No Toes

For those of us who can't count to 20

• Jorge 'The 19' Hauser •
Mexico City, January 7, 2007

    Hey everyone, my name is Jorge, and Iím an amputee. Donít you guys love the sound of that? Itís like youíre at a AA meeting or something.
    Iím a 22 year old average guy from Mexico City, just graduated college on December 2006. Iím a professional photographer who does mostly fashion photography and portrait, and Iím a field producer for a T.v. channel which is an MTv kind of thing. Iím also a motocross enthusiast, I had been doing it spontaneously for about a year, and finally, early december 2006 I decided to get me my own dirtbike for Christmas. A beautiful Husqvarna 250; so I guess this is where the story really begins...
     Sunday, January 7, 2007. I get up, have eggs for breakfast, take a shower, and put on my (very expensive) motocross gear: helmet, goggles, jersey, pants, shoulders, belt, the elbows and knees protections, and most importantly, my boots.
     Where I live, just outside the biggest city in the world, you can find some of the best spots to do motocross or enduro near the city, so my friend Alex had his KTM parked outside my house; and I was waiting for him that morning.

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     Because of laziness, or stupidity... or both, we didnít use a tow trailer to get to the mountain, cause it was ďcloseĒ, so weíd just get there on the bikes.
     Just minutes before getting to our off-road goal, the paved road is downhill, and there's this pretty mean curve. It was in that curve I lost control, and it started pulling me out. The "best" thing to do when I felt I was losing control would have been to jump from the motorcycle, but I didnít do that out of the fear of being ran over by a car; so I decided to accelerate in my intent of regaining control, unfortunately I didnít, and I just made things worse. I crashed into a tree at about 45 mph and at the moment of impact, my leg got caught up between the bike and the trunk of the tree, then I flew a few meters and landed on the pavement.
     At first I thought I was ok, when I tried to get up I noticed my shoulder was broken. By that time three cars had already pulled over to help me, and down the road, Alex noticed I wasnít behind him anymore.
     All these nice people helped in every way they could, and I didnít notice my right foot was all messed up until they helped me remove my helmet. The boot was all broken and I could only see lots of blood inside. I was laying on the floor; Alex came to take a closer look inside the boot, and when he grabbed his hair with both hands and walked away with pain all over his face I knew it was serious. I wasnít feeling a thing besides the broken shoulder, and remained calm every second until the ambulance arrived. The paramedics cut off my boot and thatís when I saw my big toe hanging from a little thread of flesh with the nail facing me.
     Then I started using humor as a defense mechanism. I asked the paramedics if they would put my toe inside a ziploc full of ice, told jokes on the way to the hospital, and even held Alexís hand as I told him ďI forgive youĒ in a dramatic Hollywoodesque kind of way as If I were dying. He didnít like my joke at all cause he felt guilty; I was laughing my brains (or maybe my toe) out. Even at the hospital, where my parents were already waiting for me, in the ER I asked the doctor if I could keep my toe to use it as a keychain. Of course, he didnít know how to answer that, he had just pulled out two large pieces of wood from my wounds, which were also severe, a lot of skin was ripped off from my foot.
     Then while they prepared the operating room and the vascular surgeon was trying to beat traffic to get there, they took me to take some x-rays which later showed five fractures and two luxations in my foot alone. Until that day I had never broken a single bone in my body. I guess eight wasnít a bad number for my initiation...
     Surgery that day was executed by four doctors: two orthopedists, a vascular micro-surgeon, the anesthesist (plus all their assistants and nurses); and it lasted eight hours.
     For my surprise, when I woke up in the recovery room my big toe was attached to my foot.
     The next week at the hospital room was all about my IV cocktail, lousy nurses who would be bothering me all night taking readings of this and that, doctor visits, groups of interns admiring my foot... and also lots of visits from friends and family, I really didnít know there were so many people who really cared about me.
     I even got this huge candy arrangement from all the guys at the channel.
     My toeís nerves, veins, arteries, and tissue were all smashed because of the kind of trauma it suffered, so it was very hard to connect just one artery and it was even harder for the blood to circulate as it should. We were looking at a 50/50 chance of keeping my toe.

Click to Enlarge      Actually it started doing fine, the circulation was very slow, but it looked good. By Thursday though, it started looking purple, and my second surgery was programmed for Saturday afternoon; by then the toe looked black and we were pretty sure it wasnít going to make it, we werenít mistaken.

     Actually it started doing fine, the circulation was very slow, but it looked good. By Thursday though, it started looking purple, and my second surgery was programmed for Saturday afternoon; by then the toe looked black and we were pretty sure it wasnít going to make it, we werenít mistaken.
     This time, when I woke up in the recovery room my toe was gone and I was suffering from a pain I never imagined existed. It was this extremely painful burning sensation that made me scream as loud as I could, and also made me twist my body like a contortionist. The nurses tried all kinds of painkillers that didnít work, and the anesthetist had to come in and put my an IV in my back as I was trying to deal with the worst pain in my life. I actually passed out, another first time for me. It was very funny, cause right there at the recovery room, there was this guy in a bed across the hall watching me scream with this look on his face that read, ďMy God! What the hell do they do to people in this hospital???Ē
     Another week at the hospital with the worst food ever, and they let me go.

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     But Iím not getting away that easy. Iím in the middle of two months I have to spend in bed, with a really thin right leg, on the verge of finishing my whole five-season marathon of 24, and so desperate that I read 'The Devil Wears Prada' (soooo much better than the movie, girls, awful casting...)
     I have to go to the doctor every week to check on my footís stitches and all the wounds, cause a lot of my foot' transplanted skin has to regenerate.
     This is my status until now, and I guess I can say itís one nail less to cut, and I get to have a cool nickname like ďThe 19Ē.
     So far Iím trying to look at the bright side of life and use my sarcasm and dark humor against me.
     Feel free to contact me, Iím a first timer in this whole ďlacking a toeĒ thing and I wrote this in order to blend in and feel accepted within the ďThose Of Us Who Canít Count to 20 UnionĒ.
     Iíll keep you guys updated with my recovery. For now, I can tell you I will miss the Roger Waters concert... and I HATE IT!!!

     My e-mail is jcerverahauser AT gmail DOT com
     This is a non-fat toe-free testimonial.
     Please replace "AT" and "DOT" with the appropriate symbol and punctuation. Thank you!
     Text and photographs ©2007 Jorge Cervera Hauser.

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