(7 August 2000) As a longtime fan of the Darwin Awards, it is with embarrassment and chagrin that I find myself compelled to submit this Personal Account. Obviously I did not succeed in the requisite removal of myself from the gene pool, but it was only due to a last minute reflex, not to any intelligent action on my part. In fact, in retrospect, there wasn't ANY intelligent action in this entire scenario. Thankfully, as a post-menopausal woman who probably had no business being on a ladder at my rural, secluded home where I temporarily reside alone, the matter of future gene pool viability has already been settled by a wise and foresighted Mother Nature.
During the second week of my vacation, I decided to work on some home improvement projects. I'd had complaints from a neighbor regarding my dog's roaming and kleptomania, so I decided to install an overhead dog run. Checking the products available at our local hardware stores, I found nothing quite long enough for the area I had in mind. So I purchased 140 feet of plastic covered 1/4" wire, two eyehooks, some wire clamps, a pulley and two 8" turnbuckles. I attached one end of the line and one of the turnbuckles to a tree at the back of my property. I connected the other end of the line to an eyehook and turnbuckle installed on the back of my house, adjacent to a small deck and patio door.
Everything was going well, and it looked like I had designed and installed a project that I could proudly display to my significant other when he returned from his annual work assignment in Alaska. As I admired my work, I noted that there was still a considerable drop in the line as it spanned the long distance from house to property line. Then I remembered the turnbuckles.
I mounted the stepladder next to the deck and steadied myself against the back of the house, pulled the line as tight as I could by hand, and made sure that it was secured with the clamps and could not slip. Then, facing the rear property line so that I could watch as I tightened the screws of the turnbuckle to take up the slack in the line, I reached up with my right hand, grasped the turnbuckle above and behind me and gave it a healthy twist.
Unfortunately I twisted it in the wrong direction.
The screws of the turnbuckle came unscrewed, leaving me holding the taut line, which yanked me upward and to the right, directly over the deck at an altitude of 12 feet. Natural reflexes being what they are, I let go of the line and looked over my shoulder to see the deck coming up toward my head. I put one arm out and succeeded in deflecting a headfirst landing, but heard a terrible crunching sound as my right elbow stood in for my head. The rest of my body landed between the ladder and the deck, a space already occupied by the wall-mounted hose reel, which fought valiantly with my left hip and arm for territorial rights. The wall and my head were engaged in a similar dispute.
A five hour sojourn to the local hospital ended with a diagnosis of a severely dislocated and broken right elbow, a sprained right wrist and thumb, a 5" x 8" goose egg quickly turning vivid shades of yellow and purple on my left hip, more bruises covering my entire left forearm, and a nasty bump on the back of my head. As I write this, I am at the end of my second week in a splint, and I face many weeks of healing and physical therapy. I cannot work at my usual job as a correctional officer, and the dog is nowhere to be found -- undoubtedly making his rounds of the neighborhood, stealing food, socks, and mittens from the local children.
X-rays, medical bills and insurance forms are available upon request.
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Submitted by: Cyndi Julian