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  • I Do Not Like The Cone Of Shame…

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    (Continued from Operator, What’s The Number To 9-1-1?)

    Here’s the thing about Ladue… Oh, yeah, we’re still right where we left off. I’m crumpled on the asphalt after falling off the roof of the St. Louis Ethical Society, a pre-school teacher is shushing me, my supervisor is on her way, and I have my phone in hand while attempting to dial some numbers so that I can say a few final I love yous to some people because the rudimentary assessment I was able to make of myself indicated that it was entirely possible I just might bleed out before making it to the hospital. This was driven a little closer to home by the fact that I was starting to feel somewhat lightheaded and I knew for a fact that I hadn’t hit my head on impact. No, I’m not a doctor and I don’t even play one on TV, but I also know a few things that I learned from them what DO have such degrees – and I’m not talking television degrees. I wasn’t so much diagnosing myself as I was making an assessment and saying, “Self, this ain’t good, and hopefully it’s not as bad as it could be, but ya’know, you’re showing a couple of signs here, so…”

    So… where was I? Oh yeah, Ladue.

    Here’s the thing about Ladue. Anyone who is from around these parts knows exactly what I am talking about when I merely utter the word Ladue. Those of you who “ain’t from around here” – and I know there are many of you readers who aren’t – are probably saying, “What the fuck, Murv? So what’s the big deal about this Ladue place?”

    Well, I’ll tell you. It’s kind of where the elite live. It’s the high dollar district. It’s where you find really big ass houses with 6 car garages, 12 bedrooms, 42 bathrooms, pools (indoor and outdoor), great rooms, formal dining rooms, etc. It is populated by corporate lawyers who sue other corporations for hundreds of millions. Pro athletes. Architects who struck it big designing a building that looks like an art deco penis. Shit like that. It’s where the rich people hang out. And so, not just a whole lot of excitement occurs around there. This is not to say that shit doesn’t happen. Shit happens everywhere. But, in Ladue, there’s not a whole lot of real excitement of the sort we commoners are used to. You’ll understand what I mean in a minute.

    So, back to me sprawled out on the cold asphalt bleeding and broken and trying to make some phone calls while the shush lady watches on in horror. (Seriously, I feel sorry for her. I hate that she had to meet me like that. I’m the happy go lucky maintenance guy there on odd Fridays. I’m the one saying, “Sure. Happy to take care of that for you,” with a smile while I clean up some mess or fix some broken thingamawhatzit. Your first introduction to me really shouldn’t be a string of high volume obscenities spewing out of my mouth while I bleed all over the playground. But, it is what it is. I just hope she isn’t having any flashbacks.)

    I’m digressing again, aren’t I? I probably need more coffee…

    So, anyway, since not much excitement goes on in Ladue on a regular basis – especially on an idle Friday mid-afternoon a few weeks before Christmas – getting a 9-1-1 call gives the fire department a chance to shine. And by shine, I mean they get to bring out every shiny truck they have, run the sirens, and every single firefighter and paramedic on that shift gets an opportunity to get out of the building for a few minutes. Now, I want to make myself clear – I am NOT in any way dissing the Ladue Fire Department. These guys totally rock. I kid you not. They are the shit. They really are. All I am saying is that since excitement seems to be scarce, everybody gets on board for it. Why am I telling you this? Well, do you remember the hurried footsteps from the end of the previous installment? Yeah… well, we aren’t talking about two sets of footsteps. Roy Desoto and John Gage didn’t come running up the steps – although, it would have been sorta badass if Randolph Mantooth and Kevin Tighe had turned out to be the responding paramedics (Yeah, I’m old, so sue me) – no… it wasn’t a couple of paramedics. It was ALL OF THEM. Okay, I’ll admit that I’m not sure if they were ALL paramedics. I know there was at least one, and his name was Trevor, but we will get to him in a bit. All I can tell you is that as far as warm bodies showing up I counted (eventually) a minimum of five. Hell, I don’t even get that much attention at my book signings.

    Now, at this juncture I am still squinting and trying to dial some numbers (remember back when we had phone numbers committed to memory? Yeah, I sorta miss that) so that I can say “I love you, goodbye” to a few people (now I have a Thomas Dolby earworm…), but as it turned out that wasn’t going to happen. Making the phone calls, I mean. Obviously I didn’t die. Unless I am a ghost writer, in which case this blog is about to get especially weird. Anyway, as the entire Ladue Fire Department descended upon me the whole notion of calling anyone came to an abrupt end. Things became pretty hectic, pretty fast, and given my state of being my observational skills were a bit blunted. What I mean is, I didn’t get to sit back and watch. I was in the middle of it and everyone had questions.

