Thursday, July 2, 2020


Broken Arm, part 2 (of who knows how many parts)

Part 1 is here.

And we pick up right after I managed to pick myself off of the floor, in tremendous pain.  It didn’t take long to realize I had to go to the ER.  I really, really didn't want to go to the ER, I assure you.  I figured that most of the patients there would be for the Coronavirus.  And who the hell wanted to be around them?

Not me.  Nor any of my friends or relatives.  I knew I was on my own.  I was going to have take Uber or Lyft to get to the hospital. But I still had this grocery order coming.  I texted my shopper and asked if I could just cancel the order.  It seemed like they didn't have half the stuff I wanted anyway.  But he responded that he couldn't do that.  He had already processed the items he had (or cashed out, or something).  Apparently once he had them in "my" cart there was no way to put them back.  I told him I had just broken my arm and I needed to cancel, I was going to go to the Emergency Room.  He said there was nothing he could do and suggested I text the Instacart people directly.  It was thru the Instacart app that this delivery had been arranged.  I checked the app and didn't see any way to text them.  I asked him how to do it.  He had no idea. With only one hand to use, I really wasn't in a position to start searching online to see if I could reach them.  Great. So I asked if he could just stop picking up the rest of my order and cut it down to what he had already put in my cart and couldn't return.  That he could do.

Note: this turned out to be a useless achievement, as he had already picked up all my perishable items and only had non-perishable items left to shop for.  In other words, items that would be ok if left out in the sun for a few hours.

He also told me that he was doing three different orders at once, so it was hard to estimate how much longer it would be before I'd get my stuff, or what was left of it.

Damn.  If I knew he'd be there in 10-15 minutes, I'd wait, put the stuff that had to be refrigerated in the fridge, and then call Uber.  But it could take longer than that, I was in a ton of pain and I wanted to get rolling on doctor checking me out so I could get home (assuming I'd be coming home) before it got too late—or dark.

I decided not to wait.  I was just in too much pain.  I thought about putting on some decent clothes but realized there was no way 1) I could take off what I had on or 2)put on new clothes.  I was stuck going to the ER in what I was wearing at the time of the fall.  Fortunately I was adequately covered, but not exactly presentable.  I was wearing sweat pants, a worn undershirt and two sweatshirts (and of course underwear).  And I even had socks on, which was good because in my current condition there'd be no way for to put them on myself.

Why two sweat shirts, I hear you ask?  Why even one?  Well, Southern CA weather is weird that time of year.  It starts off quite chilly in the mornings and then gets hot in the afternoon. It is not unusual for me to use the heat in the morning and the A/C in the afternoon and evening.  This was my normal winter-at-home outfit, which this time of the year lasted until after lunch, when I would have to take off the sweatshirts. In fact, I was realizing I needed to take off the sweatshirts when I got up from the couch to fetch the water.  Maybe if I had done that first, I wouldn't have tripped?

And lucky for me those shoddy sweat pants had pockets in them, so I could stuff my wallet and my keys in them (I'd just have to carry my phone with my one good hand).  Unfortunately, the sweatshirt I had on, the one I always wear around the house, was covered in stains.  Actually I had just washed it the previous weekend.  But those stains had been on that shirt since prehistoric times and just won't come out.

I couldn't tie shoelaces, but I have a pair of slip-on dress shoes I could get into.  They didn't exactly go with the rest of my outfit.  I looked like a total slob who had stolen some nice shoes.

Thus, I was not at my most presentable.

But at least I was dressed.  I grabbed my stuff with my good hand and proceeded to order a Lyft (for some reason I usually end up using Lyft instead of Uber, don't ask me why). Amazingly enough, I somehow had the presence of mind to remember to put on a mask.  Luckily I had just received my mask order a few days prior or I would have been in trouble.  I don't think Lyft would have picked me up if I didn't have a mask.  Nor would Kaiser have let me into their ER without one (although I think maybe they would have given me one, if I could have gotten there).  It was the very first time I'd actually worn a mask.  It wasn't very comfortable, especially since by this time it had gotten hot (and in my panic, I was already sweating).  Plus I kept fogging up my glasses.  But the damn mask was the least of my issues.

I managed to make my way out of my house and considered not locking the door.  You see you have to lock it with a key from the outside and the lock is all the way over to the right and fairly high.  No way could I lock it with my right hand as I usually do.  And it was awkward as hell trying to use my left hand, not only because I wasn't used to doing it left handed but because my body got in the way of me trying to get my left hand all the way over there.  I managed to do it but it was quite the struggle.

I had to unlock my gate which was also a challenge, again the lock is high up and very conveniently located for my right hand to do this.  I left the gate open so the Instacart shopper could drop off the stuff—and perhaps more importantly, so that I would be able to get through it when I got back home.

By the time I got to the gate of my townhouse complex, the Lyft driver was just pulling in.  Somehow I managed to open the car door with my left hand and very gingerly got in the car.  I explained to the driver I had just broken my arm and couldn't put my seatbelt on.

My healthcare is provided by Kaiser, a huge HMO.  The facility is located approximately 20-minutes from my house, not too bad.  There they have a hospital with an ER, along with medical offices (my primary care doctor is located there as well).

We were about five minutes into our trip when my phone rang.  It was the shopper at my complex's gate, with my groceries.  Jeez.  If I had known he'd be there that soon I would have waited.  I buzzed him in but not before telling him that my unit's gate was open and to leave the groceries right at my front door (this was another mistake, as you will see many posts from now). 

