My Fall – – (Do Not Try This At Home)

California Chrome had and excellent day on Saturday May third.  Mine wasn’t quite so good.   As usual on Derby Day, my wife and I sat in our basement to watch the Run for the Roses.  My daughter Marnie and granddaughter Caroline joined us too.  Everyone picked their favorite horse (fortunately none of us actually bet because none of us had chosen Chrome).  After the race my wife Kathy went upstairs to play with Caroline.  I intended to have Marnie help me plant the rest of the pepper starts in our garden.

Earlier in the week I had begun tearing down the decaying boards over a decorative pergola that stretched nine feet above our cement patio.  Kathy wasn’t real keen on my efforts.  She thought it was too dangerous; but I was being careful!  Later this summer we hope to rebuild the pergola area and replace it with a larger deck.  I intended to help the builder by doing what I could to speed the process.

So since I had already been on the pergola perhaps I wasn’t as careful as I should have been.  I intended to move the very safe and very heavy board that was my scaffolding.  I was taking it down to use it when Marnie and I were planting the green peppers.  (I am using a carpet garden system this year.  I have some old carpet that I put down in the garden and cut holes in it to plant the tomatoes and peppers.  Carpet gardening helps retain moisture for the plants and it retards weed growth.  But it’s hard to cut the holes in the carpet and I had intended that we’d use the board under the carpet as a backing and cut the holes.)  Well…. (and I’m not too sure about the sequence of events at this point) when I lifted one end of the heavy scaffolding board I heard a crack.

Next thing I knew I was at the UK  trauma center.  Marnie had found me right after I’d fallen and had called 911.  They stabilized my neck and back and transported me by ambulance to the hospital.  Kathy, Marnie and Caroline followed me.

After what seemed like an interminable wait (note to self:  don’t get injured on Derby Day.  Lots of merry makers were in the ER with various ailments.  The guy in the bed next to mine had crushed his fingers while under the influence of Bud Light) the doctor told me that he had good news!  I did not have a head injury.  But the bad news was that I had broken nine ribs and my pelvis.

I spent a couple of days at the UK hospital and when I arrived home the litter from my fall was lying on the patio.  My heavy board was lying on the patio with two large boards that had dagger like ends.  One of the boards I was standing on could not take the additional weight from the scaffolding board and it broke.

It was obvious to me that my big mistake was getting on top of the pergola and lifting that heavy scaffolding board.  I had put it up there by climbing up a ladder about four feet and slowly inching the heavy board up.  My goal taking it down was to do it quickly.  Doing anything quickly when teetering almost nine feet above a patio is not a good choice!

Thirty years ago I may have been strong enough and quick enough to avoid injury but even then hurrying to accomplish a construction project is not a wise choice.

It is now July 9th and my body has mostly healed.  I have started gaining back the 13 lbs I lost and I am making great progress on most of my daily exercise routine.  I still have significant pain in the pelvic area when I run or move too quickly but I am confident that that pain will eventually subside as I gain back my strength.

I hope by sharing my experience that others will be more cautious and spare themselves the pain and suffering.

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