Cherish yourself, readers—you are the most important person in your life. If you can’t love yourself, you can’t love anyone else.

On June 11, 2005, I had a smashing encounter with a sidewalk: brought to my knees by a quarter-inch bulge in the concrete. I was crossing a bridge  over the Los Angeles River channel less than a block from home, headed to my daughter’s place, a 15-minute walk. There was no obvious reason for my tripping; I had on sports shoes and jeans and wasn’t rushing. My attention had been caught by a child’s bike lying a few hundred yards away in the waterless channel. It was the last thing I saw before my arms began to flail as I tried to regain my balance.

I was propelled toward the sidewalk and hit knees first, then palms and finally my nose. As my head whipped forward, I remember thinking, “Please, no, don’t let me squash my face and kiss the concrete.” Luckily, my momentum had slowed and only my nose touched down.

Positioned on all fours, I noticed my nose and lip begin to bleed. I took stock: I wasn’t wearing anything I’d miss and I’d brought my cell phone for a change. It was in my purse, and since I’d worn the strap crosswise across my chest, it was all intact and hadn’t slipped off, another small favor.

Traffic was progressing across the four-lane residential bridge, but no one had noticed me because I was partially hidden by what looked like a tall, bushy weed growing from a crack in the concrete. I stayed bent over for a few moments, assessing the bodily damage and waiting for the bleeding to stop. I hadn’t hit my nose too hard. When I caught my breath and found a semi-comfortable position, I could see my right wrist was askew and definitely damaged. I didn’t know yet what had happened to my right knee; I  hurt but was in no great pain physically. My dignity had definitely been damaged, however.

With tissue from my purse, I dabbed at myself, then called my daughter Heidi. Since I’m no drama queen and wasn’t crying, I remember being brief. In the midst of putting on makeup when I called, I later learned, Heidi ignored one eyebrow and flew down the stairs to get her car. She was on the bridge in five minutes and had even thought to bring a towel.  After we cleaned off some of the blood and negotiated getting me off the sidewalk, she drove me the half-block to my apartment and helped me up the stairs.

My crutch, just in case I ever need it again.

I was surprisingly calm considering I didn’t know the extent of my injuries or what I’d do to solve my dilemma. Medical insurance was not a part of my life. I called a good friend who’d broken her ankle a few weeks before. Pat, who was familiar with the ins and outs of how to deal with life in LA, advised me to go to the Sherman Oaks Hospital emergency clinic. “Don’t worry about the bill,” Pat said, “they have to take you.”

The clinic was a short drive away and it was empty when we arrived at 1:30 p.m. The Sherman Oaks Hospital is famous as a burn clinic; it was where comedian Richard Pryor was taken when he nearly killed himself lighting his crack cocaine.

I was impressed with the clinic’s cordiality and prompt service. As a plus, the young doctor was not only attractive, he was complimentary. He told me I didn’t look in my sixties, which brightened my attitude right away. After the X-rays, the news wasn’t marvelous: I had fractured my right wrist and my right knee.  They fitted me up with a splint for my arm and a Velcro brace (called an immobilizer) for my leg. For further treatment, I had the choice of two LA County hospitals: County USC or Harbor UCLA. The doctor said Harbor was the best choice because orthopedics was their specialty, but they weren’t exactly close-by.

Upcoming: Why I think I “crashed” and the adventure of the LA County health care system.



  1. You certainly deserve a round of applause for your post and more specifically, your blog in general. Very high quality material

  2. Ernie Miller says:

    There is a certain basic, as opposed to acidic, odor that comes to your senses as your face slams toward the concrete, and you can only think “this is not good!” That odor is mild, a bit clean, and spurs action immediately. At least it did for me when I tried to do a face plant in an under construction Care Center a few years ago. I was the then dreaded OSHA Compliance Officer, and was following a complaint at the site. The proud Superintendent was showing me all the good stuff, and steering me away from the bad stuff, as all good Superintendents try to do, and I stepped down from the main floor about 10″ to a lower level, neatly placing my foot in a wire loop for all the world just like a rabbit snare! Next step forward started the tipping action. Nothing to grab, nothing to stop my face plant on concrete shards on the patio floor. The Superintendent’s heart stopped, I’m sure. He was behind me, and was in no position to offer an arm. My ubiquitous camera was clutched in my left hand at my sternum. It ate concrete. My right arm was encumbered with a clipboard, las seen flying off somewhere. That odor inspired action however, and I arched my back as hard as I could to keep my face from being emulsified. I caught a concrete chunk dead center on my closed and pursed lips, splitting them in several places. As all idiot men, I immediately got up, spit blood and noticed there were no teeth coming out with it, looked at the remains of my camera which was imprinted in my sternum, and politely suggested the Superintendent remove the rabbit snare, then find me his first aid kit. Actually, I was only marginally polite. While he ran to his office, several hundred feet away, I found a crew laughing their asses off, and had a laugh with them while I used a lot of their ice water to rinse my mouth, and clot the bleeding. By the time the poor Superintendent returned after calling everyone including the President of the United States, I think, I was on the run again, and reviewing all the stuff he tried to guide me around. (The smashed camera still worked, and lived about another week.) He offered me a band aid, then just sat down and looked at me. He asked me plaintively, “am I really in deep sxxt here?” I did not let him off the hook for a while. I did not have any serious injuries, thank heaven, didn’t break any bones, but I did have a hard time kissing for a couple weeks! I said goodnight to my wife with a friendly cheek rub for a while. And I still think that unique odor that comes to you a split second before disaster saved my bacon. And I hope your wrist and knee healed well!

  3. Heather Vesterfelt says:

    Indeed attitude is everything, even when elevated by a good lookling Dr. noting you do not look your age.
    Prescription not needed!

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