Yesterday I popped down to Chinatown to buy decorations for Chinese New Years. When I got home, I had about an hour before Elanor and I had to leave for our first playdate with a mom I’d met on an Expat forum, so I decided to hang up the decorations. After hanging the last decoration on the wall above the couch, I went to step down from the couch. I even did this as safely as possible–holding B’s arm to be cautious.

Alas, my attempts at “safety” were mocked by a wooden block when I stepped down onto it, and it tipped over, causing me to fall and land on my ankle.

Goddamn gravity.

The pain was immediate and overwhelming as were my shrieks. I knew, immediately, that I was in trouble and that I needed to be at a hospital. I knew there was no way I was going to be able to make it to the ground floor and into a taxi. I needed an ambulance.

I had no idea how to get an ambulance.

I lay on my back on the floor, foot elevated and resting (and swelling) on a dining room chair. Elanor was being restrained by B on the couch, shrieking “Mommy’s Crying! Mommy’s Crying! Mommy’s Crying!” I pulled out my phone and did the only thing I could think of at that moment….I called Ravi, who helped me find the number for the ambulance.

Quick sidebar for useful information. In Singapore there are two types of hospitals–public (ie government run) and private. The private are generally considered to be “nicer” with shorter wait times and such (and are correspondingly more expensive…but that’s not a concern as we have a good insurance policy). There is an emergency ambulance number–995, but they will only take you to government hospitals. As I was not gushing blood or anything equally critical, I did not want to experience the joys of a public hospital. The private hospitals have their own ambulance numbers, but have many many fewer ambulances.

I call the number for the private ambulance so that I can go to Gleneagles hospital (a private hospital about as near to me as Mount Elizabeth, where I had not really liked the emergency room experience) and am told that THE ambulance is busy.  They’ll call me when it’s available. Assuming (naively) that this would mean a 10-15 minute wait, I agree and hang up.

I take this moment to have Elanor come over to me.  I tell her I have a bad owie and that I need a hug and a kiss (which is what I give her when she falls…trying to frame things in a way that she can relate to).  She kneels next to me and prostrates herself across my chest, hugging me as tightly as she can.  Normally, as she’s a very busy little girl, hugs last a matter of seconds.  This hug went on for minutes, as I rubbed her back and tried to reassure her that I was okay (as I’m trying not to cry from the waves of pain still crashing from my feet almost to my knee).

I let Ravi know the deal.

I realize it’s been a while…over 20 minutes.  I call back and am told that they don’t know when THE ambulance will be available.

I call Ravi and ask him to find a different hospital and ambulance.  I decide on Mt. E and he calls for an ambulance while I call the ambulance back to tell them I’m going to a different hospital and to cancel it.  What we learn is that it’s the same ambulance.  Luckily, they are now free and after some confusion (until we realize it’s the same ambulance for both Gleneagles and Mt Elizabeth–and Parkway Health Center) they come out to get me.

As we wait, Elanor alternates between some impressive shows of empathy (with hugs and kisses, and such), trying to make me happy (I asked her to build a tower with her giant lego-type blocks and for the first time I’ve ever seen….she did it…usually blocks are just things to be strewn about the living room…as I learned the hard way), and forgetting I was in pain and doing things like almost running me over with her mini-coupe ride-in car.

When the ambulance comes, they get me on the stretcher. However, the elevator in my building won’t accommodate a stretcher laying down, so they do something that cleverly turns it into a seat of a sort to get me down to the lobby.  Elanor has to be restrained again as she tells everyone that “Ellie’s ready to go, Ellie’s ready to GO.”  B has to bring her downstairs so she can see me off.

The chair is converted back into a stretcher and I’m put into the ambulance.

Ravi is trying to leave work and plans to meet me at the hospital.  Given that this is a flashback to only several weeks prior, when I was hemorraghing, I try to make a joke about his work thinking he’s got the most uncreative excuse ever…and that he’s overusing it…to get out of work mid-afternoon.  He also calls our insurance company to let them know that I’m on the way to the ER.

