An affinity for holes

Julia Bayly
Julia Bayly
Posted Nov. 01, 2012, at 3:36 p.m.

FORT KENT, Maine — I am pretty certain when the time comes, the epitaph carved on my tombstone will read simply, “Here lies Julia Bayly. She fell in a hole; probably this one.”

In fact, given my track record, I might as well go ahead and order the stone now.

See, holes and I don’t get along so well, despite what would appear to be our natural attraction for each other.

It’s because of a hole that I find myself in my current situation — housebound and confined to a nest established on my couch furnished with the working journalist’s essentials — laptop, phone, coffee and housecat curled up next to me.

All because of a hole.

A hole, I should add, masquerading as a mild-mannered puddle but which was, in fact, a several-inches-deep trench with dramatically uneven topography.

Sure, I could have stepped around or over it, but at the time I was more concerned about keeping my shiny new road bike from passing through its oily depths as I walked it back to my car after a 25-mile charity ride.

In retrospect, not the smartest of moves.

Several X-rays and an MRI later, turns out I managed to rip, tear and pull some pretty important ligaments and tendons in the ankle, an injury for which no shortage of well-meaning folks have said, “Wow, probably been better if you had just broken it.”

Words to cheer if ever there were ones.

On the way to that diagnosis the trip through the MRI was an event in and of itself.

Before I could even be slid into the giant, thumping imaging machine, I had to get my eyes X-rayed. Apparently, since I have taken up welding, there was the small chance tiny metal fragments were embedded in my orbits, and metal shards — regardless of how microscopic they may be — are not things you want inside your eyes when in close proximity to a high-powered magnet.

Eyes cleared for the procedure, I was liberated of all other metal on my person and prepped for the 45-minute session.

About 15-minutes in, I realized with something akin to horror that, while metal-free, I was not credit card or ATM card free, as both were in my wallet in my pocket.

Safe to say, if I ever want to completely demagnetize any card in the future, I know all I need to do is have another MRI.

Replacement cards are on the way.

I knew things were going from bad to worse when the doctor, after getting the MRI results, put me in an actual cast instead of the oversized “boot” I had been using to keep the ankle immobilized.

Years ago when classmates in grammar school broke bones, they showed up the following day encased in massive white, clunky plaster casts.

Those days are gone, as I learned when the nurse asked me, “What color cast do you want?”

Colors? I said. You mean there are options?

These days lightweight fiberglass casts are available in virtually every color of the rainbow.

Decisions, decisions.

Should I go with purple, in honor of a dear friend and colleague dealing with Lupus? Or pink, for all those facing breast cancer? Yellow in honor of what all cancer victims go through was an option, but one I discarded for fear of looking like Big Bird from the knee down.

There was even basic black as a choice, which — while slimming — really struck me as a cast more suitable for formal occasions.

In the end, I opted for bright orange as a color that could pull double duty — perfect for Halloween and the start of hunting season.

Though optimistically referred to as a “walking” cast, I was told in no uncertain terms to put no weight on the injured ankle, given a pair of crutches and sent — albeit clumsily — on my way.

Ever use crutches? Making my awkward way out of the hospital I looked like a combination of a gimpy flamingo and those giant mechanical walker transport vehicles used by the Empire in Star Wars for ground assaults.

“Stay off the ankle,” is something easier said than done.

Here at Rusty Metal Farm, the sled dogs, chickens and honeybees don’t stop needing food, water and attention simply because I chose to fall into a hole.

This is where — once again — having amazing friends is so helpful. From taking on feeding chores to acting in Morgan Freeman’s place in my own version of “Driving Miss Daisy,” things are getting done here on the farm.

Of course, these same friends have had plenty of practice.

It was just two years ago, while feeding the Rusty Metal Dogs, I stepped into a very deep hole dug by one of the huskies and dislocated a number of small bones in my foot, an injury that kept me down for the better part of the 2011 winter.

Some years before that, on an early morning mountain bike ride I came across a part of the trail rutted by ATV tires.

Somehow, I managed to end up with the bike’s front tire in one rut — essentially a long, narrow hole — and the back tire in a different rut a foot or so to the right. Pedaling faster, hoping speed would pull me back to a straight trajectory, all I managed to do was make sure I was going faster when I crashed.

Holes, it would seem, are my Achilles’ heel. Though, now that I think of it, holes have never actually caused an injury to that particular part of my body.

Not to say it won’t happen.

But it sure would be cool if one of these days, the cause of one of my injuries was a bit more glamorous than I tumbled into a hole.

My neighbor Shawn, for instance, actually did injure his Achilles tendon skydiving. Talk about bragging rights!

After my most recent incident, I polled my friends to see if they could come up with a better cover story for the wounded ankle and they did a pretty good job with suggestions ranging from falling while chasing down television hunk Patrick Dempsey on that recent Dempsey Challenge Charity Ride to plummeting from my personal hovercraft while photographing Felix Baumgartner’s recent record-breaking jump from space.

Great suggestions, and heaven knows I have plenty of time on my hands at the moment to come up with additional tall tales.

And maybe, just maybe, my next injury won’t even involve a hole.

But don’t bet on it.

Julia Bayly of Fort Kent is an award-winning writer and photographer, who writes part time for Bangor Daily News. Her column appears here every other Friday. She can be reached by email at jbayly@bangordailynews.com.

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