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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Taking one for the team can bruise more than your ego

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

(Photo)
Suffice it to say, the hazards of this job can be many once you get away from the shadow of your computer screen and the shelter of that big wooden desk.

Over the years, decades even, I've had my share of on-the-job close calls.

I've been frozen in mind, body and spirit along an ice-covered interstate as out-of-control cars slid toward a brave young state trooper and me.

I've stood within three feet of a glaring, twice-convicted murderer who probably wouldn't hesitate to do it again if given half a chance.

I've been close -- way too close -- to flames, fireworks, floodwaters, thin ice and hostile parents.

I've had Marvin Harrison come tumbling out of the Hoosier Dome end zone to land on my shoetops. I've even bumped heads with Ted Marchibroda in the chaos of a midfield Colts' celebration, taking a Canon lens to the forehead while an impish 65-year-old coach bounded away unscathed.

But never have I come away with any kind of real injury. That is, until the other morning when I made a simple little stop along Shadowlawn to snap a photo of a man cutting wood along the south side of the road.

My morning cup of McDonald's coffee (two creams, three Splendas) was in the Jeep console. My laptop was on the seat. I hadn't even been to the office yet, so this was going to be quite a coup to get a feature photo in the proverbial can before 11 a.m.

Had a nice chat with Richard Butts as he chucked wood into the back of his red pickup before he turned to resume cutting wood, and I pivoted to head for a long day at the office.

Only a not-so-funny thing happened on my way to the Jeep. A wayward vine wrapped itself around my left ankle, and as I trudged up the hill toward Shadowlawn, I suddenly found myself going face first toward the muddy turf.

With my camera in my right hand and no time to react, I hit hard on my right knee and a millisecond later went forehead first into the ground in an abrupt collision with earth that appeared to open my sinuses like they've never been opened before.

That was my initial observation as I tried to clear my head. My second reaction was to immediately check for traffic in either direction on Shadowlawn. No one was coming, so nobody saw me take a header. I glanced behind me and Butts was tucked behind the truck, out of sight. Ah, vanity ...

I felt pretty good about that. Even smiled, I recall, until realizing the new Dockers khakis I was wearing for the first time that morning -- literally I had just cut the Goody's tags off them an hour earlier -- were unceremoniously covered in mud. Not just any mud, but ground-in mud on both knees the likes of which might send your mother into fits of rage if as a kid you'd come home with blue jeans looking that way.

Resigned to the fact I was now headed home to change pants, it wasn't until I looked in the rearview mirror that I realized that was the least of my problems. What looked back at me seemed more like the loser of an MMA showdown than a clumsy newspaper editor.

My glasses were all askew, nose clips bent in all directions. Blood was running down my face from the glasses gouging the bridge of my nose. My forehead looked like I'd been smacked with a two-by-four. Grass and leaf bits in my hair accented this awful new look.

A change of clothes, a cool washcloth, and a couple sips of coffee helped me realize I needed to go to the emergency room more than the newsroom at this point.

It was just about then, in trying to put my jacket back on, that I realized something was amiss with my left arm and shoulder. Analyzing what had happened in my tumble to the hard earth, I reasoned that I'd tried to catch myself with my left arm, which was then driven back into my shoulder by the force of the collision with the ground.

So it was off to the ER at Putnam County Hospital for X-rays of the arm and shoulder and a CAT scan of my head. Too bad, if they'd chosen to X-ray my head, I could have dropped the old Yogi Berra line on them, "X-rays of my head showed nothing."

Instead, the ER doc proclaimed my injuries to be a slight concussion (no NFL action for me this Sunday) and a separated shoulder.

"We're going to bring you a sling," a nice young nurse said, meaning a support for my shoulder. But I couldn't resist being a smart aleck in asking, "A Singapore sling? Sounds good. I haven't had one of those in years."

She looked at me like I'd just swallowed my whole bottle of pain pills.

OK, so the sling helped. The pain pills helped. Sleep helped. And time heals all wounds (or is it time wounds all heels?). Right ...

Friday afternoon we had a visit from Gov. Mike Pence. Just his fifth day in office, and his first day on the road, and he comes to Greencastle. Nice little coup for us.

So I decide I'm not wearing that dorky sling out to Crown Equipment to go on a tour of the plant and interview the governor. Not a bad decision since the whole program takes about an hour, and I easily survive without any pain or difficulty.

Everybody's leaving, and Gov. Pence and I are chatting, giving each other our parting shots, so to speak, when suddenly he reaches out and playfully slaps me on the arm and shoulder. The injured one, of course.

I didn't know whether to scream or call Keller & Keller.

But I know one thing, old Teddy Marchibroda hits harder than the governor does. Insult to injury, that's what I'm talking about.