It happened on Sunday evening, exactly two years and four days after my first (and worst) falling-off-the-boat accident.
We were removing the dinghy from “No Tan Lines” in anticipation of Tropical Storm Eta’s arrival…or passing (what we call a “blow-by”). It didn’t take long and I was the last one off the boat. There was a misty rain and the steps on the finger dock were wet. I grabbed hold of the oh-sh*t bar on the finger dock, and put my left foot on the toerail of “Tanny,” and my right foot on the top step of the stairs. I moved forward and, just as my left foot left the toerail, my right foot slipped forward on the top step of the stairs. In a nanosecond, I was sitting on the bottom step with my feet all the way apart (I can still do the splits!), but my knees turned inward.
Captain Brian and Mason yelled, and ran to me. I quickly stood up, saying, “I’m fine! I’m fine!” My lower left shin was bleeding, but not badly. That hurt. I didn’t really have any other pain. I looked down and that’s when I noticed that my right big toe was…crooked. The end was pointing toward my second toe. I wasn’t shocked, which is weird. It was more of a curiosity because it just looked so weird and it did not hurt at all! I calmly said, “Hey. Look at that. I think I broke my toe.”
Brian looked down, and said, “You sure did!”
Mason was standing there, staring and silent. Poor kid.
I said, “It doesn’t even hurt!”
That’s when I realized that I had about three minutes tops to get off the dock and into a vehicle before the pain set in. I had a passing panicked thought about our dock neighbors needing to wheel me down the dock in a dock cart. In my dress. My short dress. Yeah, that wasn’t okay with me even though I was wearing my black underwear, and not the pink polka-dotted ones.
Brian told Mason to get me to the truck ASAP as he finished tying off the last line, and grabbed the dock cart with the dinghy.
Mason held my arm, and walked me as quickly as possible down the main dock, with me walking on the right side of my foot. I felt some squeaks of pain when we got near the gate. When I got into the truck, the pain really started to set in. Brian was right behind us, manhandled the dinghy into the truck bed himself, jumped inside, and raced to the hospital. I was getting extremely uncomfortable by that time, and having delicious fantasies about them sticking a big, fat, dripping needle into my toe to kill the pain.
When we got to the E.R. entrance, I stood like a flamingo on my left leg outside the truck before Brian tried to help me hobble inside. No way. I couldn’t even use the right side of my foot by then. Brian tried again. “Here, put your arm on my shoulder and…”
I yelped, “Nope! Not gonna happen!”
He ran for a wheelchair.
When we got inside, I got to bypass security (that wheelchair thing has its perks!) and they got me checked in and triaged really fast. My blood pressure was 174/90 and my pulse was 110. That’s because I have hypochondria, or the more politically correct term of the day – white coat syndrome. I was previously diagnosed with PTSD after a bad family medical incident and two years of therapy didn’t fix it.
The triage nurse asked, “Are you on blood pressure medication?”
I said, “No. My BP is that high because you people scare the crap out of me!”
When I’m really scared or stressed, my inner-comedian comes out. It makes people think I’m okay but, when I start cracking non-stop jokes, that means I’m in a very bad place. And, I spent the next two hours being a world-class stand-up (I mean sit-down) comic.
I was then wheeled back to the waiting room to wait for an x-ray. I was not offered Tylenol. I couldn’t stop moving my leg back and forth, back and forth, because there was a red hot fire poker inside my foot, poking the inside of my toe repeatedly – poke, POKE, poke, POKE!!!
And, that’s when the entertainment began. Some chick coming off a drug bender, who was brought in by the cops, was sitting in the corner, under the TV, which was playing an episode of some crime show. Crazy Karen would stand up, and sit down. Stand up, and sit down. She would yell at herself (or the invisible person standing in front of her), and then yell at all the injured and sick people in the E.R. She got up at one pointed, and yelled at the T.V. for sexualizing women. The loudspeaker erupted in the room. “Code 12 in Emergency Waiting. Code 12.” Apparently, everybody in the room heard that except Crazy Karen.
