25 Oct My Week in a Minefield

This originally happened a couple years ago. Freaks me out that, with the wear and tear I put on my braces, it could repeat at any time.

I feel like I just spent a week walking through a minefield. I broke the lock in my brace recently. As a result, the brace on my right leg would randomly come unlocked, causing me to crash face-first into whatever was in front of me at the moment (seriously, picture Pete Rose going headfirst into 3rd base, but without his hands out in front of him to protect his ugly mug). I fall like a tree and can’t put my arms out to protect myself (well, I can put them out, but I’ll break them, so I fight my reflexes and keep my arms at my sides when I fall). Given that I’ve long pictured my death involving the corner of a coffee table embedded in my forehead, every step was fairly terrifying.

I can’t walk at all without both braces working properly. My legs just collapse under me and I go down in a heap. I don’t own a wheelchair, and neither my Mom nor my assistant is strong enough to lift me without hurting themselves. I cancelled meetings, worked from home, sat for hours on end, but I had to walk on it some, and once or twice a day…POP! Down I’d go. Every step was scary. I became good at calculating distance…I’m 5’7”, so I tried to stay 6 feet away from all things that could impale me. A wall 2 feet away was a friend I could lean on if my leg gave way (this happened twice), while a wall 4 feet away was something to mash my face and snap my neck on. The bathroom became my new archenemy…no soft places to land. I couldn’t cancel a lunch meeting at Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza in Carlsbad, with a fire pit with 4 foot high flames in the middle of the entryway that you have to walk around (quick update…they’ve since taken the fire pit out). That was…interesting.

It took over a week to get it fixed. I recently switched from Blue Shield to Anthem. Turns out the folks that made the brace don’t take Anthem, and the folks that take Anthem have never seen a brace like mine and wouldn’t work on it. After a fair amount of begging, pleading, pushing, and only a little shouting, I convinced Anthem that they were better off letting me go outside their network and paying for the brace fix than they would be paying for my hospital bills when I inevitably landed on something hard and/or pointy. To Anthem’s credit, they also approved making a backup set of braces (that’ll set them back about $25k!), which I’ve been agitating to get for over a year now, so that this won’t happen again. Dealing with the insurance was a royal pain in the ass, and I work in the insurance world so I know how to handle this type of thing.

This whole episode reminded me that I have an affliction that I’ve named “Falling Tourrette’s”. Any time I fall, I shout something profane on the way down. I don’t just say it…I SHOUT it. And I’m not shouting “golly”…it’s usually the f-bomb. And it’s uncontrollable…I could be having a reception with the Pope (which would be a sure sign of the coming Apocalypse, but that’s a different story), and I’d be like “your Holiness, it’s an honor (stumble) FUCK! (crash)…oh crap, going to hell for sure now”.
The brace is fixed now, but it took a day or two for me to feel confident about putting weight on it again. I don’t mean to seem like a drama queen, but I think I know how those ‘Hurt Locker’ guys feel. OK, maybe it wasn’t THAT bad…

Being me isn’t always fun, but it is almost always interesting.