Aftermath of an Accident

So last time I gave you the break-down on how I ended up with a mangled toe at Zapata Falls. This time I thought it would be worth a Granola Talk discussion on accidents, responsibility, and common courtesy. First though, let me brief you on life since the “toe” incident…

The post-break blues…

Initially, after consultation with my foot guy back home, the injury seemed like it stood a good chance of healing well. I taped it faithfully and even down-graded my plans for my solo Smokies trip to accommodate my gimpy foot. Rather than hike like a madwoman, I stuck to easier roadside photographic and exploring opportunities and I opted out of activities like slogging through the swamp in search of dragonflies during my SANCP courses.

My new best friend but even though this anti-inflammatory gel is fantastic stuff, it isn’t looking like it will do as a long-term solution.

Apparently I didn’t opt out enough though. Even in my gentle explorations and diligent taping and buttressing, I managed to do a bit more damage to my tender toe. One bone fragment didn’t heal at all and another one decided to secede from the larger broken bit sometime in July. Throw in a healthy case of arthritis at the break and with that, my hopes of a clean heal are a faint memory.

Until now I’ve been pursuing non-surgical methods of dealing with the bone fragments and arthritis but I can’t say it’s going well. The liberal application of my new best friend, i.e. Voltaren gel, helps a good deal. The recommendation of using rigid, graphite insoles to minimize flexing of the toe joint actually caused more problems instead of solving them. It ended up exacerbating my non-union sesamoid fracture in the ball of that foot which is incidentally why I already had afoot doctor on call prior to the toe disaster. The sesamoid issue is something that I’d gotten to a manageable place with up to this point and the insoles set me back a great deal. So I’ve given up on the insoles which has that issue subsiding again. I’ve instead focused on changing my stride to minimize pressure. It is no small feat changing how you walk I might add…

I’m going to give it a bit more time but if the toe and I can’t come to an understanding, I may well end up at the last resort of surgery to fuse the joint. I’m not a fan of surgery but when even the pressure of blankets on your toe at night causes you to wake up, a certain inevitability creeps into your thought-process. You can imagine that if sleeping is problematic, then my other happy activities like yoga, hiking, geocaching, running, and even squatting and stooping to take pictures are painful undertakings. I’m making adjustments to keep these things manageable but really I’m pretty much uncomfortable all the time regardless so why not at least still do the things I enjoy. I’m not ready for the rocking chair yet!

The conundrum is that the surgical options also suck and there are no guarantees I’ll be better off. So such is my quandary at the moment, all set in motion by a dog on an extendable leash.

Responsibility? Discuss…

The obvious fact here is that the whole incident was an accident, a crappy confluence of events, basic human error on both of our parts. It’s not like she walked up and pounded my foot with a sledge hammer and of course a camera is replaceable but I didn’t know I’d end up with lifelong foot issues for my efforts to save it. But her inattention caused the sequence of events that left me in my current position. Have we all caused each other everything from little inconveniences to life-altering problems by our inattention, by essentially being human? Yes, of course we have.

Fred and George were very patient about letting me convalesce.

So I don’t take issue with the fact that the accident happened although I do wish she’d been obeying leash rules that are in place for a reason. It reality, she wasn’t paying attention and the dog could have easily been wrapped around a person (many of whom were young children in the area that day) instead of my tripod and she wouldn’t have realized it. It was her responsibility to pay attention to her dog.

Should I have protected my camera gear more appropriately? Clearly! I thought I’d taken reasonable measures, I certainly didn’t leave it sitting in the middle of the trail, yet it was obviously still quite vulnerable.

What I take issue with in this scenario is the fact that she walked away without the slightest acknowledgement of what happened… not once, but twice! Even if she didn’t feel responsible, she needed to at least acknowledge she was involved. And, to play Devil’s advocate here, even is she hadn’t been involved and only witnessed the incident, isn’t it just basic human decency to offer some sort of help? Hand me my first aid kit, ask if I need help getting off trail, ask if I need medical attention… something. I now I’ve done that for others without the slightest hesitation. Someone is injured, find a way to help even if it’s simply getting someone else who can help. Don’t just walk away.

This my question for you… have you been in a similar situation or witnessed one, either in the wilderness or around town? I think the question applies to any location so I hope you’ll share your experiences and thoughts on the matter.

Moving forward…

Like I said, I’m not ready for the rocking chair yet but I have a long road ahead to figure how to live in this new toe paradigm of mine. I still do the things I love but I’m making adjustments accordingly.

Relegated to the edge of the dunes for the remainder of our trip…

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