I just peed blood.

Just when you think you’re out of the woods, when you’re relaxing, feeling good, life throws you a curve ball. Assuming you’re interested in living for a long, healthy time.

At dinner Dave called his body an “adventure suit.” He’s 65, qualifies for Medicare, but won’t go to the doctor. He’s got some heart arrhythmia, a few other self-diagnosed symptoms, but he believes when it’s time to go it’s time to go, and his dad lived to 94, albeit with diabetes. Dave gave up the chocolate ice cream two years back, he was worried the Big D would bite him too, but not worried enough to go to the doctor. Too many males are not worried enough to go to the doctor. And then they die, like Warren Zevon. You think you can see inside your body, but you cannot. You feel fine and then you feel awful, like Garry Shandling. My hematologist had a heart attack whilst running a mini-race at the specialists’ annual convention. Life can bite you in the ass, you feel fine, and then you’re done.

Or at least messed up.

That’s what happened to me yesterday.

I’m staying at a friend’s house in Alta, Utah.

I know, I know, winter’s over, pack up the skis, go to Coachella. But the truth is skiing provides something elusive in this world, and that’s known as freedom. When I’m out in the fresh air, surrounded by mountains, I feel fully alive. And when I’m sliding down I can think of nothing else, I experience a sensation akin to orgasm, only it’s endlessly repeatable. If I ran the world everybody would ski, not because I want them to be like me, but because I want them to have the experience, I want them to smile, I want them to feel free.

But it’s been unseasonably cold here in Utah. In the twenties. Oh, it was near sixty the day before I came, but then the temperature dropped, eight inches of snow fell, and it was a winter wonderland, to the point that Jackson wanted to catch the early tram. That’s right, our benefactor has the privilege of getting in the box an hour early, and on a powder day…

That meant getting up at 6:15.

I’ve gone to bed many times at that hour, but have rarely arisen.

It was dark out. I ate some yogurt and lox. I stretched. Got suited up.

And then I started walking to the trail, to ski down to the lift.

I immediately found it slippery. I even called out to the guys behind. I was taking it ever so slowly.

And I ascended the brief hill, passed the main drag, I only had to walk down the road separating the condominiums, maybe two hundred feet, then I could put my boards on and go.

And then it happened. I slipped.

Happened that fast, but as I was falling I said…I’m gonna break my shoulder.

Really, I’m tipping over, I lose control of my skis, it’s rock hard ice, blue ice is what they call it, and I already know this is gonna be bad.


I could not have hit any harder. Like someone taking a sledgehammer to your shoulder.

But it gets worse…


I know that sounds ridiculous, I know that sounds like I screwed up, but the truth is it was just that slippery, I was paying attention, taking baby steps…

This time I fell on my hip and my shoulder.


And now I was in shock.

How could this happen? I hadn’t even hit the slopes yet. How could I go through a complete season accident free and then…

I’m too old to do the woulda, coulda, shoulda. But I’m also so old that I know that any injury takes forever to heal.

I wanted to go back home. Not only to the house, but to Santa Monica. But that would require retracing my icy steps. That seemed dumb. I figured the sun would melt the road for the return trip.

Alas, that did not happen.  And I slipped again on the way back. Only this time I caught myself. All those years practicing in Vermont paid off. My skis clattered to the ground, took a few dings…

But now I’m getting ahead of myself.

I’m a walking zombie. What else was there to do but ski?

And the snow… It was lighter than anything I’d experienced in Colorado all year. That’s what Utah is famous for, the Greatest Snow On Earth, the lake strips out the moisture and it’s like plowing through down.

And I’m in my own brain, because everybody knows there are no friends on a powder day.

We hook up with the aforementioned Dave, the Guru, who led us to some powder shots.

And then it was time for lunch.

I had a hard time making it back to the house. And I slipped.

And when I got inside…

The motion of my arm was greatly restricted.

This was bad…

I called Felice, I texted my physical therapist. I’m at a loss in these situations. It was illegal to go to the doctor growing up, my mother had a mother who was a hypochondriac, as a result we put some Robitussin on our injuries and soldiered on. Yes, that’s a Chris Rock reference, but like him we didn’t want to pay for the doctor.

And I’ve gotten into so much trouble for not going to the doctor. I lost a body part. Bernie Sanders has one thing right, we need universal coverage, a single payer system, health care should be a right, because bad things always happen while you’re broke.

Felice insisted I go to the clinic.

So I did.

They took x-rays, which were negative, no break in the shoulder. As for my hip, the physician said I wouldn’t have been able to ski if I’d broken it, there was zero chance of a problem, other then a bruise, but he’d x-ray it anyway if I wanted. I may have OCD, but I’m not dumb, I said no. And he gave me a sling and told me my vacation was finished but…

My physical therapist said the opposite. Said to forgo the sling, to move the arm, leaving it stationary was the exact wrong thing, and if I felt up to it, to ski.

So I followed her instructions and got a better night’s sleep than I expected, things always get worse at night, be on your guard, and I woke up to sunshine.

I didn’t want to go out, I was emotionally impaired, but I was here.

So I did.

I drove.

I’m never walking that path again, even if it’s completely clear.

And I skied the groomers. Had trouble extending my left arm for a pole plant but I was out there, I felt proud of myself.

Until an hour ago. When I was sitting on the throne and I suddenly experienced extreme pain, a short burst, I’d had it before, it’s when you’re peeing blood.

And there was plenty.


I had no pain, what was going on? Was I internally bleeding, was I gonna die?

Or should I ignore the whole damn thing, because after that I had some regular urine.

So I did what everybody does in this modern age, I went online. And found…nothing. None of the causes of blood in the urine applied. So I Googled “peeing blood trauma.” And then some results said it could happen. But I’ve had enough kidney stones, it didn’t seem like I fell on my kidney, I know where it is, but maybe I blocked it or maybe the blood was coming from my shoulder and it’s ten o’clock at night and I’m in the middle of nowhere far from home, what the hell should I do? Jump in the car and drive to a hospital in Salt Lake? Ignore the whole damn thing?

So I texted the physical therapist. Her father’s a doctor. An OB/GYN, but she’s an expert on so many things.

She was concerned.

This didn’t feel good, I wanted her to blow it off.

So I had to bring out the big gun, I had to call my doctor. I felt so guilty, on a SATURDAY NIGHT?

But he picked up right away. And spoke with me at length. And said if it goes away, to continue my trip and see a urologist when I get back, and to get an MRI on my shoulder while I’m at it. But when am I gonna do this? I’m booked solid all next week, morning, noon and night. I told him this, he said nothing is as important as your health. And that’s right, but my barometer is out of whack. I’m either flipping or ignoring. I can run to the hospital if I cut an artery, shy of that I think I’m gonna be okay, and I feel guilty when I go to the doctor and they find nothing wrong.

I just peed again. A smidge of blood and then regular urine. That’s a good sign.

But I won’t be falling asleep anytime soon.

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