A favorite anecdote tells about the husband who comes home knee-wobbling drunk and as sick as a skunk who has dined on a long-dead possum.
His long suffering wife dropped to her knees and prayed, “Oh Lord, please help my poor drunk husband.”
“Honey,” the husband interrupted, “please don’t tell the Lord I’m drunk. Just tell him I’m sick.”
I remembered the anecdote as I heard my wife tell someone, “He can’t come to the phone. He dropped his laptop on his foot and now he’s sitting in front of the fire with his foot elevated and covered with an ice pack.”
“Honey, please don’t tell folks I did such a stupid thing. Just tell them I’m ailing,” I pleaded.
X-rays revealed that the foot, although swollen twice the size of its mate and black and blue from big toe to ankle, was not broken.
On my visit to my doctor, he stared at the wounded foot for what seemed like minutes.
When I finally said, “Well?” he quipped, “I recommend you buy a lighter-weight laptop.”
I’m grateful for doctors who believe that a little bit of humor helps the medicine go down. The doctor then suggested we continue the same treatment: elevation of the foot and ice-packs.
When friends dropped by, my wife remembered Tom Sawyer offering Jim a look at his sore toe if Jim would whitewash the fence. She offered to unwrap the Ace bandage and allow a peek at my wounded foot for a quarter. There were no takers.
I could imagine the responses of friends upon learning of my disability:
“Did WHAT?” or “Dropped his laptop on his foot? Well, that’s a new one.” or “Well, how in the world did he do that?” etc.
It may be that I’m the only man in Raleigh who has ever dropped a 4.5-pound laptop on his foot from a height of almost 5 feet.
“Why is it that a self-inflicted wound hurts twice as much when there’s no one other than yourself to blame for it?” I asked the doctor. He had no answer.
I don’t know why it makes us feel better when we can blame others for our own stupidity, although friend Dorothy Chance insisted I’m not stupid.
“It was an accident, not stupidity,” she said.
I checked the dictionary’s definition of “accident.”
The first definition read: “an unfortunate incident that happens unexpectedly and unintentionally, typically resulting in damage or injury.”
Good! No mention of stupidity.
Back to blame. Normally, to recharge the laptop, I plug it into a den baseboard outlet where it’s almost impossible to drop on one’s foot.
But the Christmas tree was plugged into that socket. So I was using the outlet above the kitchen desk when the 4.5-pound laptop slipped from my grasp and crashed onto my foot.
Well, I could blame the 16th-century Germans who first came up with the idea of decorating trees at Christmas. I couldn’t in good conscience blame the visiting grandchildren for wanting a decorated tree in Raleigh when they already had one at home.
Or I could blame whoever made the decision to put the tree in the den instead of the living room, although I confess I enjoyed the fresh, outdoor aroma of the handsome tree as I sat by the den fire.
So somehow, the blame finger kept pointing at me.
I try to think of some positives from this experience.
If I had to be confined to spending hours with my iced foot sticking up in the air, what better time than when the weather outside was below freezing?
I had time to be grateful that the foot wasn’t broken. A friend said she once had spent nine weeks with a broken foot elevated. My month of immobilization didn’t seem so bad in comparison.
I also learned not to take for granted such routine functions as walking without a walker, limping or doing simple things for myself without inconveniencing my wife, who took such good care of me.
Above all, the experience enabled me to identify more closely with the less fortunate who are more permanently handicapped.
Anyway, I’ll probably take my doctor’s advice and buy a lighter-weight laptop. Since that’s what the doctor ordered, the cost may be tax deductible.