Accidents Happen

Before I get to the story of what happened last night, I first want to wish my sister Lora a happy birthday, and wish our sweet little Enzo a happy 18 months! He’s officially a year and a half old now and couldn’t be doing better. We had a bit of a close call last night, which I’ll get to in a second, but he’s totally fine. Lora, whom I haven’t seen since our Grandmother Gigi’s funeral 12 years ago, will be in town next week for our family reunion, so it will be great to introduce her to Jessica and the kids.

I also want to give my love to my Uncle Jim, who had neck surgery on Tuesday. I’ve been speaking to Brenda and Kristy via text messages and they said he’s doing really well. He went home from the hospital last night and I’m looking forward to talking to him this weekend. I’m just thankful that he got it done and everything went well.

Okay, so last night started off no different than most other recent nights when Jessica has to work. Since the weather is so nice, the kids and I go out to the cul-de-sac to ‘scoot ‘n skate’ after work. The girls ride their scooters and I ride my longboard skateboard while holding Enzo. If you’ve been to our house then you know that we live on a basically flat street. There is a very slight decline coming down the street towards the cul-de-sac, so we ride about half-way up the street, turn around, and ride back to (and around) the cul-de-sac. Enzo loves riding with me and gets very upset if I make a run without him. Of course I always make sure he’s wearing a helmet when we take a ride.

The day before, which was Tuesday, our next-door neighbor Marcus turned 9 years old and received a motorized scooter for his birthday. On an unrelated sidenote, that day was also the 10 year anniversary of my best friend Spencer drowning in Lake Washington. Obviously he was on my mind a lot that day.

Marcus has been out on the street riding his new scooter as much as possible, so when he saw the kids and I outside riding, he came out to join us. We all rode up and down the street a couple times, then the girls went to draw on the sidewalk in front of our house with chalk. I think Ava was a bit upset with me because she wanted to ride with me on the skateboard, but I was still holding Enzo. I figured I’d get her for the next run and started heading back up the street. As I was on my way I noticed Marcus coming up behind me to do a run with Enzo and I.

Now here’s where it gets weird. I can’t explain this at all, but I absolutely promise this is true; as I was turning around to head back down towards the cul-de-sac I felt a strange sensation that something was wrong, and I knew Marcus was going to crash into us. I specifically remember saying to myself before making the run “Don’t crash into us down there Marcus.” It’s not like this was the first time I’ve been out there with him either, and nothing like this had happened before, but in some very strange way that I cannot explain, I knew we were about to crash a full 10-15 seconds before it happened. Why I didn’t listen to this strange instinctual feeling is beyond me though, so I headed down the street for another run. I’m not trying to sound weird by saying this, and I don’t even know how to explain it, but I definitely sensed it before it happened.

As I approached the cul-de-sac I went left, then looked back and saw Marcus go right. So basically we took opposite sides of the circle but soon found ourselves coming at each other towards the back of the cul-de-sac. Not unlike riding a motorcycle, when you’re riding a skateboard (or snowboard), where you look is where you’ll go. I made eye contact with Marcus from 25 feet away and he had a look of panic on his face. I turned to go inside and so did he, so then I quickly tried to turn back outside, but so did he. Not because he wanted to hit me, obviously, but because he was looking at me, and where you look is where you shall go.

As we got closer I tried to stop the skateboard by dragging my back foot on the ground, but it was too late. Since I was holding Enzo with my right arm, my primary concern was to fall to my left and shield him from the blow. I was wearing my Crocodile clog sandals and my left (front) leg slammed into the front arm of his scooter, fracturing my big toe in 2 places and opening up a cut on my shin that would later require 5 stitches to close up. I fell to my left, as I had hoped to, making contact on the ground on my left kneecap and the palm of my left hand. After that there was nothing I could do to stop myself from falling to my right. I kinda bent my right wrist outward while holding Enzo and was able to fall onto that, but his helmet still hit the ground.

Of course the fall scared him to death, and a second later he was screaming uncontrollably. I was a bit disoriented, and poor Marcus was sitting there very scared and silent. My only concern was Enzo, because I heard his helmet hit the concrete and I was so afraid of a head injury. I think I cursed once or twice but don’t remember exactly what I said; I was just so worried about my little guy. Marcus’ dad Jim heard all the screaming and came out to see what was going on. I just remember him saying “Was there an accident?” and I said “Yeah we ran into each other head first.” I stood up while still holding Enzo and realized as soon as I took my first step that something was definitely wrong with my big toe on my left foot. I looked down and there was a fair amount of blood starting to run down my leg, and I was missing my shoe. By this point Ava and Elise came running over and they were totally freaking out. I had a big abrasion on my left knee cap that was full of gravel, a nice gash on my left shin, and another abrasion on my right wrist. Ava definitely didn’t like seeing all the blood and had a hard time calming down.

