Mrs Argos Breaks a Leg
11 May 2016
Mrs Argos breaks a leg
Accident: an unfortunate incident that happens unexpectedly and unintentionally, typically resulting in damage or injury.
"he had an accident at the factory"
synonyms: mishap, misfortune, misadventure, mischance, unfortunate incident, injury, disaster, tragedy, catastrophe, contretemps, calamity, blow, trouble, problem, difficulty;
"he was involved in an accident at work"
After our first real adventure of cruising up the Broadwater to the Tipplers Passage anchorage over the weekend there was, of course a little cleaning up to do. The anchor chain had left a bit of a mess on the bow and needed cleaning up, as well as putting the snubber rope back on, a few tidying up things, things to put away, the simple tasks following a trip out.
I am never what you might call ‘confident’ on the bow sprit – to be honest, I find it a bit scary out there! Taking off the anchor snubber and putting it back on are big deals to me, so when I need to be there I focus on hanging on tight and watching where I place my feet, taking little steps, watching all the time for possible and potential accidents, and being careful to avoid them all. I’d been doing fine. The snubber was back on – my first time doing it on my own – and I was up to cleaning up all the sludge and bits of barnacles that were coating my once pristine foredeck that had once been attached to the anchor.
I had a small bucket and a brush for the task, the bucket had a rope tied to it, so I could drip it over, fill it and pull it back up and to make sure I didn’t drop it overboard, I tied the other end to the stainless steel rails of the bow sprit.
The mess was almost all dealt with when the knot tied to the bucket handle came undone and I watched as, instead of coming back up when I pulled the rope, the bucket began to drift down along the starboard side of the boat. I was annoyed. I couldn’t reach it from the side of the boat – At the very least I’d have to go get another, but I could see it drifting back slowly and thought I still had time to retrieve it if I could grab the fish-landing net we stored on the port side back deck.
I was doing fine – the net had been slid down a loose cable tie and to reach it I had to stand on a seat, but I got it and I with the net in my hands I turned to step across the seats on the back deck, The bucket was still there, floating slowly past and I went to step down on to the deck when I lost my footing and instead of simply hopping off the seat and grabbing up the bucket, I found myself landing in a heap on the deck, my knee twisted awkwardly beneath me, whacking my head back against the hatch opening, as I fell. My first thought was, damn, I lost the bucket, closely followed by an awareness of how bad my knee felt. And I was just getting back to normal after my last knee injury. Damn, damn, damn.
Someone once told me that following a boat injury, a good practice was to get low, into a resting position and just kind of go floppy and go through your body, noticing what hurts and what’s ok. I did that and while my head was sore and a few spots on my back and bum, it was my left knee that was my biggest problem.
Thankfully Erina was at home and down below and she was up like a light – ‘I heard the bang mum,’ she said, as she came up, and got me some pillows to support my head and leg – though even getting my knee supported felt like an impossible task it hurt so much. I was vaguely aware, in my supine position, of something next to my leg – was it a Gerry can? – and I needed it gone – I couldn’t bear to have it touching me. And then my phone rang and my son, calling to tell me he was contributing to a Mother’s Day gift for me, asked how I was and I ridiculously said, ‘Oh yeah I’m fine thanks, and you?’
I began to feel so cold on deck and all I could think about was getting down onto a comfortable seat, having a cup of tea and getting some ice on to the injuries, though I think Erina might have already brought the ice up to me, but suddenly all I could think about was getting myself to what felt like safety below. I wiggled over to the hatch opening and swung my legs around – one of the most intensely painful ideas I have ever had in my life, and gingerly started to go down the steps, aware with every movement that I really was in a spot of bother.
Once down below, a task I achieved by hopping and holding on to things, and with every movement regretting that I had begun, but knowing that I had to continue now I was on the path to a comfy seat, it became more and more clear to me that the amount of pain I was in was indicative of something more than a bump and a bruise. I caught my breath on the couch and relished my strong hot tea.
I think I knew all along that I was going to have to get off the boat, but I guess I was hoping that I was wrong and decided to call someone with good first aid skills who might agree with me and tell me it was okay to stay put.
I called my neighbor Boyd.
‘How are you with first aid,’ I began, ‘I’ve hurt my knee’.
We talked for a few minutes, with me explaining and him listening, when he said, ‘You are only calling me because you know it needs to be checked out aren’t you, and you don’t know how to do that right? You know it has to be done, we will figure out a way.’ And then he was coming – the decision made.
I’m ok with injury – my own and others. I’ve never been squeamish and can stay level headed and objective in the face of accidents and wounds, and what he said was true – I was telling myself I only needed someone else to agree that it was ok and I could stay home, but in truth the very fact I was asking for a second opinion was indicative that I knew it was a little more complex than a knock that would be ok in a day or two.
Thankfully I didn’t have to add any kind of personal anxiety or drama to that!!! But the other thing is, I don’t make a fuss, I don’t make a noise. If I am in pain I will get on with it. I once was delivering a baby and still had my toddler in the room, who was a little distressed at something unusual happening. I was reading her a story and she sat perched on the edge of the bed, my arm around her, when I knew I needed to push. ‘Get the baby’ I managed between powerful expelling contractions, and the midwife thought I meant to lift off the toddler – ‘No,’ I managed, ‘Not that one, the BABY!’ – she had no idea that I was so close to delivering and still comforting and reading to the toddler!
