A Quest to Emergency (Alternative Title: If this ever happens to me, I’m going to lie and say it was dragons)

Last week I got a call from my partner while he was at work.

“I’m okay, but I’ve had an accident!” he said.

My mind went straight to:

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The reality, I established after a few minutes of agitated conversation, was more like:

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He had dislocated his knee. He was waiting for the ambulance to arrive, and he stayed on the phone with me until the pain got so bad that he was having trouble not screaming. I told him not to worry, the paramedics would be there soon and I would find him at the hospital, and then he hung up.

I had no idea how I would get to the hospital.

It’s a good forty minute drive, and I am not well. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) not only keeps me physically and cognitively exhausted, but also smacks me down ten times as hard if I try to push past my (very pitiful) limits. It lets me build up a crippling energy debt, and then it comes to collect. As you can imagine, it makes it (at best) difficult or even (at worst) dangerous for me to drive. I had sold my car a few months earlier. Now I was stranded.

I was used to CFS making me feel helpless, but this time I only felt rage.

My partner was injured, and I wanted to be there. After the surgery I had a couple of years ago, he had been with me every moment he was allowed. For a week he paid exorbitant hospital parking fees, ate cheap food from nearby take-away places, napped in a chair in my room and only went home when I had gone to sleep. Now I couldn’t even pick him up from hospital.

I was vaguely aware that there must be a rational way to sort this all out without making myself sick. Perhaps one of his work colleagues who had stayed with him would take him home. I didn’t have to personally go in. But I did have to, because that’s what you do when the person you love is hurt.

I decided that CFS wasn’t having this one.

I pulled out my Zombie Apocalypse List of friends. You know the friends I’m talking about. These are the friends who, when you really need something, just say ‘okay’ and help you. Everyone needs at least one of these people to call when the zombie apocalypse starts.

So I called one of my Zombie Apocalypse List friends and explained that I needed him to drop everything and drive me to the other side of the city and back because my partner had a non-life-threatening injury. I said that I really needed this.

He said, ‘Okay.’

Twenty minutes later we were on our way. I spent the whole trip monologing about the insanity of the cheap romance novel I am in the process of disemboweling to make paper roses for my upcoming wedding.

Just to clarify, I do not intend that as a generalisation of the entire romance genre. But this specific book was arrest-level crazy. Someone needed to sit those characters (and probably the author) down and have a serious talk with them about a) making life decisions, b) contraceptives and c) consent. There wasn’t actual rape, but there was rapey kissing, where one character forcibly kissed another who was saying ‘NO’ loudly and fighting to get away. The author seemed to think this was romantic, but it made me throw up a little bit in my mouth. Needless to say this scene is not making it to my wedding, even reincarnated as a paper rose.

My Zombie Apocalypse List friend listened calmly, understanding both the ick-factor involved in rapey kissing and that being tangential is just how I dispel nervous energy. I was very impressed and upgraded him to my Help, I Need to Bury a Body List. When I later told him this, he said that he could not in good conscience help me bury a body when a bathtub full of lye would do a much better job of removing physical evidence.

Duly noted.

We got to the hospital and promptly got lost. This was unfortunate because at this point I was definitely down to borrowed energy. We wandered around while I, using my health as collateral, built up a bigger and bigger energy debt. This meant that at the time I could push through, but the next afternoon I couldn’t move from the couch. I was so exhausted that standing up made me want to cry. Usually my loving, caring partner would do what he could to help me, but this time he was stuck on the same couch recovering from a dislocated knee. It’s a miracle we didn’t starve to death.

Maybe my CFS had a bit of a chuckle about all this. Maybe it even thinks it won this round. But you know what, CFS?

quest3

In the end we found the emergency department (it was the big, red part of the building with lots of ambulances parked in front of it that we had already walked past several times) just as my partner, mellow from pain-killers, was given the all-clear and turfed out of his wheelie-bed.

We finally heard his story in full.

Apparently he was lying on the ground to examine some cables.

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He rolled over to get up, but his foot got caught on something.

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The rolling action popped his knee out.

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He waited half an hour for an ambulance (dislocated knees are not a high priority). He quickly realised that all this had occurred on top of an ant nest.

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But he couldn’t relocate because it hurt too much to move, so he engaged in a vicious war with the ants in which his only weapon was his bum.

…which he used to crush the ants. Not gas them or mesmerise them with a sexy dance or whatever else popped into your mind.

quest8

See? Crushing them.

If you judge a war by its casualties, then he won. Hundreds of dead ants were later shaken from his pants. But if you judge it by any other means—such as who ends up with the land or dignity (or both) that was in dispute—then he lost.

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It’s a truly terrible injury story. I offered to improve it with a car chase and some dragons, but he seems happy with his ants.

32 thoughts on “A Quest to Emergency (Alternative Title: If this ever happens to me, I’m going to lie and say it was dragons)

  1. Please let me know if you a) ever write a book, movie, play or shopping list; b) have ever written a book, movie, play or shopping list; c) have telepathy that would enable you to communicate a book, movie, play or shopping list via ESP waves that I could transcribe (you’d have to draw it though). Point is, your blog is amazing!!!
    P.S. Would you add me to your ‘Lives thousands of miles away and is totally useless for anything but seriously positive vibes’ list? I know you have one.