    I’ll be honest – I should have written a bunch of this down back on December 8th (later in the evening, I mean), because at this point a lot of it is a blur. The things I do recall are talking to Kitt, because she arrived on the scene as well. I remember asking her to take pictures of the action so that I would have them for a blog… After all, I knew then and there that if I lived I would be blogging about this. I have talked to Kitt since the fateful day, but I haven’t asked if she ever snapped a pic or two. I guess I need to do that.

    UPDATE: Kitt sent me the three pics she snapped at my request

    Everybody came to the party…

     

    The cone of shame…And the evil ladder in the background

     

    And away we go…

    Among the other snippets were Trevor the paramedic introducing himself. The other firefighters/paramedics introducing themselves, but unfortunately I don’t remember their names – mostly because Trevor was the one who rode with me to the hospital and was in the ER with me. Then there was being asked several questions, all of which I was able to answer just fine… You know the drill – What is your name? What is your quest? What is your favorite color? How many joules of free energy were created by the force of your impact? Yadda, yadda…

    During all this I was pretty much just watching blurs bounce around me, so very early on I asked, “Does anyone see a pair of glasses anywhere?” A few seconds of searching and one of the firefighters said, “Yeah. Here’s a pair of sunglasses.” To which I said, “Actually, they’re prescription and I am damn near blind. Would someone please put them on me so that I can see who the hell I am talking to?”

    Also very early on, one of the primary questions was, “On a scale of one to ten, what would you say your pain level is?”

    My response, “Oh, about a six.”

    “Only a six?”

    “Yeah. I have a pretty high pain tolerance. Just ask my wife. She’s a redhead.”

    And yes, they all laughed. And then they offered me fentanyl. And then I declined the fentanyl. And then they said, “Are you absolutely sure?” And then I said, “Didn’t I just tell you I am married to a redhead?” And they laughed again. And then Trevor asked, “Are you really sure you don’t want anything for the pain? I can give you something for the pain.”

    So, now I will tell you what I told Trevor – many years ago my appendix exploded (not burst. According to the surgeon it literally exploded) while I was out in the woods. After my wife and a good friend dragged my ass out of the woods and got me to a hospital I was shot up with painkillers (because I needed them badly). The problem was, when they got me to the next hospital (long story) where a surgeon could evaluate me, I felt fine and was talking to bluebirds and Snow White just for something to do. This prompted the surgeon to have me sign a release that said he was going to cut me open and fix whatever he found wrong, because it was that he couldn’t be sure from an external examination since I was loopy as all hell and didn’t respond to the poking and prodding as I should. Granted – the version I gave Trevor was slightly more abbreviated, but he got the gist. The long and short was that I wanted the docs at the ER to be able to figure out what was wrong without too much guessing because I wasn’t responding to their stabbo devices – if I wasn’t dead by the time I got there, that was…

    Either way, he reminded me several times that painkillers were available to me. I, in turn, reminded him several times that I appreciated the offer, AND that had they arrived about five minutes sooner – as in ten seconds post impact – I would have gladly taken every goddamn thing they had in stock and demanded more, but that Adrenalin and the onset of shock were now doing the job of the painkillers… AND, after all, as I had noted, I am married to a redhead. A six is nothing in the grand scheme of things.

    It was at this point – well, when they all stopped laughing – that I was told, “You know, we get people who have done nothing more than stub their toe and they are screaming and demanding drugs.”

    To which I replied, “Lightweights.”

    After a quick encounter with a sphygmomanometer, Trevor announced, “Your blood pressure is a bit high.”

    My reply? “Dood, YA’THINK? No offense, but I just fell off a fucking roof. I’d expect it to be a bit high.”

    At this point I should probably point out that they had all been working on me as they were supposed to do. They’d already cut my pant leg and then insisted that I lie still because I was trying to see what they had uncovered. I asked, “So, is it a compound fracture?” An aside here, I also seemed to amaze the crap out of them with some of my questions and limited knowledge of things medical such as knowing I’d had an Adrenalin dump, that I was getting shocky, and knew exactly what a compound fracture was, not to mention the difference between a tibia and a fibula. Anyway, the reply was, “Not really sure just yet.”

