Another Screwed-Up Landing

Onewheel Glitch, Major Hitch

September 22nd, 2024. I had just hired a local to drive me back to The Farm on top of South Fork Mountain where my bus was parked due to a flat tire. He was there to help me re-set my tire bead on the rim, fill it up with air and follow me back home. Once home, I parked the bus, paid Adam and off he went. Cleaned out the inside of the bus, it was starting off to be a good day. After about an hour, I was hungry and thought – hey, I should head back to that brisket place, Cali Jay’s, they really had some good stuff there (but their hours sucked – initially only open 2 days a week, now they’re open 4!!!), oh yeah that’s it, I’m off! Unplugged Apollo (Onewheel XR), checked the app like always to make sure battery was 100% and everything’s good. Off I went! Turned off my road, and was coasting at about 22 mph. I was not riding aggressively nor trying to speed up – I was at a sweet spot just coasting, when all of a sudden, Apollo shut down.

Onewheel. One. Wheel. Skateboard/Snowboard-ish. Yup, physics entered the game, I got launched off, and somehow I decided to Run It Off (instead of Falling Like Salmon or Tuck And Roll). This is significant, and I somehow lucked out that my orthopedic surgeon also has an OneWheel! I most likely landed on my left leg with it straight instead of bent, because I was unable to run it out. I tumbled hard, came to a stop and assessed my situation quickly. There was a biker riding up to me, so I grabbed Apollo, stood up and… fell to my left. I was unable to stand. SHITSHITSHIT. 

I crawled to the shoulder as quickly as I could, dragging my leg which was throbbing like holy hell, and the biker stopped right in front of me in a manner as to direct traffic (if anybody showed up!) away from the shoulder. Lo and behold, it was Adam! He saw everything, asked if I was ok… “Nah, I think I messed my leg up bad…” Pulled up my jeans, and lo – there was a huge bulge to the left of my knee right underneath, that shouldn’t be there… “Shit. I either broke or dislocated my leg. Would you mind calling 911?” Three vehicles stopped and everybody checked in on me. I was in hella pain but laughing it off, then two guys helped me up and supported me as I hobbled on my right leg to one of their pickup trucks. So far, most of the communication was done verbally and I did a lot of lipreading, occasionally using my phone to type out whatever I didn’t catch or they didn’t understand. The driver enunciated well enough for me, took me to the medical clinic and helped me inside, as well as bringing Apollo along.

Turns out this place doesn’t have ambulances locally… OH – I’m gonna be airlifted. W00T, second time in my life I get injured and need to be airlifted. At least this time I had an helmet on (and it did crack slightly)! It took them a long time to arrange things – an ambulance had to be summoned from “over the hill” which took about an hour, and the nurses there checked my leg out, made sure I wasn’t paralyzed or worse internal bleeding… I did have major swelling that kept increasing, which was worrying them. Finally, the ambulance arrived, and once I’m inside, the paramedic was very friendly and told me she’d be giving me fentanyl… WAIT WHAT!? Fortunately again for me, she was well spoken and clearly enunciated – explained the difference between street drug and closely supervised medical dosage based on weight height etc… OK, and whooo off we went! It helped with the pain, but not enough. Yikes. They drove me to the local airfield, where a helicopter was waiting to fly me to Redding. It was difficult for me to communicate with the air paramedics as I was strapped in, but the lady used her phone and we typed back and forth. So far, so good…

Once we arrived at the hospital, I was brought into ER and waited (of course! grate old ‘murican hospital service!) for about half an hour before I was carted off to a room. I met several nurses and doctors, a few of them were wearing masks (COVID rates had declined around here, I was vaccinated/boosted and unmasked) but everybody so far  would either use their phone, use my phone (with the speech-to-text feature) or write on paper. I had x-rays taken, and it was confirmed I had a broken leg… but it wasn’t just one break. Oh no. I broke the patella, top of my tibia in multiple places, top of my fibula (and dislocated it). Wonderful, when you do something, do it the best you can, right? Turns out I might have two or three surgeries to fix this. I am screwed. The first surgery was to install an external bone fixator so they could wait while the swelling went down a little bit more – my leg was SWOLLEN, lemme tell ya! Off to the OR I go…

I woke up hours later, my leg looked… square-ish? It was wrapped up, so I couldn’t see anything just yet. Didn’t feel any pain, found out they had me on dilaudid and gabapentin – no wonder I didn’t feel anything! This is when I met the orthopedic surgeon who was to work on my leg for the next surgeries. He was awesome, a bit hard to lipread but was comfortable with the speech-to-text feature. We got along fine, he said he would have me back floating in no time (hey doc, it’s been 10 months, when can I float again?), and would see me at the orthopedic hospital. Cool, everything has been good so far… then enter my roommate’s nurse. 

