Thursday, July 16, 2015

Tough start to the new season.

"Risk" indeed.  You don't want to wake up in the ER wearing this wristband.
The new skating season for Bowie Ice Arena always starts with the rink's early July reopening after the annual two month maintenance shut down.  This year that meant Monday, the 6th of July.  Looking at the rink's schedule, there were no convenient times that date so daristdaughter and I deferred until Tuesday's 6:45-8:45p.m. public session.

I hadn't been able to skate much during the shut down so I emailed my coach to indicate that it would probably be good if I skated solo for a session or two before resuming lessons just to knock the rust off.

I can tell you all about the various skating elements I worked on up until "the lights went out" but there's a 15 or 20 second long section of my memory bank which was scrubbed clean.  I doubt that I was doing anything heroic--probably I was just clumsy and tripped over my picks.  Anyway, I "came to" on my back next to a small pool of blood.  I knew the blood was mine.  I was carted off the ice and into an ambulance for a short ride to the local health center ER.  After an x-ray and a CAT scan the attending physician told me he had good news and bad news.  The good news was that although I had managed to fracture the top of my right humerus, it didn't appear that I'd need surgery.  The bad news, which he delivered while putting eight stitches in my head, was that I had a minor brain hemorrhage and that he was going to pass me on to Medstar Washington Hospital.

Medstar put me in a room in their neurological wing. The combination of aching body parts plus a chorus of beeping monitors did not add up to a restful night.  The next morning a second CAT scan revealed that the hemorrhaging had stopped.  I was provided with an anti-seizure medication, some pain pills and instructions to follow up with my primary care doctors and orthopedic specialists.

Now just to add an extra layer of complication to this tale, my wife had a plane ticket for Sweden, leaving that same afternoon.  She was going home to help her mother, who had sold her apartment, with the packing up.  She didn't like the idea of leaving me to my own recognizance but I reminded her that she had $1500 dollars invested in the ticket.  She needed to go help her mom, and she could always deal with my carcass upon her return. Besides, our son is a registered nurse and our daughter is also in a position to help her old dad.  And so, in the end, our son drove her to Dulles airport that afternoon and then collected me from Medstar on the rebound. 

Enough time has passed that I can report that the stitches are out and my orthopedic surgeon (same one who patched me back together when I broke my right radius  three years ago) concurs with the ER doctor's assessment that surgery will not be necessary.  What is left is a six to eight week recovery period before I can return to the ice. I'm mildly annoyed with all of this because at my last lesson way back in June my coach told me that I was very close to being test ready for the three dances I've been working on for what seems like forever.  Some of that progress will surely be lost by the time I return to skating.  Also, unless I find someone who saw the fall I'll never know what caused it or how to avoid a repeat.   Finally, from now on my non-skating bride will be nervous each time I grab my skates and head out the door.

On the plus side, unlike the episode with the broken radius, this fracture does not require a cast.  Instead I alternate between a removable hard plastic splint and a soft arm sling.  The downside is that the marginally supported fracture immediately lets me know when a given movement doesn't suit.  This includes when I turn in my sleep.  Currently I wake up with a sharp jab about every thirty minutes or so.  Hopefully I'll be less of a night time whirling dervish by the time my wife returns or I may find myself relegated to the sofa!