    Now, I’m hard of hearing, but when you are on your paramedic radio right next to my head, I can hear you, and what they were telling the hospital was that it appeared to be a compound that had come through then reduced itself so that the bone was no longer poking out. Of course, at that point, given the size of the gash in my leg and the amount of blood, without an X-ray that was about the best they could surmise.

    By the way, sorry for the disorganization here. As I noted earlier in this post things were pretty blurry and disjointed. I remember snippets, but not everything.

    So, by now they had carefully peeled off my coat, cut my favorite blue jeans all the way up to my knee, removed my shoes, gingerly moved me onto a back board, attached an EKG, locked me into a cervical collar (hence the name of this post) and strapped my happy ass down with all manner of ratchets and ties that would make the Redheaded Dominatrix I am married to squeal with glee and say, “Oooh, look at the toys!”

    Somewhere in all this mess, I gave my truck keys to Kitt so that EK could come pick up the truck and sell it after I died. I’m pretty sure I remember Kitt talking to EK on her phone and letting her know where the paramedics were taking me. And then, the thrill ride began.

    Now, when I say thrill ride I don’t mean the ambulance ride. That was pretty anti-climactic in reality. Wasn’t my first, but hopefully it will be my last (but probably not.) The thrill ride of which I speak is getting off the deck. You see, the building was constructed back in the early 60’s during a time before common sense. I can say that because I grew up in the 60’s and I know good and damn well none of us had any of the above. Some of us still don’t, but let’s not go there. Anyway, the stairs to get up onto this deck are straight the fuck up. They are like climbing K2. Trust me, I know. I have been up and down them numerous times carrying tools, materials, and <gasp> an extension ladder. On top of that, the gate at the top of the stairs is a bit on the narrow side. It’s designed for a person to come through. It is not designed for a person on a back board carried by a half-dozen paramedics to come through.

    Suffice it to say, these guys carried my fat ass down those stairs and loaded me into the back of the ambulance and didn’t once drop me, which was much appreciated.

    So… There I was in the back of the ambulance. They started an IV, because everyone needs a “four” when they are hurt. (think about it)… Trevor once again asked me if I wanted some fentanyl. I replied, “Dude, have you got short term memory loss? Haven’t I told you several times I’m married to a redhead?”

    He laughed, then asked me how I managed to be cracking jokes when I was in as much pain as I obviously had to be in.

    I told him, “There’s humor in everything. Sometimes you just have to look for it really hard. Besides, there’s that whole shock and Adrenalin thing. I’m going to be a lot worse when that wears off so I am holding out for the really good shit.”

    Then the door closed, the siren started up, and I took a horizontal ride to Mercy, about 7 minutes away.

    More to come…

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • Operator, What’s The Number To 9-1-1?

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    (Continued from 4369.44 Joules – But That’s Only An Approximate Calculation… )

    And so, there I was, sprawled out on the asphalt, screaming my fool head off, spewing every curse word I knew – all in between labored gasps for air, mostly because the pain was causing me to scream my fool head off (see earlier statement) – AND, I was being shushed by a pre-school teacher. (full disclosure on the asphalt – it was covered with playground tiles, but not the soft rubber kind your mind conjures when you hear playground tiles. These things are about an inch thick, HARD plastic waffle kinda things to allow for drainage. Trust me when I tell you I wouldn’t want my kid falling down on them, because they are just as hard as the asphalt beneath them. But then, I’m a child of the 60’s. Our playground tiles were tons of sharp edged gravel spread beneath non-OSHA approved monkey bar/jungle gyms, so I guess hard ass plastic on top of asphalt is a shade better.)

    The temperature was around 40 or so and the sun was shining. Why is that important? Mostly because on impact my glasses – complete with clip on sun shades – had come unglued and were no longer attached to my face. Next time I’ll use Krazy Glue instead of Elmer’s. Also, asphalt can be hot, and it can be cold. Guess which one this asphalt was?

