Chris Fyfe, Richfield's K-9 officer, gives me a nod as I roll past and give the KTM 520 a little love on the throttle. I give another rev as I go past the door that leads into A-bay. I know that Randy Shero, Dan Reeves, and Ken Egnatuk will be sitting in their chairs like the grizzled Village vets they are. I park my bike over in the corner and head for the break room. I put my lunch in the fridge and stash my keys and celly in my locker. Now, I resume my usual routine of grabbing coffee (not Decaf), and eating my breakfast, this morning it is a banana, a tube of go-gurt and the coffee. As I sit down Ken Egnatuk asks, "When you load your bike how do you do it?" "Do you ride it into the back of the truck?" I should have known right then and there I was doomed, but hindsight is always 20-20. I reply "Noooo, that is too dangerous, I push it in. I have a friend who smashed his finger riding a bike up a ramp." I sit and finish my breakfast, awaiting the days' assignment.
Steve Lisowski, my foreman is on vacation, so Eric Boyd doles out the tasks for that day. Scott Keserich, Rick Kovach, and I will be chipping more bricks for the project we have dubbed "The Islands” This is the area at the junction of Wheatley and Brecksville road, where there is basically a curbed off section of road, where you would make a right hand turn. It is a very boring job; get the Payloader, spread out a bucketful of bricks, and sort through them. Now, these are bricks that were originally used on Brecksville road, way back in the day. Most of them are covered in tar, asphalt, and dirt, but occasionally you will find a diamond in the rough. Once sorted out, they are placed on pallets and brought to the jobsite for installation. We head down to the yard on Brecksville road and start chippin. 4 hours drag by as Scott, Rick and I tell old war stories, wishin we had some chub to pass time. Finally, it is lunchtime and we go back to the shop.
I ate lunch quickly that day and went down to B-bay. Once there, I found Walt Dorsey hovering around my bike with interest. Walt has a big Harley he rides on nice days. He also looks the part of a biker, long ponytail, bandana, tank tops, and tats o plenty. I asked "wanna take her for a spin?" Walt replies, "I don't know, I've never ridden one of these." I told him to not be a little bitch, and fired up the bike. "Watch the front tire and don't get on it too hard, the front end will come up" I tell him as he gives it a little rev. A small crowd gathers at the doorway, as Walt takes some passes up and down the drive. Phil "Snap into a Slim Jim" Gilreath comes over to me and says, "When Walt comes back I wanna see some wheelies” I smile. Thank god it was time to get back to work when Walt returned, because I would have liked to see some wheelies too. That kind of accident, at lunchtime, while your boss is on vacation, would have been tough to explain. I park the bike back in the corner, and we pile back in the truck to resume our boredom for the rest of the day. More war stories, more wishin for chub, and finally it is 3:45, time to head back for the day.
Ken Horn, one of the Village mechanics, hangs with me after work to fix the tire. I tell him its no big deal, but he insists on staying to help, that's just how he is. We get the tire off the rim and pull out the tube, as we blow up the tube we aren't seeing or hearing any holes. About this time Jen calls me and asks if I will be home in time for dinner, I tell her I will be. Ken and I add more air to the tube and spray it down with soapy water, still nothing is showing up. "It has to have a hole, last time I rode my bike it leaked" I tell Ken. We take the tube out to B-bay and fill a tub with water to dunk it in, no holes anywhere. I'm guessing (hoping) the valve stem core was not in all the way, or had some dirt in it. "No biggie" I tell Ken as we inspect the inside of the tire for debris, prior to putting the tire back on. At least I know I will be ready for Hatfield-McCoy next week, I think to myself, as we inflate the tire, all is good. Ken asks "You got it from here?" I tell him I do and thank him for the help as he leaves the shop. I reinstall the axle, cycle the forks, and tighten everything up. Cool, I think to myself, its only 4:30, plenty of time to ride at the farm, and be home in time for dinner.
