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Judith Fitzgerald, with "Emily" in her left hand
Judith Fitzgerald, with "Emily" in her left hand

The Tuesday Essay

The pen and the pain Add to ...

For the first time in my life, I don't have a leg to stand on (and, well, it sucks big-time).

Picture it: Beautiful June morning, sun peaking over view of pink-pearling, aqua-swirling lake from upstairs window, the world various, beautiful, new. I head for the stairs to make coffee. I put my left foot on the top stair. Fine. I put my right foot on the penultimate stair. Not fine. No leg there. (I just knew it would happen on these stairs. Thirteen of 'em. That's my unlucky number.) Halfway through freefall, brain clicks into action and remembers how to turn a plunge into a tumble. Still land hard and know one thing: This is not the coffee-pot station towards which I thought I had headed. Keerist. What the hell just happened? Think. Thinka thinka thinka.

Wait a minute. Blood? My face is pretty badly banged and bleeding. Ick. I check my osteoporotic bones and conclude no breaks; so, I try to stand. Good luck. I can see the telephone on top of the computer station and I cannot reach it. Oh, yes, I can. I crawl over and pull it down on top of me. Well, at least I can call someone. Who? Who would rise and shine at this ungawdly hour?

The pain. It needles up and down my right leg from my burning hip through my screaming knee through to my swelling foot. Unbearable. Cannot think about it. Breathe. Think about calling someone . . . Think about the dapplesun climbing the wall till I can make a phone call. When he answers, Butch says he will come and help. Oh, good. Now, I have to crawl to the entrance door and unlock it. Yay. It takes about half an hour, just in time to greet Butch.

"Jaysus, what happened to you? Get into a bar brawl?"

"Natch. You should see the other dame."

"Where's the 'phone? You need an ambulance."

"Correction. I need a coffee. No ambulance for me. Hate hospitals. MRSA! C difficile! Ugh!"

"Coffee won't cure this. You need to go to the hospital."

"If you make me a coffee, I'll go."



Six weeks later, all I can say? I'm too damned young to feel this old, too independent to even contemplate spending the rest of my life in a wheelchair and, now, far too knowledgeable about lack of exercise and malnourishment's effects on the body (particularly a Celiac one), physiotherapy, writerly occupational hazards or how to negotiate stairs with the magic of technology to believe. I don't want to know this stuff. Especially not during these brutal times, well aware writerly organizations, in the fights of their lives, cannot spend time on issues of creator physical stictuitivity and good-practices vitality (thus, more than anything, I genuinely hope this PSA saves a few sedents - or, traditionally, sentients - more than a million howls a minute).


"Hurtz, don't it?"

"Oh, yeah. Mega-Hurtz. Too much to communicate how much it does. Have a high pain threshold, too. Odd. Weather affects it hugely. Good news? I gained five pounds incarcerated at the North Bay General Hospital (Scollard Site). Great nurses. (Hiya, Dana: Got your Oz yet?) Hot orderlies. (Hello, Jeremy.) Hellarious roomie, Cecile, fresh from a wedding party, struck with strange chest jabs but still willing to learn dancing on the bed-table tricks from ringmaster yours truly despite same. We got called on the carpet. Seems our giggling and guffawing kinda kept the other patients awake since they all sleep at 8 p.m. Three. Two. One. Zonk!"

"Zat so?" Butch slightly raises one eyebrow under his Home-Hardware cap. "Well, I heard the entire area couldn't believe Jack Tennant delivered a perfect complementary dinner on the Jack Tennant Steakhouse with real china and cutlery the night before you got out of the other big house? Haha . . ."

". . . Don't give up your pay-job, Butchie Boyo."


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