Jim’s wife Cara came running out to see what was going on and I told them Marcus was okay, but that I was worried about Enzo. Cara took him for me and started examining him very closely. I was in a bit of shock and didn’t know exactly what to do. I went into our house to try and clean up my wounds but quickly realized that I wouldn’t be able to do it by myself. I then shifted focus to my toe and tried to bend it. Let’s just say that the pain I felt at that point was insane. There was no question it was broken. I’ve broken/fractured multiple bones before this, including a toe when we lived in San Diego, but the fact that this was my big toe made it different. Obviously that toe carries more weight when you walk than any other toe, so the only way I could walk was to put all my weight solely on my heel when stepping on that foot. Placing any weight towards the front of my foot simply wasn’t an option.

I knew I had to see a doctor immediately, but I didn’t want to act like it was that bad because I could tell Ava and Elise were really scared, so I sent Jessica a couple text messages explaining what happened and then called El Gaucho Bellevue to leave a message for her at the front desk. I then (slowly) walked back outside with the girls to see how Enzo was doing. Immediately Jim and Cara told me Enzo was totally fine, so that was a huge relief. I watched him for a couple minutes anyway and could tell that he was completely back to normal. Though I couldn’t help but think of what could have happened had he not been wearing his helmet. It may have saved his life.

I then told Jim and Cara that I needed to go to the hospital because my big toe was broken and they looked mortified. They felt so bad about what happened, which in turn made me feel bad because I certainly wasn’t mad at Marcus. He’s just a kid and obviously didn’t intend for this to happen. If anything I’m the adult out there and it’s on me to avoid him. Their whole family have become good friends of ours over the past 2 years and I didn’t want them to worry about anything. The only person I was mad at was myself. Riding my skateboard while holding my child probably wasn’t the best decision to begin with, and the collision with Marcus was a total accident.

Luckily Jim and Cara immediately offered to watch the kids so I could go to the ER. Jim offered to drive me but I said no, just stay here with the kids. I knew Jessica would be heading home immediately once she got my messages. Although my plan was to go to the same ER everyone in our family not named Elise has been to this year, which is Swedish Mill Creek, Cara recommended trying Mill Creek Family Practice, which is where both of our families go, because it would be much faster and much less expensive. I didn’t realize they could do X-rays there but it turned out they could. I called them once I was on the way and they said their office was closing in 30 minutes but if I could be there in 10 minutes then that would be fine.

Jessica called me while I was on the way and of course she was a bit panicked. Her main concern was Enzo, as it should be, so I did my best to assure her that he was totally fine. She left work immediately, came straight home and did a full examination of him last night, then another one this morning, and literally couldn’t find a single scratch or bruise on him. His helmet was the only thing that hit the ground, and we’ll be replacing it today.

So I got to the doctor’s office and hobbled in, for some reason still carrying the clog for my left foot. I was a disoriented. By this point the pain was ridiculous and I think I was in shock because I was overly chatty with everyone I came across. Since I was bleeding in multiple locations, they did a quick makeshift patch-up of my cuts, then took me back for X-rays. This was rather unpleasant because they have to put these big foam wedges between the big toe and the rest of the toes in order to get a clear photo of it. Even the slightest movements of the toe were incredibly painful at this point so I couldn’t wait to be done.

After X-rays they took me to a new room to start cleaning up my wounds. I immediately loved my nurse so that made things better. She told me about having 4 sons and being no stranger to these types of injuries. She was just so cool the whole time, but for some reason I forgot to get her name. As soon as my X-rays were developed she stepped outside the room to check them out. The first thing she said was “Whoa, your pain is legit. This is pretty bad.” Although that’s generally not something you want to hear, I have to admit I was actually a bit relieved. I guess a small part of me was worried up until then that I was overreacting and that nothing was actually wrong. She offered to show them to me, so I hobbled out there to take a look. She showed me two crossing fractures in the joint of the toe that basically formed the letter T. It also looks like part of the bone was splintered. I’m not gonna lie or pretend to be tougher than I am, seeing and hearing all that made me a little queasy.

We went back to the room to continue cleaning up my wounds and she decided to take my blood pressure. She strapped that thing onto my bicep, started pumping the little ball, unstrapped me, then less than a minute later she was strapping me up to do it all over again. This should have been a red flag to me, but I’ve always had normal blood pressure, and was still a bit out of it, so I didn’t think about it. She told me my blood pressure was very low and that it was a bit of a concern. All I remember was that thing getting tighter and tighter on my arm, and then I started seeing stars. I sort of meekly spoke up and said “Can I have a glass of water? I think I’m about to pass out.” She was on it immediately and a few seconds later there was another nurse in there in position to catch me in case I actually did faint. I think the combination of the pain, seeing the X-rays, hearing about the damage to the bone, seeing the gash in my shin and gravel-crusted abrasions on my knee and wrist, punctuated with that ever-tightening strap on my arm was about as much as I could handle. I didn’t pass out though. I slammed 2 glasses of water while they removed the blood pressure strap and I kinda snapped out of it.