As I round the salt shed, I notice an older couple, loading mulch from the Villages' free stash. I would call them an elderly couple, but that is another part of the story. I ease my bike over to the back of my truck and park it to get out my "ramps." I prop them up, just as I have many times in the past and start to push my bike into the truck. All is going fine, the bike is almost completely in, my left foot is on the tailgate, I go for the final push and the "ramp" I'm standing on slips out. At this point everything happens pretty fast, I never let go of the bars, and next thing I know I'm laying on the ground, with a motorcycle pinning my feet. Oh yeah, I have a serious pain shooting through my left hip and I can't really move my left leg. I know almost immediately that something is jacked in my left hip, I think to myself, maybe its just knocked out of socket. At this point adrenaline must have kicked in as I pushed the bike off my legs and feet. Hearing all the commotion, the older man comes over to see if I need help. "Give me a minute,” I tell the man as I prop myself up on my butt and hands, leaning back, like I'm chillin.
The pain is excruciating, and I try to reposition myself to see if anything happens, well something happened, it was worse. Now, the man's wife comes over all ready to call 911, like she just came from the kiosk at the mall with a new cell phone. With the Richfield Fire Department being less than 100 yards away, the man tells his wife he will walk up and get someone. I'm still sitting in my chill position, with the woman standing next to me. I keep trying to move, or straighten myself up, and the pain is incredible, I want to scream some choice words with each move. The woman tells me not to move, they are coming.
Of course, all the guys I went to high school with are on duty. Eric Ellis shows up first followed by Jason Purkey and Mike Lester. Some of you Revere High grads might remember Mike from his sweet VW Beetle with the Rolls front-end conversion. They ask what happened, and I tell them the ramp slipped out and I landed right on my hip. The squad arrives with a guy named Bob driving, and he pulls out the meat wagon, I brace myself for what I think is going to be a horrible transfer from the ground to the stretcher, turns out it's not too bad. They ask me what hospital I want to go to, and I am thinking to myself "Hold up, hospital?" I not sure what I was thinking, but I ask, "You're taking me in?" Mike gives me a little chuckle and says "We can't fix you here." They ask again which hospital, and I tell them Akron General as they load me into the squad.
Once I'm loaded in and the stretcher is locked down, I can finally get to my cell phone. Jason is in the rumble seat next to me as I start to make some calls. The first is to Jen, I get the response I figured I would "You did what?" I tell her what happened again and that my left leg isn't really working, I think my hip is popped out. I tell her to call my mom and let her know that I will be going to my home away from home, Akron General. She tells me she will and she will meet me there. My next call is to Mike Coffee to see if he can come and get my bike and truck so it doesn't sit there all night.
Mike answers his phone "Decaf Heeeeyeah!" not really, but it would have been awesome if he had, he asks what’s up, and I tell him I'm sitting in the back of an ambulance. Sorry Mike. I ask him if he can come get my stuff, and he says no problem, I'll handle it. With my phone calls handled, I start to let a little language fly, and Jason asks me if I want anything for the pain, Nitrous, Morphine, etc. "Do you have any pissed off gas? I ask him and he tells me no. "This squad is a P.O.S." Jason tells me, and asks again if I want anything for the pain, I tell him no and we head off to Akron General. "Seriously, this squad rides like a covered wagon, it is really rough back here, do you want something for the pain?" Jason says. Again, I tell him its not that bad and I don't need anything yet. Well, from the time we left to the time we got to Whitey's something happened, and I was really starting to feel the pain, about 20 minutes had gone by. "I'll try some nitrous,” I tell Jason, as we bounced down the road, he was right that squad is a P.O.S.
I remember thinking about Ross and Gary in the back of Super Jetta, on the way to Montana, circa '96, as I started to huff. Jason tells me that nitrous won't take the pain away but will take the edge off. I keep huffin. Three or four miles down 77, the nitrous started to "take the edge off” I felt like I just laid down after a hard night a "Le Doujo" (The DougOut). Jason asks if I want him to start an I.V. to save some time once we get there, I say sure. Very impressive, he nailed it on the first try; I've had nurses that can't find a vein standing next to my hospital bed, let alone in the back of a squad. We arrive at AGMC and the guys start to take me out of the squad, something happens to the stretcher and the wheels won't release. Bob, the driver, in all his generosity, figures a few good bounces will straighten things out; I should have taken the morphine. Oh well, they wheel me into a room, and I commence to waiting. About ten minutes later Jen arrives followed shortly thereafter by Decaf.
