It was early in June, one of the first days of summer vacation, and I had decided that the garden in front of my house was in need of a little maintenance. To help me in my endeavors I decided to utilize the 25 year old garden rake that we had in our garage; the kind that resembles a barber's comb on a pole but is made of thick metal tines, instead of plastic. I was wearing my newly purchased flip flops that I had acquired, at great cost to myself, from the local dollar store. My front garden has a short wooden border surrounding it, and I had stepped up on it to admire my handiwork. Unfortunately, I had laid my garden rake down on the ground directly next to the outside of the border, tine-side up, when I unexpectedly, slipped off the wooden border and my foot landed on the rake. I felt a sharp stabbing pain in my foot, and when I looked down, I noticed that my flip flop had slid sideways and I now had a tine from the rake protruding through the upper part of my foot. The shock of this development caused me to sit down abruptly, as I examined my foot and the garden rake that was now attached to it. It did not look good.
My daughter Holly and her friend Stephanie, had been about to embark on a bike ride when the incident occurred, and Holly called up to me from the bottom of driveway to see if I was alright.
"I think you better go get Dad." I called to her. "I seem to have impaled my foot on our garden rake."
Holly went into the house to alert Dave, and Stephanie walked over to check on me. Her reaction was immediate.
"Oh my God." she shouted. "You have a garden rake stuck through your foot! You have a garden rake stuck through your foot!" she said, as best I can remember.
She ran into the house to let Holly know that my injury was a little more serious than what they had imagined, and, as she did so, she accidentally released one of the dogs out of the house. This resulted in the pup racing down our hilly front lawn, so he could begin menacing a woman and her dog who had the unfortunate timing to be walking by my house just then.
"Steph, go get Teddy. He is trying to attack that dog, and I can't get up to stop him." I yelled.
Stephanie ran back out of the house, and approached the woman. Instead of grabbing our misbehaving pup though, I could hear her inquiring if the woman was familiar with what one should do if you are impaled with a garden rake while doing yard work. Eventually, she reclaimed my dog and things calmed down slightly.
At around this time Dave and Holly came out of the house and assessed the situation.
Dave asked the question that he would continue to ask for the duration of the whole ordeal.
"How did you do this?? Whenever you see someone step on a rake, during a Three Stooges episode, the handle always swings back up up and hits them in the head!!! How did you get the rake stuck in your foot?" I was beginning to feel nauseous, so I didn't offer any explanation.
Holly asked if she should call 911, and of course, like any person who has a garden rake impaled through their foot, I told her emphatically that she should not. Much to my surprise though, a gentlemen that had been jogging through our sub and who happened to be a physician's assistant, came bounding up our lawn and advised her to do so immediately. By chance, he had just passed the woman and the dog whom Stephanie had just posed the surprising rake question to, and knowing of his medical background she had asked him if he was familiar with what one did when someone has just been impaled with a garden rake. Fortunately for me he did; you don't try and pull it out by yourself!
I would just like to mention here, that throughout all of these events I never resorted to profanity, yelling or crying. I did however, begin to sweat a lot, start to feel faint, and wish that Dave would stop asking me why the rake hadn't just hit me in the head like it was supposed to.
Within minutes an ambulance arrived. Along with the first two paramedics that joined me were now, quite a few neighbors who had been otherwise unoccupied, prior to my impalement. I explained to the paramedic that I had a strong suspicion that I was going to throw up, and like an angel, he told me to regulate my breathing, and to hold still, while he inserted an IV line that he would be filling with morphine. Things began to look more promising. Since we did not have an IV stand at the house, my neighbors took turns holding the morphine bag, to allow for the drip. Of all the acts of kindness demonstrated by my many neighbors present that night, that was my favorite.
Along about this time a second emergency vehicle arrived, and another paramedic raced up the hill with a stretcher. He let go of it when he reached the top, in order to check on my condition, and for a moment, time seemed to stand still. This was because our interest had been diverted as we all looked on in surprise, as the stretcher picked up speed as it went rolling back down my front lawn and across the street. Even in my present condition I was thinking how happy I was that I had not been on it at the time.
Now that I was feeling more jovial, thanks to my morphine drip, I listened with interest as the paramedics asked the neighbor men that had joined our group, what they each thought might be the best way in which to saw off the rake handle, so I could be transported in the ambulance.
Since Holly felt that this was something they should already know she politely said to them, "Excuse me...I don't mean to be rude, but you don't seem to know what you are doing. I don't think you should be taking care of my mother, if you don't know what you are doing."
"Holly," I whispered. "Don't be impolite. They have my morphine."
After a great deal of discussion the men in the group decided that a special saw was needed that could cut through metal. The plan was made that someone, who happened to be Dave, would lay on the ground holding the rake handle straight up, while sparks came dangerously close to setting his hair on fire, as they cut off the offending tine from the remainder of the rake. This would still leave the tine impaled in my foot but allow them to transport me to the hospital for its removal.
This plan seemed to be working well until the metal saw, which was cutting through metal, caused the tine inside my foot to heat up resulting in more pain than even the morphine could suppress.
"Ow, ow, ow. " I said, in a semi-quiet voice, so as not to alarm the children that had gathered. "I have a brand new pain in my foot now for some reason." Someone immediately poured water over everything, and the searing hot pain began to subside.
Eventually the rake was sawed off and I was transported safely to the hospital. I do remember the paramedics commenting about my heart rate being somewhat irregular, but when I explained that I had consumed several mountain dews that day, not to mention having had a rake impale my foot, they appeared to be satisfied.
At the hospital I was treated as quite a curiosity, as onlookers studied my foot and the large metal tine that was protruding from it. I also remember, that when the doctor said that he was going to give me several injections to numb my foot and it might be painful, I laughed a little at him.
"Please..." I said. "You are talking to a woman whose foot has just been impaled by a garden rake. Do you really think a few Lidocaine shots are going to bother me?" This was followed by the five most excruciating shots I have ever received, and that is after having had a steady supply of morphine, beforehand. This was the one and only time during my whole ordeal, that I did resort to mild profanity.
After I had received my shots, soaked my foot in some sort of antiseptic, and had them uneventfully, remove the tine from my foot, the doctor gave it to me as a souvenir. I immediately went to place it in the back pocket of my jeans.
"Are you crazy?" was Dave's reply. "What do you want to do next...impale your ass?" I thought him rather rude, but I did hand the metal tine over to him, for safekeeping. Consider this all to be a cautionary tale for the future...never underestimate the dangers involved in gardening.