It’s all on me; by which I mean that I keep warning you all to stay vigilant, mind your manners, play by the rules, take a whistle, take water, take food, watch where you step, take a buddy, stay safe and what do I do? It’s a long story.
A couple of retired UNM and state water guys and a photographer wanted to go see a place where water and water wars had really meant something and where the place is still worth a project or two. So we went to the Rio Puerco and Cabezon—a surreal place with volcanic plugs, salt water lakes, artesian wells, limestone blocks, and ghost towns.
And then I broke my leg. Mind you I was just standing there by the side of the road when up jumped a whole block of fossils. When I first saw it it was flat as flat can be and steady as any as it lay there on the ground. (However, if I had had my walking stick, which I ALWAYS take with me and which I always insist that everybody take as well, I would have tested the rock’s stability to see if it was which it wasn’t or to see if it more resembled a teeter-totter which it did.)
When I stepped on it, it sent me flying down 30%-40% slopes pretending I was a slinky. I would go head first, make a pile then feet first and make a pile. During one of those feet first stops my right foot felt the need to take a potty break in a crack it had slipped into but the rest of me kept going. Thing was the steps were six feet deep rather than the six inches of normal slinky things. I wound up about 40 feet down the slope. Pete quickly found a couple of blankets and a pillow in his car and threw them and some water down to Jim who was just getting to me. He then took off down the road in his car to find a signal, and Henry stayed up on the road in case anybody with any sense came by.
About 40 minutes later the HOTSHOT crew from Jemez Pueblo showed up and then the Zia Pueblo crew came in about five minutes later.
A couple guys came down; they stabilized the leg, made sure they had my insurance card number (kidding) and with ropes, sleds, neck braces, belts, and grunts I was out of there in about an hour, most of which was a physical: You hurt? Yes. Where? Lower right leg, left shoulder. Move your fingers? Yes. Move your toes? Yes. Pain in back? No. Need to throw up? No. Hit your head? No. Bleeding? No. He called up for what looked like a sturdy sided shoebox,ripped enough of the side for my foot to fit inside and then called for another box to fit my entire leg into; he taped them shut; called for a light litter which they tucked under me; called for a sled, a neck brace, a companion and a rope; they put the neck brace on, lifted me into the sled, belted me in, tied the rope to the front end and started to pull me out.
The Zia and Jemez pueblos neighbor one another and the jokes were flying back and forth as if they were neighbors. Some sixty years ago I hooked up with a Zia HOTSHOT crew on a fire behind Los Alamos. I learned more about fighting fires in one day than in all the other fire fighting courses I’ve had since.
I asked the fellow at the head of the litter when we reached the ambulance how I could tell them apart to thank them; without taking an added breath he said the Zias were the short ones. I love those guys.
Don’t know what this all means. So far its been one tibia, one fibula, two steel plates, 18 screws, 42 stitches and some real nice conversations with the nighttime nurses in the UNM teaching Hospital. The docs say it will be a long one, putting more and more weight on it as time passes and maybe a few hours a day with a cane by mid February.
There is something weird going on in nursing in that they can’t be nurses anymore: no pats on the arm; no rub of the shoulder—has to do with lawyers and harrassment. But not for Rosa Pokey, the strong boned, 50ish, Navajo nurse who gave me my nighttime feel good shots. A slight smile showed on her face when she noticed I was watching; when she finished, she patted the back of my hand—an acknowledgment that I was human, that she knew I hurt, that she was there if I needed her. She closed the curtains, lowered the lights and left a small crack in the door as she went on to other duties. I love those people.