I arrive and wait to see the doctor.  The doctor is visibly confused by my footwear when she enters the room.  I explain the story of what happened.

“Why did you put on a sneaker?  That must have been so painful!” she says, as she tries to remove it with as little pain to me as possible.

“I had it on already,” I tell her.  Knowing I was going to do a lot of walking, I’d opted for sneakers as opposed to flip flops, and knowing I was heading back out, I hadn’t bothered to remove them when I entered the apartment (although I usually do).

She looks confused.

“I knew I was going back out, so I didn’t take my shoes off when I came home,” I try to clarify.

She looks a little horrified, given that she knows I was standing ON FURNITURE IN SHOES but decides I’m just a crazy Ang Moh (foreigner) and moves on with things.

I try not to laugh at the moment of cultural difference.

Ravi arrives shortly after.  I’m sent for an X-ray, which doesn’t show a break…although they think there might be a micro-fracture. Having gotten bored enough at some point, I had started tweeting/facebooking this saga and I take a moment to post “Not Broken.”

However, given the level of pain and such, they want to do an MRI to look for tendon/ligament damage.  This leads to calls to our insurance to get the okay for an MRI and the discovery that the Gleneagles MRI machine is down because it’s being replaced.  Which means they need to send me somewhere else.  Which means I need to wait for THE ambulance and the MRI machine to both be free. Which will be several hours.

At this point, I’m starving and beg to be allowed food.  I get the okay and Ravi goes home to check on the toddler (who is visibly unhappy that he isn’t me when he walks in the door), get me food (hospital food—ick.  Asian hospital food–don’t even suggest I go there), and get my Christmas present of a portable battery operated cell phone charger as both our phones are dying.

When he arrives home, after Elanor gets over her frustration that Ravi isn’t me, she shows him the Chinese New Year decorations and tells him “Ni Hao!”  We’ve watched the Chinese New Year episode of Ni Hao Kai-Lan a lot recently as I’ve tried to wean her off Elmo’s Christmas Countdown.  She also tells him to say “I love Mommy” and “I miss Mommy” and to give me kisses.  Ravi also changes into jeans, as the opportunity to do so has presented itself.

He arrives back at the hospital and I voraciously attack the food.  Ironically, I’d been planning to head into the kitchen for a snack when I fell, and my peanut butter toast from earlier in the day was a distant and sad memory.

THE ambulance arrives, and I’m taken to Mt. Elizabeth (the very hospital I had been hoping to avoid earlier in the day) for my MRI.  The less said about the MRI, the better as there were long periods of holding my foot in excruciating positions.

I am told to wait for the THE ambulance to become available and to take me back to Gleneagles.  Which is an hour later.

But all of waiting and the pain is worth it, because the MRI shows clearly that I have broken my ankle.  And messed up a ligament (tendon?) on the front of my foot. The doctor tells me they’ve called the orthopedic surgeon and he’s coming in (from home) and will be about an hour.

At this point, Ravi goes to my Facebook comment about my ankle not being broken and comments “Would you like to extend and revise your remarks?”  To be fair, I knew he was a smart-ass when I married him.

The Orthopedic Surgeon shows up, and I apologize for pulling him away from his dinner/family/whatever.  The bad news is that I do have a break and some damage to a muscley thing (tendon?  ligament?)  However, I’m in “good” shape as neither is “displaced” meaning that healing is largely a matter of no weight on my foot and immobilizing it (and I imagine some physical therapy at a future date).  He tells me he isn’t going to put a traditional cast on me because the first few days will be all about the swelling.  I’m to come to his office on Monday and he’ll set me up with a plaster (cast of some kind) once the swelling is over with.  In the mean time, I’m to park my ass in a wheelchair and elevate the foot and not move much (apart from moving the leg to prevent deep vein thrombosis–blood clots forming).

However, the hospital doesn’t have wheelchairs or walkers handy, and I’m sent home on crutches with a number to call in the morning.

There is a sad tale of tortured hopping from the cab to our bed best not recounted other than to say it’s a miracle that I didn’t fall and break something else.

