Monday, March 26, 2012

"I know a boy, a boy called trash, trash can . . ."

(song: 'Trash, Trampoline, and the Party Girl')

This is a cautionary tale.
With a subject line using those lyrics, you might expect a story of betrayal from a misbehaving love and the post-breakup rant he somehow earned. Or . . . it could be this account - how a moment of complete stupidity landed me in the ER on Friday night. (Emphasis on 'landed.')

I‘d come home from work to a beautiful evening, and it was slated to rain all weekend. I grabbed the mail and thought, ‘I’d better pick-up the wood in the yard, blown from the trunk of my giant dead tree. It’s time to mow soon.’ So, I pushed ‘Big Blue,’ the trash can the city assigns to each house for weekly trash collection, into my front yard. I bent to pick up the twigs and slabs of bark that were strewn near my healthy white dogwood tree, then pushed Blue toward the towering, dead tree, picking up more scattered debris as I went along. I stopped about 4 or 5 feet after each push, picking up more. And so, for each push, I left the lid open instead of closing it. After all, I was only pushing it ‘a few feet.’ What could go wrong?

Well, Big Blue has two wheels, only on the back part of the bottom, so you have to tilt the can toward you in order to roll it forward. With the lid open, that means the lid flaps between your feet and the can itself as you push the bin. When I tilted Blue to move him this particular time, I stepped forward while pushing him and my foot met the lip of the lid, holding it firmly to the ground while my arms continued pushing forward. Physics class can probably tell the rest of the story, but we can suffice it to say, the bin, already in motion, kept going forward while the lid was planted under my foot. So the bin quickly rolled horizontal to the ground while I was propelled forward, following suit.
My face met the outer rim of Big Blue while he was also going down to the ground. . . and let’s just say that he fared better than I did.

It was one of those moments we’ve all had . . . something happens lightning-fast and yet the testament to the beautiful intricacy and power of our minds is that even in that split second, we can have a specific, conscious thought - one we even remember later, lamenting the knowledge that our minds move much faster than our bodies can sometimes react. In the split second this outcome was put into motion, I distinctly remember thinking, ‘Oh, this is gonna be bad! What can I do to stop it?’ and then WHAM!
I landed on the ground of a silent world, even though I didn’t lose consciousness. For a fraction of a moment, everything stopped. It was quiet. It was this:

And then . . . I felt everything.
I felt pain all over my face so I couldn’t tell where I’d hit the trash can, exactly . . . and I sat there for another second, hesitant to move or find out. When that moment passed, I reached up to my mouth and at least felt that my teeth were in place, whispering a prayer of thanks, feeling great mental relief.
But things got ugly pretty fast - and I won’t elaborate here. But based on what was happening, I just decided to accept the fact that my nose was probably broken (it was) and quickly debated the best course of action. I was feeling a strange mix of being stunned yet hyper-alert. Thankfully, perhaps in a foreshadowing of necessity, I knew where to squeeze to stop a bloody nose. I’d needed to Google it just two weeks before while spending time in the desert of Death Valley while on vacation. I apparently didn’t drink enough water on this particular day and found I needed to know just before bed how to stop a nose bleed.
But the answer to ‘where’ to squeeze seemed like a horrible idea if one’s nose was broken. Yet, it became clear there was no alternative, so I did a mental ‘one, two, three!’ and squeezed.
Yeah. That was fun.
I began to hear myself, actually muttering encouragement that sounded like, ‘Your nose is probably broken. Don’t panic. It’s ok.’ I wasn’t consciously doing this, so when I realized I was, I thanked my inner-optimist for taking over.

So, then, the thought: what now? I quickly decided I did want to go to the ER - - even if they didn’t do anything, I wanted to be sure a broken nose was all that was wrong. I was feeling the strangest mix of numbness and pain, wishing the former would just take over completely. I couldn’t distinguish boundaries in the sense of knowing the injury was limited to ‘this’ or ‘that.’ Everything hurt but I couldn’t tell where the pain started and stopped.

I only briefly considered driving to the hospital, then pictured myself holding my nose while trying to drive my 5-speed. Even before my first bout of lightheadedness came soon after, I realized driving myself seemed dumber than pushing a trash can while the lid was open, so I decided against it.
Still holding my nose, which only sort of seemed to be helping, I grabbed my cell phone and called 911. ‘I can’t believe I’m calling 911 for this,’ I thought, but figured it was best. I was feeling lightheaded again and the bleeding wasn’t fully cooperating with my intentions. I figured no one was well served if I passed out while arguing with myself about whether this constituted a proper call to 911. ‘Besides,’ I thought, ‘I vote this at least scores higher on the legitimacy scale than the woman calling to report the Burger King drive-thru for giving her the wrong order.’

The operator dispatched an ambulance and started to give me instructions about how to handle the bleeding. I’m only half listening because it hurts, I’m anxious, I’m trying to hold my nose and the phone, and he’s telling me things like, ‘lie down.’ Since anatomy class (and Google) taught me this seems unwise with a nose bleed, I asked him, ‘Are you sure I should lie down with a bloody nose?’ (It sounded more like, ‘Arrr you shurr I shud lie dowd with a luddy doe-ze?’) He stammered and corrected himself and I thought, ‘Oh, great, I got the guy on his first day out of training. Thank God I’m not having a heart attack.’ I told him I could tell by the siren that the ambulance was close by and that I was going to go. He told me to call back if I need to and I said, ‘Ok,’ deciding to keep my cell handy, but only in case I needed Google for anything.

So, one broken nose, an ambulance ride, and a now-fully met insurance deductible (and then some!) later, here I am, helping prove the statistic of warmer weather leading to a more active hospital ER.
But, perhaps I’m also helping someone else prevent an injury by telling on myself for doing something I really knew better than to do. Full disclosure: Shortly before this happened, I actually had the thought that it didn’t seem wise to push that bin with the lid flopping open. But the thought was a little vague, with no specifics of 'what could happen' attaching to the mental warning. Apparently, any caution vaporized when the ‘It’s not a big deal’ fairy came and sprinkled idiot-dust over me. It was only ‘a short distance’ for each push, which somehow lulled me into belief that I must be guarded against the likelihood of (a non-defined possible) injury, right?

So, learn from my mistake, friends . . . close the lid, or the equivalent in your ‘about to be idiotic’ moment. Every time. Listen to your instincts, even if they’re faint or ambiguous.
“The only real valuable thing is intuition,” or so says Albert Einstein.

I’ll allow the genius to share my penultimate closing thought on the matter:

And by the way, Big Blue - - I don’t think this is what Bono meant when he sang, “I know he does all that he can. Wham-bam."
You jerk.

"Love" always,
She who currently, unintentionally pronounces her name, “Schennifer”