After days of being stuck inside the house I was eager to get out and look for birds. I had not added any new birds to my Big January list in days. When I saw the weather report yesterday morning I realized my best chance to get out would be to go immediately, since snow squalls were predicted to roll through around 1 PM, and behind them were high winds and rapidly dropping temps. So, I left the house around 11:30 a.m. with bins and camera on the seat beside me. My destination is Miller Park in Androscoggin County. I have only birded here twice before but i am hoping I will get to see at least one new bird, plus start my Androscoggin County bird list for the year. The sun is shining brightly as I drive north on Mere Point Road. The skies are crystal blue and full of promise.
I stop off briefly in Topsham to grab a bowl of chili and a coffee at Tim Horton’s. By the time I leave the restaurant dark clouds have moved in! Where has my sunshine gone! I jump in the car and drive west on Route 196, hoping I will still get to see some birds. Soon snow flurries are blowing past my windshield and obscuring my view. I wonder if I should turn around or press on. This is one of my first times out alone since my abdominal surgery 3 1/2 weeks ago. I do not want to do anything stupid. I pull into the parking lot of Miller Park with soft white flakes falling all around me. Still, I get out of the car and walk around the plowed parking lot. Though there is a fully loaded crabapple tree in a corner, I do not see any birds. The river and cove are frozen, and there is no sound, save the wind and the traffic rolling by.
I walk carefully, because I do not want to slip and fall,
but the snow is crunchy and not slick.
And though I am listening and looking, I do not see or hear any birds.
But I feel I have walked far enough on this crunchy snow. I decide to walk back to my car and go visit my friend, Grace, who lives in Lisbon. She is a fellow birder and blogger and has a blog called, Grammie’s Ramblings. I have not seen her in a long time and a visit with her sounds just about perfect today. I reason that I will be out of the wind and the weather with no fear of falling. Just as I am getting into my car, four pigeons circle overhead and fly beneath the bridge to roost. They and a gull are my only birds at this location.
She is surprised to see me and welcomes me warmly.
Mourning doves, woodpeckers, finches, starlings, and bluebirds are all coming to her feeders. She tells me that she gets a Northern Flicker and a Northern Mockingbird at her feeders every day. I have not seen either species yet this year and would love to see them. We sit and chat and wait, but they do not come.
We count 8 individual birds.
My bird count gets flagged by eBird once I go past 4 Eastern Bluebirds, but I have proof. I am taking lots of pictures with both my Nikon D90 and my cell phone. The birds come so close to the window that I can zoom in from my where I am sitting to get their picture! Still, no flicker or mockingbird and it is getting late. It is almost 3 PM and I need to head home. It is about a half hour drive. Before I leave, Grace and I head into her den on the other side of her house to look out the window. Sometimes the mockingbird is in the bushes on this side of the house, she tells me.
As we head into the room I see a square hole in the middle of the floor where a heat register use to be to let the warm air from a woodstove rise from the basement. The hole has a board screwed over it from below, and usually a small sofa is over it, but it was moved yesterday when Grace had a new energy efficient window installed in this room. We walk around the hole and over to the window. We look out at the bushes and the sky. We do not see the mockingbird, but suddenly we both see a large black shape flying over the distant fields. Is it an eagle? We are both excited and we eagerly turn to get our binoculars which are back in the kitchen. As we do, I take one step and suddenly feel the floor give way beneath my left foot. Boom! Down I go up to my hip in the hole in the floor! I have so much pain in my left leg and I can feel it dangling through the hole into the cold basement. I don’t remember doing this, but I must have pushed with my left arm to free my left leg from the hole. As I am laying there on the floor in pain, I suddenly realized I cannot move my left arm.
Grace gets me a pillow for my head and one for my arm as I lay there and we try to decide how serious this is. I cannot move my arm. I keep trying but it won’t do what I tell it to do. The pain is starting to build until it becomes excruciating. I tell Grace to call an ambulance. Then I ask her to cover me with a blanket as I am getting very cold. I dread calling my husband. I fear I may have ripped out my surgery, though at the moment all I can feel is the pain in my shoulder. It seems to take the ambulance forever to get there. At first I felt so stupid, but now I am beyond that, because the pain is so intense. I just want the pain to stop.
The ambulance arrives and a woman named Darlene and a young man named Chris start to help me. I have my eyes closed to focus inward and try to stop the pain. Darlene looks me over and believes I have dislocated my shoulder. They eventually help me to sit up and then stand, because the stretcher cannot get around the narrow corners of Grace’s house. Four people help me to get up, but I do not know who the others are. I think one was a policeman and one was the ambulance driver. I walk to the stretcher and sit down. They strap me in and wheel me out the door. At some point they started an I.V. but I don’t remember when. I am panting in pain and humming. I don’t know why, but the humming helps. They start a pain killer once we are in the ambulance. As they load me up, I see Grace’s distressed face in the driveway behind me. I call out to her not to worry. I say “I hope you will still be my friend and that you will let me come visit you again.” Then we are off. I have to leave my car and my camera behind, but I had Grace put my binoculars in my purse, because I cannot live without my bins!
It is a long drive to the hospital but the pain killer is helping. Once we arrive, however, the doctors do not give me any more pain medication. They need to asses the damage first and find out if I broke any bones as well as dislocated my shoulder. I am packed off to x-ray and the pain builds. It builds and builds until I am crying and moaning, but they do not want to give me any pain meds because they have to briefly put me under sedation to reduce the dislocation. If I am under too much sedation I might have trouble waking up. Finally they decide that I can have a little pain medication.
Can you see the head of my humerus down below the socket?
Finally the doctor comes back in. There is a team of people in the room, but I do not see them because my eyes are closed as I try to deal with the pain. They put oxygen on me and administer the sedation. I start to count back from 100 and go out around 89. When I wake up they intense pain in gone and my shoulder is back in place. With that pain gone, now all the other parts of my body that were injured start to hurt. The doctors and nurse check them all out. I am sent back for an x-ray of my left forearm, but no fractures are found. I have a HUGE bruise and Charlie horse on my left thigh from where my leg went through the hole and it has become the primary source of pain now. The good news is, there is no apparent damage to my surgery. Everything seems to be intact!
I have to say that having a dislocated shoulder is the worst pain I have ever experienced in my life. It is worse than the three car accidents I was in and more painful than giving birth. So, now I am back home and able to only use one arm. I have to go see an orthopedist in a week. Until then I have to wear this sling 24/7 and try to behave myself. I am left handed, so this really puts a damper on my writing and I will not be able to lift my heavy camera to take pictures! Gus got a ride to Grace’s house to pick up my car and my camera this morning. When I first started writing this blog post I was slowly pecking out the letters on the keyboard one by one with my right hand, but I soon found that I could lean forward and still use my left hand in its sling, which is making this go much faster! I was told that once you dislocate a shoulder it is much easier for it to happen again, so I will have to be VERY Careful about slipping, falling, climbing, etc.
There goes my Big January Count! However, as soon as I was up this morning, I was counting birds again! I was talking to Grace when a huge flock of Common Redpolls flew in! I quickly hung up on her and I wanted to grab my camera to see if I could get a shot, then remembered that my camera was at Grace’s house! Oh well. I did get some good pictures at her house yesterday and hopefully will be able to offload them and post them this week, especially since I cannot drive now. I am really house bound! Yuk!