Oscar, our ten year old Lhasa Apso, stays downstairs all night to “protect us” when Matt is out of town. He does this by sporadically barking his goddamn head off at all hours of the night.
Which is why, at 3:30 in the morning, I found myself going downstairs to let him out so he would shut the fuck up.
For 98% of my descent, I was golden, sticking the landing on each step like Kerri fucking Strug. But where the stairwell takes a right-turn for two more steps into our living room, I got tripped up on my socks and fell, face first, onto the hardwood floor. And in a two-stair interval, there’s not really time to brace your fall with your hands. So I braced it WITH MY NOSE. And that, my friends, is what the clichéd “sickening crunch” sounds like.
If the kids had been awake, they would have heard some choice words. Words like “motherfucker.” And other words that sounded a lot like “motherfucker.” In fact, “motherfucker” was uttered over and over again. Because kids learn best by repetition, people.
The pain made me nauseous, and as I lifted my head to vomit, I realized I was face-down in a growing pool of my own blood. Not caring, I threw up and placed my face back in the pool, waiting to die.
Then I heard a noise. Scratch, scratch, scratch.
And I remembered why I had come downstairs in the first place: To let the damn dog out. And since I am nothing if not task-oriented, I pulled myself up and dripped blood across the living room, dining room, kitchen, and mudroom to open the back door.
I moved to the freezer and grabbed a package of frozen blueberries, which would be my constant companion for the next three hours. Dizzy with pain, I sank face-down onto the blueberries, waiting to die.
It occurred to me about ten minutes in that I should be soaking up some of the still-flowing blood with a towel, but the only one in reach was the decorative towel on the stove, WHICH SHALL NEVER BE TOUCHED. So I dripped back through the kitchen, the mudroom, and into the laundry room closet to open a new roll of paper towels.
I wondered if I needed emergency help and how on earth I would handle this. OK kids! Let’s get up in the middle of the night while mommy drives erratically to the ER, where you will sit for hours like statues on your best behavior and not worry! If I called someone, they’d need to have TWO available people: One to save me, one to cover my kids. I decided to wait instead until daylight. Two more hours.
Around 4:30 I realized I could stand again. I also realized that the house looked like a CSI set and that no way could I let the kids wake up to a bloodbath. So I bleached and wiped, bleached and wiped: The floors, the counters, the cabinets, the washer, the back door. I went into the bathroom to wash my face and my first thought was not of my bloodied and swelling nose, but that my eyebrows were OUT OF CONTROL.
My blueberries and I fired up the laptop and went immediately to WebMD, where I determined I had a major concussion and was about to die. I texted my friend Katie at 6:16 with my plight, begging for help. I also apparently dialed her and then walked away, leaving her to wonder if I had been murdered. She agreed to come and help get the girls off and me to the ER in the morning.
But morning came, the girls awoke, and I’m all REED GIRLS DON’T NEED NO HELP! Besides, in a crisis, Astrid takes charge like a grown-up. Akeyla was freaked out by the sight of my nose, and me telling her it was broken, I needed x-rays, etc. Astrid pulled me aside:
Astrid: Mom, you’re scaring her. You need to talk to her in her own language.
Astrid (to Akeyla, in perfect preschool teacher voice): It’s OK, Key, mommy just has a boo-boo, like you got at the lake, remember? But hers is bigger, so she needs a nice doctor to put her band-aid on, but she’ll be all better!
I hate when my kid parents better than I do.
Off we went, Akeyla dropped at preschool, Astrid dropped at Critter Camp at the animal rescue, me to the doctor.
He’s all “I need to manipulate the nose” and I’m thinking, I could have brought my kids along to do that by whining and asking it for snacks, but then he started touching it and the word “motherfucker” was uttered again.
Then he gets a serious look on his face. “Are you safe at home?” he asks in a gentle voice.
And I’m thinking, well obviously not. THAT’S WHERE THE STAIRS ARE.
Then I realized he thought Matt had beat me so I’m all “Oh, my husband has an alibi.” Which I later realized might not be the least incriminating way I could have told him Matt was out of town.
After x-rays, I was diagnosed with a small, clean fracture and probably a mild concussion, the treatment for which is: NOTHING.
When I finally got home, ready to collapse into bed with my new best friend, a bag of frozen edamame, I had another friend waiting for me. Man’s best, if you will, standing at the back door, tail wagging, wanting to go out.
So I let the damn dog out.