You know it’s a bad day when you are laying on the ground and the ambulance sirens heard in the distance are meant for you. I was up on a ladder about 15 feet installing new gutters when the edge of the ladder slipped off the fascia. Time stretched out during the fall so that I could remember details. What probably took a second seemed like ten.
I remember saying to myself seeing the ladder slip, “You are screwed”. The act of falling appeared to take long so I noted my height above the ground must be significant. And then I saw the earth rushing toward me with accelerating speed and my two booted feet in the foreground. Bam! A crunching sound, extreme pain from the heels of both feet followed by a violent wrench to the left where I stuck out my left arm to break the fall. Instead, it broke me. Hettie later said she saw the whole thing. I accomplished a 360-degree in-the-air cartwheel and stuck the landing. If I hadn’t veered to the side at the end, the Olympic judges probably would have given me a ‘ten’.
I ended up laying in the weeds on my side yelling out in pain. It was stabbing and severe in spite of the adrenalin that pulsed through my frame. I knew I had broken my left arm for sure, probably both feet too. Hettie asked if I could walk. No way. She then rushed off to call 911. But on this particular day, neither of our two cell phones worked. She had to go down the street to a construction site and beg a call from one of the workers there.
Meanwhile, time again was stretched out unmercifully. The pain was throbbing by now. I wanted to take off my boots before the swelling began, but could not reach my feet. The afternoon sun was beating down and my throat was parched. Then the ants began to bite my back. Because of the way I was laying, I couldn’t brush them away. I could detect the difference in size of the insects crawling on me. Some felt quite large and I imagined that they were black ants. Others appeared tiny, those small red bastards that swarm to the feed. Both types were biting me now. My mind drifted back to childhood Western movies where the Indians stake out the cowboy on top of an anthill. Better to focus on the ants right now then face the reality of the fall.
A while later the ambulance crew of Sandra and Sergio arrived. They put in an IV, tried to brush away the attacking ants and surveyed the situation. “The hill here is too steep for us to use our gurney. We will have to call the fire department,” said Sandra. During the wait, the crew removed my boots. Six firemen arrived, rolled me on to a stretcher plank and carried me to the ambulance. I felt every bump in the road during the ride and there are many holes in Bonaire’s roads. In fifteen minutes we arrived at the hospital.
Next up… Bits & Pieces.