That’s when every employee within 50 feet stepped in, and surrounded her until the cops arrived. When one male officer approached her, she said, “Gimme your gun! Gimme your gun!” A lady sitting in front of me got up, and moved one chair over. I whispered, “Hey, lady! You’re still way too close!”
I didn’t have any popcorn for the event but I did have my phone! And, I did what any normal journalist would do. I started click-clicking away while trying to avoid getting any faces in the screen. That fun task briefly took my mind off my throbbing digit.
Three more cops showed up. Then two more after that. This was getting GOOD! She quickly got manhandled through the double doors. I leaned over to the old lady sitting to my right with an ice pack on her head, and said, “Oh, so THAT’S how you get fast-tracked in this place!” She did not appreciate my humor. Or, maybe she did. It’s hard to tell when everybody’s wearing a face mask.
About that time, a nice x-ray tech came, and wheeled me away. I told her if she touched my toe that said toe would likely end up in her eye socket but that it would be a completely involuntary reaction on my part. She said, “Oh, you poor dear. You’re not going to like what I’m going to do to you!”
However, she was kind, and never touched my toe (obviously because of my threat of physical violence) and, when I couldn’t separate my four smaller toes from my big one, she somehow managed to tape them down (she bent them down and taped them to the table) without touching my big toe. God bless her.
After that, back into the wheelchair I went, and back to the waiting room. And, that’s when they wheeled the crying old guy in, and put him in front of me. Crotchety Crier didn’t cry for long. His back was to me but it appeared that he called someone on his cell phone, saying, “You broke my shin! My shin is in a million pieces! You broke my shin!” He then hollered over his shoulder, “The shot is wearing off! I need another shot!”
After a minute or so of this, I realized he wasn’t on the phone at all. He proceeded to talk to the invisible shin-breaker and a variety of other phantoms for the next hour. I wasn’t really interested in the crime show on TV so I was glad I had something interesting to listen to while grinding my teeth in pain, even if he didn’t make much sense. He was pretty angry with all of the invisible people he was targeting with his non-stop barrage of rage. At one point, he turned toward the old woman to my right, pointed his finger at her, and said, “I KNOW you can hear me!!!” One of the other patients told him to shut up.
More cops showed up, but then left. They’d gotten the call, but arrived too late for the Crazy Karen show. I silently prayed they would fast-track Crochety Crier but he got to remain with the rest of us poor shlupps.
Crotchety Crier was interrupted by Preacher Paul. He was being discharged, and stood by the registration desk, waving his arms wildly, and proclaiming the evils of Satan, and the blessings of Jesus. He blessed us all, and left. Clearly, everyone sitting in that room needed a blessing. Nice guy!
A nurse came in, and said, “Hoy?”
Relieved, I replied, “Yes!”
Except, she didn’t come my way. She was looking for another woman. She’d actually said, “Boyd”…not “Hoy.” Darn.
A few minutes later, another nice lady came in, and took my wheelchair, saying, “Broken toe!”
I said, “So, it really is broken, huh?”
She said, “Oh yeah!!! Let’s get you a boot and get you out of here!”
After she took me to a room, she asked me what had happened and I explained the story once again (for the third time in two hours). Turns out she owns a boat, too, and we talked shop for a few minutes. I told her the last time I’d been in that E.R. was also from falling off my boat.
She said, “Oh! It IS you!! I thought you looked familiar!!” I didn’t know whether to feel honored or mortified.
I said, “Yeah…” And, then I whipped up my skirt to show her that I still have a bump where the gelatinized blood clot is.
I said, “Are you sure my toe isn’t dislocated? Why is it crooked? Do they need to fix it? Straighten it out? Something?”
She said they can’t fix it. I do need a follow-up with an orthopedist but I’m stuck with a crooked toe. Oh well. I’d have never been a foot model anyway. They called me E.T. Feet in high school (which is why I’m not posting a picture of the purple sausage now adorning my foot – I don’t want you to lose your lunch). She asked me for my shoe size, and ran off to get a lovely, attractive, super sexy humongous black boot for me to wear for the next 6 to 8 weeks! Yes, 6 TO 8 WEEKS!!!
