There I Was

TPAMП – That’s TRUMP in Cyrillic, in case you need to know it.


There i was, lying on the floor at SFO halfway through one of those electronic screening gates you have to go through before you can get on a plane, surrounded by TSA agents with their guns pointed at me in case my threat escalated.

Ummm, that makes a better story, but i’ll just stick to the facts and admit that none of ’em actually drew on me although they did seem to have their gun hands dangling in close proximity to their guns.  Ready.

Maybe i should back up a little.

When i got to SFO and checked in at Southwest Airlines, i asked for a wheelchair to get out to the gate.  I can actually walk that far, but it’s a slow shuffle to keep the pain down to a reasonable level, and the wheelchair is so much more comfortable.  My pusher was an agreeable sort, and everything went fine until we got to the TSA screening point.

There were three of those electronic screening gates to the right, but my pusher for some reason parked me to the left in front of this gray wall.  At the moment he stopped, i happened to look off to the side and saw my checked bag sliding past on the conveyor belt.  I am unable to remember why, and wasn’t even immediately afterwards, but for some reason i needed to get up and examine my bag as it traveled past.  So i stood up, promptly lost my balance, and reached out to steady myself against the gray wall.

Alas, it was not a wall but rather a thin sheet of stiff plastic they’d used to block an out-of-service electronic gate.  So it provided no resistance at all as i continued falling until the plastic sheet and i had crashed onto the bottom of the gate.

I do not recall ever having felt greater pain, and i think i must have blacked out for a moment before i heard my pusher inquiring if i were OK and saw a ring of TSA folks around me.  Of course i said i was OK because that’s what you always say.  Well, if you can speak.  Besides, after the initial sharp stab of pain, i wasn’t hurting so bad.

But still, i had to think fast when the pusher asked if he should take me to medical assistance.  Oh wait, that means i’d miss my flight…and my ride to Rolla, and the whole glorious adventure.  So the answer had to be No.  And anyhow, i figured the moderate pain would soon subside.  Doesn’t it always?

It didn’t, but i got through the whole adventure i’ve described in previous posts by staying so busy that i could mostly forget about the pain until i got home to my refrigerator full of pain meds leftover from various broken bones and surgeries and immediately gobbled a couple of the oldest ones.  Rotate your stock.

One of the problems of aging that i’m experiencing is that i don’t think as fast as i used to; moreover, the first solution that comes to mind is often far from the best. And yet, in the spirit of keeping on pressing on, all too often i just go with the first solution.

The first solution was actually the correct solution in this case, which was to go to the ER at St. Luke’s (newly renamed to trip lightly off the tongue, the Mission Bernal Campus of the Sutter Health California Pacific Medical Center), just three blocks away on Valencia Street.  However, the pain pills kicked in rapidly and somehow the Emergency part of “Emergency Room” was no longer operant, so i took another pair of pain pills and went to bed, saving the ER for in the morning.

They were nice, CT scanned me, showed me a picture of the fracture running across my 11th thoracic vertebra, handed me a measly 20-count prescription for pain meds, and said the only treatment was to just take it easy while the fracture healed all by itself.

That was a month ago, and even though i’ve cut out all the activities that i can think of that would be stressing my back, most especially riding the Segway everywhere, i don’t feel like i’ve made any progress toward healing.  Yeah yeah, they all say it will take some time, but my goodness is life ever difficult without the Segway.

I’ve discovered that i can ride the Segway the block and a half to Safeway since the streets are quite smooth and, more importantly, totally familiar so that i know where all the bumps are and can avoid them.  At Safeway, i lock the Segway to the bike rack and go across the street to take the 14 Mission bus, which will get me anywhere along the Mission corridor all the way to the Ferry Building.  Alternatively, i can go around the corner and take the 24 Divisadero, which runs west to Castro Street and then north all the way to the CPMC medical building where my retinologist and my cataract/glaucoma guy work.  It also stops at the front door of my internist enroute.

And if really necessary, i can take my car although i hate to do this because parking is nightmarish in my neighborhood and getting a place when i return is very difficult.  So neither the bus nor my car is even close to as good as my Segway, and not being able to use it is rather depressing, as is facing a recovery from the fracture that all my medical folks know will be so long that none dared speak a number (of weeks or heaven forbid, months) before i can expect to be recovered.  And by recovered, i mean when the pain, with which i’m already very tired, will have stopped.

On the other hand, there’s an abundance of beauty in places we might not have thought to look.





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  1. David Ogden
    Posted 3 August 2018 at 07:58 | Permalink


    • Posted 9 August 2018 at 07:24 | Permalink

      Yeah, and the recovery is progressing very slowly. It doles out little bits of a sense of progress just often enough to stave off despair.

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