Potato chips and antiseptic

by Andrea Mulder-Slater


“I think I broke my ankle.”

The words slipped out of my mouth almost as fast as I had fallen down the stairs.

Here’s the thing. When I walk down a set of steps, if I don’t suppress the urge, I flap my arms – not so much like a bird… more like an excited toddler, or a 1960s housewife who has just spotted a mouse. It’s neither a safe (nor particularly effective) habit. It’s a genetic flaw. My mother does it too. And so, as I raced from upstairs to down with an oscillating fan in one hand and nothing in the other (flap, flap) I didn’t stand a chance when my flip-flop festooned foot slipped tidily off the second last step.

 Sitting at the base of the staircase, I could hear the voices of my family members somewhere off in the distance. Geoff was chatting with a delivery driver about the death of Andy Griffith while Jan was trying to convince the 3 year old to “set that damn frog free.”

“Hello. Anyone. My foot just went numb. Is that bad?”

I thought about that guy – you know, the one who had to amputate his own arm in order to survive after falling into a gully in the wilds of Utah or somewhere just as dangerous...

I surveyed my surroundings. I didn’t have a knife nearby, but I was lying on a partially crushed oscillating fan with several sharp bits. Then, it occurred to me that I wasn’t trapped in a gully. Nor was I in Utah. Also, since I am unable to effectively cut through a piece of cardboard, I decided I was probably not a survivalist.

When I was eventually found (it may or may not have been 5 seconds later), Geoff and Jan convinced me to go to the hospital, just in case the pain I was experiencing was the result of bone rubbing on bone.

Me: It doesn’t hurt that much. I don’t need to go to the hospital.

Geoff & Jan: Ok, then go ahead and walk on it.

Me: I can’t. It hurts too much.


At the emergency room check-in, I was asked about any allergies (aspirin, ibuprofen, close talkers) and given a special allergic reaction armband to prevent anyone from killing me, you know, accidentally. Shortly after, the triage nurse (after confirming my allergies) asked me to rate my pain on a scale of 1 to 10.

Back in the waiting room, Geoff was pretty ticked at my answer.

Geoff: Two? Are you kidding me? Two? We’re going to be here all night.

Me: I told her I had fleeting shots of six.

Geoff: Fleeting shots don’t count. I can’t believe you said two.

Me: I was in labor for 48 hours and delivered a 9-pound human without an epidural. That was a 10. This is a 2. Maybe I should go back and tell her about my birthing experience.

Geoff: I’ll get us some snacks. Then I will leave you here to die.

Me: Yay! It’ll be like our first date.

People came and went, including a boy who refused to let anyone look at his finger (hangnail), a man with a bloody arm and sliced boot (chainsaw massacre?) and a girl with an iced cappuccino and a smartphone who appeared to just be searching for good reception. Through it all, the room remained pretty well populated.

Star Trek was playing on the teeny tiny corner television, which was set on the Space Channel. Someone in the room was wanting to go where no man had gone before and I suspect it was the bearded gentleman wearing track pants and elf shoes. The poor bugger had been waiting since early morning and had taken to telling the nurse, whenever she called a name, that everyone else had tired of waiting and since he was the only one left (in the crowded room) he’d be happy to come on down. Hello – we’re all RIGHT here.

Even he got in before I did.

Two bags of chips, one Star Trek, one Stargate, half of a Deep Space Nine (which I think is technically still Star Trek) and several mind-altering commercial breaks later… my name was called. By that time, my foot really didn’t hurt much at all. I contemplated faking another ailment but became concerned at possible cures.

When the doctor entered the examining room, I explained to him that I was fine, thank you, and that my husband and I were just here on a Sci-Fi date. If he was puzzled, he didn’t show it as he persistently poked around at my foot.

“It’s a sprain.” He said with a smile. “We’re going to wrap it and my suggestion to you is to not go over on it again for at least a week.” Then he told me to go and get myself some ibuprofen.

That’s when everything became clear. Geoff had contracted the doctor to kill me, which was almost exactly like our second date – minus the close talker.

No, really.

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