The doctor came in shortly thereafter, but before entering the room I could hear him and my nurse discussing my X-rays. She was pointing everything out to him as she had to me, and I just remember him saying “I don’t know what that is.” Not exactly very confidence-inspiring. He came in and explained that I would need to see a specialist about my toe. He said that if it were any other toe it wouldn’t be that big of a deal, but the big toe (or Great Toe as they call it) is different because it carries so much of your weight. He explained that I had a “comminuted intra-articular fracture of the distal end of the proximal phalanx left great toe.” This was written down, otherwise there is no way I could have remembered all that. Only a podiatrist would know the best way to treat this type of fracture, so he gave me a referral, then moved on to sewing up the gash in my shin, which required 5 stitches. Obviously they numbed it before sewing, but those 4 numbing shots he gave me right on my shin may have been the most painful part of the entire evening.

He said it wasn’t crucial that I get to a specialist immediately, like the next day, but that I needed to stay off my left foot in the meantime. They gave me a set of crutches, a CD with the images from my X-rays, and a prescription for painkillers. By this point it had been a couple hours since the accident and I still hadn’t had anything to help with the pain, so I was pretty eager to get that script filled. It’s that type of pain that’s kind of dull but just keeps building and building. Then you accidentally put some weight on it and it turns into this searing acute pain that takes your breath away.

As I stood up to walk with crutches for the first time my nurse says “Michael how are you feeling right now?” I told her I was okay and she said “Really? Because you look pretty green. How about we wheel you down to your car?” I reluctantly accepted and went from walking on crutches for the first time to riding in a wheelchair for the first time. Once again everyone was so nice and helpful, they even helped me in my car and got me all situated. I really can’t say enough good things about Mill Creek Family Practice, in fact I plan on writing a really nice review about them on Yelp. There’s no question that our whole family will continue going there.

On my way home I drove through the Bartell’s pharmacy near our house and dropped off my prescription, then when I got home Jessica got me all setup on the couch before going back to pick up my pills. By the time I actually took a pain pill it had been over 3 hours since the accident and the pain was just wearing me out. Normally pain pills don’t bother me much, but as luck would have it this time was different. It didn’t take long before I started feeling nauseous, then soon found myself dry heaving over a mixing bowl in the kitchen. Not fun.

I considered sleeping on the couch last night so I wouldn’t have to deal with the stairs, but I felt like I’d sleep better in my bed, so I came up with a system for going upstairs. Basically I sat on my but facing the living room on one of the bottom stairs, then while keeping my left foot elevated, I used my arms and right leg to lift myself up one stair at a time. It was a slow process, and I felt a bit like Lieutenant Dan from Forrest Gump, but it worked. I’ve been upstairs ever since.

Luckily I was able to get an appointment with the specialist tomorrow morning at 8:30, however I’m a bit nervous because I don’t know what to expect. Are they going to re-break it to straighten it out? Or are they going to put a pin in my toe, which the doctor last night said was a possibility. I’m kinda just hoping for one of those big black boots and my crutches, but we’ll see.

I’m refusing to let this affect our plans though. We’re still meeting Kristy for the Seafair Torchlight Parade on Saturday night, still meeting Jodi, Leon, and Miles for the reggae concert at Woodland Park Zoo on Tuesday evening (Steel Pulse baby!), and certainly still attending the family reunion next Saturday in Lynwood. I’ll be zipping around on these crutches in no time.

Ava confided in Mommy this morning that she is mad at me for walking with crutches. She wants me to stand on my own two feet. She’s been so sweet all morning though; she keeps coming up to check on me. She says she’s going to take care of me until I’m all better.

Honestly this whole thing is a bit embarrassing, but more importantly I just feel thankful that Enzo and Marcus weren’t hurt. If anyone was going to take the blow it needed to be me, and I’m glad it was. Jessica also made a good point that I’m lucky it was a toe getting broken rather than a finger. Not being able to type wouldn’t be good for me professionally. Obviously I won’t be riding my skateboard again anytime soon, but I’ll eventually get back on it. Yesterday wasn’t the first time I got stitches from a skateboarding accident, however my days of holding a child while riding are officially over. At least I’ll always have my guitars.

One Reply to “Accidents Happen”

  1. MP I feel your pain. It’s never fun doing kid things and getting banged up. My accident gave me a few more broken bones plus an ambulance ride. I’m glad Enzo is fine and you are once again being the great parent…Use lots of ice both on the toe and in a Glass!

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