Gruesome Accident Tales part VI: "I saw where you fell from and I think you should just stay right there."
It only took a moment to assess that I was not going to land on that top platform, and for a few optimistic moments, I was quite confident that I was going to be able to catch myself somehow. I remember trying to do so, since the ladder was beginning to whir by, inches from me. I failed for some reason (only later did I realize that it's because I broke my fingers trying). Some kernel of understanding began to form in me and I realized that my velocity was increasing, and that I was failing to think of any really logical solution. In retrospect this is where some ninja training would have been really useful.
At some point I fell through the hole of the bottom platform.
It was then I realized that I was now officially plummeting, and that this was going to be bad. Like when you see the car coming and you know there's no way you can avoid it, I began to do to do a little math about how much damage was going to be involved: By my calculations...this is going to suck!
I guess I pulled out a few ninja skills, because I didn't get impaled on anything, just landed on my back on the dumpster (burst fracture, 2nd Lumbar, dented the dumpster) bounced off, and landed on my back on the pavement. Oh good, I thought. I just knocked the wind out of myself. That wasn't as bad as it could have been. Maybe I'll be able to get up from this.
There was one positive effect. This event caused George to stop climbing in the window and come down the ladder to see if I was ok. As he climbed down I assessed my situation. My back muscles had spasmed so deeply that I could hardly breathe, but nothing felt broken. What really hurt was my right thumb, which I had broken so badly that it needed to be stabilized with two long pins while it healed.
I just chilled out for a minute. I was actually considering the possibility of getting up, and when George and some other guy finally got to me, I told them this. "I'm a doctor," said the other guy. "I saw where you fell from and I think you'd better just stay right there until the ambulance comes."
To be quite honest, that didn't sound like such a bad idea, and I was relieved to hear somebody else say it. My thumb hurt like hell, but I was able to put my knees up and take some pressure off my lower back and it was somehow bearable. It's amazing how little anxiety I felt that night, I knew that it was beyond my control at that point.
When the ambulance came, they strapped me and my legs down to a backboard and that was much less comfortable. There was some discussion about where to take me, and since I had no medical insurance at the time it was Harborview Medical Center all the way. George started to trip out, "Don't take him to Harborview...Harborview is the worst...". He was starting to worry me...he was not taking it well.
"George," I said. "I need you to help me. Take my backpack. I need you to make sure it's safe. Will you hang onto my backpack and make sure I don't lose it? Will you look after it for me until I get to the hospital?" He took it from me solemnly. Now he had a mission, and he offered no further resistance as they loaded my broken, tiny little self into the ambulance.
(to be further continued...)