falling

This took place in 1980.

After completing computer school, I found that no one was hiring. Or at least, no one was hiring me. Dad graciously offered me a job putting up scaffold until I found a computer job.

A few months later, I was still working for Dad. It wasn’t unusual for me to be walking along a foot-wide series of planks and carrying heavy equipment while I was 60 feet above the ground.

One time, I was climbing up a scaffold and around the 10 foot level I fell off. User error. We were outside and I was falling toward the concrete surface and some heavy equipment. I remember thinking that this was very serious and could end very badly. If I said anything it was probably along the lines of “arrrrrgh” or “shiiiiiiiiii….”

I found myself flat on the ground and my feet hurt like hell. I wasn’t thinking very clearly. I tried crawling away from whatever was hurting my feet but that didn’t help. A coworker, let’s say Vince, told me not to move and asked me about where I hurt. I only noticed my feet at the time and told Vince that. Vince then went off to call an ambulance.

I lay face down on the concrete trying to not think about how much my feet hurt. I was able to dig out my cigarettes so I smoked them as I pondered my fate.

There was a factory next door to the site that we were working at. The commotion of my accident emptied it out and I was soon surrounded by gawkers. There was a lot of discussion amongst them about how the accident happened and how badly off was he, meaning me. The consensus was that his (my) back was broken and that he’d (I’d) never walk again.

As I was lying face down I didn’t feel like joining in the conversation. I did start wondering about my back. I wasn’t feeling any pain in my back but I wouldn’t if it was broken, would I? My feet reminded me that they hurt like hell. I realized that if I can feel my feet hurting like hell, then my back was still doing its job of complaining to my brain. I also remembered that I’d tried crawling away from whatever was hurting my feet. If my back had had a problem, crawling around would have finished the job. I stopped worrying about my back and started worrying about my feet.

Other folks had their own problems. Vince had called for an ambulance and was now trying to find Dad. When he finally found Dad, all Vince could tell Dad was that I’d been hurt but no one knew how badly. Dad then had to turn around and find Pam, my fiance back then, and let her know what little he knew. Since cell phones weren’t available back then, it was a couple of hours before they could find out. This was pretty nail-bitey for them.

At the hospital, they cut off my shoes and took X-rays. I forget which order. The X-rays showed that I had 7 fractures in my left foot and 2 in the other. I was to wear casts on my feet and hobble around on crutches for a couple of months. Apart from that, there would be no long-term effects. This had Pam and me concerned. We were getting married in a couple of months. We didn’t think that the casts and crutches would match my tuxedo.

The swelling of my left foot made it look like a baseball was stuffed under the skin. I stayed in the hospital for almost a week while they waited for the swelling to go down. This was all at a very inconvenient time:

  • My sister and her husband were visiting from England.
  • A friend of mine had just lined up a job interview for me.
  • Did I mention an imminent wedding?

My sister and her husband met me at the hospital. Pam acted as their tour guide while I was laid up.

I went on the job interview with the 2 casts and a suit. I got my first computer job. When I started working there, I was still using a cane but at least the casts and crutches were gone. The difficulty was getting Workmen’s Compensation to stop giving me money. Their argument was that my new job paid less than my old one so Workmen’s Compensation wanted to pay me the difference. I explained that if I hadn’t had the accident, I’d still be taking this new job but it took a while to get them to listen.

Luckily (hah!) I only needed the casts for 6 weeks. This meant that I didn’t have to wear my tux over them at the wedding.

There was one long-term effect. You know how some folks have healed broken bones that hurt when it’s going to rain? Sorta like a built-in weather forecast. I don’t have that. My healed fractures hurt after it’s been raining. Sorta like a built-in weather postcast.

In case you’re wondering, Dad’s company only ever had 1 black mark on its safety record. That was me.

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