All I wanted to do was finish repairing the garage so that I could paint it before winter came. I couldn't take another winter of looking out my window every morning while brushing my teeth and seeing a garage badly in need of a
makeover. So for a month and a half, I scraped and sanded, pried out old rotten siding and replaced it with new boards, caulked and puttied and sanded some more. I was changing the garage from white to blue, so I was
really itching to finally getting around to painting. I had managed to paint 3 sides of the garage with a blue-tinted primer weeks before, since that didn't require ladder work. Not too keen on setting up a 16-foot wooden ladder to get the one peak. The other peak required climbing into a loft from inside the garage and going through a little window so that I could
stand on a roof of a bumped out section. It was this window that I was repairing/replacing when "it" happened. This was three weeks ago, on
Saturday, Sept. 25, 2004.
The loft area was about 7 or 8 feet off the ground, easily reachable with a 6 foot stepladder, if you are willing to step on the top step. I had been doing this all month, in and out the window, prepping the wood and finally installing the window. It was just a 4-paned window that had blown out during a wind storm the previous winter - I discovered that it was just caulked in place - no nails, no screws, nothing! I was really quite proud of
this window, replacing the clear panes with colored glass, thinking of how nice it would look (and yes, "pride goeth before a fall" has run through my mind a few times since then). I was just screwing in some weather stripping
at the bottom of the window, while standing on the 2nd step (I think) of the ladder, supporting my upper body on the floor of the loft (the window was only about 4 inches from the floor). I needed to tighten a screw that was closer to me, so I tried to go down one step. I stood with my right foot firm on the step and reached down with my left foot, but couldn't figure out where the ladder went -- it was very confusing! My foot touched something
that wasn't firm, and then a split second later, crash! Down I went, about 4 or 5 feet to the cement floor.
Now, an aside about that ladder... sentimentalist that I am, it was my
Grandfather's ladder.. an old wooden one that my Dad gave me to use when I bought my house. Since my Grandfather died almost 30 years ago, it's anybody's guess how old it was... 40, 50 years old? Don't know. Took me a while to figure out just what happened... did the ladder break under stress of just being used? It was too old to have a weight rating on the side, but (days later) I finally figured out that even a feather-weight person on a brand new ladder would have caused it to collapse just the same, since what I did was put my foot through the step area and squarely onto the little metal thingy in the center that had the handle... and stepping on it collapsed it and broke the spindly support legs in the back! Doh! I don't usually do stupid things, but every once in a while I save it all up for a doozy!
So, much clattering and noise - ended up knocking over some new downspouts that I had bought. Clatter, clatter, clatter. A good thing! Noise attracts attention! The garage door was open, and through it I could see someone in the parking lot behind my house - it was the guy who lived in the apartments there, who spent all his free time working on his pickup truck. I had never met him, but he gingerly came over, and asked if I was alright. I honestly didn't know - I was still trying to process the whole thing. I couldn't tell
what had absorbed the impact of my fall -- my butt was ok. I didn't knock my head on anything. But my left leg was tangled up in the remains of the ladder. I tried moving around, but could tell my leg was hurt - he said it's
best to get up right away (don't know if this is true, or why), so I tried but couldn't really put my full weight on my left leg to lever myself up, so I asked him for a hand, and he helped me up. He kept asking if I was alright, and I bravely said that I was. Although he was a neighbor for a few years, we had never met or talked before... and I didn't want to burden an almost stranger with a (perhaps) unnecessary trip to the hospital. So he left. (But I am still grateful that he came over... I could have been lying there knocked out or seriously cut from the tools that were lying about).
I sat for a few minutes on a stool in the garage, not understanding why I felt like I was almost going to faint. I took a quick inventory of myself, and the only injury seemed to be my left leg - it hurt, but I could stand and walk on it. I had been wearing old hiking boots for work boots, and I could see a bump forming a few inches above the boot top on the left side. I looked at the clock: 5:30. Hmmm. I grabbed the phone and my bottle of water, and walked about 20 feet to have a good think while sitting on my back steps. I could feel a slight grinding in my leg where things shouldn't be
grinding. The pain was similar to a good kick in the shins and wasn't subsiding. I guessed it wouldn't hurt to get it checked out.
I knew my friends were going out to dinner. My parents had said they were going out as well. I called my one friend, just in case they hadn't left yet, but got her answering machine, so I hung up. Everyone's cell numbers were in my cell phone, inside the house. My brothers lived 45 minutes away. So, I guessed it was just up to me. I limped back to the garage, put away
the 16 foot ladder that I had been up on earlier that day, closed up the garage, went back to the house (why I didn't look up my friends' numbers at that point, I don't know. Turns out one of my friends was home all
evening!). The other issue was that I was incredibly grimy! Caulk, dirt, sweat, and grime caked all over my pants and t-shirt. I decided I could manage to change my shirt, but the pants (which ended just below my knee)
would have to remain. Went upstairs to get cleaned up a little. Grabbed my purse and a tote bag, threw in a bottle of water, some dried mangoes, and a Reader's Digest. I figured Saturday night in the emergency room was not
going to be a quick visit.
Went out to the car parked on the street. Figured driving wouldn't be a hassle, since my right leg was fine. But the emergency brake was on - I usually have to release it with my right foot on the brake and step hard on the other brake with my left foot. Arrrgh! Don't remember how I finally released it, but I was on my way. Fortunately, I live in a metropolitan
suburb and there were a half dozen hospitals within a half hour drive. I decided the one only 2 miles away would do nicely, since I was a little hazy by this point.
At the hospital the administrator who signs me in complains matter-of-factly just how busy she is that she hasn't had time to eat or even time to pee and this isn't her regular job. The hospital has a new policy that every patient
will be seen in 15 minutes (or you win a prize???), but the administrator says of course that will be waived tonight, since they are so busy. I try to understand the logic in that, but fail. But as a courtesy, she will fully
register me, so I leave there with paperwork and a nifty hospital bracelet. Back to wait on the chairs, to been seen by triage...
... to be continued (I know, I'm a "little" wordy!)