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You Don't Know Jack Adkins

Editorial ----

5-11 -04

Black and Blue at 50

I was going to do one of my “Travel to Virginia” columns this month, but something else happened that seems to occupy my mind lately. On Sunday April the 25th, I turned 50 years old.

I was pretty much okay with the whole thing and wasn’t going to get freaked out about it or anything. However, it turns out that I am having a tough time with things that I generally took for granted a few years back. One thing is that I am hurting myself more and more as I do things. Is this me being clumsy or what? I don’t know, maybe I have just been prone to hurt myself all my life and am just noticing it more now that I don't heal as fast.

It may have begun on Good Friday. I was riding in a car with a buddy of mine. We had just stopped at a traffic light when WHAM!, we were hit from the rear by another driver. We were hit so hard that my glasses flew off of my face and bounced off of the windshield. Ouch.

As a result, we both had sore backs and necks. Luckily for me, I managed to keep from further injuring myself that day and recovered pretty quickly from that accident. The person who hit us was an uninsured migrant farm worker.

The day of my birthday, my buddy Tom (the one driving the car when we got hit) invited me out to a chain of lakes here in Florida to spend the day burning up the water on his SeaDoo®. In a few hours, I was pretty tired but had been having lots of fun on this SeaDoo® when I decided to go up a channel and see what was up there. I spied a dead alligator floating belly up and stopped the watercraft I was riding to have a closer look. If you’ve ever ridden one of these things, then you know they are unstable while sitting still, idling. So there I am, engine putting, me gawking, when Mr. Speedboat Rider comes tearing up the channel, creating a wake that knocks me off of the SeaDoo®. As I go under and start to resurface, the SeaDoo® comes down off of the wake and nails me right in the forehead, removing a patch of skin about 1 inch in diameter riding atop a goose egg bump. Ouch.

About a week later, I was shopping for an a/c unit, having decided to air condition my garage. I came across a great deal on a 14,500 BTU unit that was perfect for the job. The smaller units couldn’t do the job as well because they have smaller cooling fins that would not clear the 8-inch thickness of the garage wall. Well, if you have ever seen a 14,500 BTU air conditioner, you know this sucker is huge. So there I was at Lowe’s seeking to purchase this thing and the store manager calls one of the store associates to get this thing off of the shelf for me. The store associate, Jose, came to the aisle where the a/c units are and I’ll bet you he didn’t weigh more than 125 pounds. The air conditioner is on a shelf about chest high and I am thinking this thing will crush this guy if he even manages to pull it off of the shelf. So, like a dummy, I offered to give him a hand taking it off of the shelf and putting it on the cart.

Giving him a hand is almost exactly what I did. As soon as it cleared the shelf, Jose and his end of the air conditioner went straight to the floor. Of course I was still trying to hold my end of this monster. Unfortunately, the momentum of Jose going down to the floor swung the a/c unit back toward the shelf and the only thing between the air conditioner and the shelf was my hand. Ouch.

That same weekend Tom came over to help me install the air conditioner into the garage wall. Now, installing the a/c unit into a garage wall involves measuring the size of the unit and cutting a hole in the block wall the appropriate size. So we cut this hole and we knocked out the chunks of masonry from the inside, leaving only the outside layer to do. Good ol' Tom goes outside while I remain in the garage looking on the floor for the other hammer. Tom rears back and gives the concrete a good whack, sending a chunk of concrete through the wall and into the garage, where it whacks me in the head behind my left ear, just about knocking me out. Ouch.

Jump to a week later. My left hand is still swollen, my head still hurts and my wrist is still sore. I went to open a valve at one of the water plants with the same left hand and was stung by a scorpion. It hurt so fast that at first I thought I got hit by an electric shock. Last Tuesday my wrist was so sore I had to wear a brace on it to keep me from inadvertently bending it. I thought maybe the scorpion venom affected my joints and caused my wrist to swell but, who knows for sure about such stuff. Ouch.

Wednesday at the end of the workday, I pulled up to my last water plant. I put the Dodge truck into park and got out, leaving it running so I could hear the radio. I did a few things around the plant and then stepped inside to run a chlorine test on the water. Then I heard some leaves crunching outside the doorway. I looked up and saw a white Dodge truck rolling across the grass. I thought at first that one of the guys I work with was pulling up to the water plant to shoot the bull with me. I got a sick feeling in my stomach when I realized it was MY TRUCK that had somehow slipped into gear and was starting across the grass.

In a panic, I raced out of the building to catch the truck and tripped, falling to the ground. I saw my right ring finger make a sideways “L” shape in a direction your finger does not normally go. It felt like I broke my finger. As I lay on the ground, holding my finger with my other hand, I suddenly became concerned that the truck’s rear tire would run over my head. I rolled out of the way and scrambled to my feet and managed to catch the truck before it hit something.

They sent me to the emergency room where I found out my finger had been dislocated (until I had squeezed it back into place), sprained and fractured. Yesterday, I took off the splint they put on my hand so that I could use it. My finger is black and blue and swollen. (It also interferes with typing.) Ouch.

I have to say that turning 50 was rougher on me than any previous birthday. If the next 50 years are going to be like this, I am in real trouble.



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