The holidays are upon us, I’m walking almost normal, and I’m ready to sit on the couch and count my blessings.
First off, I’m thinking how lucky I am. No pain meds, no crutches, no cane, just a big scar down the front of my leg and over my knee that’s healed up nicely. Dr. King did a great job it seems. And my therapy is complete, without any setbacks. Lucky me.
I’m also feeling fortunate for the friends and family that I have. That day late in October when I had my freak hiking accident descending Sam’s Knob, my friends and family were with me. Otherwise, I would have been stuck on that mountain.
We knew something bad was wrong. My left foot dropped into a little rutted part of the trail, wrenched backward and popped, the sound like a .22 rifle going off. I tried to stand up and almost lost my groceries, went pale, and sat back down immediately. My left knee was growing before my eyes, swelling up like a bowling ball. It was clear I wasn’t going anywhere. My quadriceps tendon was ruptured, I found out later, which was why I couldn’t move the lower half of my leg.
David, one of those friends who was with me, left with the kids, got to the car, went down the Parkway until he got a cell phone signal. He called EMS and help was on the way. While they were gone the wives stayed with me, comforting, joking, listening to my griping and cussing. I’m fortunate.
Thankful is too small a word to describe how I feel toward the Cruso Volunteer Fire Department rescue men and men, and the Haywood County EMS crew, and the U.S. Forest Service rangers. At first there were just six of them, and they talked me into taking the pain medication. They didn’t want to hear my whining on the way down, and they promised it would be a rough trip. They’d done this before, so I took their advice. So from that time on, the trip down the mountain was a little fuzzy.
By the time I finally counted, though, more than 20 people were there to help with the litter bearing my injured self, taking turns as they maneuvered down the narrow, rutted trail. These backcountry rescue folks were amazing in their efficiency, their training, their grit. It’s not an easy task hauling someone who weighs almost 200 pounds off a remote mountain. Yeah, I’m thankful these people exist and that they do their job whenever called, like on a beautiful Sunday at the end of October, football games and races on the television, me on my back out in the middle of nowhere. Yeah, I’ve got a lot be thankful for.
I’m also appreciative for all the hoops those at Haywood Regional Medical Center jumped through to get the hospital recertified. I had the opportunity to visit its ER that night, and everyone there was attentive, understanding, and all about the job of taking care of me. I was out in and out in just over two hours. I appreciate that.
I’m also very happy that this damn injury, to the same leg which was in an ankle cast two years ago, won’t have any permanent, lasting effect. Friends scratched their heads when they first saw me on crutches, asking if this had anything to do with the injury I had last year. It was actually two years ago, but, hey, time flies. Seems like yesterday, but I had time for one ski season in between. Happy as I am that this recent injury shouldn’t cause any lasting problems, it still hurts to watch my son snowboard down the mountain while all I can do is watch.
When it comes down to it, I’m very blessed. That’s right, blessed. Tore my leg to pieces, went through surgery, therapy, a little pain and am still healing up, but I am blessed. My wife and kids have shown patience and kindness like I never deserved, especially after the injury two years ago put them through pretty much the same — carry me my coffee, carry by briefcase, can’t do anything to help around the house. Even the hard-hearted co-workers used to tossing lightning quick barbs softened some, brought me coffee one or twice, and put up with my whining. Teenage punks have opened doors for me, old ladies helped me at the post office, and my basketball team of 10-year-olds didn’t run over me and cause any re-injuries.
Truth is, one accident can reveal a whole universe of good deeds springing from simple kindness. It is Christmas, isn’t it.