The adventures of an Air Force spouse

The lesson I learned from a broken foot, part 1


I remember the day as if it were only yesterday instead of 15 years ago. It was a warm and sunny July morning at Eielson Air Force Base near Fairbanks, Alaska. I needed to pick up some dry cleaning, so the girls and I hopped into the car and drove to the cleaners. The girls stayed in the car while I went to pick up our clothes. I remember stopping at the top of the stairs on the way out of the cleaners to switch the clothes to my left hand so I could grasp the railing with my right. The next thing I remember is going down, flat on my rear end.

“Are you okay?” asked one of the workers standing at the top of the stairs smoking a cigarette. At first I thought I was, but then I thought twice about trying to stand up. Somewhere in the deep recesses of my mind, I remembered hearing something snap.

“I don’t think I am,” I said. “I think I broke something. Could you please call my husband at the chapel?” All this time I am still holding the dry cleaning up off the ground.

I gave them the chapel number, one woman ran into to call and called the ambulance as well, and another came and took the cleaning from me.

“Do you want me to put this in your car?” she asked. Oh my gosh, the girls are in the car listening to music and probably didn’t see what happened. “Please, but my girls are in the car. Will you tell them to come here?” I asked.

Soon I could hear sirens blaring as the police, fire truck, ambulance and safety officers all arrived in quick succession.  The Good Chaplain was nowhere around.

As I pointed to the police and firemen, telling them they could leave, I asked about the Good Chaplain. “Were you able to get a hold of  my husband?” I asked the woman who called. She said no one answered so she left a message. No one answered at the chapel? That’s not possible. At Eielson, one prefix was for offices and a second one  for the housing area. The caller mixed up the two and left a message for some poor person that his wife fell and went by ambulance to the clinic. I gave her the correct number and the Good Chaplain arrived on site in a few minutes.

The ambulance drivers, cops and the safety guy all asked me a few questions about what happened and then the EMT slowly removed my shoe to check my foot and ankle.  I told him it was my foot and pointed where I felt some discomfort. He pressed all around the spot until he hit it and I said (and I am not lying), “It kind of hurts where you are pressing.”

Flash forward to the clinic.  They whisked me to an examining room, followed closely by Dave and the girls. It was fun riding on an ambulance, but as in many instances when I am hurting and the Good Chaplain is not around, I got a little anxious. I relaxed once my family came into the room. Then shock settled in. I felt light-headed, nauseous and cool and clammy at the same time. The Good Chaplain got me some water and asked someone for a blanket.

In x-ray, they asked me to put my right foot flat on the table so they could get the pictures they needed. Yea, that hurt a little. They kept concentrating on the ankle and I kept saying it was my foot not the ankle. They developed the films and my ankle was fine, but a shadow appeared near the top of the x-ray so now they wanted to x-ray the foot.  In order to do this, I had to sign a second paper saying I was not pregnant. “Nothing happened in the past 5 minutes,” I assured them.

Finally,  a nice long crack in the bones beneath my pinky toe on my right foot showed on the x-ray. I broke my fifth metatarsal. Yay me!  As I always say, ” Any one can break their foot in the winter in Alaska, but it takes a certain talent to do it in the middle of July!”

The ambulance squad kept coming in to look at the x-ray, not believing I broke my foot because, as one put it, “Most people ,when you touch the broken spot that , go through the roof. But not you. You were like, ‘ it sort of  hurts where you are pressing,’ ”

A technician casted my foot and the doctor told to keep weight off  it until the weekend.  The rest of the story will have to wait until next time.

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