. On the way there, I called the Hubster and told him where to meet us.
As soon as the front office receptionist saw me, she immediately ushered us into an examination room.
Here, I was told I was going to need stitches. This did not sit well, because all I could picture was what I had seen in old movies: screaming children being held down by their parents while scowling doctors sewed them up. But I didn’t tell anyone because I was trying to hold it together for my child’s sake (and my own).
Forty-five minutes later, the physician came in. The Hubster had arrived by then, too, and held my hand while the doctor did what needed to be done.
This man was funny and kind, a retired surgical oncologist who was 73 years old and had spent most of his career putting soldiers back together at VA hospitals around the country. But, he said, he liked to stay in practice, so he drove about five hours a couple of times a week from his home in Northern California to work at this clinic.
What I appreciated most of all from him is that after I asked, he told me exactly what he was doing, step by step, no matter how mundane.
So, I remained quiet while he explained how he was cleaning the wound, and what was in the cluster of numbing shots he was administering below my scalp line. When the time came, the act of stitching me up felt only like prongs from a tiny fork, barely touching my head.
After a tetanus shot and some basic instructions—change the band aid at least once a day; use Neosporin, and keep the wound clean—I got home. I was also more than a little shook up when I realized how an ordinary walk could instantly become something way scarier.
And yet, I’m blessed.
I didn’t black out. I didn’t have a concussion. I didn’t break any bones. (After the accident, a friend told me about a friend of hers, who broke an arm and hand in 43 places after he fell.)
Also, we knew that we’d need to pay whatever the cost was.
But when the doctor saw I had no health insurance, he charged me the lowest tier the clinic offered—an
Then, upon hearing that the Hubster had once had to give his oldest daughter emergency stitches, this man gifted my spouse with a little kit—complete with metal clamp and scissors—to remove the stitches. (“If you put them in, you can take them out,” he said cheerily. Eight days later, while I sat perfectly still on a tall stool in our green and white kitchen, my husband did so.)
I also decided that I wasn’t going to let a jumbo bandage and black eyes stop me from going on a vacation that had been in the works for months.
So three days later, I hoped two planes to Chicago to meet a colleague. We had a great time—even though I got more than a few stares.
Since then, I’ve been applying Emu oil on my forehead to lessen the scarring. It looks pretty good. Arnica took care of the black eyes; those bruises are now nearly gone.
As John Lennon once said, “Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.”
In this case, I accidentally took a small detour.