ancil nance photographs


“I fell on my hip this morning, but am recovering slowly in my anti-gravity chair. No bones snapped so I will be relaxing here for a couple of days. You guys go ahead and hike one for me.”

This initial report was made while I was “swimming to Cairo,” or deep in denial. The fall began in the kitchen when I turned my body away from the sink, my feet did not move and momentum propelled me around on a spiral trajectory, ending with a loud slam to the floor. Molly turned around to see me on the floor, with a sick smile on my face. “Does it hurt?” She asked. “Excruciating.“ I replied.

We determined that I could not stand up, but I was able to be pulled across the floor to my lounge chair, where I waited a couple of hours before calling 911 to get a ride to the ER when it became obvious that I still could not stand. X-rays showed a broken femur at the balljoint.

The next thing I knew I was being sized up by a team for surgery after being admitted to Providence Milwaukie Hospital. And according to someone who seemed like a doctor, I was lucky to get a bed given the number of beds being used by Covid-19 patients in Portland hospitals at the moment. The admitting doctor was, coincidentally, Dr. Josh Reagan, son of Dr. Pete Reagan with whom I have climbed and flown paragliders, and is a best friend. I felt more at ease immediately.

When I awoke following surgery I was in a room by myself feeling a bit disoriented because new doctors had replaced Dr. Brett Kean and the surgery team. Now Dr. Choe was asking me about my stay and asked how I was feeling.Then I noticed that I was in a multi-bed room, which was only slightly noisier than my single room. The other patient had long talks with friends on his phone, which allowed me to find out that he was a member of the Russian Orthodox Church. This inspired me to start a conversation about God. He said God was Love. I asked him why not skip the middleman and just say love is love. He demurred on that thought, and also my assertion that all we could prove was that the idea of God was used by people to solve problems to which there were no evident answers. I dropped the conversation.

The next day I was transferred from Providence Milwaukie Hospital to Marquis Mt Tabor.

Progress report: I am told by nurses here that never have they seen such rapid progress in a hip operation, so I guess I am doing fine. My first night at Marquis I awoke after a deep sleep of four hours then drifted away again for another three. I was disoriented when I awoke, it was dark still, but I could discern the figure of a small woman on the other side of the bed table, which I had used the evening before. My first instinct was to find my phone, which wasn’t where I thought I’d left it. I thrashed about the side table and felt under my pillow to no avail. Then I announced to this other person in the room that someone had stolen my iPhone. She did not react to what now could be seen as paranoid accusations, except to mutter “iPhone” a couple of times while shaking out the bed covers, which revealed the phone, which she handed to me. I thanked her and felt foolish for my reactions.

I hesitate to mention the next item, lest it makes all of the guys want to get an injury that forces them into rehab. Yesterday I was given a shower by a big beautiful Black woman from Mississippi! As she pointed the shower head at ALL of my, now naked body parts, I kept thinking "Oh boy, no one is going to ever believe this!"

While she was drying me off with her large terry towel, I turned to her and said "Well, I suppose that being in the healthcare industry has made you aware of how silly our attitudes toward nakedness are and it really is no big thing." Her eyes smiled above her face-mask in reply. By now I had been “exposed” to enough of the nursing staff to pick up on their nonchalance that it really was no longer a matter of privacy, since during the first few days after the operation hands other than mine had wiped my bum, even. And changed my sheets after I peed in my sleep, twice, blush.

I mentioned that the woman who showered me was from Mississippi (she always greeted me with a hearty "SAY HEY”), and the woman who changed my sheets was of Filipino descent (always there to help in kindness), one CNA was from Ethiopia, (she was sending funds back to Ethiopia where friends and relatives were involved in a life and death war zone). Another CNA came from India, a nurse was from California and there were some Oregonians too. It was an international crew of professionals and I learned from them that it mattered not where you were from or what you looked like, what mattered was could you do the job and were you kind. And everyone was kind and professional. They all made for a quick start on my healing process.

It is now the 12th of October, I have been home for three weeks, now using a walker to get around the kitchen, enjoying a cup of coffee. Glad to be a Medicare card-carrying socialist, and thanks to my friends and neighbors for helping out.


Image gallery at Hip-Break Hotel, be sure to read captions.

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