I’ve been on the go my entire life.
I fight colds and go to work. I fight aches and pains and continue to do my daily routine. I don’t stop for my birthday or even most holidays. There is always something that needs to be done.
Once I was repairing the chimney on my house.
I had placed the 28’ extension ladder on the deck next to the chiminea. I leaned the ladder against the house and pulled the rope to extend it so that it would rest on the gutter of the second floor. With the ladder extended beyond the gutter, I could hold onto the ladder as I stepped onto the roof.
From there I could repair the masonry cement around the top of the brick chimney.
Once I had the ladder in place, I started up to the roof. As I reached the extended part, six or so feet off the deck, I realized I had left the trowel on the deck. As I paused to step back down the ladder, I had put my weight on the second section of extended ladder.
It turns out I had not locked the extension in place.
Bump, bump, bang, boom. The ladder collapsed into itself, just like I would do to shorten it for storage. But this time, I was six feet off the deck, holding a can of masonry cement and a screwdriver to get the chimney cap off.
I am so grateful that my fingers were not on the ladder rungs. I was holding onto the sides of the ladder. Had I been holding the rungs when the ladder collapsed, it would have broken every one of my fingers. Thank goodness I was climbing with my hands full and grabbing the outside of the ladder was easier.
So now the ladder and I are coming down.
The can of cement bounces free of my hands and ends up in a flowerpot on the deck. The screwdriver flies free and ends up in the gutter on the family room roof, which is next to the deck.
All the energy transferred to me as the ladder collapsed now needed an escape.
My weight had triggered the ladders collapse because the upper section of the ladder had not been hooked over one of the rungs of the lower section. Once I put my foot on the rung on the second section, my weight pushed it back into the shorter position, causing me to drop with it.
I remember my feet bouncing as the ladder stopped moving.
And I remember trying to stand. But all that downward energy had to go somewhere, so it threw me sideways onto the deck. Well actually, it threw me sideways onto the metal chiminea. Looking at it later, I saw where I had bent the thick metal screen the covers the opening, leaving a deep depression in the chimenea.
As I lay on the deck, catching my breath, I could feel my side stinging.
Without looking, I remember thinking to myself, “that’s going to leave a mark.” And it did. As I started to get up, I had a sharp pain on my right side. Taking in deep breaths was painful. But the repair to the chimney wasn’t done.
So, I collected the tools and the can of cement.
I repositioned the ladder, double and triple checking that I had secured the extension before I started up. And then I climbed the ladder to the second story, stepped onto the roof and made the repair. This took about 15 minutes and the pain in my right side was getting sharper and more annoying.
I climbed down the ladder and put the tools away. I washed the excess cement off the trowel and hung the extension ladder where I store it on a section of fence in the backyard. Then I looked at the chiminea.
The dent in the metal screen was larger than a softball. While not solid like the body, the screen section was made from thick metal mesh. Lifting my shirt, I could see the dent matched the bruise that was forming on my right side.
Being home alone that afternoon, I did not have anyone to ask about a second opinion.
But after seeing the bruise and understanding that the sharp pains in my side were trying to tell me something, I decided it might be wise to go have it checked out. It was late enough in the day that I could not go to my GP, so I headed to the emergency room.
It turns out I had broken a rib in the fall.
And the pain I felt when breathing deeply was my lung pushing against the broken rib. They gave me pain medicine and a breathing tube with instructions to take 10 deep breathes so many times a day to keep my lungs from filling up with fluid. They gave me a note to be out of work for three days, to rest and recover.
Of course I ignored the note and went to work the next day.
I am driven to keep moving. So, I guess I do not want to slow down or stop. But I am beginning to see that it may be important, it may be beneficial, and it may be necessary for my wellbeing.
So, I am investigating the idea of taking breaks, of stopping. I am not good at it and I know I will need to adjust my attitude towards it. Once I get my mind wrapped around the idea of stopping, of taking breaks, I am sure I can do it.
But right now, I cannot stop. I’ve got some lawn mowing to do before I head to work.
Your comments are appreciated as I continue my journey ihidde