And so, in one final act of madness, I decided that I really needed to go to the bathroom. My logic was that if I was to be taken off the boat and to hospital, then I would definitely need to go to the loo first and what better way to see how I was going to move than to have a little experiment first! It seemed sensible, and in some ways was, as I really did need to go to the loo – and it was so close…….what I hadn’t considered was the number of steps I would need to take and the number of ups and downs that would be involved in going from the couch in the stern cabin through the midships berth and up into the fore section of the boat where the bathroom is. On a good day you’d barely notice the steps, or the awkward little raised section of the bulkhead between the stern cabin and midships floor, or the lack of hand holds all the way through. Even the intricate and beautifully woven celtic knot mat that sits below the steps going up to the fore cabins represented an incredible barrier to my suddenly-limited capacity to move. But I made it and when I did felt such an incredible relief – one because I had been able to pee, and two because I figured if I could get that far, surely I’d be able to get off the boat?
I began to make my way back to the stern cabin and with that in mind had tried to sit to go down the two steps that were there, when I realised there was another way out of course, with only 3 steps. Much easier to manage and closer. If only I hadn’t sat down already. I took a deep breath and steeled myself, preparing to pull myself up so I could sit my way up the steps and get back up on deck.
I could hear activity outside, the sounds of an outboard engine that I recognised as Boyds, and then his and Erina’s voices. They were discussing who could be asked to help – and a quick check was made about who was on their boat and would be available, and then Boyd was off and Erina off in our dinghy, mustering up some help and some strength. Before leaving Erina had pulled out the fly-screen hatch covers from the forward companion way and I had begun my painful and slow journey back out. It was deliberate and measured and I hadn’t got far before I heard Erina return accompanied by a couple of others, and I braced myself for what I knew was going to be a very hard, but necessary journey up, out and off.
I love the layout of Argos, and her old-style fitout but she sure is not an easy boat to get around and to get off when injured! Crawling and dragging myself backwards up the steps, through the cockpit – aided by Erina filling the cockpit floor with cushions so I wouldn’t go back down but could slide across from the steps to the seat and then…….then on to the next bit, dragging myself out of the cockpit and on to the deck.
Happily Boyd had also returned and my ‘possie’ had all gathered by then and I had a breather while we considered the best place to get off the boat and how we would actually do it.
There is an area on the starboard back deck with no gunwales, no barriers or impediments to get over to get off the boat. The plan was to get me there, to position a dinghy alongside at that spot and to get me over the edge and in. We decided that my own dinghy would be the best for the task as it was a sturdy and high inflatable, and as it was the one I was the most used to getting into and out of, a lot of the how-will-I-do-it was taken out of the equation, there was less for me to think about and more I would just know intuitively – how far down below the running boards it was etc.
Two of the helpers were positioned in the dinghy (Reece and Rory) – Boyd became the ‘foreman’ and planner, organising what to do and who to do it, and then John positioned himself behind me to assist with my moving. There was the question of, where shall I hold you so I don’t hurt you and it’s not awkward, followed by an anywhere that isn’t my knee and then we were moving and the edge of the boat was close and I was going over, trusting the guys down there would be able to support me and I would get in without further injury, and preferably without further pain.
I’m so glad I didn’t pass out during any of this process, it must have been as scary for my helpers as it was for me, and the possibility of me getting more hurt in the process of getting help was something we were all aware of.
And then I was in the dinghy. I was able to keep my knee safe as we went across to shore and even able to swing both my legs over the side as the end of this part of the journey was in sight, and we were pulled up at the boat ramp, and Boyd – who had gone across with John in his own dinghi - had positioned his car right there for me to get in to.
A journey is made up of many steps and that’s exactly how this one was for me – the first steps of getting back up on deck, and then out of the cockpit and then across to the side of the boat and then into the dinghi. In many ways, in my head, that was all there was to it, but in reality that was only the first series of steps…..after that cam the next and then the next. Getting into the dinghy was one thing, getting out of it and into a car was another. Boyd’s is a 4 wheel drive – a truck by my standards on any day and in the past when I have gone anywhere in it, I have suggested a ladder would be handy! On this occasion I began to feel I had missed a moment when some firemen could have come to my rescue!!! But we did it!
John helped me get to the car and to where I could perch myself down on the edge of the front floor, and Boyd climbed in through the driver’s door, got his arms in under my arms and pulled……and then I was on the seat, swinging my legs in, and with a huge sense of accomplishment I sank back into the comfortable seat.
We’d done it.
My biggest boating fear faced fairly and squarely…..I had a significant injury on board and got off the boat.
If this hadn’t happened at anchor, if it hadn’t happened when I was surrounded by other boats, I could have called for professional assistance…..and I guess I could have even here, but to be surrounded by friends while facing such an ordeal, was in itself comforting and supportive. Whatever had happened, and whatever was going to happen because of it, I was acutely aware of how surrounded by kindness, support and friends I was, am and will be through it – how appreciative I am for all of that and for the kids too.
The dinghis all had to be returned to their various boats, and as Boyd began to drive, amidst calls of good luck, we were off on the easiest part of the whole thing.
The hospital, a place of great familiarity to Boyd, who had been having treatment there the whole time we had known him, for melanoma (have you had your skin checked lately?) was not far, but with all the hard work over, I began to be even more aware, now I was sitting and resting a bit, of how much pain I was in. It felt like the longest part of the trip. On the way we discussed what I thought might have been going on and I said a dislocation – that would explain the intensity of the pain, the swelling, the lack of movement. Boyd agreed and we talked a little about the pressing things, how long I might have to wait, taking care of the children while I was there etc. I encourage him to not wait with me, which he had offered to do, but to return to the boat and be a support to the kids, who despite their maturity and coping skills, could, I felt, really use that.
And so we arrived, Boyd went inside, had to wait for assistance and then fetched a wheelchair and I was got in to it. It wasn’t an easy task but after all we had done to get me that far it, it felt like a piece of cake.
It took 4 hours from when we arrived at the hospital for a Doctor to examine me, and then another 45 minutes and an x-ray to discover that I had in fact broken my leg.