Here’s my left leg. Not as gross and it didn’t require stitches. The bruise wraps almost all the way around my leg but it doesn’t hurt that much. My brain is more focused on the fire poker in my right big toe.
Here’s what the x-ray reading from the doctor said: AP, oblique, and lateral projections demonstrate a comminuted fracture of the right first distal phalanx with intra-articular extension. Moderate first MTP joint degenerative changes.
I had NO idea what all of that meant, but reading that sure made it hurt MORE! I was two hours in and I still hasn’t been offered a Tylenol, nor that big, long needle I’d been fantasizing about.
She asked me to stand up with the boot.
“Can you stand on your foot?”
I tried, released a string of very loud obscenities, sat back down in the chair, bumped my toe on the metal on the way down, and then used my very worst obscenity, which I save just for occasions like this.
She said, “I guess not.”
So, she ran for crutches, got me fitted for those, and taught me how to use them. I was NOT good at it (I am now) and asked, “You’re going to wheel me out of here, right? You’re not going to make me crutch myself all the way to the parking lot are you?” She assured me that she was required to wheel me out. Thank Heaven for hospital policy!!!
We talked a bit more about boats and she looked at my one sandal (the other one was in my purse). “Oh! I wear Tevas on the boat, too! Those are supposed to be slip resistant.”
I grumbled, “I know. That’s why I bought them.”
She gave me her card, and told me to call if I had any questions. She was so sweet!!! I think she might have actually been hitting on me!! Probably because I’d lifted my skirt to show her my gelatinized blood clot. Yum!!!
Another employee came by and she said, “Grand toe fracture.”
I turned around in my wheelchair, and said, “Grand? As in AWESOME?! That sound a LOT better than a Crappy toe fracture!”
She leaned forward, and said, “That means your big toe, dear.”
I had to wait a few minutes for my paperwork and a prescription. I don’t like to take pain meds but I save them for emergencies – like a weekend toothache. The hospital gave me oxy. No thanks! That stuff scares the crap out of me! We had some weaker pain killers on hand – Tramadol. I took one of those on Sunday night and one on Monday but they made me feel like a slug so I switched to Tylenol and Advil combined last night. I STILL have a headache from the Tramadol.
The nice lady who had booted me wheeled me out, and wished me well, and I waited for my chariot home (friends and family can’t accompany patients in the E.R. because of Covid-19). I sat outside waiting, and made small talk with a guy who was in a full leg cast. I was already counting my blessings!
We have been staying in a two-story townhouse in St. Petersburg since the protests/riots started several months ago and we feel very safe here…which is a good thing because, as of this writing, we’re once again in the cone for Tropical Storm Eta and it’s pouring and very windy here. We thought she’d spare us but she’s now 24 hours out from hitting.
Capt. Brian is back on the boat this morning, removing the bimini, and adding a couple of extra lines. I told him, “DON’T SLIP GETTING OFF THE BOAT! PLEASE DON’T SLIP!” He rolled his eyes at me. He’s only fallen off a boat one time and he landed in his dinghy. Show-off…
I am now stuck upstairs at the townhouse. I had to shimmy up the stairs on my backside with my foot up in the air right after the accident. I don’t want to do that again so here I sit, getting tons of work done because there’s literally NOTHING else I can do.
The BEST news is that I don’t have to cook or clean for 6 to 8 weeks!!!
Oh, and the boat is now up for sale. I’m not kidding. There’s already a broker’s sign on it. I’m devastated about it because I LOVE living on a boat but, after too many falls, several tropical storms, two hurricanes, and a funnel cloud that scarred Mason for life, I decided that God doesn’t need to send me anymore signs. It’s time to move on to the next chapter in our lives. And, we’re looking at the mountains in Tennessee or Georgia.
More on that next week.
TROPICAL STORM ETA UPDATE – THU. 11/12/20 – 10:30 A.M.
- LOOK! I HAVE 2 KNEES ON ONE LEG!! My First Major Liveaboard Accident… (includes grotesque pics!)
- STILL GROTESQUELY SWOLLEN but the Doc Says I’m Not Gonna Die! (Includes a new photo!)
