A Slip and a Pop...A trip to the IR.
TORRINGTON: It started out as something quite innocuous, taking our grand-dog Frankie out for fast walk before our daughter Jillian came to pick him up after he had spent a couple days with us over Christmas.
Those 60-seconds of peace as the three-year old English bulldog did his thing gave way to an eventful morning that had a bit of a sports story behind it.
Teamwork, critical decision making and a devotion to family that we see in so many athletic endeavors were all on display on the West Side of Torrington the morning after Xmas.
First of all, a disclosure. This was not the dynamically energetic and enormously strong dog we call Frankie Boy’s, fault.
He did not pull me down the hill; Mother Nature and a back yard that had been trying to get me for the past 17-years all plotted to give me my first ever (in 55-years) somewhat serious leg injury.
This was an accident set up an idiot on the other side of the rope who felt it was okay to go for that fast walk with slippers that defined the word. Might has well been on ice skates.
As Frankie turned to make a trip down to the bottom of our backyard, a very steep grade across about 25-30 yards of what was covered by a thin coat of snow that was nowhere in the forecast that morning.
Before I go on, understand one thing about how we in the Gaffney house care for our families animals.
They are about as spoiled as possible at all times. Guest dogs have been known to ask for asylum after just a few hours on the property.
We do not let our dogs run loose, we keep them under control which is just what I was doing as Frankie made a right and headed down the hill.
I followed him as I had gone down that hill a thousand times over the years, be it mowing raking or just sliding down the hill with our kids.
This time would be different though.
About three quarters of the way down the hill, I slipped a bit in my Mount Everest type slippers and decided the best course of action would be to grab a couple of fast steps to the bottom.
Two steps in though, I had my sports moment gone bad.
I have tried to replay the moment in my head since but the only way to describe it would be a very loud and distinctive pop that instantly took me to a place that I had never been and could have done without the visit.
If we go sports injury talk, it was Jeter crumbling at shortstop on a play that looked fairly normal but would change his career forever.
Now, I never could hit the fastball so I’m not comparing myself to Mr. Jeter but pain is pain and boy did I feel it.
It felt like a dislocated kneecap based on the fact that nothing on the upper part of my leg seemed to be on friendly terms with the part below the knee.
I did not though, let go of the rope. Frankie is my daughter Jillian’s life and I was not letting go of him until I knew he was okay.
Reminded me of one of our favorite movies, ‘The Great Outdoors’ with the late great John Candy.
That scene where he tries to teach his son how to water ski and stresses to the youngster that when in trouble, ‘Let go of the rope’.
Yeah, I played Candy and didn’t let go of the rope but even if I had, the outcome would have been the same, and I just would have felt like I fumbled deep in the red zone if Frankie ran off.
Your body has a way of letting you know that no matter how stubborn you may try to be in claiming ‘I’m okay’, the answer was coming back, ‘Not this time sucker’.
As she has every second since I have met her, Mrs. Gaffney somehow appeared at the top of the stairs that lead down into our back yard.
Don’t ask me how she knew to get there right then, but she did.
She later told me she had a feeling she needed to get up out of bed and get to that door, she seems to have that kind of sixth sense and I for one am glad she does.
Now the noise that came from the West side of Torrington that morning was not a sonic boom but a Gaffney holler that woke a couple of folks in Norfolk, it was filled with volume, let’s put it that way.
No expletives, just volume. Couldn’t think of any that applied at the time.
By the time I came to, yeah I was out for about two minutes, I felt somebody was waking me from a perfectly good sleep but I soon realized it was Deb and what the heck was going on?
I’m lying in the snow at the bottom of our hill and what is that god awful feeling in my left leg and why am I so cold?
For the first 55-years I have roamed this earth, I can truly say I have been lucky when it came to avoiding injuries. No broken bones, just a few sprains and bruises but I could tell this was different.
Now the challenge facing this women who had just gotten up, had but a half a cup of caffeine from tea in her and had no socks or shoes on was daunting.
Two dogs to control (Lilly, our dog, had come out with Deb) and a very agitated Frankie who was tied to a post in the yard about ten feet above me and desperately trying to get back down to me.