The Lyft driver was getting directions form Google Maps which were exactly the same directions I would have given him, including how to access the ER entrance.  But when we got to the street that we needed to turn on, it was blocked off.  And that was the only street from which you could access the ER.  There was someone there at the corner who looked like she might be a Kaiser employee, but she was talking to someone.  My driver didn't care.  He started yelling at her, how do we get in?  She ignored him at first but the driver kept screaming at her and eventually she told him he had to enter from the other side, so he had to go down the block, turn onto the street that would connect with the street which would allow us to turn on to the street we needed from the other side.  I guess in order to limit exposure to the virus, they had limited access even to the damn ER 

My driver was pissed and it happened to be a fairly long drive away from the ER but he finally found a street he could turn on to get back on course.  Eventually we found the same damn street we wanted in the first place but from the other direction which we able to turn onto.

From there we should have been able to have made a quick left turn into the driveway for the ER so he could drop me off—but not so fast.  There were still barriers and traffic cones preventing us from doing that.  And in fact, there were a couple of Kaiser employees, in scrubs, standing in the street by the barriers checking any cars that approached, including ours.

One of them came over to the car to talk to us, asking what we were here for.  I explained that I had fallen and was pretty sure I had broken my arm.  I think he asked us some questions about any Coronavirus symptoms then asked me if I wanted to go to the ER or to Urgent Care.  In hindsight I realize what a dumb question that was.  I mean, if I really did have a broken arm, why would I go to Urgent Care instead of the ER?  But at the time, in great pain and feeling otherwise terrible, I just said, "Well, I dunno, what do you think?"  I mean this guy was out there doing triage, isn't it his job to determine that?  He said, "Well, it's up to you."  I said I didn't know, which would be best for my situation?  So he said, "You really think your arm is broken?"  I said, "I think so."  He finally said, "OK, let's go to the ER then."  So he opened up the barriers and let the driver take me into the driveway for the ER.  With some difficulty, I was able to get out of the Lyft car and head toward the ER entrance on foot.

Of course I had to go thru another screening process.  I stood six feet away from the nurse at the door.  What are you here for, any cough, shortness of breath, etc.  I think they were supposed to take my temperature but at this point they did not.  They let me in and I was able to sit down in the waiting area.  Which was totally empty.  I think there was one other person.  I don't know if this is true but my assumption at the time was that anyone that was coming in thinking they might have the virus was being screened in an entirely different part of the ER.

As I was sitting there waiting, I started noticing how much my knee and my leg hurt, in addition to the arm.  I think I walked as far as I did on adrenaline alone.  I was also quite warm and was having trouble breathing thru the mask.  I had to pull it down a few times to get more air.

I also noticed that when the other patient left, they didn't immediately sanitize the chair he'd been sitting at, which I would have expected them to do.  Disappointing.

Finally they called me over to this very tiny area where there two people quizing me and taking vitals.  The three of us (all wearing masks of course) were not exactly practicing social distancing.  Then a third person showed up.  She was the person who was supposed to be at the door, doing the first screening.  But it seems her thermometer had somehow been switched to Centigrade and she need the guy was working with me to reset it back to Fahrenheit. So now there was four of us jammed into this very crowded space, three of them who had been seeing people coming into the ER all day.  I should have asked if they had seen anyone with COVID-19 symptoms yet today but I did not.

They were done with me and had me go back to sitting in the waiting room until they could get me into an ER hospital room.  They had pulled off one sweatshirt so they could take my blood pressure (which had been surprisingly good—I would have thought that under the circumstances it would be off the charts).  So they gave me one of those plastic see thru hospital bags to keep my stuff in.

All day at the hospital, I was mindful to keep track of three ultra important items:  my wallet, my phone and my keys.  So I put my phone, my wallet and my keys in the bag and held onto that bag for dear life. My sweatshirt was also in that bag.

Since it was so non-busy, I put my phone in that bag thinking it wouldn't be long before I was taken to an exam room.  I just sat there quietly with nothing to do but to think about how dumb it was that I had missed that step and hurt myself so badly. I was quite pissed at myself for that.

Instead of it being a short wait, I was sitting there a long time.  I got bored and wanted to do something to take my mind off how stupid this whole thing was. But with only one good hand, it was going to be difficult to get the phone back out of the bag.  Finally though, the boredom took control and I had to fish the phone out of the bag to amuse myself.  Of course, just about 2-3 minutes after doing so, the orderly came to take me to a room.

When I stood up, my leg and knee felt really bad and I struggled to keep myself upright.  So they asked me if I wanted a wheelchair.  I said yes.  Well of course that meant waiting another 5-7 minutes.  But eventually they showed up with the wheelchair and they wheeled me into an examination room (which I guess was more like a small hospital room).

And we'll leave it there for this chapter.  I'm sure I'll get to the doctor in the next episode.  Stay tuned.


  1. I had just read "I looked like a total slob who had stolen some nice shoes.Thus, I was not at my most presentable" and chuckled when my doorbell rang. Since my house is up for sale, I decided I'd better answer the door. My hair was flying all over and I had on sleeping shorts and a tee shirt. It was almost like I was channeling your blog post. 😄

    1. Haha. But I had just broken my arm. What was your excuse?