All it took was a miss-step to catapult me into unfamiliar left hand territory. Or more accurately, a crater in the sidewalk bordering a busy downtown Berkeley intersection snagged my sole and forced me down with death-defying impact, tearing skin off my chin and knees while shoving my body weight on a tucked under right arm.
(Intersection of Hearst and Martin Luther King Jr. Way)
Thrown off balance with my left hand clasping a soaked paper bag with over-ripe persimmons that splattered the sidewalk in an orange sun burst, I lay face down for what seemed like a shell-shocked eternity, surrounded by the din of vehicles veering around me like I was a dead cat on the road.
After the most disorienting ten minutes of my life, an elderly Chinese couple in the company of a mature-looking grandson, approached me in my sprawled out prone position, taking special care to nudge my body upright, handing me tissues to absorb blood from contusions and remove sticky residue that migrated to my sweater and pants.
Slowly regaining my composure, winding my way in measured baby steps to the Bart station, I experienced an uncomfortable limp to my gait, with a burdensome heaviness in my knees. At this point, I was still unaware of damage to my hands, wrists and arms that would be revealed once I lay my bones down to rest on my plush sofa.
Once safely home, I endured a rough evening, permeated by a steady crescendo of pain that had an intolerable rush at 3 a.m. Sunday, after I’d ice-packed my right arm rolling its freeze-filled folds down my wrists and hands.
When my pain threshold tipped over a narrow line even after downing aspirin tablets, I contacted the Kaiser Permanente Emergency services, and soon cabbed my way to the hospital. It was 4 a.m. and the Berkeley Half Marathon wreaked havoc over established car routes, steering traffic in odd, roundabout directions.
Finally entering the Hospital parking lot, and breezing through sliding doors toward a metal detector check, my battered body earned a steady barrage of right-arm centered x-rays that ushered in unwelcome news of a fracture to my guiding light thumb that had steered me mellifluously through the Circle of Fifths. And early assessment of my elbow revealed gathering fluid that my doctor suspected was hiding a fracture. The continuing radiologic surveillance he mentioned, would aim at establishing certainty about my supple right wrist status in prep for a longer course of treatment. For now a cast and sling would be the immediate remedy.
The story with its lack of resolution, had a notable twist that perhaps O’Henry would have fleshed out. Just hours before my cataclysmic spill, I had aided a Parkinson’s disease afflicted friend ambulate the very route I had traversed, but in reverse, leveraging my body through various artful maneuvers so she could find her way home.
Once we arrived, she had invited me in to meet her precious feline, Bathsheba who was not camera shy as she nibbled on wheat grass.
As it grew dark, in a flowing hour of cat loving, I knew it was time for me to depart. Dim lit streets added a certain trepidation as Saturday drew to a close. Surely the darkness settling in, was its own harbinger of imminent disaster.
Upon learning of the irony of my fall in the wake of having assisted the shaky journey of an afflicted woman, one of my dear friends prophetically said, “Just remember that no good deed goes unpunished.”
Yet in reviewing events of the past 24 hours, I would have steered punishment toward the City of Berkeley that lets streets and sidewalks deteriorate to dangerous levels of neglect, putting pedestrians at great risk. (Note: The North Berkeley Senior Center is located a few hundred feet from where I was downed)
Meanwhile in the aftermath of my personal tragedy, I’ve resolved to teach piano as a left-hander while I concurrently journey through many diverse life activities.
To this end, I surprised my Book group today when I appeared decked out with a new sling and pink-wrapped cast.