Last year, you might recall we took the kids camping for a few weeks and ended up living through our own version of A Series of Unfortunate Events. There was a terrible sunburn for me, weeks of miserable hives (also for me), and among other things, a myriad of parts that broke on our trailer. We also found a leak that invited bugs under the floor in one area, and had to cut that piece of linoleum out. Given that, it may seem bizarre we’ve decided to do it again, but we are.
I may be mildly (okay, horrifically) bad luck prone, and my sense of coordination has never been the sort that made athletics a smart idea, but still, we were excited to pack up and travel that ten minutes from home to the campground. Campfire pizza pies and s’mores called to us. Thoughts of swimming, kayaking, and family picnics drew us in. Ever optimistic, I took precautions so I wouldn’t burn and break out in full body hives like the freak of nature that I am. SPF 70 is surprisingly difficult to find, but I hunted until we located a couple bottles of it. I have a thin, silky jacket to help protect me from the sun. Picked up a couple large and ridiculously gaudy sun hats. Two different types of antihistamines.
We brought only our oldest son with us to help set up, since we were close enough to home to run back once we were finished. Found a nice site with nothing but woods behind us, which is more peaceful than when your rig is surround by others, and what we prefer when camping. Lady Luck, it appeared, was on our side. I knew this trip was going to be great. I even had a new swimsuit I was looking forward to trying out. After we set up the trailer, we went home to finish getting the kids’ things together, and as they were all complaining about their imminent death by starvation, we ordered a couple of pizzas, ate at the house, then left the kids and dogs home while we ran up to buy some groceries.
We’d gotten a rather late start that first day, so we didn’t make it to the grocery store until around 10 p.m., but we were full of adrenaline and happily making plans for cooking out over the weekend. Everything was working out perfectly for us. Even the weather forecast was on our side.
Nothing could possibly go wrong.
We were back to our house by 11, and it was pitch dark outside. We had purchased some extra food to leave at the house, and our plan was to just drop that off, pick up the kids and the dogs, and get back to the trailer. I hopped out of the car, thought my husband was likely getting exhausted from his long day of work, then setting up the campsite, then grocery shopping, so I decided I’d help him carry in the few groceries to the house.
That’s where it all went wrong.
I turned, rounded the driver’s side of the Yukon, felt a horrendous hot pain going from my right big toe and straight up my leg.
Next thing I knew, I was airborne.
I had forgotten about that part of our driveway that’s got an uneven spot, where some of the concrete has settled down lower than the rest. In the darkness, I didn’t see it.
I struck that part with my right foot, and felt something crack. My first thought was that I had broken my big toe. I felt some kind of crack in the center of it.
My second thought was that I was about to land face first on the pavement.
There was nothing for me to grab on to so I could break my fall. I was too far away from the Yukon to catch hold of anything. My daughter had her back to me and was walking toward the house. My husband was behind the vehicle. No help from any direction.
I landed with a thud on the concrete. I felt the skin rip off my knee and the palm of my left hand.
A single inelegant and rather grunty-sounding word escaped my lips. “Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck.”
My husband hurriedly came around the corner of the vehicle. He stared at me for a moment, then asked, “What are you doing?”
(Kissing the pavement, it looked lonely) “Um, I fell.”
“You fell? Over what?”
I begin laughing like a hyena with a dime bag who has just gotten busted by the cops. “Um… think I broke my toe.”
He helped me up and into the house. Once we were in the light, I caught a visual of my mangled right big toe and immediately wished I hadn’t. I plunked down into the part of the couch that has the recliner in it, and put the leg rest up. Ow, ow, ow, ow. The kids crowded around me, worried.
My left hand and knee were scraped up pretty good and my knee was good and bloody. Those were things that hurt, but not terribly. My toe, however, was in an awful lot of pain. I was thinking back to times I have broken other toes, attempting to remember the exact feeling or what the signs and symptoms of a broken toe might be. I closed my eyes, trying to think, but doing so was difficult because, A: jolts of hot pain were biting up the nerves in my legs, causing me to shake, and 2: three of my kids were crowded around me, shouting at me things I guess I have said or maybe yelled at them over the years in the aftermath of an injury.
Kid 1: “I think we need to take her to the urgent care clinic.”
Kid 4: (patting my shoulder frantically) “It’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay! It’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay, everything’s okay!”
Kid 3: (plunks his hand down on my thigh, affects a deep and manly voice) “Here, Mom, squeeze my hand. Put your pain into it. I can take it. Squeeze as hard as you can.”
Kid 1: “Get a wash cloth! Somebody get a wash cloth! We need to clean her up!”
Kid 4: “Does anybody know what kind of music she likes? Let’s put on Pandora! Mom, what Pandora do you like?”
Kid 3: “That’s stupid. Shut up. She doesn’t need music right now!”
Kid 4: “MUSIC IS VERY CALMING, I READ ABOUT IT! I’M NOT STUPID!”
Kid 1: “I don’t like the way she’s shaking. I think she’s going into shock.”
