Only when I laugh

I was doing less than 50 on the way to work when the traffic braked sharply in front of me.  I braked hard and locked the front wheel of my bike.  No slo-mo action for me.  In an instant I was sliding along the fast lane, then, with a couple of rolls I finally stopped
I lay there, eyes closed, and tried to breathe.  My ribcage refused to move.  After an age I managed to get my diaphragm to make little bunny breaths.  I opened my eyes.  My  bike lay on its side two yards from me, in the centre lane.  The drivers of the cars fore and aft stood over me. 
"Lie still, mate," ordered one, rather unnecesarily, while the other called an ambulance. 
A motorcyclist in dayglow orange leathers knelt over me.  "Where does it hurt?"
Where did it hurt?  I had stubbed my big toe, but my motorcycle boots had saved my feet.  The end of the fingers on my right hand hurt.  The gloves were scraped, but not holed.  My ribs on my right side hurt, but the main problem was my breathing, or lack thereof.  My head was fine, so I told the biker I needed to take my helmet off.  I was feeling a tad nauseous, and up-chucking in a full-face helmet is not appealing.
Helmet off, and I heard the ambulance caller describe me as ‘a man in his mid forties.’  God bless you, sir.  He hung up and told the other driver how scary it was to see me slide.  "Ha!" I retorted in my mouse voice.  "You were scared!"  They chuckled.  What a hero I was, laughing in the face of adversity.
I dug my phone out of my trouser pocket.  It kept telling me to put the SIM card in.  It was winded too, then.  I borrowed the biker samaritan’s phone.  No answer from the Missus.  The answer phone kicked on.  Probably in the bathroom.  I tried again: engaged.  Then it rang.  She had dialled 1471.  I told her I was okay, but that I had dropped the bike.  She would have to warn work.  I only had two delegates this week, which was a blessing.
A passing ambulance man on his way to work chatted to me, presumably to keep me conscious.  The police took some details.  Finally the ambulance arrived.
Two very nice female paramedics checked my spine and neck.  Thank God for motorcycle body armour.  Then they pulled me to my feet.  I didn’t think my breathlessness could get worse, but it did.  I made my way to the ambulance and off we went to Dartford hospital Accident and Emergency (A&E).
There I was sat on a trolley and waited.  A consultant and a young trainee examined me and scheduled a couple of X-rays, one for my chest, one for my big toe, whose nail was now purple. By now I was feeling a fraud.  Though it was painful to breath deeply, I could breath much easier.
A nurse hooked me up to the bleep-bleep machine and asked what had happened.  I told her.  "By the Darenth interchange?"  she asked.
"Yes," I replied.
"You made me late for work!"  Oops.

Suddenly, as though a switch had been thrown, I felt bad.  The staff nurse, an insanely cheerful chap, asked how I felt.
"Nausea, dizzy, sweaty," I managed.
He looked concerned, and I was whisked off to an isolated part of A&E.  There he explained that I probably had a couple of broken ribs and definitely a collapsed lung.  They were going to stick a tube in there and release the air.  I had seen The Three Kings.  A quick stab with a syringe and I would be cushty,  thought.  Haha, wrong!
A very nice consultant explained it all.  (They were all very nice and keen to explain)  I asked for Er Indoors to told.  The psychotically cheerful staff nurse did so.  He told me she was the calmest victim’s wife he had ever phoned.
Then the operation.  The consultant, nurse, an impossibly young trainee male doctor and an impossibly gorgeous female trainee gathered around.  They placed the instruments onto a sterile area.  Oh my Goodness!  I’ve seen sewer pipes smaller than the drainage tube they were proposing to stick in me.
The consultant gave me a local and commenced open-cast mining on my ribs.  As he cut through the last intercostal muscles the staff said he could hear the escape of air.  "Nggg argh," I wittily rejoined through clenched teeth.  The gorgeous doctor held my hand, safe in the knowledge that I couldn’t raise so much as a smile. 
The consultant had problems making a hole big enough.  As he worked he kept jamming his finger in the hole, presumably to keep a seal.  It was about this time I offered to tell him anything he wanted to know.  The insertion of the tube was unpleasant in the extreme, though not painful.  The other end went into a tank.  I was reminded of the days when I brewed my own wine.

"We’ll bring your wife in, now."
"Oh hell.  Does she look angry?"
My blood pressure was low, an indication of possible internal bleeding, so they put me in for a CT scan.  I was sitting up on the A&E trolley, as that caused me the least discomfort.  One of the nurses said, "I’m going to lie you down for the scan.  I’ll let you down nice and gently."  She started to lower the back of the trolley, but it suddnly dropped a ratchet.  My cry of, "you liar!" was met with hillarity from the nurses present.
I was slid into the doughnut.  A dye was injected into the tap on my arm, which glowed hotly through me like the flush of embarrassed puberty. Yellow LEDs flashed and the innards of the the dougnut span quickly inches from my face.  Very Star Trek.
Back to A&E.  My blood pressure was back to normal and the CT scan showed nothing amiss.  Finally, at 5 pm, I was taken to Rowan ward, over eight hours after arriving.  Psycho-happy staff nurse cheerfully told me I had screwed up their four hour target.
I was settled into bed.  By now my bladder was beginning to nag me.  The ward nurse offered to get a bottle.  Twenty-five years ago I was in a similar situation.  I know I can’t go lying down.  Instead I crept the fifteen feet to the ward loo.  By the time I sat down my whole body was tense.  Do you know how hard it is to pee when you’re clenched tighter than a miserly clam?  Still, eventually I returned to my bed, carrying my lung drain, with a sense of achievement and a little dignity, the hospital-issued pyjamas not withstanding.
The Missus left about 6:30.  I tuned into Radio 4.  Just A Minute was.  A funny show, which reminded me of my broken ribs with every witticism.  Does it hurt …?




About snodlander
Snodlander is the nom de plume of Bob Simms. He is an IT trainer, but it's not as glamourous as it sounds. When he's not enthralling classes with adventures through SQL Server, he writes, draws and drinks his own home-brew. Buy his novel on Amazon Kindle at The Young Demon Keeper, It's 74p, for crying out loud!

One Response to Only when I laugh

  1. Jerry says:

    Bob – glad you are going to mend up okay and are still here to regale us.  All of us on the MCT newsgroups are hoping you are well again soon.   

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