So, a funny thing happened in the ocean today
But, I’m getting ahead of myself. The day started early, because the reason we were in Laguna Beach was because Keypoint Credit Union, whose Supervisory Committee I serve on, was having their annual offsite meeting. Today the meetings started at 9am with breakfast, followed by the board meeting itself at 10am. Lunch at noon, a guest speaker in the afternoon till about 3pm, then a couple hour break before we all had dinner together at 8pm.
Loretta and I already had plans to go to DisneyLand on Sunday and Monday ( heck, we’d bought tickets on Friday so we wouldn’t have to wait in line Sunday morning ). And, Laguna Beach is about 20 miles away from DisneyLand, so after Saturday night we were going to check into a hotel up in Anaheim right outside the park. Since we’d gotten into the hotel late Friday afternoon, Saturday afternoon was pretty much the only time we’d have to go down to the beach and maybe take a quick dip in the ocean.
So, when I got out of my meeting, I gave Loretta a call on the cell phone, met up with her at the room and changed into our swimsuits, then I grabbed my book and we headed down to the beach just outside the hotel.
Now, this is a swanky hotel. The hotel is built into the side of the cliff and so most of the rooms look out directly at the ocean. Our room was 205, and it was about 20′ above the beach. Down on the actual beach were what Loretta called the cabana boys — kids from the hotel who will hammer a nice beach umbrella into the sand and set up chairs for you and bring you towels while you enjoy the beach outside the hotel. I suppose they’re not real cabana boys, since there was no cabana, but you have to be happy with what you get these days.
So, we got our beach umbrella. We got our two beach chairs, set up with a towel on each one, and I tossed the book I was reading ( “The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference” (Malcolm Gladwell” ) on the chair, because I was going to take a quick dip in the ocean. I think it had been 10 years or so since I was last actually in the ocean, and it was kind of hot, so a quick romp in the surf would be nice then I could go back and read the rest of my book, etc.
So I went about 10 to 15 feet out into the ocean, and was letting the surf wash past me as each wave went by. Loretta was staying closer in towards the shore, and when a kind of big wave went past she got knocked over and it looked like she may have lost her glasses so I headed back towards her to help her out. When I was about 10′ out from the shore, in about 3′ of water or so I must have gotten hit by a wave from behind which I think lifted me up a bit and then dropped me down on the sand. Instantly my right leg hurt — a lot — and I fell over as the wave rushed out. A couple seconds later when the next wave rushed in I held my breath and tried to swim up towards shore a bit, even though I wasn’t really that far out. Luckily, a nice man saw me lying in the surf and ran over and asked me if I was ok, to which I replied “I’m pretty sure I’ve broken my right leg. Pull me up towards the beach.” And, he did; and then someone else came over and helped him, and then someone from the hotel came over too and asked me what was wrong, and I told him I’d broken my leg and to call 911, and then Loretta came over to see me and asked what was wrong and I told her I though I’d broken my right leg, and then things started happening really fast and there were a bunch of people around me, and someone called a lifeguard over, and one of the cabana boys hammered an umbrella into the sand to try to shade me from the sun, and they pulled me up more on the beach because the surf was coming up to my swimtrunks, and someone wanted to know whether I wanted to get up ( I didn’t ), and the lifeguard asked me a couple times whether I though I’d him my head or back ( I didn’t think I had ), and when I looked down at my leg it was at a weird angle that my leg shouldn’t be, and a dermatologist on the beach came by and told the cabana boys not to move me till the paramedics got there, and Robert from our credit union came over because he’d seen me and wanted to help me in any way he could, and eventually ( it seemed like a really long time but it was probably under 10 minutes later ) the paramedics did get there, and they looked at my leg and said it was probably broken and did I want any morphine ( I didn’t; I just wanted to get to a hospital so that a doctor could tell me what they could do to fix it ), and they asked me if I was allergic to any drugs and what my name was and what day it was and other stuff like that, and they put a heavy cardboard splint around my leg which stretched from my ankle up to my groin and fastened it with a bunch of velcro straps, and and they asked me if I’d hit my head or back or neck or if anything