The Agony of de Feet

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Action and Adventure  |  House: Booksie Classic
Squashed, but not de-feeted!

Submitted: March 27, 2007

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Submitted: March 27, 2007

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My boyfriend Tom and I used to live in California. Tom was asked to be a character witness in a trial. I stayed home to take care of the house.

While he was in Mississippi staying with close friends, I was laid off from my consumer loan center job. (I had been a data entry specialist, but the bank had fallen on hard times since not enough people had been applying for real estate loans. Management couldn’t justify keeping my department open, so the people in charge laid off me and many of my co-workers. We had been "downsized".) The management sent us home with a nice severance pay package, however, and after discussing the matter with Tom, we decided to move to Greenwood, Mississippi.

California is nice, but the traffic is crazy and the cost of living is high compared to that of Mississippi. Tom had lived close to Greenwood before while he was married to his first wife, and he missed the laid-back pace. People didn’t seem to be in a hurry to do anything in Mississippi.

Tom came back to California after the trial, and in about a month we had packed up our woodshop and household goods. They were tied down on a twelve-foot trailer. Our Ford pickup would pull it.

I couldn’t bring my Siamese cat, Puppy, to Mississippi, because the night before we moved, she had given birth to her first litter of kittens. I couldn’t take care of Puppy and the babies, so I left her in the care of Tom’s brother, Bill, whose daughter (Geneva) Puppy eventually adopted.

I did have one pet coming with me: an 85-pound pit bull/Rottweiler mix named Ginger. Her nickname was Gin Gin. She was a cuddly baby dog trapped in a muscled, brindle-colored body. Gin Gin liked to sit on my lap in the cab of the truck. She also enjoyed chewing bubble gum and was extremely vocal to anyone who came within fifty yards of me.

Our route to Mississippi took us through Bakersfield and then over the Tehachapie Mountains, a highway marked by dangerously steep hills.

If we had driven to Mississippi in a small car, it might not have been so dangerous, but our F-150 Ford pickup was pulling 2,000 pounds worth of shop tools and household goods. We pulled the hills with relative ease, but the weight of the trailer contents tended to PUSH us down the hills. I sympathized with Tom, who was doing the driving. I wouldn’t have wanted that responsibility. (Besides, I couldn’t reach the pedals in the truck. Quit giggling!) A few miles into the Tehachapie Mountain range, the Ford began to overheat. Steam poured from the engine. It looked like bad news.

We pulled over. Further investigation revealed that we had blown a hole in the radiator! A policeman soon pulled in behind us and addressed the situation. We all decided it would be best to be pulled back into Bakersfield by a tow truck. The helpful cop called for one. Soon the driver arrived.

He pulled us back into Bakersfield. Our destination was a radiator repair shop. The mechanics agreed to help. The yard was small, and the truck and trailer had to be pulled in FORWARD so that the radiator could be worked on. The mechanic was exceptionally talented and soon had the radiator repaired. Unfortunately, Tom couldn’t back up a trailer to save his life, and there was no room in the yard to pull the whole rig around in a circle. He had no choice but to attempt to back up.

"Get out and guide me, please," he asked.

I complied, positioning myself behind the trailer. Using arm signals, I attempted to guide him out of the yard backwards. Tom had a good view of me from the side and rearview mirrors, but from where he sat in the truck, he couldn’t HEAR me.

It was midsummer and I was wearing flip-flops, along with shorts and a tee shirt.

The trailer backed out slowly as I backed up, but eventually it began to jacknife. The right wheel of the trailer caught my flip-flop and pulled me under. Before I knew what was happening, I was lying on my back in the gravel.

"Stop!" I yelled.

Tom didn’t hear me. He pulled forward in an attempt to reposition the trailer. I braced myself for the inevitable. The right wheel of the 2,000 pound trailer rolled across my right ankle and up my leg, finally rolling off my right hip. I was EXTREMELY fortunate. Had the wheel kept going, it would have killed me, crushing my skull into the gravel.

A mechanic saw what was happening and hastily alerted Tom, who stopped the truck immediately.

He jumped out in a panic and ran to see if I was still alive.

I was sitting up in the gravel, having been helped up by another mechanic. I was slightly irritated at the searing pain in my foot. I looked up at Tom.

