Wednesday, January 17, 2007

If it wasn't for bad luck...

For the most part, I really enjoy my job. I get to travel all around the Bulkley Valley doing everything from Mold Remediation to water and smoke damage restoration to residential and commercial carpet cleaning. Although the job can get repetitive and frustrating, it can also be quite rewarding. And not just on a financial level either. It's very satisfying to come after a day of work knowing that you have genuinely helped someone, or provided a service to the best of your ability.

Today I was injured on the job site. But not just any injury. This was a unique injury. In fact, I can nearly guarantee you've never heard anything like this before.

Over the past year or so the company I work for has been doing a lot of work in Moricetown, BC. It is a First Nations reserve about thirty kilometers west of Smithers. Many of those homes were shabbily built in the 1970's and 1980's and have been subjected to all sorts of water damage. We've been given the task of working with local coordinators to ensure the damage gets repaired. Long story short: we tear-out anything wet/moldy.

Today started out like any other day, except the house we were working in was exceptionally bad. So bad, in fact, that it has been vacant for at least a year. Upon entering the house, it became obvious to my co-worker and I that this was a local party shack. Little wonder why it was no longer occupied.

We set to work removing debris and discarded the drywall. After a short time, I set my sights on the bathroom and decided to begin working on the toilet. Since there was no power or heat to the house, the toilet water was frozen solid inside, making it impossible to simply remove like I normally do. The toilet already had several cracks and chips, and it was obvious to me that a replacement would be needed, so I was not concerned with saving it. I took my trusty large pry bar, and thought about how exciting it would be to play "Smashy-Smashy" with the porcelain. A few bangs, a little clean-up, and that toilet would be as good as gone.

I wound up, and sent half the seat flying with a loud crash. Sweet

My second swing was not so fun.

The angle of my swing was a little more golf-like, and it caused a piece of the toilet to pop straight up, clipping me slightly to the right of the center of my forehead. I staggered back a little bit, and tried to push the sting out of my mind. It hurt slightly more than I expected it to, but as I regained my composure I figured I'd be able to shake it off and continue. How wrong I was! I stood up straight, and the pain shot through me and I had to bend over and rest my hands on my knees. Just then, I could feel the surge of blood, and a substantial river began to flow onto the exposed subflooring below me. I placed my hand to my head and wandered over to wear my co-worker was.

Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit...

My co-worker searched frantically for something to place against my head, but I wasn't too interested in putting anything found in a condemned house on my injury. He ran out to the van and found a couple of spare rags, and helped me place pressure on the wound.

I should be okay once the bleeding stops.

After about five minutes, I removed the blood-stained cloth, only to experience the rather unrivaled feeling of of a steady stream of blood fall over my eyes and down my cheek.

Well, I guess we're not staying here anymore.

The very sight of a company van parked in an abandoned house in a small community is bound to draw attention. I suspect it is like this in any small town, but perhaps even more so on a reserve. Just as I situated myself in the van, a neighbor began talking to my co-worker, mumbling on about something or other. He was just being friendly, but to me he was taking up valuable time. I looked at my co-worker, who was attempting to collect our belongings and ensure we had all our equipment, but continued to get distracted by our friend from down the road.

Time's a factor here, bud!

We packed up and went on our way back to Smithers. Fortunately the roads were not too slick, and my co-worker was able to make good time to the hospital.

The receptionist at the hospital is someone I am familiar with, as I have done plenty of work for her in the last month. In fact, she is in the middle of an insurance claim that I have been involved with. Of course, she wanted to know all the details of how it happened.

I like to think I'm a pretty humorous fellow. In fact, I like cracking jokes and one-liners and when things get hectic and hairy, I frequently try to inject humor into the situation. Upon telling her the story, she burst into a rather unsympathetic laughter.

If you think my forehead looks bad, you should see the toilet.

She told me to take a seat and the nurse would be right with me. It wasn't two minutes when the nurse came through the door announced she was ready for me.

A toilet to the head? Come on in.

She removed the now blood-soaked cloths from my head and immediately the blood began flowing. She attempted to clean the would as best she could, but it was certainly not a one-person job. She fought with it quite a lot as we discussed how it happened. Apparently, it is difficult to clean a wound when your sides are splitting from laughter. Somehow she managed to freeze the wound. The pain from the needle was excruciating, but all I could do was laugh. And it was an honest-to-goodness, actual, full-bodied laugh. The whole scenario was really quite funny.

After calling for assistance from another nurse, she put a sterile pad on my wound and diagnosed the problem.

You've got a real gusher here.

The nurse came shortly thereafter, and was amazed by what she saw.

How did that happen?


The say that three times are a charm, so I repeated my comedic story from the very beginning. After calming herself down and catching her breath, Nurse Two asked me if I was alright. Nurse One chimed in at that point.

He's fine, but he nearly killed himself laughing during the freezing.

Nurse Two did her best to help Nurse One as she installed two interior stitches and four exterior ones. The blood ceased to flow almost immediately after the first stitch when in. A few wipes here, and a little clean-up there, and I was ready to face the outside world once again.

I'm not entirely sure how to end my little tale of hilarity, but I think the moral of this story could be: A toilet is not a baseball.

Or perhaps: Laugh and the hospital laughs with you. Bleed, and you bleed alone.