    Now, for a period of time that seemed like forever, but likely lasted less than two minutes, I continued to scream. Why? I was in pain, duh. Being over the age of 50 my adrenal gland takes frequent breaks. I mean, come on, it has earned them. Truth is, given my history, it is probably ready for early retirement. My point here is that said gland was out getting coffee and had to be paged. To its credit, instead of hiding in the break room, it answered – a bit sluggishly at first, but then it fell right into the groove the way a veteran adrenal gland with a shit-ton of work experience will do. However, given that it hadn’t been called into action for a good period of time, it had to start off by loading a cartridge and firing it with the ignition set to off in order to clear the cylinders (see Coffman Starter, Flight of the Phoenix). During that brief period I was starting to do a mental inventory. I know, right? What was I thinking doing an inventory? I mean, there I was on the ground with a pain level of 28 on the scale of 1-10 and I was thinking. What was I thinking to be thinking at a time like that? Well, I don’t know what to tell you. That’s just me. At any rate, my inventory sort of ticked off as follows:

    1. You’re still alive, asshole.
    2. Are you really sure you WANT to be alive right now given the amount of pain you are in?
    3. What the fuck? I can still move my legs, that’s probably a good thing.
    4. You’re still alive, asshole.
    5. JESUS FUCKING CHRIST.
    6. Why is everything a big fucking blur?
    7. Will someone please turn out that big ass light? It’s shining right in my eyes.
    8. HOLY SHIT, this hurts.
    9. I wonder if I damaged the ladder or the building wall on the way down?
    10. Fuck the ladder.
    11. Fuck the building.
    12. Why in the holy hell is this woman still shushing me?

    Yeah… Number 12 was kind of a kicker. She had gone from shushing, to gasping, right back to shushing. In her defense, I guess her primary concern was for the children at the pre-school, and the delicate sensibilities of the parents picking them up. I mean, they had probably never heard the word fuck before, so I am guessing a mess of parents had to do a lot of fast explaining. On that note, however, I can be proud that I taught a mess of 4 and 5 year olds some brand new vocabulary words that will serve them well in the future. Also in the teacher’s defense, she would randomly apologize for shushing me – then shush me again. I’m guessing this was her first major emergency where someone was injured, so I have to cut her some slack.

    HOWEVER…

    You knew that was coming, right?

    In the moment, as I was lying there writhing around and expressing my displeasure with the level of pain I was experiencing, the shushing thing became a bit of an issue for me. When I managed to catch my breath for a second I channeled my inner Joe Pesci and replaced my expletive ridden stream of consciousness bellowing with, “IN A LOT OF PAIN HERE!”

    She said, “I know, I’m sorry.” Then she shushed me again and said, “Should I call 9-1-1?”

    Now… Those of you who know me know that I am “that guy.” When I say “that guy” I mean I am that guy who gets the shit knocked out of him in some sort of accident, puts a piece of duct tape on it, walks it off, then just goes right on back to what he was doing. Seriously. I also have a ridiculously high pain threshold. I can give you references who will attest to the veracity of that statement. There are too many stories to tell. So… What did I say in answer to her query?

    “I don’t know.”

    Well, actually I didn’t so much say it as I yelled it. Why? Because in that brief span I was thinking I should just get up, walk it off, then get back on the damn ladder and get back to work. So, I tried to sit up, but my sitting up sub-routine had been disabled by the currently running “You’re Totally Fucked, Man” utility, as the latter pretty much takes over all of your system resources. Therefore, a half-second after saying – nay, yelling – I don’t know, I yelled, “Yes!”

    Probably a good thing. I’m not entirely sure this lady would have called them if I hadn’t told her it was okay, because she was pretty much stuck in “shush” mode. Again, in her defense, I am pretty sure she was in a state of shock. It’s not every day you hear a bunch of cursing and come out the door to find a guy who should probably be dead flopping around on the playground after falling off a roof. So, I really am cutting her some slack. I’m not angry or upset with her at all. I’m just relaying the story and the utter comedy – dark though it may be – of it all.

    And so, she called 9-1-1.

    And so, my adrenal gland fired the Coffman Starter with the ignition off and cleared the pipes.

    And then, my adrenal gland fired the Coffman with the ignition ON, and an entire 55 gallon drum of Adrenalin (hence the odd name of the gland) dumped directly into my system and said, “WENDY, I’M HOME!”

    My heart rate – that HAD been slowing back down a bit – leaped up to 942 beats per second and my pain level dropped from 28 to about 6. Logically, I knew that it was a false 6, but at that moment I was all good with a 6. Even with my high tolerance for pain, 28 had been just a bit too much.

    Now, here’s an interesting thing about an Adrenalin dump. As a rule it will put you into fight or flight, but here’s the thing – I’d already fought the ladder and the ladder won (although, it was knocked out in the end) and in my current physical condition, flight was sort of out of the question. I mean, I am pretty sure if the building had been on fire, or if a loved one was in danger, my happy ass would have crawled its way to wherever it needed to be to deal with the situation, but none of that was happening. It was just poor old broken me and the shush lady out there. So, the Adrenalin went to the only other place it could – my brainpan.

