ANECDOTE 009: November 19, 2006
on the Mend
Saturday morning, early before sunrise, I took a bicycle
ride down by the river to exercise my atrophying muscles.
This morning's temperature was below forty, yet I dressed
as if the Fahrenheit was over sixty. Believing that I would
be able to keep my body extremities warm by pedaling faster
and faster, my exposed fingers were becoming frostbitten.
Before my digited appendages became brittle-cold,
I tucked my hand under my armpit, while the other hand firmly
gripped the handlebar.
Uh-oh. A bump in the road!!!
Handlebar twist. Reverse wheelie; forward flip.
Spill, tumble, crash--splat. I failed to land the spread
eagle. Zero points.
Broawl! Bbrroaoawwll!! BBBRRROAOAOAWWWLLL!!!
The lion-like broawls were such that the elephants, giraffes,
zebras, gazelles, hippos, ostriches, rhinos, and the black-bellied
sandy rouse housed at the zoo so stirred them from their
serenity. Now in flight, they and their African compatriots
evacuated the scene as would be if home in the Serengeti
hanging out at their local watering hole.
I, obscured by the brush along the tarred pathway, compared
the exhaust from my mouth to that of the tailpipes of the
cars stopped at the red light. Green light, cars gone.
"I've got to get moving," I said to myself. I
gained a sense of motivation as I checked my watch. The
minute hand was still attached to the cannon pinion and
hour wheel. The time was 5:47am. I fastened the wristband,
then untangled myself from the bike. My neck cricked. A
sharp pain dashed down the left side of my torso. BROAWL!
I rocked from side-to-side until I was able to roll over
onto all fours. I grunted as I centered myself and pushed
up with my hands and pulled back my shoulders, and swayed
my arms to the sky as I stood upright. Several gasps later,
I leaned over, grabbed the handlebar with my right hand,
and brought the bike to a stance.
Step. "Ow." Stumble. "This hurts. How far
away am I from the parking lot?" The distance spray
painted on the path indicated two miles. "Uh-oh."
"Wait a minute. Who's that over there? Officer Friendly!
What's he doing?? Oh, he's removing traffic pylons from
the pickup truck bed. He's placing the cones meticulously
in order to prevent cars from entering the roadway, allowing
recreational exercise: walking, running, or bicycling"
"Hello. HELLO," I said. "Excuse me. Could
you help me please?! I've fallen and I'm having a little
difficulty getting back to the car. I see you have a pickup
truck. Can I hitch a ride to the parking lot?
"Glad to help," assisted the officer. "I'll
just throw the bike into the bed--and away we'll go."
Officer Friendly chirped as he shared with me the tribulations
of his job as he drove. I focused on his words to stifle
my stiffening pain. Abruptly, the officer interrupted himself,
"Here we are."
"My car is over there."
The officer unloaded the bike as I gingerly made my way
to the car.
"Good morning for a ride, huh," he joked, placing
the bike along the side of the rear bumper.
"Yeah, perfect," I replied matching his sarcasm
as I removed my bicycle helmet.
I shook the officer's hand with sincerity. "Thank
you," I sighed in relief.
and away he went.
I stood there in afterthought as the friendliness blended
into the sunrise. "I should've asked him to help me
put the bike onto the carrier atop the car."
Disgusted with myself, I opened the car door, and tossed
my helmet onto the back seat. I felt my muscles strain as
I wearily closed the door. I had not anticipated this type
of athletic challenge.
My ribs cracked as I clean
and jerked, lifting the bike over my head and onto the
carrier's wheel holders. I whimpered as I adjusted the traverse
support tube and lock. The bike was stabilized once the
wheels were strapped into place.
I phoned my estranged wife, Colleen, for familiar support.
I alerted her of my situation.
"Get to the hospital," she disagreed.
"But what a feat," I tried to explain.
I concluded the conversation by clamping the cellular phone
shut. I ooh and ouched my way into the compact car,
buckled my seatbelt, pushed in the clutch, started the ignition,
shifted into gear, and cautiously drove myself home.
Once home, I had gained more pain, but not insurmountable.
I attempted to remove the bike from the carrier, but I had
difficulty raising my left arm. My mobility was decreasing
rapidly. I tried to get back into the car to drive to the
hospital, but I could barely bend my back.
"Get into the house," my inner voice commanded.
After I entered the house, I closed but did not lock the
front door as I planned, at this juncture, to have Colleen
take me to the emergency room.
Beep, beep, beep, beep.
My nostrils flared as I took with each gimpy step towards
the console to turn off the security alarm. The beeps, indicating
time running out, quickened as did the air rushing through
my nostrils. "The code: think, think, think, think!
What's the damn code!?! Eh, eh, eh, eh. (Wrong.) Eh, eh,
eh, eh!" The beeping stopped with a few seconds to
spare!!! "Whew." Cold sweat.
"What is that smell?" Why that aroma is
the scheduled grind-n-brew coffee. I poured myself a mug
and sipped the coffee as I phoned Colleen and awaited her
arrival. She arrived promptly, disrupting my break!
"Let's go," she demanded while holding Eddie
who was placed on her hip, but by this time my body was
in full shock, so we phoned for ambulatory assistance.
Out the door in no time, to the emergency room in less.
Patient history charted. Vitals checked. Paperwork processed.
Wounds rinsed. Tetanus shot. X-rays taken. Prognosis confirmed:
"We'll need to keep you overnight to monitor your
lung's air intake capacity. We'll need to keep you on oxygen."
"Hey, I'm all for taking a breather," I agreed.
