Tuesday, October 10, 2003
Mimi Takes a Break
I'm standing on the front gate wall at the Pennsylvania Renaissance Festival, blowing bubbles from this twelve or fourteen foot elevation. Leaning over to redip my bubble wand, I stumble, lose my footing and start to go down, holding simultaneously in my mind three thoughts: 'I don't believe this is happening to me'; 'well, here we go' and 'grab the wall.' I make a desperate reach for the wall on my headfirst way down, managing to turn myself right side up, leaving my left foot to take the brunt of the impact against the asphalt.
I raise my face from the pavement, thinking, 'I hope someone saw this and will come to my aid, because I am NOT calling out for help. And I don't think I can get up by myself.' Within moments, a PARF performer is at my side, reassuring me, telling me he's already called First Aid and that they are sending the cart around for me. He says they'll wrap me and splint me and ice me. It is just ten o'clock, and I wonder how quickly this can be done, as I have stage shows at ten thirty and noon. I have been on duty half an hour. When the First Aid team arrives, the performer has gone, replaced by a member of the Production staff, Nate, who holds my hand and hugs me when I start to shake. First Aid suggests an ambulance, and I shake my head, then quickly put my head between my knees to combat the blackness swimming across my vision. "If you pass out, we're required to send you to the hospital. You hit your head," First Aid warns. I hold my fingers apart a small distance, and wave away concern for my skull, for my head hit last of all, and I am more worried about my wrist and ankle. They offer oxygen, and I shrug, thinking, 'this will mess up my makeup.' Nate and the others lift me to my foot and help me into the cart. I want ice, elevation and compression for my ankle, but do not raise it outside the cart until well out of sight of the children streaming in for this School Day. I turn my face away, not wanted them to see Mimi in an oxygen mask. Aside from feeling stupid for falling, I feel guilty for being an inconvenience when everyone has so much to do.
At the First Aid station, we are met by my friend Brian, who says that he's got my stage spots covered. I ask for my shoes, cardigan, bag of stuff. He promises to see to it, hurrying off to get props from his car. They lie me down and get me out of my boot. It's bad. An ambulance is advised again; "this looks like a break," and he points to a certain lump on my leg. I ask them to remove the other boot for comparison. There is a matching bump on the other leg, but they still advise x-rays, and can't wrap the ankle when there's any doubt about breakage. They call Cliff, who's a doctor, for backup. Cliff is the performer who first helped me. Cliff also advises x-rays. I hesitate, then mention my uninsured status, which is not an uncommon state among full-time performers. An ambulance will simply be another expense, I fear. And there's no way I can drive myself. Within a few minutes, while icing my ankle and splinting it with a pillow, they have a driver for me, if I'll agree to go to the hospital. Alex helps me go to the bathroom, as it's not easy to struggle out of a unitard with a bum wing. She removes my costume, and wipes away the remnants of my white makeup after I've done my best with her jar of Vaseline.
My ride is here. I meet Lynn, who paints signs for the shire. It turns out that Lynn is going to stay with me the whole time, as my advocate. It turns out that the van, the lush, leather-lined van I'm riding in, belongs to Chuck, the owner. He has loaned it for my benefit. It turns out that the whole fair will be waiting for news of my condition. On the twelve mile ride to Good Samaritan Hospital in Lebanon, PA, I begin making calls to rearrange everything that I had planned past two-thirty. I do this some more from the hospital, where I have a surprisingly comfortable five hour visit. The requisite hospital bracelet is snapped on. "This means I can drink free all night, right?" I ask. The front desk attendant seems unused to wisecracking emergency room visitors, and looks startled before she laughs.
This cannot go under Workman's Compensation, as I am a private contractor. I sign a Hold Harmless agreement along with my contact with PARF, just as I do at every other Fair I work. I am listed as Self Pay, which I determine to not fret over right this minute. It is determined that I have three fractures: right elbow and wrist, and left ankle. (Later X-Rays will prove that this is inaccurate; I have actually fractured both of my leg bones just above the ankle, for a total of four breaks, a damaged rotator cuff, damaged ankle ligaments and multiple sprains.) I am slung, splinted and 'scripted, with the advice to get the scrip filled in PA; it may not be good across state lines. Lynn and I return to the site, where someone waits at "my" stage to load my things into the car that I manage to drive across the site with my right foot and left hand. It's Nate. Ginny, the Assistant Director, who is in charge of Independent Acts, checks up on me, gives me her cell phone number, hugs me, as does Dee, wife of Chuck, and Director of Operations. I thank her, ask her to convey my thanks to Chuck for the use of his van. "We'll see you next year," everyone promises. I express surprise to Ginny at this outpouring of kindness, since I'm just here on School Days, and this is only my third season. "You're one of our own now," she tells me. That's a very nice feeling.
The worst bit is waiting for my mother and my sister to arrive, so that one of them can drive my car home. Across the site is all I could manage, and probably more than I should have attempted. Physically, I'm quite comfortable in the car, because it's a temperate evening, and I have a cooler with food and drinks. But the site is closed and deserted, so I'm all alone. Which I don't mind, except:
I have to pee.