Today Ravi went out and got a wheelchair and a walker for me.  He asked me if I wanted a silver or a pink walker…and I, of course, jumped on the chance to have a pink walker.  He gets the wheelchair home and I sit in it for an inaugural ride.  At which point we notice a wheel is breaking.

Elanor correctly observes “Mommy break bicycle” (it has wheels, she’s 2…bicycle is close enough).

So after lunch Ravi and I go to the medical supply place and end up buying (as opposed to renting) a wheelchair that’s far more comfortable for my plus-sized frame and apparent freakishly long legs (the footrests were at my heel when I had my leg out, which was uncomfortable to say the very least.

I am now home (Elanor–Mommy bicycle!) and resting.

However, there are 4 problems in the house–the step in/out of the apartment, the step in/out of the bathroom, the in/out step to the other bathroom, and the in/out step to the kitchen.  B is about to get a crash course in Western Cooking as there’s no real way I can manage.  The steps are a pain (literally) and I don’t see how I can keep my balance AND cook.  Which sucks, as I’m suppose to be making several birthday cakes this month–one for B and one for my friend Mishelle (and I had SUCH a good plan for Mishelle’s cake).

Our plan to visit Kuala Lumpur while my in-laws visit in two weeks is now off.  As are my plans to go see the parade in Chinatown for Chinese New Years (do they show it on tv?).  And my plans to go photograph Thaipusam in Little India.  And a bunch of other stuff.

Let’s just hope I’m not wheelchair bound when Ravi and I go to Hong Kong in February.  I refuse to miss out on the Taylor Swift concert.

If I believed in a God, I would think that S/He has decided I’m Her/His personal sitcom.

This entry was posted in Acts of Supreme Clumsiness, Culture Shock, customs, medical, Singapore. Bookmark the permalink.

23 Responses to Broken

  1. Kirsten says:

    Don’t worry, there will be a TV special as cheesy as NYE on MediaCorp for CNY. Although I don’t quite remember if it’ll be only in Mandarin or not…

    • Crystal says:

      Better than nothing, and certainly better than trying to brave the crowds in a wheelchair with my leg extended for all to bump into and hurt further.

      • Kirsten says:

        Anyway, the most fun bit is generally the sitting at home and eating a lot, so I guess you won’t have to miss anything out! 😀

      • Crystal says:

        Mostly I need friends to come over and sit & eat with me! Boredom will surely set in quickly. Luckily the wheelchair helps a great deal with mobility.

  2. Kirsten says:

    Dang, I would totally go sit with you over the Chinese New Year but I will be on a shoot in Bangladesh (and hence missing the whole festival completely). But maybe you’ll be much improved by then, it’s in the first week of Feb so you have the rest of Jan!

  3. floramoreno says:

    Dude, that sucks. I’m sorry. Hope you’re medicated to handle the pain. If you need anything, let me know!

    • Crystal says:

      I will. Maybe we can do a blogger get together at my place? Watch movies, eat junk food? I’ll ping everyone next week once I see the orthopedic surgeon again.

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  5. Mishelle Pang says:

    You are so sweet to have thought of me during your pain and misery. I’m sure the cake would have been DELICIOUS! Now is the time to take care of yourself and heal that damn ankle!!! See you soon 🙂

    • Crystal says:

      I’ll make it later…as a belated B-day cake. We should still celebrate. Come over on Wednesday night or on Thursday!

  6. bookjunkie says:

    your lil girl’s reactions are just too precious. She obviously loves her Mama to bits 🙂 I am so sorry that you had the bad accident.

    Will post more pictures of CNY and rabbits, if I see anything interesting on our island in the coming weeks 🙂

  7. Wendy says:

    I was torn between laughing and wincing when reading this. I hope you feel better soon!

    • Crystal says:

      It’s all about time now…but it’s hard to be dependent when I’m used to be the opposite.

  8. Kate says:

    Oh no! This all sounds horribly traumatic, but I hope you’re recovering nicely now and not experiencing too much pain. It’s great you were able to recognize (and laugh about?) the absurdity of a single ambulance in the midst of all this!

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