Just as I was getting used to feeling well and enjoying the experience no end, I fell. I was trying to get through the back door to my office, my arms full of books, when the door jammed on a carpet. I shoved it with my left shoulder, the door swung open, and I fell in and broke my hip. Mercifully a parishioner who is a nurse was in the office. She called for an ambulance. Pat didn’t have her cell phone with her, so it was later in the day, when she returned home, that she discovered I was at the Emergency Room in the La Porte Hospital.

What a splendid hospital it is. Nowadays one is used to being “processed” before being admitted. One must show ID and insurance cards before getting into a place where one can be evaluated. It was not at all like that. Through a fog of pain I kept suggesting that my insurance card was in my wallet, only to be told that someone would eventually get to such formalities but not to worry. The nurses were friendly and sympathetic and the doctor most apologetic that I must be X Rayed and that it would not be comfortable. An IV was inserted and an initial dose of pain killer provided and then I was wheeled swiftly to X Ray and gently moved onto the bench. A group of people expertly moved me from trolley to X Ray table and back again.

In no time at all, the hospital chaplain appeared and then my poor wife arrived, an Episcopal priest in tow. Yes, I had broken my hip, the doctor told me, but it wasn’t a particularly complicated break. I was then taken to a room. La Porte hospital only has single rooms. Fears induced by a recent stay in another hospital immediately evaporated. A year or so in another hospital I was roomed with an alcoholic who tore out his chemo line and went whooping around the corridors chased by frantic nurses. There was to be no such excitement in La Porte.

Later that evening, August 20th., my splendid and cheerful surgeon Dr Magill inserted a rod and pins and patched me up. Then I was moved to a very large corner room, with nice views of La Porte and enough room to hold a vestry meeting if I felt that masochistic.

I can’t speak too highly of the doctors, nurses and aides who cared for me on the 4th Floor and later on the Rehab floor. I would distribute medals to the occupational and physical therapy professionals who from the first day coaxed me out of bed and encouraged me to clamber up and down stairs with one hand on a rail and walker in the other, or made me walk and exercise and get myself mobile. I have always been against all forms of muscular Christianity, but despite the pain, I have to confess that I actually enjoyed working out.

I must also confess that the food was good. During my last stay in hospital in another state, I lost over twenty-five pounds. Not so at the La Porte Hospital. And if I wanted something other than that provided, it appeared in minutes, brought to me by a cheerful youth. If I rang for a nurse, someone came almost immediately.

Once in rehabilitation I took most of my meals with other patients. My first visit to the dining room was a bit difficult. The other patients sat around in lugubrious silence and my attempts to liven things up provoked the sort of response once encountered in English railway carriages, when the rule of silence was observed with all the discipline of a Trappist monastery.

Gradually I managed to produce some replies and even smiles. Two men had suffered strokes. One, a big, healthy looking man had just returned from a scout trip to the Blue Ridge Mountains, where he had canoed and hiked and had a wonderful time, only to be smitten while sitting at his computer. A lovely eighty-seven year old lady, who lives alone and loves to tend her flower garden, tripped and broke her shoulder badly. Another rather grand lady broke both hips while showing off her new clothes to family members. My simple fracture seemed slight in comparison to the damage these people experienced.

We got used to meeting each other in the therapy room. During rest breaks, one could watch another “inmate” being put through his or her paces by insistent but cheerful professionals.

The hospital staff seemed to have reached an extraordinary conclusion or two. The first was that if one allowed patients to sleep at night, instead of waking them up grumpily every hour or so, they were better able to function during the day. The second conclusion they must have reached at some stage perhaps years ago is that if the staff is cheerful, kind and interested in the patients, things run so much more smoothly.

So now I am home, staggering around on a walker and going in three times a week for therapy in a pool. I am armed with all sorts of gadgets to help me put on socks, pick up things I drop, and get my cup of tea from the kitchen to my chair. There has been a minimum of bureaucracy even with Workman’s Comp. and the Insurance people.

Poor Pat. Last year she saw me through cancer and then pneumonia, a major move from West Virginia here, a flooded rectory and now this. She’s had a very tough time. Despite all this stress and strain and having to deal with me, which is a story in itself, she has tackled this latest chapter in Clavier’s decline and fall with courage and willingness. I thank God for her.

I managed to say Mass seated at my posh walker, and lead Bible Study last Thursday. I am taking this Sunday off, but hope to gradually slide back into harness over the next two weeks.

My older son Mark and his family are now safely at Durham University where he is reading for a Ph. D in Spirituality over the next three years. Diane has started a job there and Paul, clad in school uniform begins experiencing English primary education. Megan, who last year worked among refugee children on the Thai/Burma border leaves for Cambodia at the end of the month where she will teach villagers to use “wind-up” computers.

Never fear, I shall soon say something naughty about the House of Bishops, but I thought you would like to know why I have been silent for three weeks or so.

3 Responses

  1. It’s good to hear good things about the folks who take care of Workman’s comp for TEC, especially since IIRC that’s Liberty Mutual where my mom works.


  2. Glad to hear that you are okay.

    One wonders when a blog isn’t updated for a while.

  3. Tony+ How awful! But, I’m glad the folks there are so kind and caring. Please know that you have been in our thoughts and prayers at Trinity, PB. Best wishes for a “happy issue out of all your afflictions…” In Christ, Van+

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