hurt but my leg ( and I didn’t think I had ), and I told Loretta ( who wasn’t freaking out, which was cool ) to go back to the room and grab my wallet so I’d have my health insurance card and the car keys so she could follow the ambulance to the hospital, and then the paramedics strapped me to a back board with a bunch more velcro, and they lifted me up the first set of stairs off the beach to the hotel proper, and then they wanted to put me onto the gurney they’d brought but none of the elevators in the hotel were large enough to hold the gurney fully unfolded so they had to carry me up four flights of stairs to get me up to the main level, and I kept shifting on the back board as I went around corners, and my leg hurt, and I kept gripping the board even though the paramedics told me that there was no way I was going to fall off it, but they got me up to the ‘ground’ floor of the hotel where the gurney was, and so then they rolled me over to the ambulance, and Robert was there and he told me that Loretta was going to be there soon, and the paramedics asked me stuff like what kind of health insurance I had and what my name was and stuff like that, again, and we sat there for what seemed again like a long time, and did I mention that my leg was really hurting but I didn’t really want any morphine or anything before I got to the hospital, and it was really again probably only about 10 minutes, and Loretta got up top with my wallet and she’d pulled on her green dress, and then we left in the ambulance and Loretta followed in the rental car, and pretty soon we got to the hospital, and they pulled me into the emergency room, and Loretta got there, and a doctor came in and looked at my leg and asked me if I was allergic to any drugs and what my name was what had happened and where I hurt, and Loretta got to the hospital and gave them my health insurance card and information, and came back, and a nurse came in to put an IV into my arm, and Robert was in the waiting area because they’d told him that only family could come back, and I said that he should come back in because it was stupid for him to wait by himself when he could be in here, and they came by with a portable x-ray machine to take an x-ray of my leg, and a woman in a nearby room was freaking out and kept trying to smoke, and they gave me some painkiller in the IV, and Loretta and Robert and I talked about things, and eventually the ER doctor came back, and I asked her what my prognosis was, and she told me I’d need surgery, but that the orthopedic doctor would make the final decision, and then I waited a while longer, and eventually we told Robert to go back to the hotel to get ready for dinner, and then the orthopedic doctor got there, and looked at the x-rays, and showed them to me, and I’d broken both bones in my leg, and the fibula was broken into about 5-6 pieces, and it needed surgery to fix, and if I had an orthopedic doctor I knew I could make arrangements to have him do the operation, and I could probably get transferred up to the bay area if I wanted, or someone here at the hospital could do the operation, and I asked him who could do it down here, and he said “I’m your man.”, and I was filled with confidence and told him that I was his patient, and he told me that they’d admit me to the hospital and do the surgery the next morning, and then they gave me more painkillers, and before long they moved me upstairs to a hospital room, and Loretta and I were up in the hospital room, and it was about 7pm, and I figured that Loretta had been through a lot and that she should go to the dinner with everyone else to take her mind off things for a while, so I started to push her to go, and she didn’t really want to go, but eventually she agreed to go, and that was cool, and she left a bit before 8pm, and I called my mom and told her I’d broken my leg, and again she asked me if I was kidding, and I again told her that this wasn’t the kind of thing I would call her and kidd about, and that I was going into surgery the next morning, and I kept getting the painkiller, and I was watching CNN and they kept talking about hurricane Katrina which was due to hit Louisianna on Monday, and even though I was in a double room I didn’t have a room-mate, and eventually Loretta came back after dinner and said that everyone was worried about me but that dinner was great, and Juli Anne and Tim from the credit union had said that anything that we needed to get done they’d handle, and we chatted a while longer, and I was kind of out of it, and eventually Loretta went back to the hotel and I probably fell asleep, on and off, and I got shots for pain, and the morning came.
And, I wrote it just like that because that’s what it was like — I wasn’t ever really panic-ed, but things just kept happening from about 4:15pm on till about 6pm, and even after that.