    If you think I was thinking earlier, well, now I was really thinking.

    Since my heart was racing I was gasping quite a bit, and even though I had gone from a 28 to a 6 on the pain scale (1 – 10, mind you), the pain was still more than enough to elicit a series of groans in betwixt breaths. In retrospect, I think the 6 was actually more of a 12 or 13, but like I said, I have such a high tolerance to begin with, assigning numbers to the level tends to be a bit elusive to me at times.

    So anyway, my brain went into overdrive – yet again – and I shoved my hand into my coat pocket and felt around. Sure enough, my phone was still there, so I pulled it out.

    At this point I could hear the shush lady talking to the 9-1-1 dispatcher. As is the case with such things they were keeping her on the phone and asking her questions that she was relaying to me so that I could answer them. Through the blur of not having my glasses, combined with the glare of the sun, I somehow managed to key in my passcode to my phone and unlock it.

    While fiddling about with my phone I noticed that my leg was feeling rather warm. I twisted and lifted my head enough to see it and noticed that there was a whole mess of red all over the playground. Seventh grade biology class with Mr. Hackworth ran through my head – in particular the human skeleton – and I said to myself, “Self… That’s just fucking great. You’ve got a compound fracture and you’re going to lay here and bleed out.”

    I then told the shush lady, “You might want to tell them I’m bleeding.”

    To her credit, she did.

    And so, I still wasn’t entirely sure what the outcome of this was going to be. While the shush lady was telling me “They’re on their way. They’ll be here soon,” I was dialing my wife’s number. When she answered I was pretty much out of breath because I was still fighting the pain, falling into step with the Adrenalin dump, and, for all intents and purposes, going into shock. Really all I can remember of the conversation was managing to tell her that A) I had fallen off a roof, B) Obviously I was still alive, C) 911 had been called and paramedics were on the way, D) I probably had a broken leg,  E) Stay at work, there’s nothing you can do right now, I’ll let you know when I get to the hospital so you will know where I am, and F) I love you.

    What she might not have known at that time – or maybe she did, I don’t know – was that given the rudimentary assessment I had been able to make of myself I wasn’t entirely sure that the “I love you” wasn’t the last one I was going to get to say. However, I knew I had already caused her enough worry so I wasn’t going to compound it with fatalistic yammering. I should also note that calling her was a somewhat labored decision. I made it quickly, yes, but for a moment I considered waiting until I was safely ensconced in the hospital so that she wasn’t going through the rest of her day worrying. However, the bleeding thing and the fact that someone from Ethical was bound to call her prompted me to be pre-emptive about it and make the call myself. Perhaps not my best decision, but it is what it is.

    Something I forgot to mention – during all of this, in between gasps, and talking to Evil Kat, I had been telling shush lady to call Kitt – my supervisor at Ethical. She was at the other end of the building in her office and I sort of figured she should know what happened so that she could grab my time sheet and clock me out. After all, I wasn’t working anymore. I was quite literally laying down on the job and they didn’t need to be paying for that.

    So… I got off the phone with my wife and asked shush lady if she had reached Kitt, whereupon she said, “I don’t know how to get in touch with her.”

    Even in my crumpled state I thought this odd, and it was a bit annoying.

    So what did I do?

    I fumbled around on my phone and dialed Kitt’s number.

    At this point the Ladue Fire Department (more on them later) was on their way in all their glory with sirens blaring. They aren’t very far away at all, so there in the relative quiet of midday, the sirens were easy to hear, and they were growing louder every second.

    I was still gasping a bit, but I was starting to fall into step with the Adrenalin dump and I was forcing myself to do a John Rambo and “ignore the pain” – or, try to…

    The phone rang and Kitt answered, “Hey, Murv.”

    I said, “Hey, Kitt… <gasp> Hey, do you hear those sirens?’

    “Yeah, I wonder what’s up.”

    “Well, they’re coming for me.”

    The rest of the conversation involved her telling me she was on her way and asking where I was – as close as I can recall, anyway.

    Then, the sirens got really loud.

    Then the sirens stopped.

    Then the world was filled with the sounds of idling diesel engines, doors opening, and hurried footsteps…

    Me… Well, I was getting ready to make another phone call, mostly because I still wasn’t sure where I stood with the whole living or dying thing and I figured I should say some tentative goodbyes.

    More to come…