My Left Foot
Ok, here I am, ten days into a hospital stay after smashing my left foot into a door frame in a drunken stupor at home. My darling neighbour Trish brought me to the hospital after her hubby Rob found me at home, sitting round denying anything was really wrong. “That's broken!” she insisted. So here I am in a bed with a weird vinyl structure in my bed called a 'James Pillow' designed to keep my left foot raised. It's like a ramp you might see kids run up and launch themselves in the air, it's about a metre long, half a meter wide and it's in my bed! Sleep is sporadic and broken by the usual noises of an orthopaedic ward: loud beeps, bells, chatting doctors and nurses waking me for 'obs'.
My room mate in this public ward is a lovely policeman called Terry (not his real name) who's hurt his back by falling backwards off a balcony. He can hardly move, he's a big guy, and when he does it's with help as the nurses do the old “One two three roll” and Terry cries with pain. But he's improving now. We talk a lot, and for a few days all we knew were each other's voices. It's a strangely comforting intimacy to chat into the night and hear each other piss in bottles, fart and groan with every movement.
My prognosis is rotten: three smashed bones in my foot that have to be operated on, followed by many weeks on crutches, then another operation to remove the metal pins, followed by months on crutches. This is a big blow because the next four months are my big earning time, as I work as an actor, clown, comedian, stilt walker, uni-cycle rider, MC and casual bus driver. At this stage it's looking like all that work's going down the gurgler and I'll be on sickness benefits of $490 a fortnight! Last time I was that frugal was at a meditation camp in Sri Lanka. Here in boomtown Perth it'll be a friggin pittance. How do unemployed folk do it! Lucky I like minestrone soup. It's what a mate of mine calls dolefood: soups, spaghetti sauces and stews that last a week.
The latest on the operation is that my foot still has red marks and swelling, so they're reluctant to cut in case of infection. Fair enough but the way they've gone about it today has been bizarre: prepped last night for an operation today, starved all night then given a pre-wash, then a surgeon called Dr Lim came in, looked at the foot and said 'No, too swollen', so it was all off. An hour later the orthopaedic registrar said 'No, that's fine”, so it was back on. Then they all got together another hour later, with me lying there in the surgical stockings, texta arrow on my knee pointing to the correct foot, ready to go under, and they decided to call it off! Doctor Lim casually said, “That's OK, give it a few more days” and they swanned off to the next room. A few more days! Shit.
I attempt to console myself by thinking about folk who spend months in bed (and in the old days a whole year in things like kidney machines) or men wounded in wars or disasters. And I do the old 'it could've been worse, might have fallen and smashed my head' routine, but that kind of thinking simply brings up frightening and demented imagery that consoles nothing.
Suggestions by relatives and dear friends on Facebook all seem to follow the line of “Now this is your chance to write and create something interesting....new material for comedy etc”, and maybe they're right, it's just at he moment all I feel is despondent, depressed and furious at myself for causing the accident in the first place.
But the cricket's on the TV, I have two Murikami novels, many editions of the New Yorker, games on the computer, a free local phone, and my friend Ross has loaded a pile of TV on the laptop. And tomorrow I look forward to many hours of Mozart or Brahms while I wait on the Centrelink sickness benefits phone line.