    1. I have not yet completed a book, movie, play or shopping list (I use my memory with disastrous results). And I don’t have telepathy (unfortunately). But … well … maybe that will change in the future. I’ll be sure to keep you posted.

      (Also I now want to write crazy shopping lists.)

      I can’t add you to my Lives Thousands of Miles Away and is Totally Useless for Anything but Seriously Positive Vibes List because you do not qualify. I CAN add you to my Lives Thousands of Kilometres Away and is Useful for Many Things Including Haikus and Seriously Positive Vibes List. That’s a much better list anyway. It’s also in metric.

    1. Thanks! I’m not sure I should be the one telling them as campfire tales though, because I’m actually awful at verbal story-telling. I’m that person who rambles for five minutes to tell a joke, realises they’ve forgotten the most important bit, says “hang on, also the character in the joke that walked into the bar is actually the element argon”, and then messes up the punchline anyway.

  2. I love your writing and illustrations, you’re brilliant! And I second BRH- I would totally buy a book from you. Also is there any way I can join your Zombie Apocalypse list? I mean if there’s any kind of test for it I would probably err… not make the cut- but it’s always been a dream of mine to be the one relied upon in such a disaster.

    1. It’s really nice to hear this from you guys, because I’ve always wanted to write books. Good to know if I ever get there I have two book sales in the bag.

      Well, I think the only real impediment for you being on the Zombie Apocalypse List is that you are an Internet Friend who lives on the other side of the world, and most apocalypse films or movies break the internet as soon as the apocalypse starts. But, you know, why would that even happen with zombies? How does the presence of zombies shut down the internet? Surely it would at least stay working for a while. Everyone would be on twitter and trading tips and forging alliances and writing listicles (‘5 things only people who prefer to hunt zombies with chainsaws will understand’). And I definitely want you as an Internet Zombie Apocalypse friend.

      1. You have a great writing voice and really great sense of storytelling (I think- I’m not an expert so my opinions might be total crap.) I’ll accept being on the internet zombie apocalypse list, but now that I know you live around the world I am trying to figure out what state (or country?) you live in, but I can’t figure it out. Are you in the UK?

      2. Well, I like your writing, so I think you’re opinion on the matter is probably worth something.

        I live in Australia. Surprise! No one expects an Australian. And my state (because we have those too) is South Australia.

      3. Woah didn’t suspect that! Which is weird because that would make so much sense with the around the world comment. I was just secretly hoping you were in the UK because I’ll be visiting there soon!

  3. if i even had a liddl bit of inspirability bubbling or burbling anywear within, yoove almost inspired me to consider. consider, wrapping up the dragons ‘n demons ‘n quazi-etherial lurking denizenz and address them awl at wants! such as: there’s a car in the parking lot with it’s windows down and it’s raining. at home my wife and i are assailed by a combination of unwelcome house mice AND THE TITANIC. and tho’ i’ve driven all over texas, i’ve never seen a live armadillo (sniff). plenty of dead ones, though.

  4. shameless self-promotion: i wrote a pray-lewd and after the fat phact about the orygun zombee apocalypse. beached, weakened. i should probably apologize — however, point me to another of YOUR zombee apocalyptic essays ~

  5. I would 100% be your zombie apocalypse buddy if I lived on the same continent! Hopefully I too could earn a ‘bury a body upgrade’ in time! :) sorry your poor fella was injured in such a dramatic, (and unusual!), way. Have you made enough ‘ants in your pants?’ jokes yet though?! Sorry you suffer so much from your CFS. You need to be building up energy stores for your big day now. I’m loving the idea of your paper roses, (despite the appalling writing behind them.), could you do a little tutorial one day please?xx

    1. You can totally be on my internet friends zombie apocalypse list! My partner is doing much better now. You know, I didn’t do any ants in your pants jokes. Opportunity missed. And yes, CFS super sucks.

      Hmm. I hadn’t really thought about doing a paper rose tutorial. I never intended this to be a craft blog, so I’m not sure. Possibly I could write up something that was a tutorial and also stays in theme … but no promises. This is the article I worked from though: http://www.100layercake.com/blog/2011/07/22/diy-storybook-paper-roses/
      I haven’t been doing them exactly the same (e.g., I find three different petal sizes more than adequate and I haven’t put any ribbon on), and I found it a little vague on some of the details (how to roll the petals to get a good organic look). So my system turned out a little different, but not much different.

      1. Ahh thank you. Maybe you could do the tutorial as if it were a zombie teacher who couldn’t comprehend her zombie-ness & so carries on give paper rose lessons despite being all zombie-y. 😄 Can’t believe you missed the joke op, but v glad he is better. And YAY to being on the apocalypse list! Woop! 🤗

      1. You DID say that you had ideas for making a ‘not a picture’ picture. Which I’m super intrigued about! Also, I really want a tiara and sash and if someone does it with me it’s less ridiculous and self-indulgent?

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