Husband: “Just go run her foot under some water, then dump peroxide on it. Kills the germs.”
Kid 1: “She can’t walk! We need to take her to a clinic!”
Me: “Clinics are closed, and I’m not going to ER for this. Just give me a minute here.”
Kid 4: “Parts of her toe are hanging off. Does she know that?”
Kid 3: “Squeeze my hand, Mom. Somebody get her some water! We need water over here!”
Kid 1: “She’s still shaking. I’m worried. Mom? Mom, can you hear me? We need to take her somewhere.”
Husband: “I don’t know. You wanna go somewhere? Your toe is pretty messed up. Needs to be cleaned… and uh, I can’t do that. Um, I think you ripped the nail off.”
Kid 4: (frantically patting my shoulder, my head, my leg) “It’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay.”
Kid 3: “Here, Mom. I got you some water. Can you sip it? That’s good, that’s good. I got her to take some water!”
Kid 1: “Could she be having a seizure? Did she hit her head?”
Me: “I’m not having a seizure. I just need a minute to calm back down.”
Kid 1: “Okay, I’m going to help you clean up your knee. There’s a lot of blood, but I’ll be very gentle, okay?”
Kid 3: “It’s gonna hurt, Mom. Go ahead, squeeze my hand hard, I can take it.”
Kid 1: “Somebody get a bowl of water to put her foot in. There could be dirt up under that nail.”
Husband: (brings enormous salad bowl full of water)
Me: (gingerly dips foot into water while trying not to look)
Apparently kid 2 and her boyfriend are sitting in the dark at the campground getting hassled by security because we thought we would be right over there, but we evidently aren’t, so they are sitting there at midnight with no key to the trailer and no membership card to prove they are actually supposed to be there.
Husband: “Just tell them to call my cell phone then! Oh my God! Why can’t anything ever just go right!”
Kid 4: “Cool. Look at all the blood in the bowl!”
Kid 3: “Shut UP! Don’t tell her there’s blood. It’s okay Mom. There’s hardly no blood. It’s fine, it’s fine.”
Husband: “What bowl do we need for the party tomorrow? For you to take that dessert in?”
Me: “Uh, the blue one. With the lid.”
Kid 1: “Mom can’t talk about making dessert right now! She’s INJURED!”
Kid 4: “Can I play Pokemon Go at the campground?”
Kid 3: “Step back, let me take care of this. I was a Boy Scout. I have first aid training!”
Someone has brought Band-aids and some gauze, so we dry off the mangled toe and hurriedly cover the mess. Once I don’t have to look at it, the pain begins to diminish. The shaking settles down. I’m running through a list in my mind of what medication I have on hand that might help. All I can think of is Motrin and some of the heavy-duty antihistamines, both back at the trailer.
We have three vehicles to get back to the campground, so I know I have to drive. After I get myself composed and my husband has gotten the rest of the stuff we need packed up, I hobble back out to my vehicle. We form a little caravan as we drive through the night. It takes me a little longer to get to the campground than usual, but finally we make it.
Eventually I sleep. I dream of meeting new people and all of them are missing a hand or a foot.
The next day was busy. We had a party to get to, and some shopping that still needed done. I clutched the cart through Wally World, thinking gratefully of the evening, when I could sit in my lawn chair with my throbbing foot up and work on a blanket I’m crocheting. My husband says, “Let’s go look at the bikes.”
Over the winter, we had been talking about buying new bikes for us. The last time we bought new bikes for ourselves, our 20-year-old daughter was 3 months old.
Sure, I said. Let’s go. I was thinking we could look quick before we left. What could it hurt? I was watching the time, though. I had promised the party host I would come back and help clean up.
Leaning against the cart, I shuffled around the corner to the bike aisle.
And that’s when I saw it.
The most glorious bike that ever happened.
Turquoise and bright yellow, with a matching basket on the front (obviousy to put my yorkie in), it said, “Margaritaville” down the middle bar, and had a small parrot on the handle that squeaked when pushed.
The seat was flowered.
“This one,” I said. “I want it.”
“Are you sure?” he asked, wary. “Are you gonna fall off it and get hurt again?”
“No, no. I’m fine. Get this one. It’s beautiful.”
And it is.
I love it.
But I have to admit, with my history of poor luck and general clumsiness, I was a little worried when I took it for my first ride.
So far, so good.
And I don’t even need that big toe to balance on my bike.
I hope the rest of this trip is entirely uneventful.
Is there some sort of “Uneventful, boring trip” dance we could do, you know, like a rain dance, to keep things smooth and chill for a while? I mean, obviously I can’t do the dance, I’ve got a mangled big toe. But surely someone could be willing. My youngest son seems to suddenly have more energy than he knows what to do with.
If I withheld Pokemon Go from him for a while, I could probably bribe him to do it.
If my luck suddenly turns around, you’ll know I’ve got an adolescent I’m forcing to dance for me like a little marionette, taunting him with promises of catching a Snorlax if he just dances for me one more time.