I awoke from my slumber earlier than normal so as not to be late for my scheduled doctor's appointment. Still laying in bed and not yet finished with my first 'get the blood pumping' cigarette the phone rang. Lo and behold it was my buddy Little Stevie calling to make sure that I was up and hadn't forgotten about my appointment. I should point out that Stevie calls me all the time feigning an interest in some obscure point on loading or why plastic guns are better than steel and wood. During these conversations he never, never fails to slip in a question about how I'm feeling, if things are getting better or worse and if there's anything he can do to make my already fairy tale life better. This is not only the mark of a good friend but more importantly the mark of a good man, and I greatly appreciate it. BUT...
the cynical side of me can't help but think that he keeps close tabs on me so the moment the inevitable occurs he can be on the phone with my daughter and son-in-law offering, out of the good graces of his heart, to buy my 1050's for pennies on the dollar. I suspect that a bunch of my 1911's may also enter into the conversation. Now that I think of it I'm going to have to make the determination if he's a good friend or a rat bastard. Pretty much a toss-up.
I was so excited to actually get out of the house I arrived at my doctor's appointment with bells on... which irritated the rest of the people in the waiting room until I agreed to take them off. Bunch of old fuddy-duddies, I hope their Metamucil quits working.
Placed in a small, windowless room that was reminiscent of a water-board torture chamber I was shortly joined by an attractive female who I quickly deduced was not my regular doctor. It appears she was called to a different location today so I was relegated to the 'B' team. After the normal checking of temperature, blood pressure, oxygen absorption, turn your head and cough... okay, I made that part up, she consulted her chart and asked me to remove my shoe and sock. Not a good first impression on my part, I couldn't bend far enough to do it. She should have been a shoe salesperson, she was very adept at removing my footwear. The expression on her face was not the most encouraging thing I've ever seen.
"You have the beginning of gangrene."
"Yup, figured as much."
"This is very dangerous, you could end up losing your foot... your leg even."
"Yup, so I've been told several times. You married?"
"Why, you looking for a wife?"
"I'm always on the look out for a future ex-wife."
"Doctor Burton told me you never take anything serious."
"I'm perfectly serious... you may end up with a house out of the deal."
"Lets talk about your foot."
"You're boring, I've decided I don't want to date you."
"I'm devastated but I'll try to get over it. How'd you wound your foot like this?"
Things were going well until I mentioned that I lost most of the use of my foot. That expression came over her face again. She wanted to know when I had first noticed it and I explained a few weeks after I had broken my back. She asked when that had happened to which I replied about six-weeks ago. There was that expression again... I was starting to get annoyed with it.
She asked if I was using a walker because of my foot or my back. I explained that my foot didn't hurt all that bad, it just didn't work, my back on the other hand hurt worse than winning Power Ball without a prenuptial.
She asked why I thought I had broken it. I explained that it was the twentieth time and even I only had to pick up a hot horseshoe 4 or 5 times before I realized that it would burn you. THAT DAMN LOOK AGAIN! She left the room to go call a neurologist. (Ya just know that's gonna show up on my bill.)
She returned a while later and said they were bringing a wheel chair to take me down for x-rays. Told her I didn't need x-rays. The look started to reappear but was cut short by my acquiescence.
I'm sure it would have been far cheaper to just stand in the middle of Japan for my radioactive exposure but the necessary pictures were taken and I was returned upstairs and placed in the room to wait for further water-boarding. Apparently my waiting period was required for her to hear from the radiologist. She entered the room with THAT LOOK
already plastered on her face.
"Do you know you've broken every vertebrae in your back?"
"HA! You're wrong, I've only broken one cervical vertebrae. Do I get a discount?'
"We didn't x-ray that high, so no. How in the world did you do so much damage to your back?"
"It's called bone cancer... cool ain't it."
"How can you even walk?"
"Erect, bipedal, just like all advanced primates.? Finally she laughed... very tough audience.
"It's obvious that you fractured something but you've got so much damage the radiologist can't tell which is the newest fracture, you may have multiple fractures from this accident. You waited to long to come in to be sure."
"Didn't need to come in, I knew what happened... and it wasn't an accident."
Now over the decades I've shot with lots of doctors but I've never sat in a doctor's office and given them what turned out to be a pretty detailed explanation on loading and a highly detailed description of a Star sizer and how pulling out the spring/plunger the wrong way will actually break your back. She asked more questions about loading then most of the newbs around here and actually asked my opinions about terminal ballistics in the human body. Not only was it fun spreading the word about our weird little hobby but I was starting to reconsider dating her. (Might do it just so her and Little Stevie can fight over my equipment. She has better things to offer... I can always go out and earn money.
After another long conversation with the neurologist, a visit by a nurse from the 'wound care' department to scrub out dead flesh and instructions on how to care for my foot for the next couple of weeks the doctor and I finally got down to brass tacks.
Turns out the loss of use of my foot is called 'drop foot'. It's normally caused by nerve damage from diabetes and generally does not reverse itself. Okay, my other foot still works and having two of them just seems redundant and silly. The neurologist thinks there's a possibility that the accumulated damage in my back along with the swelling may be causing something to press on a nerve, or series of nerves resulting in the loss of use. I'm scheduled for an MRI and CAT scan next week to see if they can make a better determination. (More bills.)
Just as with all my ex-wives, the good doctor spent a good deal of time yelling at me. It seems that she's more than mildly upset because I only take about a third of the narcotic pain killers that I've been prescribed. I left with enough narcotics to give Mexican drug cartels a run for their money. Apparently I'm supposed to actually take them Who'da thunk.
If I take care of my foot, antibiotics and constant cleaning I'll probably be able to keep my foot... whether it works or not.
So, what have I learned from this foray into the world of medical wizardry? Actually nothing that I hadn't known before but it's something that newbs should take a moment to consider. Loading is more than making cheap, accurate ammunition. It's more than an hour or two escape from the wife/girlfriend or demanding kids... it can be a grasp on continued sanity.
Maybe I'll regain the use of my foot, maybe I won't and maybe I'll ultimately end up losing it. Okay, not the end of the world. I certainly won't be able to shoot like I once did but the fact remains that I'll be dead for three days and still shoot better than Little Stevie does right now. Even though I can't sit on my loading stool right now my back will eventually heal enough to where I'll be able to and then once again the loading will commence. Sure, I'll have the flat panel on but I'll be watching/listening while doing something productive and which I enjoy. I may not be able to shoot much of it but I'll sure as hell be able to crawl out and watch my SIL and grandson have a good time. The older guys know what that's like... if the younger guys are lucky they'll learn too.
More than ever I'm glad I have my loading hobby to fall back on, (fall is a bad word) and it's something I'll be able to do until I start haunting this place. Life could be a lot worse.
(Maybe I should have written this before I took the new drugs. Sorry.)