As I write this entry, it's pretty much 14 years to the hour of a significant event in my life.
It was a beautiful sunny July morning. We were in the midst of building our new house yet we were taking the day off to join family in Northern Bay Sands. Prior to leaving, I wanted to do some work on the roof. I was alone and in, a very stupid move, placed a ladder where it should never be - from the porch roof to the eve (two stories up). I overreached at one point and the ladder became unbalanced and started to slide off the roof - with me on it!! I can still see and feel that moment in slow motion. That feeling of falling. The feeling that you can do nothing to stop it. The awareness to tuck my head into my chest before hitting the ground below. And finally that dull thud on the back of my neck as it hit the compacted rock and gravel!! (I have the willies now as I think of it!!)
I lay on the ground for just a moment. Then though that if I don't get up now, I may never get up. I pulled myself up, feeling the dull pain in the back of my neck , and proceeded to walk the severl hundred meters down the road to where we were living. I was dazed but, trying to look alright, I said hello to my wife's aunt who was out on her front step. When I got home, the door was locked and Cheryl was in the shower. Finally she heard me and opened the door. I said that I wasn't feeling well and that I wanted to lie down. When I did, I noticed that my right elbow wasn't quite right - it felt kind of loose.
I said I was fine and that I just needed to rest before we went to Northern Bay. It was then decided that we should go to the hospital. We got in the car and I placed a piece of wood under my arm to support it. Cheryl (who was nine months pregnant) drove. On the way out I noticed that my neck hurt when I tried to turn it to the right and it wouldn't go all the way. As per usual, I kept testing it to see how far I could turn before it really hurt!! On the way out, the gear stick on the car popped out and we had to drive the whole way in third gear - even at red lights!!
At the emergency ward, the nurse who checked us in, for some reason, took me in right away. I was packed off for x-rays right away. While lying on the gurney, I still kept trying to turn my head all the way to the right. The Tech said "You really shouldn't be doing that". I stopped!!
X-rays confirmed that I cracked two bones in my neck and that I had subluxation (shifting) of a few vertebrae in my lower neck. I had also broken off a chip of bone in my elbow and it was loose in the joint. I was told that I was very lucky not to be paralyzed and even luckier, still, to be alive. The cracks in the vertebrae were very close to the nerves - damage to those nerves would've meant paralysis.
To make a longer story short - I was on my back in hospital for 4 days. I was fitted with a neck brace that prevented neck movement for 4 months. My elbow was casted for a few days but they removed it and sent me to physio right away. Physio on a broken elbow ain't fun. The first time, I took pain killers. The therapist was not happy - she needed to know how much pain I was in during the exercises!!
Three weeks later my son was born. I was still in a lot of discomfort but at least I was there for him!!
So why this post, then? Because, eventhough I still have residual effects from the accident - like a right arm that cannot straigthen out nor rotate all the way and sometimes my neck makes funny noises like it has sand in it - I'm still here and still able to do most of the things that I want to. Kayaking is certainly one of them.
In a nutshell, I guess I'm just thankful.