Tuesday, February 26

The Dew-Claw

in order to fully explain the progression of the events in my day, i will relate to you a story that my marvelous father wrote long ago. it is a work of fiction, but once you read it you will understand how my day felt. enjoy.


Dictating this note from the hospital, where I've just been upgraded to "Serious" condition, which is considerably better than the "Critical" of a few hours ago.

You see, as I finished snipping off Sophie's vestigial dew claw earlier this afternoon, she inadvertently snapped at the pain, just catching the tip of my earlobe with her needle-sharp teeth and causing me to inhale sharply in surprise. The flow of air in the direction of my lungs dislodged the dew claw, which I still held between my teeth (having had no time to spit), and I sucked it, bug-eyed, into my trachea. The little claw is sharp, of course (as you undoubtedly know well), and the pointed tip lodged in my throat, right behind that little hangy-ball thing, and in the flap that separates food-tube from air-tube (hope I'm not being too technical, here). Have you ever tried to do the Heimlich manuveur on yourself??? It was most unsuccessful, although I dislocated my right shoulder in the attempt. Rotator cuff surgery is scheduled for Friday. Still choking, and turning a particularly interesting shade of blue at this point, I knew I needed to find help.

I picked myself up off the ground, where I had been writhing in pain from the shoulder injury, and ran to the porch in something that might have appeared to be sheer panic, although I was, of course, quite calm. Jerking the door open, I hit myself full in the face with corner of it- shattering the priceless stained glass window in it along with my upper and lower front teeth. I would have settled for the embarrassment if only the blow had knocked loose the oxygen-depriving dew claw, but could I be so lucky? Dental reconstruction will take place a week from Thursday, if I'm out of the hospital.

On my feet once again, my world spinning from the minor concussion and the lack of air, I stumbled into the living room where my loving family sat doing their home schooling (today's lesson: watching Jerry Springer on- "I'd slept with my cousin, but why do they call it 'sleeping'.") They were aghast! I was wild-eyed, bleedy profusely from the mouth, and something approaching a very dark purple. They were my last hope. As one they rose to their feet- wife, daughter, and son leaping to assist, expressions of concern and compassion were evident on every face. Though consciousness was fading, I heard their angelic voices calling. "Poor Sophie!!" they cried to the beagle pup which I had unknowingly failed to put down outside. "What happened to 'ur poor wittle, itsy-bitsy foot!!!"

Skull fractures aren't nearly as painful as you may have heard, and the news wasn't all bad, you see. As I went over backward like a yew felled for billets (and the kids took the puppy from my arms so she wouldn't get hurt), I struck the back of my head on our quarry tile floor. The resounding "whack" is difficult to describe in tone... something between the sound made by a 40# watermelon hitting when thrown from a railroad bridge and the noise Jim Thome makes when he smacks a bowling ball with a railroad tie (I'm sure you know what I mean). Still, I was.... LUCKY! The 900 foot/pound impact on the back of my skull broke it into a fine-meshed gravel consistency, but FINALLY knocked loose the life-threatening dew claw (I'll probably be in orthopedic surgery for skull reconstruction by the time you read this- I've requested Resorcinal and strips of Osage if normal bone grafts can't be done).

You would have thought I'd be unconscious, but I distinctly remember opening my eyes widely as I FINALLY drew air into my starving lungs in loud, wrenching gulps. Yes, my eyes were wide open, and I watched helplessly as the now-expelled dew claw described a gentle arc, accelerating at 32 ft./sec./sec. as it fell toward earth. No, skull fractures don't hurt all that badly, but a torn cornea and perforated lens is almost delicious in its indescribable torment. The opthamologist assures me he can match my other eye perfectly with one of the new colors of glass if the post operative infection continues to spread through my body.

Finally, I passed out. OK, so I'm a wimp. Not EVERYONE can have Mediterranean blood flowing their veins. When I awoke a St. Francis hospital, I had a DEVIL of a time convincing the priest that Presbyterians don't take the Last Rights.

Did I mention the torn ligaments in my left knee and the ruptured spleen? Well, I don't want two fine friends like you to think I'm a chronic complainer, so I'll just skip that part. After all, the ambulance driver didn't mean to hit that school bus (or so says my attorney). In spite of it all, if the liver transplant is done in time (don't even ask), and the anti-rejection drugs seem well regulated, I hope to see you both at the GLLI. I'm hoping that Hungarian chap will let me try shooting from his horse. Some how, at this point, it doesn't seem so dangerous.

Thanks for all your advice, some of it was very helpful. I thought I should let you know, though, that the Harding's now have a family vet, and I suspect we may use him from now on.

From your friend, and one fortunate dude....


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