811 and the Heel of my Hand

Catherine and I had a meeting at Colonel Gray High School this morning with Oliver’s teachers, and when the meeting was over we headed back to the car. Snow had started to fall in the interim, and it was lightly dusting the ice below, creating prime slipping conditions.

Catherine is the primary slipping danger in our family, as she has cancer sites in her bones that render her more brittle than the average person; the orthopedic surgeon she consulted with a couple of years ago gave her strict instructions not to fall, ever, under any circumstances, a request she’s (mostly) honoured since.

As Catherine was (gingerly) getting into the car, she said “be careful, Pete, it’s really slippery.”

Advice I promptly ignored, as I threw myself headlong into the task of brushing the snow off the car.

And, suddenly, I was falling backwards onto the aforementioned ice.

It was slippery. Very slippery.

Fortunately I did not break anything, and my injuries appear restricted to some pain in the heel of my right hand when I put pressure on it (most noticeable, so far, if I get out of a chair, using my right arm to help, or if I use a stapler with that hand).

I was concerned, though, that trouble might be lurking–catatonic carpal thrombosis syndrome or some such thing. I didn’t want to go to the ER, and I didn’t want to use my doctor’s time, so I did what you’re supposed to do in non-emergency medical situations, and I called 811.

After a couple of rings and a bleep and bloop through a shallow phone tree I was talking to a very helpful and friendly registered nurse. They took my name, my family doctor’s name, and my date of birth, and then walked me through an exhaustive set of questions over the course of about 10 minutes (is there a bruise? is there a puncture? is there swelling? do you have full range of motion in your hand?). At the end of the flow chart was the recommendation that I could ice my hand, take pain relief if needed, and see how things go over the next 7 days.

The most impressive part of the dialogue was the nurse asking me to repeat back the instructions I’d just received to make sure I understood them: that’s a great idea, especially when dealing with people who are, inevitably, under more stress than average.

Given the range of calamity that could have befallen me, I’m more than happy to deal with a little bit of pain in my heel for the next while, and to avoid stapling.

811, meanwhile, has revealed itself to be a treasure of a service.