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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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From My Window

Issue Date: March 21, 2019

Now I am a Statistic

By Jane Thibodeau Martin,

My first Wisconsin winter has been a record breaker. That said, I have been a little smug about how well I have been handling it. No despair, no vehicle mishaps, only minor bouts of cabin fever, and just got stuck once. This week was warm and rainy, causing a pussy willow shrub along our road to begin to stir. Spring is just around the corner and I was rejoicing.

That is until my normal early morning dog walk ended abruptly with a slip on some wet ice. I found myself looking up at two worried dog faces and knew I had at least a wrist fracture.

After waiting for my "fight or flight' response to subside, I got up carefully and slowly made my way to the house, my stressed and subdued dogs trailing glumly behind me.

Before putting up my x-rays the doctor made eye contact and said, "I'm sorry to tell you that you have some fractures." I was instantly impressed. She sounded sincere and saw a person behind a diagnosis; taking time to not apologize but rather empathize with her choice of words. I knew I was in good hands.

Once I was in a splint I was pain-free and sent home to wait for a hard cast after the swelling goes down.

It is inconvenient more than anything " although luckily it is my left hand. I can't tie shoes, wash my hair or clean horse stalls, but I don't have to stress over being able to afford treatment. I won't be missing work time and income, which can be devastating to those in jobs without benefits. And I am getting good treatment which will minimize any long-term effects. In short I am extraordinarily fortunate, so I have little to whine about. I only wish everyone who gets injured was as blessed as I am.

A deer or horse with this kind of a foreleg injury is a goner. And most predators, who must be able to catch and kill desperately struggling prey, would likely succumb to starvation. We humans, who normally are well-assisted by friends, family or our communities, have a much better prognosis.

I have seen pictures of fossil skeletons from early humans. Their harsh hunter-gatherer lifestyles left them exposed to severe injuries and the story of these injuries is clear in their bones. Some fractures healed cleanly, others were grotesquely misaligned, meaning permanent disfigurement and disability. A leg or arm healing like this could reduce ability to run or climb, leading to death from enemies or predators. And an open fracture, inviting infection, was probably not survivable.

My female ancestors of even 100 years ago needed to knead bread, hand wash clothes, feed wood into a cook stove, and care for the family garden. Right now I could do none of those things, and would need lots of help from others to keep things going at the homestead.

Instead I have mostly inconveniences " not that I am enjoying this but by May I should be back to normal. I have added a pair of ice cleats to my winter apparel selections " a measure which, if done sooner, could have prevented this. I had serious winter boots on, but just as 4WD isn't very helpful on wet glare ice, it wasn't enough to keep me safe.

I had many insights from this experience, but since I am now reduced to aggravatingly slow one-finger typing, they will have to wait for my cast to come off.

Song stuck in my head " "What a Wonderful World" " Louis Armstrong.

You can reach me for commentary, alternative viewpoints or ideas at this e-mail address: JanieTMartin@gmail.com.


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