How Abruptly Plans Shatter in Oconto, WI (or Anywhere, USA)

On sale here in Oconto, a motorized bicycle

Last night in my Econo Lodge motel room, here in Oconto, WI, I peeled a thick rubbery section of skin from the bottom of my surgically repaired left foot.

“Uh, oh,”, I thought. I wrenched it in front of me to get a view of the bottom of the foot, which didn’t really work. I needed a periscope. I grabbed my phone and angled it up to get a few snaps to get a better picture (literally and figuratively). Revealed was a pretty big open wound where the skin had come away. At first, I resisted the idea that my ride might be over. I let this new predicament percolate for several minutes then called my daughter.

She had forgotten to answer my last text message so I teased her about that and then explained to her that I might need a rescue.

I briefed her on the situation.

“Maybe I should call Lloyd, His mom was a doctor. He’d know what to think,” I said.

Then, I shot her a picture of the wound.

“Dad, you don’t need to talk to Lloyd,” she said.

This was the foot that had three surgeries, two follow-on surgeries from infections that developed after the first. The surgeries, the recovery, the self-administration of Vancomycin—the so-called nuclear option of antibiotics—through a PICC line alone on my couch at home, elevated those experiences to harrowing grade, come-to-Jesus moments. Yet, moronically, I was still fighting the common-sense conclusion that it was time to relent even when capitulating might be the “classy” thing to do.

There was a little back and forth about what car she should bring up. I wanted her to bring my van since it has a bike rack on it. She insisted that it would fit in her Honda Fit hatchback, assuring me that the cargo capacity in that tiny little care belied its exterior dimension. They didn’t call it a Fit for nothing.

“I moved all of my stuff to Nashville and back in that car, dad. The room in it is amazing. I’m telling you, it will fit.”

I relented. It didn’t seem very mannerly for the rescueé to argue with the rescuer.

We started planning the rescue. I texted her the address of the wrong EconLodge. This was the second of three I had booked. I gave her the third by mistake. I texted her the correct address. Three Econo Lodges.

“Pretty soon, I’ll be eligible for a gold membership,” I said.

She would start out at 8 AM the next morning. I would wait and, if need be, ask for an extension on my stay. I told her they would probably grant me an extension.

“Just go to the front desk and show them your foot. Not only will they give you an extension, they’ll upgrade you to gold membership on the spot.”

We laughed for a long time after that.

“I’m sorry your trip had to end this way,” she said.

I called up a few friends, old friends, who date back to high school and college, and they commended me for making a good decision. That helped. Then I walked down to a local grocery store and bought Neosporin antiseptic ointment, bandages, a microwaveable burrito, and a tub of rice pudding to take back to the room. That helped too.

I texted Ann, a friend who lives in my building, and told her I was returning the next day. I joked that the ride had just been an elaborate ruse to get some quality time with my daughter.

“I’m glad you’ll be back home safe,” she said.


  1. Bren

    Oh, no! I’m so sorry this happened. However, you are doing the right thing. Knowing you gave it your best shot has to feel good. Please take care.

  2. Gary R. Greer

    As you know, John, in the world of statistical research the term criterion validity refers to the relation of some predictor variable to some criterion of interest. I mention that term because I wonder about other methods you might have used to achieve your fund-raising goal, and still might. I have no real “foundation” for that wonder, only concern for your foot. “Sides, as a FORMER cyclist I know full well that no external goal is needed. Heel.

  3. Pauline M Coffman

    So sorry this happened, John. But you made the only decision possible.

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