After a week of drinking a little too much throughout the week and contemplating jumping off the N to vomit in a bush before work, I was rather looking forward to taking it easy this long Labor Day weekend and getting in some sweet R&R before heading back to work. Shawn and I watched a ton of “David Chang: The Mind of a Chef” on Netflix (watch this immediately if you haven’t already), we had a crab boil, we drank wine, we played music. On Sunday we decided to head to Rossi Park in The Richmond District to play a nice game of tennis.
I’ve gotta say, I was KILLING IT in tennis this sesh. My backhand was killing it, my returns were focused and I was getting really pumped. Shawn hit a ball to me which I ran over to return, but someone’s tennis racket went rogue and slammed into the back of my left ankle. I fell to the ground and spun around to cuss out the guy who threw a racket at me to find that there was no racket and no guy. I sat there in a state of shock staring at my foot when I realized: holy shit I can’t move this thing.
Shawn helped me over to the bench and we assessed the situation. I compared my two ankles–gently pushing on the back of my right ankle and feeling the tight resistance of a tendon pushing back at me, then pushing on my left ankle and feeling nothing there. I turned to Shawn and declared, “I’m pretty sure I just ruptured my Achilles Tendon. We have to go to the hospital.” Right then, our friend Victor arrived and he had to turn right back around and leave because I ruined our tennis date. Victor and Shawn somehow got me down a few flights of stairs and shoved me into the car. I apologized over and over again for fucking everything up and then we were on our way.
It was then and only then that I began to cry. I cried so hard that I hyperventilated. The crying was not induced by physical pain, but the pain of thinking about how much all of this was going to cost. I do have insurance, but every experience I have ever had with them has been horrible. My rates seem to keep rising but my coverage seems to keep shrinking. I got so freaked out that I whipped out my insurance card and began to call phone numbers on the back to make sure that the ER I was headed to was covered by Blue Shield.
First of all, the main customer service line is only open Monday through Friday 9am – 5pm and is not open on holidays. I tried the 24/7 nurse line listed below that. After navigating through the phone menu, and screaming “OPERATOR!” over and over again into the automated system, I FINALLY got a nurse on the phone.
“HI PLEASE, I NEED TO GO TO A HOSPITAL BECAUSE I’M PRETTY SURE MY ACHILLES HAS TORN APART AND I NEED TO GET SOMEWHERE WHERE DO I NEED TO GO”
“Um, hello ma’am thank you for calling. I understand you need help. May I please have your zip code?”
“Okay thank you I’m going to search for an emergency room near you.”
“NO I’M NOT HOME I’M SOMEWHERE ELSE I JUST NEED TO KNOW WHAT EMERGENCY ROOM I CAN GO TO SO YOU WON’T CHARGE ME ONE MILLION DOLLARS.”
“Okay please bear with me my system is running a little slow today………Hmm that’s weird. I think I have to start all over again. Hang on……Okay so I keep typing in ‘Emergency room San Franicsco’ and it keeps clearing it out for some reason. I don’t get it. Okay I’m gonna try something else.”
Shawn was driving the car this entire time and we ended up at SF General Hospital when this idiot finally figured out that we could have gone to UCSF which was literally a few blocks from where I got hurt. Whatever. I’m at General, I’m gonna go here and then I hung up on that chick.
In case you’re not familiar with SF General, this is the place where homeless drunk people, gang violence victims, uninsured people, and people who jump off the Golden Gate Bridge on the SF side–not the Marin side go to seek medical help. This place should have its own television show because it was the Wild Wild West out there.
After getting a medical wristband and getting propped up on a gurney, I was rolled into the “Zone 1″ hallway to wait for someone to send me to get X-Rays. ”Zone 1″ should really be renamed “Shit Show” because this is where all the action is. My friend Nicole is an ER nurse at General, so I’ve heard some stories, but now I REALLY get it. Within the first minute of being in Shit Show 1, I saw a gentleman of 45 years or so (although, due to his certain drug habit and homelessness, he could have been 17 for all I know), with shoulder-length hair that was matted down with a mixture of sweat and blood from the open head wound he had suffered. He ran out of a room screaming that he was going to “GET THAT MOTHER FUCKER BACK!” and he had somehow lost his shirt on the way. His bare chest revealed several bleeding scratches that a rabid chicken would make if someone threw it at you and you caught it. The armed guards put on surgical gloves and shuffled him back into his hospital room before that dude could get blood on me thank God.
After six hours of watching the newest hit reality television show called “The Real Shit Show Zone 1″, I was placed in a splint and told that I no longer have an Achilles Tendon and that I’d most likely not be able to walk on this bad boy for about three months. Sweet.
Getting up the stairs of our three story walk up apartment in crutches was comedic, to say the least. I made it all the way to the top of the stairs before almost falling down. Once I got there, I plopped myself down on the couch, elevated my leg, and asked for an alcoholic beverage please because I’ve earned it.
It’s been three days since my accident. I haven’t taken the pain medication prescribed to me yet because I keep assuming that it will get worse. I’ve developed little techniques to help me cope with having only one leg and, basically, no arms since I have to use both to operate my crutches. I now carry a little backpack with me wherever I go. If I want to fill up my water bottle, I have to put my empty bottle in my backpack, hobble to the water, fill it up, then put it back in my backpack, then go back and sit down. I have to put things like beer in a mason jar and seal it up if I want to bring it back to my seat to enjoy. Any food I would like to eat either has to be eaten in the kitchen where it was prepared, or placed inside a very secure Tupperware-like vessel so I can eat it at the dining room table. I now have to wear dresses or skirts for three months because my pants won’t fit over my giant splint and JNCOs went out of style a while ago. Getting in and out of cars is not a graceful thing for me right now, so I invested heavily in biker shorts that go under my dresses so I can get out of a car or sit like a dude and not worry about showing off my bits to the world.
After a few “God hates me” remarks, I’ve begun to find the humor of this whole thing. I can laugh at how I am not a lady so I need to go buy skirts and girl stuff. I can laugh at how I got my period just in time for all this shit to go down and I’m sure that is going to be weird. I have definitely searched the internet for little walker things that I can prop my knee up and roll around*.
I have also started to learn how to ask for help with things. I hate burdening people with minor stuff, but I literally can’t go and bring my plate of food to the table so can you please help me with that. I had to ask the nurse in the ER to help me pee because I couldn’t pull my pants down. Thank you kind nurse and, I’m sorry you had to see my white ass.
Day three was harder than day two but I’m hoping that laughter really is the best medicine therefore making day four easier than day three. I may or may not have to have surgery and I may or may not have a hospital bill of one million dollars but right now I’m trying hard to focus on the positives like how I have the best friends and family and how Shawn is a total winner and is taking great care of me. I’m hoping for a speedy recovery and if that doesn’t happen, there’s always pain medication.