The Law of Gravity


Thank goodness for Hydrocodone tablets. I took one about an hour ago so that I could get past the pain in my left chest and so that I might fall asleep.

The pain is gone but I am unable to sleep and I feel as if I am floating in a bag full of popcorn. The reason I am taking this medication is the fact that I broke my ribs on my left side.

I did it while taking pictures at a beach in Northern California. I looked up as I took a step and discovered that the place where I was supposed to be stepping was more slanted than I thought.

It is really a case about the Law of Gravity when I think about it. I lost my footing on my left side which is my weak side anyway due to my broken back.

When Gravity took control I tried my best to wrestle control back from the Law by it was of no use. Before I knew it I was tumbling off the 5 or 6 foot rock onto whatever lay below.

That is one of the many thoughts that flash-raced through my head as I toppled over the edge of this rock. I wondered what in the world was I going to fall on.

My imagination ran away with me as I pictured sharp, jagged rocks or sticks waiting to impale me. While this thought shot itself through my brain, I struggled to save myself.

Instinct and years of survival training told me to toss myself on my right side and spread out to create some sort of friction. Now my brain didn’t say ‘friction’ or anything remotely intelligent as that.

No, I heard that inner-voice say something closer to, “Oh, Sh…”

To be honest, I am not sure whether I finished the thought or not, because it was within a couple of seconds that I realized that trying to keep from falling was not working and I was falling and then I was hitting the ground, hard, on my left side. The ground as it turned out was more or less rocks of various shapes and sizes.

Three of these rocks I recall very well, only after catching my wind and my son Kyle gingerly sitting me up to see if I really was alive. The first two were side-by-side and are the ones I stuffed my left foot between as I struck the ground.

They kept me from being able to gain my balance and remain on my feet. I also got myself some real good ‘raspberries’ on my ankle from these two rocks.

This third rock was the one that smashed up my ribs. I knew I was going to fall over completely so I did my best to protect my head and as much of my rib cage as possible.

Unfortunately, I found the one rock that was shaped like a rounded off cone and it slipped just passed my elbow. Had it been sharp and pointed, my nightmare thoughts of impalement would have come true!

Thankfully Kyle was there and able to do some first aid magic. If it is possible I would like to nominate him to receive his first aid merit badge since he’s with the Boy Scouts.

It took me a while to gather myself and to realize I was going to have to climb up a couple of huge rocks to get out of the situation I was in. Believe me, with my back, I am in no shape to climb up anything these days.

Yet my son gently encouraged me, knowing we had to get back to the pick-up truck. Where we were on vacation there is no Veteran’s Hospital, so I had to drive home about 400-miles to seek medical aid.

That’s how I got these great pills. I just can’t believe that I have managed to break my back and now my rib and all after retiring.

It doesn’t make sense.

Once I was able to see my doctor, her first words after viewing my x-rays were, “Mr. Darby, you have broken ribs.” I would have laughed but it hurt too much at the time.

I knew they were broken.

Actually, I was hoping they were just bruised but when we started up from an elevation near zero feet and reached about 2-thousand feet above sea level I knew I was a hurting unit. My doctor made me take the pressure wrapping off my chest saying, “We no longer do that because we don’t want to take the chance that the ribs might puncture your lung.”

I had always heard it was put on there to prevent just that and to help stabilize the chest wall. She also instructed me to cough a couple times an hour, hard to help prevent pneumonia.

I didn’t argue, I just wanted some drugs and to go home so I could go to bed.

That is another amazing thing I have discovered about broken ribs. I cannot sleep on my left or right side as I am either in a tremendous amount of pain or I can’t catch my breath.

And worse yet, I am a belly sleeper, and I am stuck sleeping on my back the entire night. And I dread the idea of having to get up to go pee once I’m tucked in.

Follow this up with the fact that my body had decided to hiccup, sneeze, cough, belch or fart for no other reason than to send me into dizzying pain; a pain that has dropped me to my knees on a number of occasions. Plus, my ribs are attached to my anus.

I have no earthly idea how this could be, but as I sit on the Master Throne to pooh-pooh, my ribs pop and grind as if they are the ones constipated from the medication I have been taking.

When I look back on the whole incident, I feel rather fortunate though. It could have been much worse than it was. I remember that I didn’t lose consciousness because as I gasped for air I did thanking God for not letting me die.

I also recall the sound of my digital camera bouncing off the rocks. I also laid there for a lengthy time wanting to make sure I hadn’t paralyzed myself somehow. Guess that’s how the Law of Gravity works.

Next time —  jus’ write me a ticket.

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