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Barbarian Down

Updated: Apr 6

Feeling Gratitude from the Sidelines of Life.



Just over a week ago at 4:30 am, I woke up to pee. Because my body ached, I decided to pop a few Advil. But Advil was down the hall in the guest bathroom medicine cabinet. So I rolled out of bed with blurry eyes and shuffled down the dark hallway to my destination.


Before grabbing the Advil, I stepped to the toilet and relieved myself. After flushing, I turned to my right and not to my left as I usually do. As I turned right, my right foot lodged itself between the toilet and the adjacent shower baseboard. As my body continued to twist right, I lost my balance, and all 6-foot, 2-inches of me corkscrewed down, leveraging 200 pounds against a stuck ankle. Like a falling tree snapping from its immovable stump, my body went down while my ankle stayed up.


“Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!” I screamed.


As the cats ran for cover, my wife Chanda rushed in. “What happened?! What happened?!”


“My ankle! My ankle!” I squealed.


With her eyes wide as yo-yos, Chanda knelt beside me, grabbed my hand, and said, “I’m here, I’m here."


Pain shooting through me like electricity, I grabbed my ankle and screeched, "It popped! It popped!"


“Okay, okay," she tried to calm me. "Let me help you get to bed.”


Hobbling down the hall on my good foot and my arm slung around her shoulder, I accidentally put an ounce of pressure on the bad ankle and down I went like a ton of bricks. Flashes hit my eyes, and snapshots replaced motion. "Stay with me, stay with me!” she yelled. “Baby, don’t pass out! Don't pass out!”


I didn’t pass out from the pain; instead, I just felt it. After suffering through a shitty day the day before (due to other stressors in my life), a hurricane of emotion exploded inside me. Withering on the floor, I didn't know what to do, so I just cupped my hands over my eyes and cried.

Hugging me, Chanda said, “I know, I know... it hurts and this isn't fair. But stay here, I’ll be right back with crutches.” Shimming up the fixed ladder to our attic, she grabbed an old pair of crutches and sputtered back down the ladder with both in hand.

“I’m gonna help you up, then you can use the crutches to get back to bed,” she said. Slowly, I climbed up to one leg and crutched my way slowly back to bed. Laying in a cauldron of pain, Chanda said, “We have three options. I can call an ambulance, I can drive you to the ER, or we can wait till Urgent Care opens at 9 am.”

I chose the last option. We would wait till 9 am. As the minutes passed and I lay in bed, my breathing evened out as the pain plateaued and then declined. As it did, I drifted back to sleep.

A few hours later, I sat in the Urgent Care waiting room and thought, “So this is how it’s gonna be? College Football, Marine Corps, Bodyguard, Weightlifter, Daredevil Skier… and I go down taking a fucking piss and then cry on the floor as my wife saves the day?"

When I finally saw the Urgent Care doctor, she sent me down the hall for X-rays. Alright barbarians, here’s a quick tip: If an x-ray tech ever points to an area on your body and says, “Are you sure you don’t also feel pain here?” it means you broke that part of your body. Or as I interpreted things, it means, “Hey dickhead, not only did you royally fuckup your ankle taking a leak, but you also broke your leg. Dumbass.”

Two days later, I met the trauma surgeon at UCLA. Three days after that I lay on the operating table. Which brings us to now, three days after the operation. I'm laying on the couch with screws in my ankle, a splint around my leg, and two fanny packs filled with medication that drips like an IV through tubes and catheters into my leg to numb the pain.

For the next two months, I won't drive. To get around the house, I'll use crutches or a knee scooter. Ski season is over, other upcoming trips are canceled, and because of my mobility problems, I've ended weekend cocktail hour (for now). But that's all okay because I'm spending more time in my backyard rocking chair, more time telling my wife I love her, and more time listening to the birds, watching my cats, and feeling the breeze of a warm spring day. My fridge is full, my books are stacked, and my coffee’s hot. Though I may be on ice, I’m still the luckiest guy I know.

Even when we’re down, barbarians, we’re never out.



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