In an ambulance with a 9mm wound through my ankle was not how I anticipated wrapping up this first date. I didn’t get shot for being too forward with her; this was a genuine and stupid mistake.
In July I matched with Siri (another phone app, go figure) through Tinder, but we didn’t end up having a conversation until September. I held out on her suggestion to watch college football with her aunt. I’m in the minority not interested in mainstream sports, but I eventually I caved for female attention, and joined them.
I had moved 3,000 miles from Virginia to Washington in March 2016. I knew almost no one, so I was using Tinder, the notorious dating app. It seems more common for women to deal with harrowing stuff in dating, especially online. But I was going to soon find out how at risk I was too.
After I’d been there for a few hours, the dogs, Siri, and I left the drunken aunt to her own. Siri headed to her room, so I got my dog from outside, and when I had caught up, she had just moved her 9mm handgun out from under her pillow to the windowsill.
I picked up the piece, asking about it: the capacity, caliber, where the safety was. I don’t know for sure whether I ended up leaving the safety on or not. I should not have been handling that gun. My judgment was impaired even if I wasn’t hobbling around… yet.
As we sat on the bed, I either handed the gun to her directly, or set it on the bed between us. I was distracted looking around her room, and at the dogs running in the hallway. I glanced a few times at Siri unloading the gun, but wasn’t thinking about what she was doing.We were each about a six pack in.
She swears she had racked the slide to be sure the chamber was empty, and didn’t pull the trigger. She did ended up putting a loaded clip back in.
Regardless of how the shot happened, when she put the clip back in it immediately went off as I was swinging my legs up on to the bed. There was a second of delay from hearing the bang and seeing smoke before I realized she’d shot me.
This person I had known for three hours accidentally shot me through the right ankle from five feet away. What I looked down at the morning after.
When that second had passed and I began to register the pain and blood streaming from above my ankle I said, “You shot me in the fucking leg,” Siri asked where, and I pointed, “are you insane? You fucking crazy bitch!”
I would like to think I get to know people a
little longer than a few hours before calling them a crazy bitch. Not to overstate my character, I just want to be clear that being shot, is in fact pretty shocking.
The next twenty minutes waiting for the cops and medics were a haze of disbelief and chaos. My beagle was licking up blood next to me while I elevated my foot. I was yelling at Jodi to call 911, and telling her aunt to stop worrying about me taking her to court.
I lay there for another twenty minutes talking to detectives and EMT’s before I was helped to a stretcher outside. The fire chief had no patience for my careless grabbing for my dog that could have tipped the stretcher. Overall everyone was very sweet dealing with us on at midnight on a Saturday. One EMT got April inside, and Siri agreed to watch her.
They took me to St. Joe’s in town, and after an X-ray I was turned back around for the hour and a half ride to Harborview in Seattle: the trauma hospital for Washington, Idaho, Montana and Alaska. I was bummed that I never got lights and siren for either trip, but I guess it wasn’t that bad of an injury for the wild west.
I got more X-rays and a CT and learned that my calcaneus, tibia, and talus all had extremely compounded fractures. I think Harborview first noticed the exit wound on the outside of my heel.
Six a.m. Monday I had surgery. The surgeon said that bone dust and fragments came loose as they opened up the ankle. They reattached what they could with hardware. But the major element of the procedure was the external fixative.
They drilled three pins (pictured): one completely through the heel, then one in my foot and one in my shin, and attached all the pins with several thick rods. This was to promote initial healing of course, and to prevent displacement of the fragile tibia over an even more fragile calcaneus and talus in the foot.
I experienced the worst pain of my life when the nerve blocker in my leg wore off the day after my surgery. The 20 mg of Oxycodone, and a morphine IV didn’t seem to matter.
While the pain subsided in a week to being manageable with Tylenol, I would have the ex-fix for a month.
Siri helped fund my mom getting across the country for three weeks to help me. She also took care of my dog, fixed a few dinners, and made several long drives. She faces charges as severe as reckless endangerment, but probably won’t get charged by the DA per the detective’s and my recommendations.
I have to take responsibility for my carelessness regardless of who had the gun in their hand when it went off. And Siri deserves credit for doing her best to make up for it.
It would have been a lot harder to get through this without my mom and her emotional rescue, and managing of the high maintenance pin sites. My dad continues to help more than I could ever wish for. My stepsister sent me sweet gifts for the bed-ridden, and my cousins and grandmother made touching cards. Everyone at Harborview were dedicated, kind professionals.
Telling the story everywhere you go gets a little old, but people’s reaction to the answer doesn’t.
The political climate the way it is, I could see people using something like this as a springboard for the gun control conversation.
Sure I’d like to see more bi-partisan analysis of the violence behind guns, and less concern with the guns themselves. And it would be nice to agree on a digital registry of firearms that police could reference quickly after a crime, that doesn’t make people feel a threat of tyranny.
A month later: Entry wound is just above the major surgical site.
But I don’t feel any more or less that way after being shot. Just that I need to be more responsible. I’d like the gun that’s now in Bellingham Police possession, so I can shoot it and feel more prepared and aware.
The moral is not to stay away from dating, the Internet, or even Tinder. Just don’t drink and play with guns.