It is Wednesday morning and I am called down the hall by a man’s voice.
“Puney, Puney, down here.”
He sounds weak and hurt; the noise registers in the same place of my brain as the baby mouse caught by a sticky trap last week.
“Just come in,” he says as I raise my hand to knock on the door.
It’s eerie that he knows I am just outside of his door. I pride myself on my quiet and cat-like footsteps. When I was a kid, for one reason or another, I thought I was actually a Native American descendent and naturally practiced the silent walk of my people through the woods, grocery store, mall and all other places a delusional 7 year old might find herself. In spite of that intense practice, I am coming to the realization that my footsteps may not be as cat-like as I once believed.
In the next instant, I consider the possibility that this is a trap and I am about to be separated from my beloved skin, Buffalo Bill style, but quickly ignore that pesky gut feeling and push forward. I enter the room to see the man sitting on the couch, holding his arm at a peculiar angle.
Dark red drops of blood escape from multiple cuts on his arms and legs. His eyes are unable to focus and his head wobbles back and forth on his chicken neck.
“I fell,” his voice cracks and there is dried blood on his lips.
His explanation saves me precious time to determine, with a great sense of relief, this is not a trap.
His voice drops to a whisper, “I just don’t feel right.”
In front of the man is a table with his medications, inhalers and tiny brown bottle of nitroglycerin on top. He grabs the tiny bottle and tries to twist the lid off while still cradling his other arm. He is most unsuccessful.
I start to offer to help when he holds up the arm he has been cradling and I see for the first time the real problem. On the side of his wrist, a bluish-purple mass has formed around what appears to be the end of a protruding bone. The mass is so big and unnatural, it seems unreal, I look for strings or tacks where the mass is externally connected. I find none. The mass is definitely an unfortunate part of his arm.
“I think ther’ is somethin’ wrong with mah wrist.”
A strange new accent emerges, perhaps released from a past life as the pain increases. Pain does all sorts of magical things to people; it transforms their personality, encourages new behaviors and habits, and reminds us that we are of the living. Of course, it should be noted that the transformation is not necessarily good, nor are the habits and behaviors that are often pain inspired.
“Yep, that looks pretty messed up,” I offer my unprofessional and unsolicited opinion and dial 911 against his feeble protests and promises to ice it.
Brother, I might not be a doctor, but I do know there are some things that all the ice and Ibuprofen in the world won’t fix, starting with broken bones.
How is that for taking a fierce stance?
Official Diagnosis: Pretty Messed Up Wrist, no ICD9 code available.