- Another Falling ON the Boat Accident! (Yes, really…)
- “HOLD ON TO SOMETHING AND DO *NOT* LET GO!” Funnel Cloud Brings Sudden Mayhem and We FREAKED OUT! (includes video)
- Extreme Excitement and Fear! How We Fared in Hurricane Irma!! (Includes several photos)
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Angela Hoy lives on a mountain in North Georgia. She is the publisher of WritersWeekly.com, the President and CEO of BookLocker.com and AbuzzPress, and the author of 24 books.
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LOL! LMAO, Angela! Welcome to the Emergency Room! I used to work as a nurse in ER, ICU and hospice and well – as you discovered – anything and everything comes in there. Crazy people, bar-room brawl victims and comediennes (especially those who fall off boats) are just normal stuff.
I love sailing. We had a 37′ gaff-rigged sloop on Lake Michigan one teenaged summer – right next to a 50′ ketch. So, I know what those are. I’ve always wanted one since, but being retired does relegate you to the landlubber binoculars patrol forever more – so I can’t buy yours. Sorry.
Loved your piece though – very very funny. Get well soon and keep that foot up with the immobilizer on (shaking my nurse’s finger at you). Go on – you deserve it. Let them wait on you for a while.
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Never a dull moment! Not on the boat (or, um, when disembarking) and definitely not in the ER.
Tennessee is gorgeous. Good choice for your next chapter.
*raising my glass* May you never know what the ER nearest your next house looks like!
Oh Dio Buono, what a terrible ordeal. Although, I will admit that I enjoyed the entertaining read. You may have lost your toe mobility, but you have not lost your creative writing chops not your sense of humor. I think your up-coming move to the Mountains in Tennessee sounds exciting. It will be a whole new adventure that I’m eager to read about. Take care.
I am glad you decided to trade in the boat life! Those storm descriptions scared the bejesus out of ME!
Angela, the mountains of Tennessee? With your record of injuries due to falls, you should consider the flat farmlands of Ohio.
Praying for your quick recovery,
BUT THEY HAVE TORNADOES THERE!!!!! 😉
So sorry about your injury!! I did that to my pinkie in 2001, right before a guitar-playing tour. I was able to pop it back into place, before going to the ER.
Worked out OK eventually. Get better!!
I have been following your life’s story since 1998. There have been kids, an endless stream of ‘Masonisms’ to read, and expanded publishing exploits. Growing is what life is all about and your family has certainly done a lot of it.
When you first wrote about your family’s desire to live on a boat, I said, call this either a ‘Wild Hair’ or a ‘Midlife Phase’. With all the boat-related problems you have mentioned having to deal with, I truly didn’t think it would last this long, let alone, into your ‘grandparenting years’. When you sum it all up, I believe you have poured more money into keeping that thing afloat and in good order then you ever would have – in the same time frame – if it would have been a new house.
Settling into a new home (not a fixer = a shack!) in the hills of Tennessee will give you breathing space and certainly time on your hands when you are not having to deal with boat issues.
After building my home in 2008, I have had virtually maintenance-free living for more than 10 years — you should experience the same with your new home.
Good luck to you all.
Finally you got smart about that boat.
Do. Not. Mix. Meds. You. Could . End. Up. Dead.
I have medical training, listen to me. Never mix meds. Never. Not one single time.
Yes you are about as graceful as I am and just as white coat terrified. Actually it isn’t the doctor who scares me, it’s having to sit with a blood pressure machine and all of a sudden i have to twitch every four seconds, cough, move my rib out of the chair back, and think about passing this test (!) so of course the reading is false high.
I think we are sisters.
I am on no daily prescription meds. I didn’t mix any meds. I took 2 pain pills over 2 days and then switched to Tylenol, then 4 hours later Advil, then 4 hours later Tylenol, etc. I did that with the doc’s blessing. I’m off ALL meds now, even after ramming my toe into the coffee table last night (because I was stupid and didn’t have my boot on). If you heard an obscenity in the cosmos last night, that was me. Sorry. 😉 It still hurts but I’m muscling through it. I have a great distrust of prescription meds. 🙂