Deb seemed to be everywhere at once after that. She brought Frankie in, got me blankets, called 911 and made sense before coming back down to try to keep me warm.
I think she made me some eggs and bacon with some juice but that may have been in my dream phase.
Thank goodness she was home because the neighborhood was pretty quiet, if she’s not home…..
The first ambulance crew of two guys got there after battling some pretty icy roads on the way from the hospital.
Two great guys who did a good job of making sure I didn’t have anything broken but where then faced with the challenge of just how to get 230 pounds of dude up a skating rink without having all of us down for the count.
After an initial trip on a backboard sideways to a less steep part of our lawn, we made that team decision that called for backup.
Before I knew it, airbrakes were popping on the road in front of our house to the tune of two ambulances, two fire trucks and a rescue vehicle.
Not that I could see any of this. Your view from a backboard is not really panoramic, more looking up at the sky and unnerving as you are powerless to control your own flight upwards (and more importantly, downwards if you fall.)
It may have been cool to bring the chopper in for an airlift but considering I was somewhat uneasy with the five feet off the ground I was feeling with the two guys, maybe not.
The Torrington FD brought a large rescue basket and they transferred me into it and with precision and grace.
Up the hill we started, with Deb reminding the guys to ‘walk like ducks’ up the hill, a sideways placement of your feet that we have perfected after 17 years on the hill.
Your feeling of helplessness is in full force at this point, we all like to be in control of our own situations, not being so is very unnerving.
The boys were kind enough to sand the driveway so all of us could get safely up the driveway and so we did.
Once in the ambulance, the home-made body ice-pack called my back yard started to wear off, as the EMT’s had warned me they would and the sensation I felt throughout my left leg was less than pleasurable.
Because nobody could be sure if I had hit my head during the fall, the neck brace came out and the look was complete.
The running back being rolled off the field in front of a cheering crowd effect was on but in a critical omission on my part, I forgot to give a thumbs up to the imaginary gathering on my front lawn.
Rookie mistake. You just can’t get that back.
Say what you may about Charlotte Hungerford Hospital, I have never received anything but top notch care there and this time would be no different.
As I was rolled out of the ambulance, the guys asked me my name and date of birth to make sure I knew who and where I was. When they asked me what day it was, I reminded them that it’s the holidays. Who has any idea what day it is?
We had talked sports teams while hanging out on the lawn and I had told them of my alliance with a certain New York football team that dresses in green.
As I got of the truck and answered the questions, it also dawned on me that I was STILL a Jets fan.
They knew I was okay but not really……A special thanks to each and every one of the guys that came up to take me from the ravine that is the Gaffney back yard.
Several X-Rays later, it was determined I had not broken anything but had damaged some ligaments in my left knee.
I expect my trip to the disabled list will be a short one, I intend on being a good patient while trying not to drive myself or Deb nuts from being unable to do things like drive or even walk down the stairs to my office.
The little things drive you crazy in these situations. That remote that is two feet out of your reach, the book a little more than that. Getting up in the morning and settling in at night also presents a unique challenge for someone who just likes to go, 24-7.
Family has been on top of their game as usual, Jillian was at the hospital within a whisper from Southington while Deb was making sure nobody at CHH needed any reminders of who was on the bed in H1, my room.
Not going to say the hospital gets a bit busy in the ER but they have the hallways marked with room like numbers as well. Yikes.
Good news is though, if you are in the hall, the problem is not major and I’m good with that.
Dad is normally the one taking care of business, not the one on the stretcher but Deb and Jillian where front and center making sure if I needed anything, it was there for me.
I am a lucky man to have such a caring group of ladies looking out for me, it means the world to me.
Not getting out to games, attending dinners like the 29 Club on Monday night in which a great young man named Ernie Tracy will be inducted as the newest member are a few of the things I’ll be bummed not getting to but I have to focus on the task at hand.
No matter our age, we still seem to think we are invincible. Always will. Mother Nature and a back yard bent of revenge won’t change that in my mind.
I am a sports guy so the comeback thought is always there. Fortunately for me, I didn’t break my fingers so my work vehicle is still operating.
I’ll be back out there soon, as soon as I can figure out how to make this knee bend and get down a set of stairs!!!
A slide and a pop……Ouch.