The Brick and the Elbow

Once upon a time, there was a brick.  It was just hanging around in my back yard, waiting for me to find it. I didn’t know that, even though a dear friend who is a professional astrologer had cautioned, Watch out for August and accidents. Pay attention.

I wasn’t paying attention as I was chatting on the phone with my daughter-in-law that August morning and, multi-tasking,  walking through my backyard.  It was then that I tripped and found the brick.  It was actually my elbow that found the brick as the two collided.  

Scrunch.  The elbow shattered into too many pieces to ever be put back together.  It no doubt felt a bit like Humpty Dumpty after his fall.  Two bones in my forearm also joined in the fun by breaking.

Despite common lore, there is pain worse than childbirth. This particular pain was hitting about 150 on a scale of 1 – 10.  Exposed nerve, shattered funny bone and you have a general idea of the pain level.

Despite the pain, ensuing nausea and sliding into shock, I attempted to straighten my hair and makeup before help arrived. 

Some things never change.

An ambulance arrived in short order. The paramedics were less concerned about my appearance and more concerned with the injuries. In short order, I was wheeled into the ambulance and a morphine drip begun.  The pain immediately subsided and I floated off into a la-la land, only marginally aware of the ride and transfer into the hospital.

It was 24 more hours before an elbow replacement surgery could be scheduled. Although no one knew it at the time, another complication was developing.

Between the morphine drip and injuries, I was in no condition to answer any questions, much less volunteer information that, under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t have known they needed to know.

And, no one at the hospital thought to ask the one question for which they needed the answer.

Do you meditate?

I still don’t quite understand the why but the what became quickly evident in surgery.

There’s a little gizmo — a pulse oximeter — that measures the oxygen levels in the blood.  Most of us have seen them:  a probe that looks like a modern version of a clothespin is placed on your finger, and the amount of oxygen being carried though the blood is instantly measured.

Once in the operating room, the anesthesiologist slipped the oximeter onto my finger. A range of 95% to 100% is considered normal. Below 85%, and medical attention is required.

My level was 30%.

Hmmmm. He was a well seasoned doctor.

Another oximeter was put on my finger.


He took the meter off me and placed it on his own finger.


And, with that, the surgery was halted while they focused on re-oxygenating me.

To be sure, at the time I wasn’t aware of living, dying or the surgery.  I was just aware that I was being brought back out of a free-floating, pain-free blackness.  A voice, a light, a color….a question for me but no voice with which to answer…and, finally a strange sound trying to form a “yes.” 

There was a sudden awareness of a dull pain, a reassuring word from the doctor and darkness once again.

The surgery had begun.

To be continued…

3 thoughts on “The Brick and the Elbow

  1. What I remember about that event was that I was on my way to the airport to go to Michigan , talked on my staticyyy cell phone to somebody and that person thought I was going to come to the hospital instead of going to the airport. I have no idea who I talked to, but when I came back I was in trouble because I didn’t show up! Another memory from that time is that you said that you had a good acupuncturist, so I hope you include the name of the acupuncturist, because somebody asked me the other day if I knew of an acupuncturist which I did not.


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