Short answer: “I broke my neck.”
[Ronni here for a moment. As most of you know, Peter Tibbles writes the Sunday Time Goes By column, Elder Music. It surprised me when I checked just now that he's been doing this for almost a decade – 2019 will be ten years.
Peter and Norma, the Assistant Musicologist, who live in Australia, are old friends now - they've even visited me here in Oregon. Twice. September 16 was Peter's 73rd birthday and – well, I'll let him tell the rest of the story.]
Technically, that happened about an hour before the big day. Norma, the Assistant Musicologist, was around for dinner, and I was seeing her off at the door when I started coughing, blacked out momentarily – just a second or two – and went downwards.
My head must have gone at an angle that it wasn’t meant to. The pain was way, way off the charts (and I used to have migraines as a youth and early adult, so I know about that).
Norma rang the ambulance and they arrived in about four minutes (one of their stations is just around the corner) and they did all that stuff you see when football players go down. There was an extra degree of difficulty – getting down two flights of stairs (or four, depending on how you count them).
Off to Emergency at the Alfred Hospital where I hung around looking at the ceiling for about five hours until they did x-rays, CT scans, CAT scans and whatnot.
It turned out to be a break in the C1 and C2 bones of the spine (those up closest to the head). Then my birthday was spent flat on my back staring vaguely towards the ceiling as I couldn’t see much without my glasses on.
To make things even more entertaining, the next couple of days consisted of vast amounts of projectile vomiting, lots of fun at any time, but even more so when you’re flat on your back wearing a rigid collar. This was unrelated to the fall and it wasn’t concussion.
For the next couple of days I was helpless as a kitten up a tree, but after about four days I was starting to walk around a little, and that kept improving.
In the meantime they took out blood, put stuff into me (including some good pain killers), and connected me to machines that went “bing”. They took my blood pressure seemingly about every 15 minutes.
I’m now home and I have to sleep with just a folded towel under my head, no pillows. It surprised me by being not at all uncomfortable, and I’ve slept really well. It’s difficult getting out of bed in the morning; it usually takes three or four attempts before I manage that.
So, I’ll be wearing this collar for the next three months, eating healthy food (gasp) and eschewing wine (yikes).
[Ronni again. For some period of time, Peter tells me, he won't be able to sit for long at his computer. But that won't stop Sunday's Elder Music. We have a reasonable backlog and if that runs out, there is that decade of old columns that are worth exploring.]