I broke my leg on September 3, 2010. I was in tree service and a ladder slipped out from under me while climbing down from the top of the work truck. I did this every day, but that day was a bad day.
    It didn’t start as a bad day. I had not wanted to go to work all week. Every day that week, I had to explain to myself that I had to go to work. I woke up that Friday in a great mood. It was Memorial day weekend. I was going to go to work, work hard and go get my kids for the weekend afterwords. It was also payday. We were going to go shopping and have a barbeque.
    On the first job of the day, we were setting up when I was asked by my foreman to go get the orchard ladder off of the truck. We had some medium sized lemon trees to trim. I’m not fond of lemon trees. I’m the sucker who has to drag the brush to the chipper and chip it, and lemon trees have thorns.
    So, I was on top of the truck and placed the ladder against it, like usual. Mind you, orchard ladders don’t have rubberized feet. They are designed to be used in dirt. I pushed on the top to make sure it wouldn’t slip out from under me, as I usually did. I placed one foot on the ladder and was bringing the second around as I felt it start to slip. Have you ever noticed that when something like this happens, everything seems to move in slow motion? Its a real testament to how well our brains work when you can have so many thoughts in such a short time! The fall was about 13 feet, so I was probably on the ground within one second or so, but I swear it seemed to take a few minutes.
    As I watched the top of the truck pass my head, I realized it wasn’t just a little slip. I had nothing to grab onto to stop my fall. The top of the truck was kind of rounded, and the tie down supports were out of my reach. “This is going to suck!” I thought right around the time I was eye level with the top. I could hear the grating of the aluminum slipping on the asphalt. It sounded horrendously loud in the cloudless, morning light.
    I thought about my position on the ladder. If I stayed in the position I was in, I was probably going to break my arms and ribs when I landed.
    Let me give you a little background on myself real quick. I have always been kind of heavy, but that never stopped me from skateboarding, rollerblading, biking, and screwing around on trampolines. I have always had an ability to control my body while airborn. So the next logical thought in my fall was to jump off the ladder and roll as I hit the ground. In hindsight, I see two problems with this logic. There is a big difference between an expected airborn episode, and an unexpected one. Also, jumping off of something that is moving downward greatly reduces your ability to jump.
    When turning in the air you always lead with your head. Your body will follow. As I turned my head to the left I felt my shoulder start to turn and my feet leave the ladder. Looking back, it would be considered a backside turn… I was never good at those when I used to skate. As my feet touched the ground I hadn’t stopped turning. My right foot spun 180 degrees and I felt the bone snap before the rest of my body hit the ground.
    I still tried my best to absorb the impact as I bent my knees and hips, but it was evident that there would be no roll. My palms slapped the ground but thankfully not my head, since my hardhat was rolling across the street. So there I am laying in the street with my coworkers in the backyard. I’m sure they heard the ladder fall, but that would be no cause for alarm. Now came my next problem. I couldn’t stand up, it was too early to scream for help because I didn’t want to wake up the neighborhood, and as I looked at my watch… it was only 8:03 am. “Damnit!! This is not good!”
    I whisper/yelled for Jose as I used my arms and left leg to drag myself around to the front of the truck. Jose came up to me laughing, “What happened?” he asked, trying to contain laughter as it was apparent that I had fallen.
    “I broke my leg.” I said calmly as I started to unlace my boot. He didn’t believe me because of how calm I was.
    “You didn’t break your leg. It’s just twisted. If it was broken, you’d be screaming in pain.” He responded as I removed my boot and pulled up my pant leg.
    I lifted my leg at that point, but my foot stayed on the ground. You could see the tibia deforming my ankle area. My other coworker, Gerardo, had come out by this point. When they saw it, they both looked like they were going to vomit. I on the other hand started cussing. I had been hoping I was wrong about it bring broken… but it was evident that I wasn’t.
    Jose started freaking out. He didn’t know what to do. So I took the lead. “Get the radio and call the boss. Have him come pick me up. Gerardo, get me the ice pack out of the first aid kit please, and my phone. I gotta let a couple people know that I might be home late.” I chuckled. Jose’s English isn’t the best, so I talked to the boss because he couldn’t understand Jose. While talking with him I glanced to the right. On the other side of the truck was a patch of ivy. I mentally slapped myself. This could have been avoided.
     The pain in my leg was bad, but I’ve always had an ability to supress pain to a point that people just say I’m in shock. But believe me, I could feel it. My heart felt like it was actually in my leg, beating away, sending flashes of pain shooting up to my groin. But if I freaked out, it would only make it worse. So I sat talking with my coworkers until my boss showed up.
    He pulled up and laughed at me as he got out of his truck. “What the hell man? You sure its broken?” Jose chimed in and told him what they saw, and he laughed again, but a little nervously. No one seems to know how to act when someone is so nonchalant about pain.
    They helped me up and into the bosses truck, which thankfully is just a little 2 seater, and off we went to the doctor. Of course, the ride there was full of bumpy roads. My mind was already focused on what was going to happen. I knew I wouldn’t be able to work for awhile. A typical break takes six to eight weeks to heal. Looking at my boss I say, “Well Paul… I just didn’t think a three day weekend was going to be enough. I figured it was about time for a vacation.” He was still laughing as he pulled into the doctors driveway.

To be continued…

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