Saturday, December 29th (my birthday, by the way!), I traveled to St. George Island for the New Year’s holiday with my two friends Brenda and Pat. We were there for fun in general, with the high point being the bonfire on the beach on New Year’s Eve. The first order of business on the first evening was to go to the Blue Parrot for oysters. We set out at about 7:00 P.M., when it’s quite dark this time of year.
Like almost every house on the island except the very old ones, the house is on stilts to protect it from flooding during hurricanes or tropical storms, so it has to be accessed via stairs. From the door, there is one set of steps leading to a landing. From the landing, the steps split into two “wings” leading to one side of the house or the other. While descending that first set of steps from the door, I missed the last step. Just. One. Step. I fell in a heap onto the landing, twisting as I went. This all happened so fast I wasn’t even sure, really, what had happened. It was like, one minute I was walking down the stairs, the next minute I was sitting on the landing holding my ankle, going Ow! Ow! Ow!
If I’d had any sense (which clearly, I don’t), I would have turned right around and gone back into the house. But I proceeded down the steps, with Pat’s help, and went for oysters. It’s the perfect time of year and the perfect temperature for the world-famous Apalachicola Bay oysters. Eating those dozen raw oysters was my last happy moment of 2012.
Again with Pat’s help, or maybe Brenda’s, I had to climb back up the whole set of stairs into the house. At least at that point, I did the right thing. I elevated my leg and put ice on it. My ankle, by that time, was swollen like a balloon.
I’ve never broken a bone before so I didn’t really know what to look for. But by the next morning, which was Sunday, I had a very strong feeling that my ankle was broken rather than just sprained. The pain was excruciating and I couldn’t walk at all. I could barely stand up. I knew I had to go to the Emergency Room. The question was, how to get out of the house?
So we did the only thing possible…we called 911. The St. George Island Volunteer Fire Department came and carried me down the steps in a special chair built for that purpose. I have a picture, but WordPress does not seem to want me to share it for some reason. I’ll have to investigate that later.
The only person on duty that morning was the Fire Chief, Jay, and he called in another volunteer to help–primarily because the chair was in her vehicle. Jay came again two more times, once to get me back into the house after visiting the ER, and a final time to get me out of the house to come back to Tallahassee. Unfortunately, these last two times, he came alone, so that poor Pat had to do rescue duty without having volunteered for it.
So after being carried from the house, Brenda, Pat, and I piled into Brenda’s SUV, or well, I didn’t exactly pile. Can I tell you how hard it is to get into a Ford Expedition with an injured leg? I’m short, so it’s a challenge for me even normally. We headed to the nearest town with an ER, namely, Apalachicola itself. The county seat of Franklin County, Florida. Population as of 2000–2,234. This was not going to be high tech medical treatment. But the only alternative was to go back to Tallahassee, which I refused to do. And not just for stubborn reasons.
Apalachicola is about 9 miles from St. George Island. Tallahassee is 80. If I had gone back to Tallahassee I would have been alone, without Pat and Brenda and the Volunteer Fire Department to help me. Worse, if Brenda took me back she would likely have gone on to return home herself to Jacksonville. Therefore missing the main purpose of our visit–the bonfire. I didn’t see why their vacation should be ruined too. It would have made me feel worse than I already did.
I now see that this post must be done in installments. Next epis0de: the Emergency Room.