Sunday, November 28, 2010


Every Christmas it's my job to prove Joyce Kilmer wrong and "make a tree." I make it in the livingroom after clearing a space by moving the antique white couch which is a old family heirloom although I no longer remember whose family and am too embarrassed to ask Karen who already thinks I don't care about important things. And maybe it isn't an heirloom at all.

After moving the "Couch which might be an heirloom", I straighten wire branches from the tree box and attach them to the "trunk." The topmost branches need a stepladder so I'm up on it when suddenly the phone rings...

But that's not why I fell.

It's Karen's phone and from her end of the conversation I can tell that the time frame for the kids and grandkids moving in with us has suddenly been moved up to tomorrow (which is now today, or maybe yesterday since typing with one hand is very very slow). Everything must be moved. My office is relocating to the smaller guest room. I hate moving and will do almost anything to avoid it.

BUTLER: "You did this on purpose???!!!!!"

No, but I was a little distracted. Climbing down the stepladder, I stepped off the last step only to discover .007 seconds later that it was really the next to last step!

.008 seconds later, the adrenalin kicked in. Adrenalin is the emotional airbag of immanent disaster. It slows time and provides opportunity for the mind and body to discuss things:

BODY TO MIND: "This is wide-body 64. We have an unexpected gravity problem and request emergency landing clearance."

MIND TO BODY: "Wide-body 64, you are cleared to fall. Implement risk mitigation checklist immediately."

BODY: "Roger. (1) Relax and don't fight it. (2) Do not extend arms and risk breaking wrists. (3) Tuck head to keep neck flexible. (4) Roll if possible. (5) Try to spread impact over as much of body as possible."

MIND: "Excellent. You must have learned this when you practiced Judo."

BODY: "I fall down very well. It's a real skill."

BUTLER: "But not one to put on your resume."

MIND TO BODY: "Please clear channels of idle chatter, you now have less than .15 seconds to impact."

BODY TO INTERCOM: "We have been cleared to crash. Please turn off all electronic equipment and store your tray tables in their full and upright positions. And don’t worry, we’re very good at falling on flat surfaces.”

MIND TO BODY: “Good luck with impact. And don’t forget about the new location of the “Couch that might be an heirloom.”

ALL: “Couch that might be…Oh no! AAAAAAAAAAaaaaa!



At this point in the ultra-slow motion fall, I have bounced off the couch and am beginning a .10 second 1 foot final plunge to the actual floor. I have already identified the thwock sound as the sound of something breaking. I was terrified because I assumed that I had broken the arm or one of the legs on the couch which might be an heirloom. I’d hate to think I broke an irreplaceable heirloom!

Then I finally rolled onto the floor and my nervous system began to send reports to my brain. The extreme relief I felt to know I had not broken the couch was only matched by the explosion of pain from my left shoulder.

And by the arrival of Karen standing over my writhing form holding the baby.

KAREN: “Mark!!!!!”

MARK: “I’m okay! I’m okay!”

KAREN: “Mark!!!!!!”

MARK: “I’m okay! I’m okay!”

This repetitive dialogue continues for ten minutes or so with Noah starting to add his cries. And occasionally I vary my lines by saying, “I’m okay! AAAAAaaaa! I’m okay!” which does not help my credibility.

Another time, rolling in clockwise spasms, I exclaimed, “I’m okey! The couch is okay! I’m okay!” which only made Karen wonder if I had hit my head.

Then, the triage discussion shifted as I began rolling in counter-clockwise spasms.

KAREN: “You are NOT okay!!! You are NOT okay!!

MARK: “Karen!!!!”

KAREN: “You are NOT okay!!! You are NOT okay!!”

MARK: “Karen!!!!”

And finally, due to our mutually sophisticated conflict resolution skill, we came to agreement.

KAREN: “You are not okay and we are going to the emergency room.”

MARK: “Ooooooo uuugh Ouch. Aaaaauuuh &%#$@!”

The rest of the story is not so interesting. X-rays. Gratitude for pain meds. Broken humorus near the shoulder. But a “clean break in place” which is doctor talk for “no surgery.”

And now I’m tired of typing with one hand.

But I’m okay.


  1. Ouch!

    I will have my husband read this as we have been arguing about him climbing up a ladder to wrap lights around a 30 foot blue spruce - as he does every year. But you get to an age where you have to say it is not worth the risk. He will do it anyway, and I will stand at the bottom of the ladder hoping I can do something to break a fall - if it happens. Ha!

    Hope you not in too much pain. Take care.

  2. OMG. HOw can you have the sanity to write to well when you are clearly under heavy sedation?

  3. Dear me!!! That was... (sorry) HILARIOUS!!!

  4. I am laughing at your hilarious (and so true) recount of your fall and feeling sorry for you too. I broke my humorous once as a kid. Make sure you get lots of fun signatures and pictures on your cast. Sorry that happened, lucky you have such a great sense of humor.

  5. Heal well....stay off ladders.

  6. owe!! take it easy and rest and get better! get a tree that just goes together with all the limbs already in. my tree is in three pieces and then the limbs fold out. ta da! done.

  7. And that, Mark, is why I refuse to have a Christmas tree higher than three feet. I broke three ribs when the leg of the chair that was on a table broke (didn't own a ladder) and I crashed with the huge tree on top of me. I swear that was the funniest Christmas ever - or so it seeemed when it hurt to laugh! I do so wish I could tell the story as humoursly as you have!

  8. Oh dear Mark, it is not funny to fracture your humerus but the telling is so humorous I had to laugh. You are such a good sport. I have seen some might bad broken bones in my days of x-raying. thank goodness it was a clean break. Nothing like clean. Good luck.

  9. Ow! I hope everything else went okay with the move-in. Who gets to put the lights up, now?

  10. Oh no ....sending you warm Aussie hugs and lots of healing prayers. xxx

  11. That was awesome! Howling with laughter!

  12. I was so worried about Karens sofa... glad it survived the fall.

  13. What a delightfully painful story. Only you could pull that off. Stay off ladders, use only Charlie Brown-style Christmas trees, take two aspirins, and blog me in the morning.

  14. oh geesh! You had me laughing hoping that I would not fall off of my office chair and have to explain why I am ok...LOL loved this post! Hope you are really OK!