"You ran over me, " I said simply.

Tom was extremely upset by this new set of circumstances. He and the mechanic tried to get me to my feet and I made the mistake of trying to put my weight on my right foot so that I could walk back to the truck. I regretted it the moment I tried to put my foot on the ground. My ankle felt like Jello.

Tom tearfully lifted me up and carried me back to the truck, where Gin Gin was eagerly waiting for me.

"Mommy!" she barked happily as she hoisted her 85-pound frame onto my lap. I screamed!

Tom blamed himself for the accident and felt certain that I would never walk again. He paid the mechanics for the repair and somehow managed to get the truck pointed in the right direction. The first thing we needed to do was find a motel and get directions to the nearest Emergency Room.

We found a motel.

Tom jumped out and ran to the office to see about getting accomodations. He explained the accident to the manager.

"We don’t have any downstairs room," he replied in his thick East Indian accent. "All we have is upstairs room."

What choice did we have? We had to get me cleaned up. Gravel clung to my legs like lint, and we desperately needed access to a phone. Tom paid for the room.

I was injured, though. If I couldn’t use my ankle to help me walk, climbing the stairs would be impossible! There were two flights leading up to the room. Tom had no choice but to let me ride up the stairs on his back! This was an interesting climb as Tom only has one real leg. The plastic one is covered by his skin and muscle, but his balance often tends to be compromised. After a slow, arduous ascent, we finally reached the motel room.

Tom carried me into the bathroom, which came equipped with full-length mirrors. It was time to assess the damage. Underneath the gravel, my whole right leg had turned black. Purple tire tread impressions rode all the way up to my hip, where, thankfully, the wheel had released me. Well, at least we knew that the trailer had good tires!

Tom laid me gently in the bathtub and ran warm water over my leg. This helped to release some of the gravel. My foot was hideously black by now. The ankle was indistinguishable because of the swelling. It was impossible to move.

I tenderly rinsed off my leg. Tom helped me get dressed and then helped me over to a chair by the bed, so that I could rest. He picked up the phone on the end table. We looked up the phone number to a hospital there in Bakersfield. Tom explained the situation and the Emergency Room receptionist gave him directions to get there.

While he was talking on the phone, a lady from housekeeping came in to see if we needed anything. She spied my black, swollen foot and ankle. Naturally, she wanted to know what had happened. I recounted the accident.

"It’s just sprained," I told her.

"Oh, no it’s not, honey. That foot is BROKEN."

Her assessment was confirmed by a thorough set of X-rays taken at the hospital. A bone in the top of my foot was chipped. This must have happened when the trailer tire rolled over my right ankle.

The doctor recommended a cast, but the foot and ankle were so black and swollen now that it proved to be impossible. The swelling would have to go down before a hard cast could be fitted. In the meantime, we HAD to keep traveling toward Mississippi. Tom and I didn’t have the money to stay in a motel until the swelling went down. The doctors fashioned an ingenious temporary cast that fastened onto my leg with Velcro straps. The cast could be removed every night at bedtime.

I’m only four feet, seven inches tall, and the shortest crutches available were designed for a person that was at least five feet, two inches. The crutches stuck out like wings, but I learned to adjust.

At times it was frustrating, such as when I had to hobble up wheelchair ramps to get into restaurants.

One day, as we continued on our journey, I was attempting to enter a restaurant. My favorite cowboy hat sat on top of my head. Unfortunately, the wind was extremely high that day. It blew the hat off and carried it into the nearby street.

"I’ll get it!" Tom volunteered.

He walked to the road, hoping for a break in the traffic so that he could grab my cowboy hat. Alas, an eighteen-wheeler ran over my favorite hat, flattening it like a pancake. It was like something out of a bad country and western song.

I said "goodbye" to my favorite hat, but we DID keep heading toward Mississippi. For the rest of the trip, my foot hung from a makeshift sling that Tom had fashioned from a long scarf. It hung down from the glove compartment. Gin Gin remained my constant companion. I had to train her not to greet me so exuberantly, while the swelling in my broken ankle went down. After two months in a hard cast, I DID learn to walk again.

The pull of the Delta was irresistable, and not even a broken ankle could stop us from reaching our destination!

 


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