Tuesday, October 4, 2011

If it's broke, fix it.

My dad firmly believed that nobody drinks enough water. Headaches were the result of not drinking enough water. Stomach ache? The surest cure was a frosty glass of water. Scraped knee? Drink more water. Arm gnawed off by a great white shark while surfing? Surely you must be dehydrated and need to drink more water.

Just as Dad believed water could cure any biological ill, he was firmly convinced he could fix any household item. Dad grew up fixing cars and for a while, owned his own car repair station. Decades after he had gotten out of fixing cars, mine was in the shop. The owner of the shop called to tell me he couldn't find anything wrong with it. I asked if he had checked the starter. He replied he hadn't and in order to check it there would be a fee if it tested 'ok'.  I told him, “Dad said it was probably the starter.” “Oh” he replied, “In that case, we will pull the starter; your dad is usually right about those things.” Although he wasn't afraid of trying to fix anything, sometimes his usual choice of repair materials was a little off. I still remember him trying to fix a vacuum cleaner with Elmer’s glue and toothpicks. I believe my father thought that Rome wasn't built in a day, but could have been with the proper toothpicks.

Now I find myself imitating my father. I tell my daughters they need to drink more; I try and fix household appliances (although I tend to use super-glue, duct tape and it's cousin, electrical tape, and some fancy epoxy I picked up at Home Despot.) My family is quite aware of my penchant for these items. Every year at Christmas, I receive new tubes of super-glue. If I am fixing something, I often hear a daughter chime in, “Daddy, I am looking for your electrical tape.” Physicists are eagerly searching for how the nucleus of an atom is held together. I already know what holds it together – super-glue and duct tape.

I wrote all of the preceding to tell you reader a story. Saturday night at around 10 pm, I was at work going down a set of stairs. If stair descending were an Olympic sport, I would have scored a perfect ten on my form. But, when I reached the bottom landing, my ankle began to hurt rather horribly. I had not twisted it, I had not skipped any stairs, I scored a perfect ten and was expecting an Olympic Gold Medal. Anyway, I iced it for almost an hour and at 11 pm I went to ED/Urgent Care at Park Ridge Hospital.

The wait wasn't long as apparently it wasn't a big night for medical emergencies. In fact, I barely had time to send a quick tweet announcing, “I am in ED. Falling apart. Send super-glue and duct-tape.” when an X-ray technician, Kelly, came in and said, “Mr. Distaffen, I am here to take you for your chest X-ray.”

I replied, “That is nice, but it really is my ankle that hurts.”

Apparently, she had taken so many chest X-rays already she just blurted that out. After my X-ray the Assistant Physician came in and announced there were no broken bones and it was just a sprain. Within a few moments I had my ankle wrapped in an ace bandage and an aircast put on (fancy name for two foam padded plastic splints that are held on either side of the leg by velcro straps).

Things were moving so quickly in the ED/Urgent Care, that soon I found myself face to face with two people with stacks of papers. One stack was my admission paperwork that needed a few signatures. The second person held the stack of discharge paperwork, which also needed signatures. Just to be sure, I signed the discharge paperwork first, making this the world’s shortest ED visit, since I was technically discharged before I was admitted.

Now, I am sitting here, foot elevated, drinking ice water, since I am probably dehydrated and gazing at my fancy aircast. It is occurring to me that I could build a better one with toothpicks, duct-tape, and super-glue.

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