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PAINTER: Accident brings new appreciation for community help

• Jun 11, 2018 at 3:30 PM

I did it again. I fractured another bone in my already fractured body.

This time, I’ve been confined to a walker. As anyone else who has to use a walker knows, it’s not much fun, because you are so limited as to what you can do every day.

I have become accustomed to breaking bones in my body. In recent years, two bicycle accidents and a fall on an icy driveway have left me with a number of fractured ribs, as well as fractured bones on my shoulder blade and my neck. There were some broken bones earlier in my life, as well.

But those mishaps were nowhere near as debilitating as the fractured hip that I suffered May 26.

While doctors have determined that I won’t need surgery, the recovery time from this accident is going to be a long eight weeks. Anyone who has broken a hip knows that a broken hip is not only painful, it greatly inhibits your mobility.

I was taking our dogs on a short walk. It is usually a routine walk that I had been taking with our dogs for years. Because it was hot and the dogs were panting, I decided to cut the walk short and head back to our house. I wasn’t paying attention and tripped over a slab of concrete across the street from the Spring Lake Intermediate School. I fell hard on the concrete and couldn’t get to my feet.

Fortunately, just a few minutes later, Byron Druzgal and his wife, Rebecca, were passing by and sensed something was wrong and stopped. They called 911, and I was off to the emergency room. Others also offered assistance.

The next day, Byron sent me a message on Facebook, wishing me a speedy recovery. He also wrote: “It was so nice to see how so many people in the community — between the school, police, EMS and just random people — all stepping up to get the help you needed.”

Byron is absolutely right. The kindness and concern from everyone makes me feel so grateful to live in such a caring community.

It is easy to take our public service workers for granted until you require their services. My accident made me appreciate how dedicated they are to helping people in need. The police and ambulance crew arrived quickly and were extremely helpful. Despite my discomfort and worry about how the dogs would get home, they made me feel at ease. I am also grateful to those people who took care of our dogs.

Minutes after gently being lifted into the ambulance, The EMS immediately began monitoring my vitals and making sure I was doing OK. I even struck up a conversation with one of the responders who told me how much he enjoyed helping people. At the emergency room, the nurses and doctors also responded quickly. I was gently lifted onto the X-ray table without too much pain.

My latest mishap also makes me think about how kind and sympathetic my friends are in a time of crisis. I’ve received many positive comments from my friends on Facebook and elsewhere. The comments boosted my spirits.

Also, an important thing for me has been the support of my family, especially my wife, Marilyn.

This latest accident has been the most difficult one for me. This is the first accident in which I am unable to walk.

Meanwhile, Marilyn has done a wonderful job of taking care of me. She is wearing many hats now, working full time, and taking over all the responsibilities at home, including walking our dogs each day, grocery shopping and cooking meals — duties that were mine until the accident. I really don’t know how she does it, but it makes me feel so fortunate and happy to have her as a partner.

The recovery is going well, and I hope to be walking again soon.

As for all of my fractured bones, I feel fortunate. Daredevil Evel Knievel fractured 433 bones during his lifetime and earned a spot in the “Guinness Book of World Records.” I don’t plan on catching him.

I’ll try not to catch him and watch my step from now on when walking our dogs. I’m sure they would appreciate it, as well.

I am fortunate to have such a wonderful family who support me, even if I have become prone to disasters. I hope to be walking with the dogs soon. I’ll be sure to watch my step.

— By Len Painter, Tribune community columnist

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