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Injuries — Needles and Knockouts

Aug 17th, 2012 | By | Category: Nick Kemper's Blog

This past baseball season, my eight-year-old broke his nose during fly ball practice. He caught one with his face, and it didn’t work out so well for him. It was gruesome, my friends. We took him to the ER. They cleaned him up, and he immediately began capitalizing on his celebrity status. When you’re eight and you have a broken nose you’re a god to the other munchkins. The following Monday we took him to see a specialist and a few days later he went under to have the nose re-set. The exact same thing happened to me when I was 10, and I had told him the story before, so I think that was oddly calming for both of us when it happened. The difference is that my nose is crooked and his shouldn’t be. He’s one tough little hombre.

Injuries are an inevitable part of sports, and they are an inevitable part of work as well. I have been very fortunate. The worst injury I can remember was stepping on a nail that went through my boot and into my foot. It only hurt for a few minutes, but the real tragedy was having to get a tetanus shot an hour or so later. I don’t like needles. I despise them. To give you an idea, I almost fainted when my wife got an epidural prior to my oldest son being born. I couldn’t see the needle as they inserted it into her spine, but she was sitting up leaning against me and I knew it was there. That was enough. All of the blood in my body dropped to my feet, I got dizzy and sweaty, and one of the nurses told me to sit on the floor against the wall and to stay out of the way or they would kick me over to the wall. Believe me, the father is the least important person in the delivery room.

I also sliced my thigh open on the jagged edge of an old Cadillac once, but I just put some gauze over it and threw out the torn uniform pants. Now I have a scar on my otherwise perfect thigh. I also once dropped steel dollie crossrail on my big toe (“toe” damage), which was irritating because I had a tee time the next morning and it clearly threw off my swing. I think now that I might have broken a bone because that toe still hurts if I bend it the wrong way. So, other than banging my head on an Eagle Claw about 75 times and pulling the same muscle in my back about 13 times while lifting dollies, that was the extent of my work injuries in 15+ years in the truck. Like I said, very fortunate.

Every week, it seems, we hear about someone not so fortunate, especially related to highway roadside hookups. At the company where I work, we lost a driver many years ago at just such an incident when a tractor-trailer rig somehow came across the emergency lane line and struck him as he was hooking up a vehicle. Another driver I knew was setting up dollies on a vehicle on the freeway when a motorist struck him, breaking his hip and laying him up for several months. The motorist did not stop, but other motorists called in a vehicle description. Local radio stations asked citizens for help and the motorist was identified and arrested for hit-and-run. A driver at a company I managed was pulling a vehicle up on a carrier bed when a little old lady basically ran right over him. He had a broken hip, broken ribs and internal injuries. We thought we were going to lose him. He made a miraculous recovery, however, and came back to work for us at our vehicle auction.

On the lighter side, another driver I worked with injured himself while working on an impound tow. He was sitting in the cab with the door open and the vehicle owner approached him and yelled at him loudly. The driver jumped high enough to strike his head on the top of the truck doorjamb and knocked himself out. That earned him the nickname “TKO.” The same driver had a prank played on him that led to an unfortunate injury. He thought he was alone in our impound lot, but a couple of off-duty drivers snuck in, crept around behind a garage and slipped his truck into neutral. The truck was parked between the garage and the office trailer where the driver was waiting for a vehicle release. The lot had a slight incline, so the truck started rolling back slowly. He ran out and put the truck back into gear. They did it a second time, but this time he got pinned between the truck and a staircase trying to get into the truck. Just like your mom said: “It’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt.”

My ex-brother-in-law managed a few tow companies and then took a position as training director of a large towing company. His first day on the job, he dropped a snatch block on a trainee’s foot and caused his own form of “toe” damage.

The irony for myself is that I have more pain and discomfort from sitting at a desk and staring at a computer screen than I ever had hooking up cars. My left shoulder and neck gave me trouble for about four years and then it switched over the right side to even things out, and I’m about two years into that. I’ve tried physical therapy, stretching, chiropractic care and lately I’ve undergone regular acupuncture treatments. I know, I know — needles. It’s different, I swear. I’m addicted to it now, at least mentally, and highly recommend it.

Have a safe and profitable week.

Nick Kemper