...all my dreams fall like rain...

The grammer police and the self righteous wordsmiths of the world should probably just pass me by. All I'm trying to do is find words for the many voices I have in this room for rent I call my brain.

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April 07, 2005 - 12:16 p.m.

A gift of time

It’s the kind of folding ladder you can put on stairs, an upside down V type where the uphill leg is shorter than the down hill leg. I’ve used this ladder many times and haven’t had any problems until last weekend.

I set the ladder up at the top of the stairs with the longer leg about nine or ten steps lower than the shorter leg so I could cut-in the corners between the stairway ceiling and the wall, and I was standing at the top of V with a small plastic bucket of paint in one hand and a paintbrush in the other when the ladder collapsed.

Evidently I had put all my weight on the rung of the shorter leg (which took all the weight off the longer leg), and when I shifted my weight back onto the rung of the longer leg it shot forward and the ladder made a beeline for the stairs

One thing I was reminded of was that your perception of time does indeed slow down during a crisis situation, and also that your senses have a way of using what seems like an extra second of awareness to try and figure out what’s going on. It was just that type of defense mechanism, precipitated by a surge of adrenalin, which alerted me to the fact that I was about to have a major gravity attack followed by some very serious bodily injury.

So basically, what should have taken one second took two. The first second was that empty suck-in-of-air feeling your body (mind and spirit) has when you drop unexpectedly. The second, second, was the “time is irrelevant” feeling my self preservation reflex grabbed hold of so I could somehow try and figure out how to save myself from getting tangled up with a ladder as both of us fell toward the staircase (oak hardwood on the steps…not carpet).

What I was able to do, and have no explanation for other than a guardian angel, was look over my shoulder at the short banister at the top of the steps and extend my left arm (the one holding the bucket) out far enough to try and brace my fall with my forearm. It worked. The impact my forearm took was able to slow my upper torso down enough to take my body out of its flat out horizontal body position free fall. In other words, my legs hit the steps before my chest.

My left foot was the next thing to touch down, and I have no idea how it missed the rungs of the ladder or was able to find a smooth surface without wrenching sideways in between either the steps or the ladder. It’s amazing that foot found purchase and hit flush. My right leg must have swung out as a counter balance when I extended out my left arm. It smacked against and scraped down along the gears that made up the hinged part of the ladder.

I’m guessing that’s how it all happened. I don’t really remember much except hopping down the steps with a jammed left shoulder and a numb below the knee right leg as I cussed to myself through clenched teeth “Shit, I just broke my fucking leg..shit I just broke my fucking leg…”

I made it into the living room and sat down on the couch and was furious. I rocked back and forth growling to myself as I sucked in and let out air from the pain below my right knee. I was about to dial 911 (I was alone at the time) when a moment of calm made me look down at my foot. I watched as I wiggled my foot back and forth like I was waving to myself and I rolled my ankle around; my leg wasn’t broken.

I then tried to lift my pant leg but could barely touch the bottom part of my leg and bending forward to try and slide my pant leg up made me feel nauseous. I instead decided to hop into the kitchen and try to find some ice or something cold. I settled on a bag of frozen peas and a whole shit load of paper towels. I hopped back into the living room and was eventually able to slide my pant leg up past the impact zone. The ladder had dug in and then skipped and then dug in two more times before my momentum carried my leg out of harms way. The bruise around the dig-skip-dig-skip-dig area ran along the inside of my leg just below my knee to about have way down my calf and then back up underneath the knee. It was a real beauty of bruise and blood.

The nausea began to subside and I could feel my heart beat in the bruised part of my leg as it began to find a slower pace. I knew I needed to get a grip and simply lay back and get a cold compress on that ugly thing before it swelled too much to even bend my knee. I must have been a quite a sight laying there with my T-shirt soaked through with sweat, hair matted down on my head, and my leg sticking up in the air on a couple of pillows with a bag of frozen peas resting on top.

I am a lucky guy and still shiver when I think about how differently that whole scenario could have unfolded. It, and me, could have been a real mess. There is no doubt in my mind that the guardian angels that keep track of me rolled their eyes and let out a collective “Nooo…!” when they saw me climb up on top of that ladder.

But I am grateful that they decided, yet again, to bail my punkass out of a jam. And I also owe them a tip of the hat, and a thank you, for that extra second they allowed me to use.

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