I have lots of stories. After a week of ‘vacation’ in Florida with my kids, my parents, my sister and her family (hub and three more kids), I have stories. I say ‘vacation’ because now that I’m home, I need a vacation from my vacation. I’m convinced Seinfeld used my family as a source for his material. Anybody that has spent extended time with out of town relatives knows what I’m talking about. I love them all dearly but it’s good to be home.
I will write my stories. But something big happened that I have to write about first. Something so big that it stopped me in my tracks. Just as it stopped dozens of others in their respective tracks as well. It’s bad. And good. It’s scary. It’s life. It could have been death.
People often reflect when something big happens. Particularly when it’s serious and frightening. This is one of those times.
It happened nine days ago. I was making dinner for my kids as we were talking about our trip that was to begin two days later. My pal Rich sent a group text to Tom and me. He said, “In ER going into surgery. Got hit.”
Tom and I sent a flurry of questions and were able to find out Rich was run over by a car. Rich was on his motorcycle in the left lane of a four lane road. It was a suburban road with lots of stop lights and strip malls. A car in front of him in the right lane decided to make a left turn into a Boston Chicken. From the right lane. The driver turned directly in front of Rich and there wasn’t much he could do. He turned the bike and slid into the side of the car. He doesn’t remember much else.
Luckily he had on his helmet. It is trashed. His foot wasn’t as lucky. It got crushed. Somehow Rich’s foot got tied up in the wheel well and ended up getting run over. Rich texted that on a scale of 1 to 10 the pain was a 10.
It is a much longer story. Rich is a father of two children and a husband. And he recently started his own business that is reliant on his presence since he is basically the only employee. Nobody can afford to be run over by a car. Rich in particular.
The doctors had to relieve pressure in Rich’s foot. It was bleeding internally and bones were pulverized. They lacerated and basically his foot popped like a balloon. Then they went in to see about saving the foot. The docs were skeptical upon sight and warned his wife he could lose his foot but didn’t tell Rich. It was dire but luckily they were successful. The surgeon said that even just minutes later in terms of getting him in, prepped and under the knife, and he would have lost his foot.
Amazingly Rich has had an upbeat attitude throughout the last week. Despite all the pain and uncertainty (nobody knows if he will be able to walk normally again much less get by without a cane), Rich has been joking around and having a positive attitude. Tom and I were texting him regularly throughout the week. I’ve been laughing at the texts as I go back through them. Rich appreciated us taking his mind off the pain and fear of what lies ahead. I texted Rich how there is a bright side in everything. For example, I’m looking forward to introducing Rich to strangers. It could go like this: “Hi, this is Tom. He runs like the wind. And this is Rich. He got run over by a car.” I’ve been checking concert schedules. The handicapped section at Red Rocks is in the fourth row! I reminded Rich that now is the time to stop putting his foot in his mouth. I’ve called him Gimp only about 27 times so far.
Once the doctors knew the foot was saved, they focused on the little parts. Rich’s little toe in particular. It was detached on the inside and they weren’t sure if they’d be able to piece it back together. Cutting it off was a real possibility. This excited me. I figured Rich could bronze his little toe and put it on his key chain like a lucky rabbit’s foot. But alas, the surgeons are really good over there at the chop shop and they were able to fix the baby toe too.
I was able to visit Rich for a couple hours before we left town. I brought him some porn magazines, a gnome and a huge pack of pirate tattoos. I don’t have a lot of experience with friends laid up in the hospital so I went with what I thought I’d like if my foot were shattered and I was jacked up on morphine.
In hindsight, the pirate tattoos were a big hit. Porn and gnomes are givens so the pirate tattoos positive effect was unexpected. Rich’s wife and I applied pirate tattoos all over Rich’s upper body. He was a bloody mess and stuck in the hospital bed in nothing but his grimy South Park boxers with his balls hanging out and a swollen disgusting foot that looked like a prop from a Wes Craven slasher movie. Covering him in pirate tattoos seemed like the natural thing to do.
Throughout the last week, Rich texted photos and uploaded more on Facebook of all the people he got to put pirate tattoos on themselves. Nurses, hospital staff, his grandma, relatives, kids, every person that visited and even his surgeon. They all stuck pirate tattoos on themselves and posed for pictures. The best was the night nurse that did a tramp stamp.
Rich got home yesterday – the same day as me from my vacation. I came over with beers and to eat the awesome green chili one of our friends brought him. I’m thinking I should stop by every night around dinner time – the women in the hood are great cooks. Rich has some more surgery ahead of him, including some skin grafts. There are two huge stripes on each side of his foot where no skin exists. I tell you, it’s fucking gross. I think they might fix it with ass skin. That seems even more gross! Rich will constantly be kicking his own ass. Not many people can do that.
There is still a long road to recovery. Healing. Hoping his business survives. Insurance and settlements. And pain. Still lots of pain. But through it all Rich is smiling and positive. His mind is amazing. He is doing his best to be worry free. He knows worse things can happen. It could have been his head in that wheel well. It could have been his last ride on earth.
Rich’s sons visited him in the hospital on Father’s Day. Rich told me yesterday it was the best Father’s Day he ever had, by a longshot. Wow. That really hit me. All Rich needs is to be loved and to love. He certainly has both going strong. My gimpy friend Rich is lucky to be alive. Aren’t we all?