The Star-News


When the universe conspires, be careful

Sat, Nov 17 2012 12:00 PM Posted By: Richard Pena

In my early days in education some of the college professors liked to tell the story of the Kindergarten teacher who was going to teach her class all about birds.  She had an elaborate lesson plan that would have made most of the professors proud.  She had colorful paintings and photographs of birds, she had professional and amateur illustrations of the local birds and she even had a rarity for its time, a phonograph record with the chirps of the birds.  Just before she launched her lesson, however, she had a drawback.  A squirrel walked into the classroom.

The illustration of the tale was, of course, to emphasize that when a teaching subject unexpectedly rears its head grab it.  In the K teacher’s case the bird lesson plan went back into the drawers and the subject became squirrels.  I mention this because the other day I experienced something similar.  As is my custom I started this week’s column in the middle of the week.  My subject matter was autumn, a season I truly love and I can say nice things about it.  But on Friday, late in the afternoon all that changed.  I met a squirrel.  But in my case it was an incident that resulted in my spending the better part of five hours in the emergency room of a local hospital.  And this time I was the guest of honor.

Those of us who experience falls have little explanation for them.  I certainly fall in that category.  In one instance I am walking in my driveway with a cup of cat food and the next thing I know is the feeling of concrete alongside my head and face.  All I can think about is what did I do and what do I do next.

It was just about turning into night (these things never happen in the middle of the day) .  There is, of course, no one around.  The usual walkers have had their exercise and settled in for the night.  I think that some sort of adrenaline must have set in because I was able to get to my feet and come into the house.

First things first, I thought.  I read that somewhere.  Since I could get around rather easily I determined that nothing major was broken.  I went into the bathroom to look in the mirror.  Big mistake.  I looked like a Halloween costume, the X-rated type.  I tried to fix myself up but was doing a bad job.  In other words, I needed help.  It took only one call to my neighbor down the street, Dick VanBeenan.  He then enlisted the aid of Theresa and Ivan Berwager from across the street and Pat McGuire from Racine Court, which meant that Sweetwater Manor was well represented.
They looked at me with questioning eyes and all formed the same opinion.  I needed the help of the emergency room.  By that time John Porner, a friend from the Merrie Ukes arrived and insisted on driving me over there.  We went to Scripps Chula Vista and, from past visits; he knew right where to go.

That was the start of my five hour stint as a patient.  And it was an efficient, no-nonsense period of time.  That time was great.  I was given all the required tests in a minimum of time, the tetanus shot, the stitching of my lips and face, a cat scan, an EKG and the cleaning of my face and hands and the bandaging where necessary.  I had a nurse named Michelle who coordinated all this, all under the direction of the emergency room physician, Dr. Raeber who did the heavy work.

My caregiver Patty Atkinson and her daughter, Samantha, arrived at the emergency room and relieved John Porner who had been the person with the answers up to this period.  Patty took charge of me after that taking me home and settling me in for what was left of the night.

You lay in bed, after the entire scenario has run its course, and you wonder just what happened.  You think that you ought to blame someone, but who?  I was on my way to feed the cat when I fell.  Blame kitty?  She could care less.  The good Dr. Raeber told me that those things happen.  Don’t worry about them.  But then we wonder, why me?

As I drifted off I thought of an old Frank Sinatra tune that had the lyrics, “…I pick myself up, brush myself off, and start all over again.”  That is me.  Except I am going to add, “And be careful when you feed the cat!”


© 2009 The Star-News