She was masked, walked up to my IV drip machine, adjusted something, and walked away. “Nurse, what were you just doing?” I asked – I want to know everything that’s being done to me, and I’ve every right to know. She turned around, hand-on-hip, and said something to me. “Hey, I’m deaf, could you please write that down?” I said while pointing to a clipboard with a buncha blank papers and pen. She said something back to me, back and forth we went – me saying please write, I’m deaf, I don’t understand you, and her still speaking while masked, hand-on-hip (total Karen move, she even had the classic Karen hair bob). After a few back and forth attempts I grew frustrated, “Fucking write what you just said right now! I’m fucking deaf and I can’t understand what you just said!” I shouted – this elicited the first written communication from her, “Don’t you ever curse at me” and she walked out.

Pissed off, I pressed the call button, and after a minute or so my nurse came in – I had written up what just happened to me, she read the paper and apologized profusely – she’d be right back, she’s getting her head (or floor) nurse. That lady comes in, reads, apologizes again, says she’s getting my doctors. They come in, read, apologize again, and said they would take care of her, this was a serious violation of hospital policy. The head/floor nurse came back in, and explained that the nurse who did that was my roommate’s nurse, she was asked to reduce my dosage, but I was right that she should have made better attempts to communicate with me. I told them I didn’t want to cause them trouble, so far everybody had been great to me and I expressed my gratitude to them for making every attempt to communicate (I rejected VRI, didn’t really need it – pen/paper, phone, lipreading did me fine so far), but I did expect that the nurse would get some punishment and at least force her to take some kind of training on disability accommodations and an attitude adjustment because, “the medical profession really does not need those kinds of Karens!” which elicited laughter from everybody. Seriously, what the hell was this idiot nurse thinking, somebody who is deaf is expected to understand her while wearing a mask? How the hell did she become a nurse?

I ended up getting discharged after a physical therapist confirmed I knew how to use crutches and observed me hobbling around. Got a follow up appointment at the orthopedic hospital for a follow up, which was to be October 2nd. I was fortunate that two of my friends were able and willing to drive up from the Bay Area to my place, and take care of my dogs. I arrived home and met up with everybody, all was as good as could be. October 2nd came, and I got good news – swelling was reduced just enough they could proceed with surgery on the 3rd. Wonderful! Oh, wait… I gotta be there at 5am. It’s a freaking 2 hour drive… BLEH! Fortunately, my buddy was willing to extend his stay and drove me there the morning of October 3rd. We were finally let in the waiting area, and of course it’s empty. Receptionist area had the wall down. “Hello? Anybody here?” nada… My buddy waited with me for a while, then a… receptionist or nurse, wearing a mask, came out and spoke to us. “I’m deaf…” to which she spoke to my buddy, and he pointed to his ears while shaking his head. I asked for pen and paper, she went off to get a… small whiteboard… OK, I can make do – WHAT??? She gave me a THICK marker. I could barely write 2-4 words on that small whiteboard! I shook my head, “Pen and paper, not this please” Whaddya kno, another back and forth ensues. All over my request for actual pen and paper, because I know she’s gonna be asking a lot of intake questions… and I’m not gonna dumb down my answers either. Finally, I had to swallow my pride and do a Karen move – “Get me your supervisor!” This younger lady comes out, oh, no problem, gets me pen and paper. I think the back and forth took considerably more time than it took this new lady to just grab a piece of paper and a pen and get the intake questions over with… it’s something called, ahh, whats the word… oh, yeah – accommodations. UGH. I asked her to report this lady and get her trained on people with disabilities, I have no idea about what they did to that older lady, wasn’t that serious of a situation but gods damn it, when somebody asks you for a pen and paper… (AND you’re working in a setting where pen/paper is easily accessible, of course) just do it.

I’m fortunate enough to know my rights, be familiar with the Americans with Disabilities Act as well as some academic background in legal studies. I’m also fortunate enough to be stubborn enough to stand up for my rights, even if engaging asshole mode is required at times. I’m sick and tired of dealing with these folks, and have no time for their bullshit. I don’t care if it costs them their jobs – ESPECIALLY in the medical profession, you have to comply with the ADA. While it would be AWESOME to have a sign language interpreter present the entire time – I would know so much more in less time about what’s going on than it would take to lipread, double check, verify, question myself if I am understanding things right, resort to writing on paper or using phone… I accept that at times VRI just might not be available or working. I am fortunate that I can lipread well and speak just well enough to get by, although one has to bear in mind – I only catch maybe 30% of what is said, the rest is puzzling together everything based on content and it ain’t easy nor reliable, ESPECIALLY in a medical setting! Most important and fortunate for me, I am able to read and write in English extremely well, and have some background with medical terms and bodily anatomy. Not all d/Deaf folks are able to read/write as well, and for those grassroot d/Deaf, how much understanding of their current medical situation do they really have? Are they able to ask the right questions if there were no interpreters available? Quite a conundrum, and realistically – a doctor or nurse should at least be aware of this language discrepancy, and be prepared to accommodate their patients’ needs, ensure everything is being understood… but in an emergency, can this be so, without somebody who is experienced in ASL and aware of the linguistic needs of their clients? This is a difficult situation, as interpreters are not always available.

For fuck’s sake, though – somebody asks you to write what you’re saying down? DO IT! It’s not that hard! UNLESS you actually are unable to read/write, then please just be upfront about this.

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