Help! My DUMB BUTTON Is Stuck!

Help, my dumb button is stuck


I write about emergencies all the time. In fact, I’ve responded to more emergencies than I care to remember. Yes, I’ve pretty much seen it all, from gruesome homicides to horrible crash scenes. And I’ve always remained calm and cool through the worst of the worst. But today I was faced with a personal emergency and I nearly lost my mind. In fact, I barely remembered the number to 911.

Actually, this started last night when our beloved blind and nearly deaf 19-year-old poodle wasn’t feeling well. So, I stayed up with her until after 3 am, holding and rocking her until she finally settled down enough to go to sleep. Then, this morning when the time came for her to head outside for her bathroom break my wife volunteered to take her, allowing me a few extra minutes of much-needed sleep.

But my rest quickly turned to panic. My wife, holding the 6 lb. poodle in her arms, slipped on the steps and fell. I quickly ran to her, thinking I’d help her to her feet and all would be well. Unfortunately, I noticed that her right foot jutted out to the right at a horribly grotesque and unnatural angle. And the bones of her ankle, the ones that normally protrude from the sides of her foot, were now poking out in the front.

This is where things begin to get a little hazy for me. I remember seeing my wife as she was heading toward the floor, cradling the dog in her arms (the dog, by the way, made it out of this just fine). And I remember rushing to her side (I was still as cool as the center seed in a cucumber). But when I saw “the foot” and the condition it was in, my mind went as blank as an author’s computer screen during an ugly spell of writer’s block.

I think I frantically walked in circles for a full minute before I finally heard my wife’s weak voice (she was in full-blown shock at this point) telling me to call 911, which I did after re-learning the functions on my cell phone. However, when the emergency operator came on the line I had difficulty remembering our address, my phone number, and my wife’s name and age.

That’s when it hit me. After all these years I finally realized why so many people sound so darn foolish when they call 911. There’s a  feature in our heads, a DUMB BUTTON, that’s instantly activated when someone we love is hurt. And believe me, my DUMB BUTTON was pushed especially hard this morning. My wife was in intense pain. Excruciating pain. And her pain hurt me. And that hurt held its gnarled finger on my DUMB BUTTON for a couple of hours before it finally let go.

There were, however, some good things that happened today. The EMS crew that arrived to care for my wife was top of the line. They knew what they were doing and they did it in a hurry. The hospital ER staff was equally as good. So were the nurses, the morphine and dilaudid, and the folks in x-ray who revealed three quite nasty breaks in my wife’s leg (three bones, three breaks). But it was the surgeon who came in to realign the foot who impressed me the most. He administered the same goop that killed Michael Jackson, which turned out my wife’s lights for precisely 15 minutes. During that time, the doctor grabbed the foot, yanked once, pulled twice, and turned the foot back to where it was supposed to be. Then he held it in place while his assistant wrapped it with splinting material.

This brings me to where I am now, sitting in the OR waiting room at 9:30 pm, 13 long hours after the fall. Yep, my precious wife went into the OR at 6 pm for for an operation that was supposed to take no more than two hours—steel plates, screws, and pins.

Well, I just called the nurse in the recovery room to see if she had any news. She bluntly reported that my wife was still in surgery and that someone would let me know when she was out. Then she told me to relax, watch a little television, and maybe have some dinner.

I think she pushed a different button this time…

22 replies
  1. capri smith
    capri smith says:


    Fabulous! Incredible! Amazing! I’m a learning junky and I totally got my fix. Only regrets? It wasn’t longer, and I have to wait until next year to do it again. Thank you so much.

  2. Mary-Frances Makichen
    Mary-Frances Makichen says:

    Hey Lee,
    Congrats on this event going so well!

    Totally off topic but I watched the premiere of the US version of Prime Suspect. I wondered if you had any plans to review it. The male homicide detectives were portrayed as being pretty damn against a woman in the unit. They referred to her as an “empty suit” and I have no idea what that means. Gonna have to google it!

  3. Molly Swoboda
    Molly Swoboda says:

    Well done!! Just bent my husband’s ear (again) on last year’s WPA, and the value not only to writing, but general public safety.

  4. Bob Mueller
    Bob Mueller says:

    Just saw this, Lee. Glad she’s basically going to be OK, with the addition of the new weather forecaster in her leg. Hope the dog is well, too.

  5. Lee Lofland
    Lee Lofland says:

    Thanks for all the well-wishes, everyone. She’s at home now, resting. And I have assumed the role of chief nurse. I administer medication as needed, and to the delight of my grandson, inject three drops of WD-40 every three hours to prevent her new robot parts from squeaking.

  6. GunDiva
    GunDiva says:

    Give her my best; I’m thinking of both of you. My mom has a couple of plates and a zillion screws in one of her wrists and she calls it her “bionic” wrist. I love your grandson’s comment about her being half robot now. Sometimes kids have just the right perspective.

  7. Lisa P
    Lisa P says:

    I know how you feel. When I had to take my husband to the ER a few months ago (it was a kidney stone but we didn’t know that at the time) I almost forgot how to drive a stick. Even though I’ve been driving one my whole driving life! I think I stalled it twice!

    I couldn’t help but laugh at your story since I’ve been there but I do truly hope your wife heals quickly. I’ll be sending good thoughts and good vibes her way.

  8. ellen
    ellen says:

    The other good thing about this is that your grandson is totally excited. Last night when I told him that Nene was doing good and was out of surgery I explained to him that she had screws and metal plates in her leg but that she would be ok. He looked at me with wide eyes and said “I cant wait to tell my friends at school that my grandma is half robot, that is the coolest thing ever”.

  9. Falcocop
    Falcocop says:

    Hi Lee,

    Fortunately I have not found myself in that position but I do have some understanding of what you mean. Before I got into uniform (and from time to time when they were short) I worked in what you call Despatch. I have taken numerous 999 calls from totally panic stricken people, who, as you say cannot answer the most simple of questions such as phone numbers and addresses. The mind just goes blank.

    I hope your wife will have a speedy recovery.



    P.S. How is the dog?

  10. CarlaHKempert
    CarlaHKempert says:

    Lee, I’m so sorry to hear about your wife! I hope they can give her something to keep comfortable until she heals. In the mean time, it’s good that she has you there. (Be prepared, you might’ve been a cop before but you’re on nurse duty now.)

    Thanks for sharing that! Now I understand why hubby got lost on the way to the hospital, the night I woke up with searing stomach pains. We only live 5 blocks from the hospital but he forgot where it was. Even though I was doubled over, I felt like the only one of us with a clue. Now I know. 🙂

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