Kate can’t razz me any more about the ladder that collapsed from under me, as she has insisted instead that I stretched too far to put a Christmas wreath above the garage door and caused the ladder to collapse.
My story, and I’ve always stuck to it, is that the ladder suffered metal fatigue, and I was collateral damage when a leg buckled. It bucked me off, inflicting eight cracks in seven ribs when I landed on its steps and a head laceration when my head hit the asphalt driveway.
Kate’s karma arrived about a month ago, when she fell down and loosened a crown, and her foot came breaking after. I’d suggest that she eat crow or she put her foot in her mouth, but her foot cast is too big to swallow.
I apologize if that seems callous and offends you, but she’s had 2½ years of spreading Fake News that my fall was my fault instead of the asphalt’s — or the ladder’s.
Let’s take a walk (well, she’ll need crutches) down memory lane, and check out this excerpt from my Sept. 17 column:
“Kate even has a rule that I can’t climb ladders when she’s not home. (As if to prove she’s not the boss of me, I routinely ignore that mandate.) But she’s exempt. The other day, when she was atop a ladder when I got home, I said, ‘Howcum you can get on a ladder but I …’
“Rudely cutting me off, she said, ‘Because I don’t fall.’ ”
Ba-da-bump, with the “bump” being her hitting the floor.
People cluck their sympathies when they hear about her fall and assume it was a plain old ice folly. Well, this was anything but a routine slip-and-fall. Although I won’t compare Kate’s mishap to the tragedies that have befallen the Flying Wallendas, I dare say it rivaled the drama.
It was a typical Saturday morning: I was ironing shirts in the living room, as is my habit because I’m a dry cleaner’s son who can iron better than Kate can, if I do say so myself. Kate was cleaning, because she hasn’t met a speck of dust she doesn’t despise — and she insists that my dusting is a mite short of passing muster with her deep-cleaning compulsion.
Suddenly, I heard a still, small voice bleating from the kitchen, “Help me.” I knew something was amiss, because Kate rarely speaks in a still, small voice.
The scene was straight out of “Mission Impossible,” with Kate suspended in midair, just like Tom Cruise in the scene in which he dangled from wires so he wouldn’t set off alarms.
Except this wasn’t a movie, Kate is no Tom Cruise and there weren’t any wires. Like Cruise, who does his own stunts, Kate was spread-eagled on an even plane about 4 feet from the floor — with no clue about how to pull off an injury-defying stunt of her own.
Kate’s plummet was in slow motion, until the final six inches, when my view switched to real time as she face-planted into the kitchen tile.
Blood was flowing from her mouth like a spring-thawing stream roars toward a river. I feared that the impact had knocked a couple of her expensive crowns clean out of her head. Luckily, the teeth seemed OK, and the blood was mostly from her gums and a split lip.
Once we stanched the bleeding, she said her foot hurt like hell. We wouldn’t discover the extent of her injuries until X-rays in urgent care the next day, when it became clear the foot didn’t heal overnight
In the meantime, she noticed that her lips were swollen, prompting this comment, “My lips look like Angelina Jolie’s. I’d like to keep them.”
Without disrespecting Jolie, I should note that I’ve seen Jolie — and she’s no Kate Tighe. The lip swelling went down, so Jolie’s trademark kisser is safe, but Kate’s foot pain increased.
Just so you can compare the circumstances of our falls, here’s the scoop: She fell because she was standing on the kitchen table, stretching to dust a skylight, when the table tipped and dumped her. At least I had the common sense to be on a ladder — a device designed to make you taller when you tackle jobs on high.
X-rays revealed a Lisfranc fracture, an odd injury — stranger still because French obstetrician Jacques Lisfranc de St. Martin discovered it way back in 1815. In lay people’s terms, it generally involves dislocated metatarsal bones and stretched ligaments. In the best cases, the wrecked innards mend themselves; in others, they require surgery, and, in worst-case scenarios, surgeons just lop off part of the foot.
Luckily for Kate, her injury didn’t require amputation but continued to escalate in pain. The throbbing ache persisted despite the fact that the attentive doctor who diagnosed the problem had prescribed painkiller before booting her and sending her home to wait 1½ weeks for a consult with a foot orthopedic surgeon. (I wonder what the wait time might have been for appendicitis?)
Just when Kate had become accustomed to the discomfort and the boot, she went under the knife, putting the pain train back on its fast track.
The upshot is that I’m now a caregiver as well as a Pulitzer-chasing journalist with a pattern of objectivity. I don’t mind it because Kate is pretty good to me — except for the ladder teasing and the fact she still blames me instead of the musician for the reversed song order at our wedding nearly eight years ago.
There have been trying moments for this untrained doc, well — I hate to say it — my wife is absolutely the worst patient ever. She has been crabbier than a lenten luncheon a few times, and the things she says when she rassles with the crutches would make Anthony Scaramucci blush.
I derive no pleasure from chronicling Kate’s situation, so this doesn’t even hint of revenge, although I do like cold food.
She alternates using the crutches with a walker — don’t worry, doc, she doesn’t put weight on the foot — with limited success. When I’m in the basement, it sounds like Captain Ahab is pacing upstairs — thunk, thunk, thunk.
“Rise, thou ye white whale, show us your crooked jaw!” — I can almost hear Gregory Peck’s Captain Ahab in “Moby Dick” bellowing at the beast that had wolfed down his leg.
With Kate adding: “Rise, thou ye white toes, show us an uncrooked foot, RISE!”
I could go on — and I may continue this someday as an update — but for now, I’ll be as mum as Queequeg was during his death trance in “Moby” because Kate will be back in the boot after she gets her cast removed. I don’t want her to put her boot up my … oh, never mind.
Just call me Ishmael.