Monday, January 30, 2012

The History of Falling Trees

2012 note: thought I lost this old post but finally found it on Myspace. What follows is the story of how global warming LITERALLY hit me on the head and tried to kill me. Every so often I like to read it to remind myself how thankful I am to be alive.

Current mood:bouncy (2012 Note: oh Myspace, you're so cute.)
So I figure this is as good a place as any to post the story of how I got hit by a tree and lived to tell the tale. Picture this...Estes Park, 2005...

Just sittin' around the river, having a chat. That's me in the middle ironically chatting with the young girl next to me, who had just graduated from college and was worried because she had no health insurance. I was (once again, literally) telling her that she needed something—just basic 'hit by a bus' insurance—so that if something catastrophic happened, her parents wouldn't lose their home saving her life. Irony's funny like that.
AUGUST 26th, 2005 (the first email out to my friends and family after the accident)
Hi everyone,
sorry for the mass email, but wanted to let you know what's going on. As many of you know I was in colorado this week for a conference on living simply. Ironically, as a group of us were outside sitting by a river relaxing and talking, a strong wind picked up and blew over a dead 40 ft pine tree, whose path i was sitting in. (the EMT told me they have a name for these trees: "Widowmakers") After a trip to the Estes Park emergency room i came away with a varied selection of injuries: a scalp laceration (but no head or neck injury thank god) fixed with staples, an avulsion on my hand (if you don't know what that is, it;s for the best.) fixed with stitches, several broken fingers on my dominant hand splinted, and a puncture wound in my leg the size of a gunshot wound left open just to make sure there isn't still a piece of pine tree in there. All in all, my spirits are really good, I'm able to laugh about it because it truly is incredulous, I'm more shocked that this true "freak of nature" actually happened and grateful that my injuries were not more severe. Now my biggest problem is how to get me and my manual transmission automobile back to LA...
- Casey
Immediately after a tree falls in the woods.
AUGUST 27th-29th
Spent a few days in a Motel 6 down by the Denver Airport, watching the levees break in New Orleans. Hard to feel sorry for yourself when an entire city is in ruins.

Annemarie flies to Denver to help me drive back to LA. Thank god for friends like that. Despite my skittishness of letting someone else drive, we make it to Vegas in less than a day to pick up Adventure Kitty, and then back to LA by midday.
Annemarie takes a picture of me in Vail, and I pretend to be the laughing monkey.

No rest for the wicked, back to work on Don Cornelius' Lady of Soul Awards immediately. If I can survive this show, under these conditions, I'm pretty sure I can do absolutely anything.

Sept passes pretty uneventfully, my leg holes and my palm start to close up, I become less concerned that there's still a piece of tree in there. I continue to believe that my finger is just a bone chip and keep it immobilized.

OCT 5th
Finally think it's time to see a doctor about my finger. My primary doc takes one look at it and says "See an orthopedic surgeon NOW." Ut oh. First ortho surgeon takes X-Rays and says, "Hmmm, I'm going to refer you to a specialist." Second surgeon, (to be forever known from now on as "Doc Cranky Pants") says, "Surgery, NOW." So, apparantly I waited 5 weeks too long to see him. Apparantly it is not just a bone chip, but a volar plate fracture & dislocation. (That's essentially a broken bone in your knuckle and one of the worst possible ways to break a finger) Surgery is scheduled.

OCT 19th
Surgery day. While they did not actually have to cut my finger open, they did insert 2 two inch stainless steel pins into my finger to keep it in place. There are what appear to be 2 baby blue thumb tacks sticking out. I am introduced to the wonders of vicodin.

Physical therapy. Two, sometimes 3 times a week. Pick the handful of rice out of one bowl, put it in the other. Scrunch the paper. Somedays therapy is akin to torture. Others not so bad.

OCT 31st
Halloween: I wanted to do something to encorporate the thumbtacks sticking out of my finger, so I eventually came up with "Lil Miss Staples Catalogue" (see my pic right there) The idea was basically one of those old time sponsored beauty queens (like Marilyn Monroe was something like Miss Calif Artichoke Queen) but this time I would be sponsored by an office supply company, hence, Lil Miss Staples Catalogue...The dress was made by sewing While You Were Out Message squares to an old pillow case, the crown was binder clips in varying sizes clipped to a headband, the scepter was highlighters topped with a rubber band ball (not pictured), the earrings were mini Sharpies. Painted my fingernails with white-out and called it a day!
Halloween, 2005

More therapy. and then some more therapy.

After spending months trying to get a lawyer to listen to my case, I finally gave up and called the Y as a last ditch effort. Shock of all shocks, they forwarded me immediately to the safety director, who forwarded me to the insurance company. After only 2 conversations with my new best friend Mike Eberst, they agreed to pay out up to $10,000
of my medical bills. Here's hoping we stay under that limit.

MAR '06
My knuckle finally bends to 90ยบ after A LOT stretching. A mini party breaks out in therapy room.

APR '06
So it's been 8 months since the tree fell and broke my finger and I still feel like I'm no where near being done with therapy. Had a visit to Doc Cranky Pants yesterday and he was equally unimpressed as to my progress as well. His suggestion, more surgery that may or may not work, will hurt more than the first one, and will probably blow through the remainder of the amount the YMCA's insurance company is giving me. Not to mention that now that this summer show is starting up (2012 note: that show was AGT!), I wouldn't have time to do it anyway. So I made a pact with myself, kick my therapy into high gear. I admit I've been babying the finger for a few months now, but now I know that I can't get away with that anymore. I've spent the last 8 months working around the fact that I can't (or probably will never) be able to make a fist again and I believe it is only because of my adaptable and simplified nature that I have been able to do so. So now I'm on the campaign to wear my splint 5 or 6 hours a day instead of just 1.
Me turning over a new leaf to wear my hand splint more often, and David Hasselhoff signing that splint, days after he acquired his own hand splint in a less climate-related accident.

And a few more pix that tell the story:
Tree from another angle.

base of the tree.

Close up of the base of the tree, where you can really see the damage pine beetles have caused

only one slightly gross pic, I promise. If you have to get hit on the head with a tree in a ravine, it helps to have a wilderness survival guide amongst your companions. EMTs weren't too happy they moved me, but I still feel confident my group made the right decision. I'm also really glad someone took pictures for me.

Ow! Pointy!

 I was seated on the rock in the foreground. Everyone around me managed to dive out of the way, but when I heard the crack, I literally thought: "that's not going to hit me, I'm the star of my own movie." Look, no one ever said I suffered from low self-esteem. I'm blaming the high altitude.


Kelly said...

Just gave you the Sunshine Blog Award because I enjoy your site! You can read about it here:
Have a great weekend!
~ Kelly

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