Saturday, July 02, 2005

Beware of parking bumpers!

Watch where you walk at all times, especially in parking lots. Parking bumpers will seek you out, position themselves in front of your feet, and take you down in a thunderous fall of glory.

And, yes, it will hurt like a bugger. You will holler, consider vomiting, collect your thoughts, and thank the heavens you did not swallow your tongue. Then, you will look at your ankle, see it has doubled in size in all of 60 seconds, and again thank the heavens - this time for not seeing a bone inappropriately sticking through your skin. Then the feeling sorry for yourself begins.

It should be mentioned that ER doctors are the best of the best. Should you truly need your life saved, you will once again be thanking the heavens for their expertise. However, at the lower half of their priority lists will be those walk-in patients who are not bleeding from the ears, experiencing cardiac arrest, or suffering from a steering wheel stuck in their foreheads. And that's OK, but you will want to bring pillows (for your injured limb) and patience. It will be a while before you are seen by the doc, if you are at all. Make friends with a kindly nurse - she will be your salvation.

In some cases (and do not ask how I know these things), the ER staff will want to discharge you before you are even diagnosed or spoken to by a doctor. Be sure to mention that seeing a doctor is why you showed up. When he or she comes to your room, remember to ask all you want answered as they more than likely will not be seen again after leaving.

Be sure to follow up with a specialist as soon as humanly possible, because occasionally these superb ER doctors (no sarcasm) will miss things. After all, they specialize in being generalists, not specialists. These docs can miss breaks, especially those that are hairline fractures or otherwise not obvious.

Also not known to happen at an ER is the implementation of appropriate treatment. That is, in some cases, you will need a splint or even a cast, but you will instead be sent home with an ace bandage and some ibuprofin. OK, for now.

Of course, when you get to the specialist a week or so later (the appointment secretary says this is, in fact, as soon as humanly possible), he or she may not have the bedside manner you had hoped for. That can mean a lot of things, but often upsetting to some know-it-all patients is not having their injuries and treatments thoroughly (if at all) explained. Make sure to ask, ask, ask. And while you are at it, ask the doc to stay in the room for another minute or two and tell you some more.

Yes, casts and splints will stay on the sprained ankle for quite a while (say two to six weeks), swelling will remain for days or even weeks, and your ankle will be purple and green and ugly from bruising. So, be prepared to master crutches and hope you have some sick days left at work.

Meanwhile, feel better, and try to get used to being waited on by loved ones.