Friday, June 27, 2008

6 Years Ago Today

On June 28, 2002 I was walking with our friend Eileen
to of all things, a Safety Meeting. There's a bit of
a slope on the backside of B-140 between there and B-175
where the meeting was being held. All of a sudden, POW...
down I go. I still remember the falling and landing part.
There had been a light dusting of snow the night before
and this was just enough to make the hard ice below
slippery. Apparently Eileen stopped me from rolling down
the hill any farther by placing her foot in my way but I
don't remember this. More embarrassed than anything else,
I tried to get up. It's amazing how your body won't let
you do something you're not supposed to do. I could not get
up off my knees. I was in no real pain. I just couldn't
get up. Eileen went upstairs into B-140 to tell Lynn and
called the Fire Department. They came in an ambulance.
Now THAT was embarrassing. Actually it was the first time I
had ever ridden in an ambulance so that part was OK. When
I got to Medical, they couldn't tell what was wrong with me.
I know I couldn't walk correctly and they gave me a brace,
thinking I had done something wrong to my knee. Our friends
Mike P. and Ken M. saved me from falling on my face between
Medical and B-155 (even with crutches) and I settled down into
my office on Highway One for the rest of the afternoon. Lynn
brought me ice packs and I hoped for the best. What a trooper
I was though...didn't miss any work! Over the next couple of
weeks they did lots of tests including ultra sounds and a tele-
conference with the University of Texas to find out what was
wrong with me. Station Manager Tom V. and his boss and our
friend Jim S. made sure that I was going to leave at WINFLY and
Jim arranged it that Lynn would be leaving with me as my
caretaker. That was a big relief. So for the next two months
I crutched it around station with an inadequate knee brace and
really cool crutches with carbide tips (kind of like Leki poles)
There was definitely not going to be a medevac and I would
just have to wait for WINFLY to arrive. It was far from fun. When
WINFLY came, I got to leave on the third flight after I did
turnover with my replacement and I was off to Christchurch to
be repaired. Leeann, who would later become our friend, took
care of us, getting us set up at Colombo in the City Motel with
future friends Brendan and Pauline and that would be our home
for the next three months. I went to the doctor and still didn't
know what was wrong. A CRT Scan showed that I had torn my right
quadriceps tendon. The doctor didn't believe it when I told him
and until he looked at the scan was dubious. "Nobody tears their
quadriceps tendon". As you can guess, this didn't make me feel
that great. They scheduled me for surgery which hopefully would
repair it. The doctor had done work in the past for the All Blacks
rugby team so that made feel better and the day I was preparing
for surgery, they drew a big arrow on my right leg to make sure
they took care of the correct leg! What didn't make me comfortable
though was the doctor told me that only twice had he performed this
surgery before...on two Samoans, and both times were unsuccessful.
Great...right before going under the knife. So they gave me a
shot, I started counting down...and was out like a light. I
remember waking up in the recovery room in a lot of pain. Thank
goodness for morphine because I kept giving myself tons of it due
to the little button they provided me to push. That night, Lynn
had to stop me from eating because she thought I was going to
choke to death since I kept falling asleep in mid-bite! After
about three days I got to go back to the Colombo and found I
couldn't sleep in a bed while wearing a hip to ankle cast. So
I slept in a really comfortable chair that Brendan and Pauline
found me and over the next three months learned the difference
between Kiwi, Australian and British accents and the difference
between Union Rugby and League Rugby as well as viewing VERY
boring cricket matches. So much for television. Lynn and I bought a
small van so she would coax me out of my chair as frequently as
possible and when she wasn't alienating the nation of New Zealand
with her other lane driving skills, we had a good time. By
October, lots of fellow-winterovers stopped by to see us and that
certainly made the boredom disappear. Finally in December, I got
the cast off and a shiny new leg brace. As a test, we visited
Queenstown on a long weekend and the brace seemed to work well.
After a bit of physio (not nearly enough) we were ready to leave
New Zealand and head to Australia. On none of the flights between
NZ and home, including Australia, did they ever check that a leg
brace was actually making the metal detector sound off. They just
took my word for it! Sydney was great but those stairs at the
Opera House were killers on someone with a bad leg! Then we made
it home and waited for the next winter.
6 years later, I have most of my mobility back, although I'll
probably never be 100% again. I have trouble going down stairs
without a hand rail and I can't run (not that I could before).
They say that waiting the two months before having surgery is
probably the reason for this. It tried to heal on its own and
didn't heal properly. Overall though, I'm OK with my situation.
It hasn't radically changed my life and I always walked a little
funny anyway!


Anonymous said...

Good to hear that you are continuing to get better. Their were blessings to your difficulties in climbing hills though...Like a certain janitor who liked to hang out in 121 over the course of the winter.

Tom said...

Yeah...I wonder who that might have been...slacker!

Anonymous said...

Level 4...hehe.