Okay, by now you in the audience may want to send an email
asking/stating, "Wow, what an incredible story,
but isn't this supposed to be a podcast about poetry and
foodstuff listings? I'm sorry about the bicycle accident,
and I am impressed by your Olympic weightlifting prowess,
but what in the world does this have to do with eating ingredients?"
Well, well, well. Let me continue with the story, if I
Mr. High Maintenance (yes, that would be me) asserted to
the attending physician that I am a diabetic and had not
had a bite to eat all day. I was beginning to feel really
"Priorities first, Mr. Brown. Once you have been admitted,
and have maintained a sufficient oxygen level, appropriate
food will be provided."
Stiff as a board, I was still. Unable to writhe, I could
only exclaim the Lord's name in pain while I was removed
from the examining table and placed onto the reclining stretcher.
I was taken to my private room. I could not wait to ingest
As I drifted to sleep with oxygen tubes in my nose and
morphine dripping into my vein intravenously, Colleen and
Eddie were assured that I would be okay if they went to
get a bite to eat and to touch base with family members.
Lucidity relaxed, I smiled and wished them fresh food.
Fasting asleep, I was awakened by my nurse requesting to
take my blood sugar and blood pressure. She recorded the
results and told me that my meal would be in shortly, which
was now: a slice of French
toast, scrambled eggs, orange juice, coffee (decaf),
milk, and peach slices.
"Here Mr. Brown. Take these," ordered the nurse
handing me two pills. "And drink this." Some apothecary
potion to reduce... My mind was a blur. I could only focus
on whether or not the two ounces of maple syrup would be
sufficient for the toast. The portion was just right, down
to the last bite. The eggs, peaches, coffee--nourishment.
I felt alive.
"Get your rest, Mr. Brown."
I was awakened by the alarm indicating that the vein in
my arm had slurped all of the IV solution provided. The
nurse arrived to replenish.
"Your lunch should be arriving shortly," she
stroganoff with curly noodles, a bun, carrots, fresh
grapes, coffee, milk, apple juice. Dinner was even more
chicken, rice, bread and butter, peach slices.
I ate slowly, noting my accentuated aches and punctuated
pains with the lifting of the knife and fork. My mind wandered.
I remembered Mrs. Figg, my childhood neighbor up the street.
She worked for hospital room service as a cook. She had
four sons with whom I played sports and cards and read illustrated
magazines: comics and men's fashion. On weekends, whenever
I visited, before going downstairs to hang-out with the
fellahs, Mrs. Figg would summon me to the kitchen and greet
me with a "Here, try this." This was usually
a salad or a stew of some sort. She would ask me for my
opinion--usually about the over abundance of spice: too
much salt, too much pepper, too much sugar,
too much oregano, too much paprika. Constrained,
Mrs. Figg liked flavor; however, she was only permitted
to provide hints of savor for the consumer with whom she
was exercising patience. Hospital rules.
I felt honored that Mrs. Figg made me her taste tester;
yet I was disappointed that I was never formally invited
for dinner. She reserved the "good stuff" for
her family. Having sampled her tasty "patient"
food, I had to, short of raiding the refrigerator, resort
to scheming and pulling stunts just to get a saucer-sized
serving of two-day old, thrice reheated leftovers.
While I was not staying at the hospital where Mrs. Figg
had worked, I could tell by the quality of the meal I had
eaten that the cook came from similar ilk, same acumen as
Mrs. Figg: not too much. The French
stroganoff, and Cajun
chicken were no fluke--even the half of a turkey sandwich
snack (mayonnaise free).
I wondered what I would have for breakfast the next day:
a repeater, French toast--not the least bit disappointed.
A representative from room service came to present the lunch
and dinner menus. I selected the chicken salad sandwich
for lunch, and for dinner, the baked fish.
"Does that mean I'll be staying another day,"
I asked with excitement.
"Um...checkout time is 11:00am. The time is now 9:30am,
I took a nap, replete. Hours later I was awakened by a
physician who came to explain to me the extent of my injuries.
"...What that means is you can go home."
"What about lunch and dinner?"
"If you are feeling well enough, you can eat, especially
with prescribed medication you should pickup on your way
Colleen and Eddie arrived to bring me home. My mom arrived
to the house planning to stay for a few days. We ate take-out
as a late lunch/early dinner. Afterwards, all three helped
me get situated.
By the second day I was in the kitchen, musing about my
first overnight hospital stay. Trying to recount the bicycle
accident, I kept fixating on the French toast. Colleen phoned
from work to see if I needed any groceries. I provided a
short list. The next day I wanted to get out of the house.
My mom took me to the supermarket to pick up the last of
my ingredients for the dinner I planned to prepare to show
appreciation for my at-home caregivers.
French Vanilla Toast
Bread (white, de-crusted, diagonally cut)
Fluffy Scrambled Eggs
Heavy Cream (whipped)
Goat Cheese (plain)
Breakfast Sausage Links (pork)
Healing--I am on the road to recovery. I will not be able
to go on a bicycle ride for quite a while given that walking
takes some effort. The bumps are still shocking the (nervous)
system, and the bruises are becoming more visual. I hobble
and jig, wheeze and whine: (in)voluntary performance
art. I am fortunate that no one has made the recommendation
for me to wear a helmet!
Anyhow, this is a versionary tale dedicated cautiously
to the foodie who also happens to be a backwards ass-jack
who would go through extremes just to have an exquisite
dining experience at an upscale hospital. Even for what
might be the best bland fare in town, such scheming and
stunting is ultimately detrimental to your health.