It’s April 26th.
On the GregLaurian calendar, this date marks the anniversary of a very nasty, nasty truck- freeway overpass semi-dry creek bed below accident I had in 1991. This year, I commemorate 21st anniversary of all that pain.
I’ll spare you the details, but suffice it to say that it was bad . I broke 11 bones and was injured all to hell. It happened on a stretch of Interstate 10 about 35 miles outside of san Antonio. I was transported to an area hospital where I would eventually under go three surgeries in the almost three months I was a patient there.
I will tell you that among the many bones broken were my pelvis, my sacrum (the base of my spine at the pelvis) and I had two comminuted fractures in the tibia and fibula on my right leg (comminuted means the bones were literally pulverized; sanded down. Former NFL legend, quarterback Joe Thiesmann had one, remember that career ending injury during that nationally televised game back in ’85? Well, I had two of them. What a wuss!).
I also severely broke my right should, several ribs, my nose was shattered and about a quarter-inch of lip was torn from my face. In addition, I broke my ankle mortis, the little bony box thing that comprises the ankle. These, coupled with other injuries meant I had to lie in a bed, encased in this pelvic sling thing…a strong piece of material of some sort that was suspended from a bar above my bed. It stabilized my pelvis and gently squeezed it together. My doctors chose to go that route because my leg breaks required a full leg cast from butt to toe. It was in my best interest to remain in bed and immobilized.
And believe me, I was. I couldn’t move. My left arm and leg were free, but that rendered me useless. So, in order to attend to the specific things that doctors and nurses must do for proper patient care, I had to remain naked from the waist down. A single sheet covered my legs and was funneled through the pelvic traction device, to cover my upper torso. I was naked on the bottom, but clothed on top.
I hate hospital gowns, so my mother bought me these hip looking T-shirts (well, “hip” in my mother’s mind. One said “Benny Goodman Rules” and another one read, “23-Skidoo, Bitches!!”). Mindful of my broken shoulder, she cut them up the back so I could put them on and remove them with relative ease.
For three months, I lived in a world of pain, uncomfortable plaster casts, horrible food, lousy TV and that nasty hospital smell that still permeates my olfactory system’s memory banks.
Birth, death. Illness, wellness. Each defining moment within these walls has a smell. And disinfectant only exacerbates it.
Anyway, my friends and colleagues in Houston would come to visit me frequently. I love my friends in “the biz”, but like me they can loud, bombastic, in-your-face, unfiltered and few possess any semblance of social boundaries.
One gentleman friend in particular came calling one Saturday afternoon. Steve was cute, smart, funny, the consummate definition of a lusty, skirt chasing heterosexual man. He loved women and I constantly served as his chief counsel when it came to the opposite sex. I was often his “wing woman”, in fact. He didn’t need me though. The ladies loved him and he loved the ladies.
Anyway, he appeared in the doorway of my hospital room with flowers in hand and immediately announced, “Get out of that bed, Faker!!! You look like crap!!”, which is Broadcasting code for, “while I care about you, you’re in that bed, in pain, battered and bruised and this isn’t our usual dynamic, therefore I’m not at all comfortable with this situation, so I’ll attempt to diminish these feelings with a failed attempt at inappropriate humor.”
He sat down in a chair beside the bed and we made small talk at first, then he asked for details as to what happened. I conveyed what I remembered and then went into depth about all the procedures and indignities I’d endured up to that point. He sat there, listening with a rather pained expression on his face.
Minutes later, he obviously felt the need to lighten the mood, so he stood up and demanded, “Now, let’s see that cast. It needs my signature!” And when he did, he yanked the sheet up and away and before I could say a word and there I was, lying there with my leg cast and everything else exposed to the elements.
Nothing was said. My naked, triangulation was there in all its hirsute glory and it created a stunned silence that volume-wise, was amped up to 11.
He just stared at my naked pelvic area and I stared at him, staring at my naked pelvic area. He was in shock; I dare say traumatized even; his face was contorted. He was seeing his very platonic female friend in a whole new and unfortunate light.
I was mortified.
Well, what felt like a millennium later, he dropped the sheet, completely crimson-faced. I knew I had to say something to break the awkward silence. All I could muster was a question. I asked, “Well, how do you like my impersonation of Lincoln?”
He didn’t miss a beat and replied, “It was good, but as presidents go, frankly I thought it was a much better portrayal of Bush!”
UPDATE: Steve and his life partner, Ron have been together for eight years now!!