Anyone who has been to the Emergency Room knows how painfully slow stuff happens there. We sit and wait, nurses coming and going, taking vitals, and general information. We sit and wait, chit chattin, nothing happening still. After about an hour some freakin yahoo doctor comes in to "take a look." "Taking a look" means putting your jacked up s**t into positions that would probably hurt even when your s**t is not jacked up. Should have taken the morphine, oh well. He is lucky he wasn't anywhere near my still fully functional arms and hands, I would have "taken a look." His brilliant prognosis, "I think it's a hip pointer” a hip pointer is a bad bruise and is a common football injury. I never had one playing ball, but I had a feeling it was a little worse than a bruise. "We'll still take some x-rays" he tells me and walks out of the room. We sit and wait some more, nurses coming and going.
Finally, they come and get me for x-rays; it is about 7:30 at this point. X-ray techs take me to their area and park me, more waiting, what the F. Time for x-rays, and they need to move me on to the table. Should have taken the morphine, oh well. They roll me onto my side to get a board under me, and the first person grabs me by my left leg, I flinch. The whole x-ray process seems to take forever, hold this film, hold your breath, click, good, all while your laying on a table made of what feels like cold granite. I try to pry some info out of the tech, "How's it look?" I ask. The girl gives me a half smile and says, "You did some damage and that’s all I'm allowed to tell you” I keep on trying, "Is it broken?" She gives another half smile and says "What do you think” At this point I'm thinking, MotherFer, what am I going to tell work, do I have enough sick time to cover this, and how long will it take to heal. They wheel me back to the room where Jen and Decaf are waiting, I share the good news.
Decaf is on Decaf Time, so he is probably about an hour late already and has to jet. I tell him thanks for everything and he leaves. Doctors come in and tell Jen and I that the break is pretty bad, and it is actually the head of my femur that is broken. Surgery will be required, they just don't if it will be that night or the next morning, and if they will replace my hip or repair what is already in there. They give me an Ibuprophen, and we wait some more, it is about 8:30 by now. I tell Jen she should try to get in touch with someone at the Village, to let them know what happened. She goes outside to call Steve-O. Ten minutes later she comes back in with a puzzled look on her face and says, "I don't think that was your boss." It turns out she was talking to Pizza Steve, who was probably scratching his head also. Jen goes back outside to call Steve-O, and three or four other people and share the news. She comes back in and we finally get the word that surgery will be at 9:30 tonight.
Things start to happen pretty quickly now, and they give me the first real painkiller since I've been there. I don't know what it was called, but it reminded me of the first time I tried Kodiak in Ross's Blazer. The pain is completely gone and I get all chatty with anyone who comes into the room. It's time to go to surgery and they wheel me out of the room with Jen at my side. We make a couple of turns, and next thing I know they are telling Jen to wait out in this room, no goodbye, no kiss on the cheek, no nothing, kinda pissed me off, but surgery awaits. We go into the OR and one of the assisting nurses says, "Are you a Luther from Richfield?" I respond "Yes” she fires back "I know you and all your brothers, I grew up next door to Reagen Eastwood." Great, I can't even get operated on. Turns out she went to school with Timmy.
As if things aren't weird enough the surgeon thinks this is funny and starts bustin my balls. I tell him my reputation precedes me. He seemed pretty cool though, and asked me what kind of music I wanted to listen to. I told him I would be asleep, you pick the music. He asked again, and I told him Kid Rock, next thing I know we are listening to Devil without a Cause. That is the last thing I remember.
I wake about 12:30, shivering like I went diving for Gary’s' bump comp trophy. The surgery went as planned and they inserted a long steel rod the length of my femur. There is also a screw going into the head of my femur and a couple more down near my knee, according to the drawing Jen made. I haven't seen the x-rays yet, but I go to the doctor on July 25th. They had me up and in therapy by 3:00 the next afternoon, and I left the hospital the next day after another round of therapy, with a 25-50 pound weight limit on my left leg. The surgeon seemed concerned about my bone density since broken hips don't happen to 33-year-old men. Grab your latest copy of Racer-X, and read the article about Jimmy Button, he also broke his back in 2000, and his hip in 2007. This article states that the steroids they use on spinal cord injuries leave the patient with brittle bones. Take it for what it is, good or bad.
Anyway, the outlook for me is a 10 to 16 week chill period and all the hardware will most likely stay in. I'm at home; holdin down the couch and trying to get some sleep most of the day. The pain seems to be letting up daily and percocets help with the sleep. I am getting around on crutches and adapting to them pretty well. A couple of little lessons to share: Take the Morphine, and buy or build some decent ramps. Pain is temporary, even Pirate leg pain. Tough times never last, but tough people do.