Sunday, September 22, 2013

Toonces the Driving Cat

Toonces the Driving Cat

I am having a period of driving like Toonces the Cat. I hope you remember Toonces from Saturday Night Live or this will be lost on you.  Toonces was best known for his horrible driving, often driving off a cliff, and always surviving, I guess based on the nine lives theory. 

Mine have been minor yet idiotic scrapes. Like the other day when I was doing my errands too fast, I parked and ran into the optician's office to pick up a spare pair of contacts. It took all of three minutes but I guess it was long enough for my car (which I had failed to put in park) to slightly roll across the lane smack into the fender of another car. There were busybodies aplenty to tell me what had happened and they were hanging around to see that I would do the right thing. Well, of course, did I look like a scofflaw? I nervously tried to pull a piece of paper out of a notebook and then grabbed an eyeliner pencil to write with. The BB's are still there offering me paper and pen. I finally wrote my confession note with my cell phone number and let the BB's sign it as witnesses, because I didn't know how else to get rid of them. They were so eager to see justice done. An older man yelled from his car "What you are doing is a very nice thing, miss." That is more, props instead of accusers. But there is no one with as much time on her hands  as a non-working Bethesda mom during the school day. When Mrs. Smith  called me later she sounded like Mrs. Thurston Howell, III (another ancient television reference, try to keep up) and said "ah you poor dear, what happened?"
Mrs. Thurston Howell III (Lovey)

The previous run-in had been in the parking lot for The Dry Bar, a place where we go if we want someone else to wash and blow dry our  hair for us. I pulled into a spot, slightly grazing a white Lexus SUV whose owner was just coming to the car. She took my information but never followed up on it because she sounded exasperated by the process and said the car had just been  in the shop for something similar.  She never bothered to call my insurance company. That's what people who don't have time to wash and dry their own hair are like. I am included.

And one more, racing back to the office after lunch and smacking into the SUV next to me in the parking lot. I wrote the note, called the NIH Police to find the owner of the other car and then was told to stay "at the scene." The car turned out to belong to one of my colleagues from another institute. She acted all nice about it, especially when I told her how close the auto repair place is and that the rental car will be provided, but I am sure it was not  how she wanted to spend the next few days.

The problem is I am still driving a very wide SUV. It saved me from having to drive a van, because it seated seven, but I don't have kids to drive around anymore. Which leads us to Toonces Two.  My 17 year-old son is now a licensed driver, and within the first two weeks of getting the license, he 1) backed into another car on the street 2)  had the car towed and 3)  got a camera speeding ticket.

I want my next car to be the other extreme--the compact-est of the compact--a Mini Cooper or a Fiat, I am working on that right now. For the local
community the purchase couldn't come soon enough.

Except that I am passing the SUV down to Toonces Two.

Toonces Two, Newly Licensed, Beware

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Fall--makes me think of...

I slid into the summer evening tennis season with my usual eager anticipation, headed to a Thursday night Ladies League doubles match at a club nestled in the deep woods of Potomac.  The opponents won the first game. We switched sides, I was serving, and it was 40-15. The return hit was out wide.  I went running for it and toppled over on my right side, knee, shoulder and then resoundingly hard on the right side of my face. Miraculously, I never lost consciousness. Soon I was s surrounded by 11 well-meaning women deciding what to do with me: Stop the profuse nose bleed. Get towels and ice packs.   Go here, go there for treatment.

For half an hour I had 15 women acting as my “talking mirror,” looking at me and saying things like: “Oh my God!”  “Oh well, when you have the plastic surgery; just have them throw in an eye lift.”  “You look like a battered woman.” 

As soon as I was in the ambulance, my nose stopped bleeding and I told the paramedic that I was starting to feel pain.  He explained that meant I was losing adrenaline because of the “whole fight and flight thing.” Enough sophisticated medical talk. I knew I was all right when we started talking football, learned he was a Cowboys fan, groaned and told me he was making me feel worse.

Suburban Hospital Emergency Department: They could see that I was some sort of suburban damsel in distress, most likely of the tennis variety, but not a first tier emergency. I spent some time in the waiting room before they wheeled me to the most important triage area—the billing department. Then I saw a nurse, and I was assigned to a bed in “Level 2.”  My husband arrived and told me I didn’t look as bad as he thought I would. Another talking mirror.  A Physician’s Assistant arrived and told me I would need a tetanus shot, and a Computed Tomograhy (CT) scan of my head and face.

Waiting for those results was the hardest part.  One more inch and we are looking at a subarachnoid hemorrhage.  My husband guided me through the catastrophizing phase and finally the Physician’s Assistant  came back with the good news that my brain was A-OK but my nose was broken. I was advised to call a plastic surgeon or an ear nose and throat (ENT) specialist the next day.

Leaving the hospital, I finally saw myself in a mirror and I looked like hell.

I called my ENT the next morning, and was astonished to learn that she didn’t even want to see me until several days later after the swelling subsides.  The doctor took one look and asked what happened, and then told me I needed to avoid all “contact sports” for the next two weeks. Tennis proclaimed a contact sport.  The only real contact that goes on in our league is contacting the captain of the other team to confirm that we are playing.  She proposed a shocking, nonsurgical solution--she would just push the bones back into place manually. She said:   ”You would be out, of course, because you wouldn’t want to hear the sounds of the bones moving around.”  She was able to schedule me for the next day at Sibley Hospital.

The “procedure” took all of 10 minutes.  And I left with an adorable nose cast which I was to wear two days.  I kept it.  I thought it might make a nice still life perched on a banana, the fruit most associated with falls.