Four days after my accident, I’m back home, with a nice sackful of pain meds. Wiser folks than me — especially my brother, a lawyer — advise me that it’s not maybe the smartest thing to blab in public about what might turn into a legal case, but the fact is, being able to write about the incident here, and mostly to hear all of your comments, good wishes, and yes, even well-meaning criticisms, has been a great help to me. Stuck in a hospital miles from home, surrounded by very well meaning and caring strangers, can be a lonely place, even with my good friend morphine. So it’s meant a lot to me to hear from all of you.
And since one of the things I learned years ago was never to leave an audience hanging… here’s the rest of the story:
The initial diagnosis — that there was nothing wrong with me other than severe bruising — was changed; possibly, I think, because of the intensity and range of my whining. A second look at the CT scans showed that I had fractured parts of the transverse processes of my L1 and L2 vertebrae. Those are the wing-like bits that stick off the side of your spinal column. The good news: it doesn’t affect spinal stability or neurological function, and doesn’t require surgery to repair. The bad news: it hurts, a lot. Thus, the identity of the angry dwarf is revealed. Interestingly, a single doctor (Dr. Nash, trauma surgeon, he of the gruesome cheering stories) offered two different theories as to how my physical fitness affected the injury: on the one hand, because I’m pretty strong from all the running/biking/swimming, I was protected from further injury at impact. On the other hand, all that muscle back there is what’s cramping and spasming and causing me to whimper like a puppy. So use me as an example as to whether you want to go work out or lie in the Barcalounger; I’m the WD-40 of role models.
The prognosis is bad pain for a couple of weeks, decreasing until I’m back to normal in about six weeks.This means I’m almost certainly out of the Chicago Triathlon on August 29th, but I’ll still hold out hope for the Chicago Marathon on Oct. 10th. And I can’t think of a reason, other than the car coming back to finish me off, why I won’t be back on the radio at the end of our hiatus in early September.
Anybody who goes through this ends up with a lot of thoughts to process; it’s quite literally a near-death experience (I’m pretty sure that without my helmet I’d either be dead or near it). Right now, though, instead of thinking about What I Should Be Doing With My Life Now That I’ve Got a Second Chance (chances are, I’ll waste it reading blogs, like I do now) I’m just… amazed at the system we have in place to take care of people like me when stuff like this happens. Bystanders called 911; the ambulance and police were there within moments. I was taken right to a hospital with trauma docs at the ready, who alleviated my pain and would have been ready if I had been more badly injured than I was. And of course, I’ve got a tremendous support system in my family and my colleagues and my employers and all of you…
The key phrase, though, is, “people like me.” Meaning, in this case, people with a good job and excellent health insurance. This ain’t the time to go political on anyone, but, man, I’d hate to have been lying there, on that pavement, shaking and in shock, wondering, “How am I going to pay for this?”
My family and I are going to take a planned week away… if I’m going to have sit still, we’ll do it in a prettier place. Thanks, one more time, for all your comments and good wishes and kind thoughts. It’s not quite (thank God) like attending my own funeral, but it’s very, very gratifying and humbling to know how much you guys would miss me. I’ll try to keep earning that once I’m back on the air.
And let me thank Erin, Annie, Sheena, Drs. Nash and Zelby, and everybody else from the EMTs to the ER docs to Jim the orderly — glad you like the show, Jim — to the night nurses and the med techs whose names I was too stoned to catch at Adventist LaGrange Hospital for doing your jobs so well and with such care and generosity. And sorry for the whining.
Back with you all next week.