Friday, February 6, 2009
(PART 131) PAIN
I was taken to L.A. County Hospital by two girls from the building, and the big guy who had carried me out of my room. After they got me to emergency, and said their goodbyes, I was placed on a steel gurney and rolled into a crowded corridor, where I stayed for over five hours without any treatment whatsoever.
There I squirmed in pain, hour after hour, periodically breaking down in tears. At times, I could overhear the nurses talking to each other, saying, "He's just a drug addict trying to get pills, there's nothing wrong with him, he's just fakin' it."
I tried repeatedly to catch someone passing by who would help me, but without success. When I couldn't tolerate the pain any longer, I broke down and sobbed openly, begging for help. Finally an orthopedic surgeon was summoned after five hours.
As he began examining my feet and ankle, he became incensed over what he saw. He angrily demanded an explanation from the staff as to why no one had understood the seriousness of the problem. "Doesn't anyone here have eyes?" he demanded. "Did anyone even bother to examine this patient?"
The doctor ordered the same nurses, who had done nothing, to now prepare me for immediate surgery. "Get him ready now!" he yelled. This was a welcome relief to me in the state I was in by then.
As well as the swelling and discoloration of my feet and ankle, the doctor was extremely worried that infection had set in. Also of concern was possible blood vessel injury and nerve damage.
I had been there for hours and nothing had been done, but now I was the center of attention as the doctor continued yelling orders at the now remarkably attentive staff.
As the full scale rush to get me into surgery ramped up, I began feeling the effects of the various medications being fed into my body intravenously. I remember now the sense of relief I felt at the time, as I slowly drifted into unconsciousness on that gurney.
When I woke, hours later, the pain in both my feet and left ankle were singularly the worst pain I have ever felt in my life. As soon as I was able, I pleaded for something to ease the pain, but was told I had to wait until the effects of the anesthesia wore off.
Not too much later, an orthopedic surgeon came by to talk to me about the surgery and damage. He told me my ankle had been crushed, and all the bones in both feet were broken to some degree.
As a result of the massive impact on my body, I also had fractures to my lower vertebrae. He explained that the damage to my ankle was known as a paratrooper break, named for ankle fractures sustained by paratroopers during the second world war. Simply put, my ankle joint had disappeared.
He was still concerned about infection, such as sepsis, and gas gangrene being a problem, as well as nerve, ligament, and muscle damage. I had a cast that ran from the bottom of my left foot all the way up to my left hip, and a cast that ran from the bottom of my right foot all the way up to my right knee.
I would remain in those casts for six months or more, and in bed for nearly that long. As I listened to him going through the litany of destruction to my body, I stopped him saying, "Can't you get them to give me something for this pain, Doc, I can hardly stand it." He paused there and looked at me saying,"You know you've got other problems as well, my friend, that's how this happened in the first place."
"I wasn't trying to kill myself man, really, I thought I could make it," I said. "It was just a lot higher than it looked after being up so high before." "I didn't mean to imply that you were trying to kill yourself," he answered, "but I think the fact that you were up there at all is a pretty clear sign that something is wrong."
"Yeah," I replied. "just about everything in my life is wrong at this point. Just about every single thing I can think of." "What exactly does that mean?" he asked. "Well, I been in the music business for a lot of years, ya know and...," "Yes I heard you were a musician," he said.
"Yeah, well I never got paid for the stuff I did and it makes me crazy, and then I get loaded and...," He gently interrupted me saying, "I think I get the picture, Bobby. You get worked up over what's happened to you and it gets out of control at some point, like yesterday." "Yeah! Exactly! Just like yesterday, it got outta control. It just got completely outta control....."
"Well look," he said. "I'll make sure the nurse gives you something for the pain as soon as we can safely do that. You try to think up some better ways of showing the world you're dissatisfied with it, will you?"
"Yeah, OK Doc, I'll think up safer ways to be pissed off." "There you go," he said smiling, and turned and walked off through the ward. Later, a nurse came by with a shot of morphine, and I soon drifted off to another place....