Sunday, January 24, 2010

...Had a Great Fall.

In preparation for a Halloween party some six years ago I fell from the rafters of a pole barn.

I was using my throwline from my climbing gear and it snagged on a gusset plate. I was just like I always am, and said; "heck I can just climb up there and hang the witch, free the line and then shimmy down, no problem".

Rafter climbing is a pain in the ass. Its all narrow and cramped and the gusset plates are sharp edged and right where you want to put your hands or feet.

I climbed up the big truck that was parked inside on the sand ring for a stage. I made it no problem to the snagged line. I had used the heavier throwbag and it was hung up tight in the bight right where the metal plate meets the wood of the rafter.

I got the line out and then used it to raise the witch, then I looked back at the trip through the rafters I had to make to get down.

The long, dusty, tight, and ever tightening, fight back to the truck over by the eve of the building looked like a hassle. I could, instead of walking in the rafters, just arm over arm it, hanging from the rafters some twenty feet up. I would monkey over to the truck.

Well, it had been a long dusty day at the farm there just outside Savage Minnesota, and I hadn't timed my swings right to meet the first(sharp)gusset plate that I had to pass and I stopped.

I thought I could just do the hang, drop and roll but the guys didn't like that idea so Bubba went to to get the tall ladder.

My hands were slick from the long dusty day and my fingertips on the dusty two-by-four were just not up to holding long enough.

I came down as the ladder was being set up. I tried to land on two of the top steps.

It would have been real cool. The ladder would stomp down on its feet as I stomped down on the top steps. The dust would just be settling as I come stepping down from above, triumphant.

Well,the timing of things didn't quite work out so well and I kinda missed a step.

I didn't get the benefit of the drop and roll. What I did get was a pitch sideways from the teetering ladder.

I fell about eighteen feet and landed hard on my left side. My left wrist hurt like the dickens and my left leg was flopping around like it never really did before.

And just like after my drowning some twenty years earlier, my first response was to try to get up. Steve said he didn't think that was a good idea.

So I stayed there on my back with my left arm across my chest.

Colin, my brother called the ambulance, and Steve helped by putting my left leg up to my right and duct taping the two together.

I had smashed the left wrist totally and the left pelvis had snapped at the socket.

After a long month in the hospital I was allowed to leave. I was weak, sore, had a no weight restriction on the leg, and the wrist was in a cast.

Both were full of screws and wire.
I was driving a walker in winter. I first roomed with Drew in Rockford then Buck and Cathy in Avon.

My nephew Johnny gave me the nickname "Jabberwalky", I suppose you could understand why. Cathy and John helped get me moving and I threw away the pain pills, even though the pain was hot and constant.

Now its just constant, and only periodically hot; usually after a long days work.

After about five months I was told to go ahead and put weight on the pelvis.

I know lots of people have gone through a lot worse, heck Kip broke his neck and was in a "halo" and full body brace, and Eric; well we almost lost him in the same accident that broke kips neck.

However, I had a lot of hard, painful work ahead of me. I still do. I need to work the leg more, that's one of the reasons I do the work I do.

After wintering in Avon, I hobbled over to Sartell and Dad's house right across the street from the high school I graduated from.

What a long circle I had taken, but here I was again. Weak, sore, crippled, and dejected. I was not happy.

Nobody wants to live in the basement of their folks house as an adult.

I was not really ready, but I had to move out. I just had to.

I had no money, and very few options.

I am many things, one of which is a qualified U.S. Submarine Sailor. I went to submarine school in Groton Connecticut, Sonar training in San Diego and sailed the Atlantic and Mediterranean on two submarines out of Charleston S.C. and Norfolk VA.

To be a submarine sailor is to be a space man, and the (constant)training reflects that fact.

So I went back to my training. I assessed my situation, inventoried my resources, identified a goal, created a plan and put it in to action.

Submariners do not whine. We also are prone to very hard language with short factual phrases that often upset people, but we do not care much about feelings.

I have been trying to work on improving that, although I am starting to think there is no advantage to changing.

Recently someone said I, "sounded like a woman".

When I stop and assess my situation, with all the inconveniences I put up with and the whiners I listen to; well, lets just say that no one will think this man sounds like a woman again.

The way I left the basement in Sartell was to ask someone I know in the horse business if there was a barn looking for help, but it had to have room for me to move into.

She did, and so I did.

It was probably way to early for me to take on the job.
Afternoon chores and weekend morning chores at a barn in Forest Lake. Horse stable work; hay out, lead horses out, clean the barn, bed the stalls, clean water buckets, and sweep and such.

What should have taken two hours was taking me three and it hurt like hell. But I did it.

Things have changed since then, but it has been a hard painful struggle, not just to get on my feet. I am now back to working horse and tree. I even climb now and again.

I remember passing a fellow early in my recovery as I "walkered" my way into therapy one winter day. He said it gets better, just you have to keep working, but it does get better.

I have always had little patience for lazy people. Especially when they expect things from others, things they could get or do for themselves.

I do not mind helping people as long as they help themselves.

But as soon as they start whining or bitching about a little pain, some discomfort, and slight inconvenience that is usually way smaller than any I have, or am now dealing with, I quickly loose interest in helping or being polite.

Grow up people.
I tire of being diplomatic to protect inflated egos and fragile emotions.
I am trying to get things done, productive things, and I no longer have time to be delicate.

So, all of you in Minnesota are on notice.

I am returning to my normal, rough, gruff, tree climbing, submarine sonar, stablehand way of straight line, no muss, no fuss, bald face, fact based, communicating.

It may be hard on you, but it's much easier on me; and as far as I am concerned, that's what really matters.

1 comment:

  1. Hey bro,

    Two things.

    1. When I heard about the "tree protector," I thought of you.

    2. Those of us that know you love the up front, this is how I see it sonarman. Never compromise. If this occasionally ruffles some feathers, tough. A survivor can put the disrupted pinfeathers back in place and carry on. Those that can't...?