The forth worst week of my life started out innocently enough. I was working for a construction company, framing houses. I was assigned to a great little two man crew (three counting me). Neither of these fellas enjoyed their home life, so they would hang around the jobsite for hours after the end of the day, tossing scrap wood into the burn barrel and downing many a brew. These two gents got me very hammered my first day. So hammered the cops decided to throw me in the hoosegow for something akin to drunken pedestrianism. On the highway. But that's another story.
We worked near the outskirts of our little city of Columbus, Ohio. During hunting season, one of the fellas would break for lunch, drop his tool belt, pull out his rifle and his hunting vest(with valid license pinned jauntily upon it), and walk off into the nearby woods for forty minutes or so. Never shot a thing, but he was focused.
It was a good life.
One day, some company messenger boy came out to our job and said another crew needed some help across town. Guess who got sent to lend a hand? So I grabbed my gear, jumped into my girlfriend's red convertible VW Rabbit, which I was borrowing, and drove off towards the worst week of my life. It took about twenty minutes to get there.
Upon arriving at my new jobsite, I saw my new crew mates cleaning up after their lunch, and dutifully smoking copious amounts of Irish*. I reported to the Crew Leader, who promptly assigned me to assist in the raising of the rafters. This operation consists of a fellow lifting a large amount of pre-built wood onto the top of the house with a crane. Another fellow, me in this case, stands on top and guides the rafters to where they go, with the help of two guys with guide ropes on the ground.
Approximately ten minutes into this activity, the gent running the crane was distracted by a plane crash or something, and he got a little loose with the controls. This resulted in my being knocked off the top of a two-story house onto a pile of wood, which had unfortunately not found it's way into a burn barrel.
I hit hard. Really hard. When everyone stopped to determine my level of OK-ness, my tough instinct took over.
"I'll be fine. Just give me a minute to catch my breath."
This later proved to be untrue. For now, though, if I was OK, I was in the way. So, a few guys moved me to the bed of a truck nearby, where I lay sucking wind. And time, as they say, passed.
After a bit, it occurred to me that I could barely breathe at all, and I attempted to call for help. It then occurred to me that I couldn't draw enough air to call for anything, and the pain was threatening to make me black out. I couldn't really 'get up' in the strictest sense, so I rolled off the back of the truck, and hit hard, which was fast becoming a hobby.
This caused a commotion, and one of the lads decided it was time to go to the EMERGENCY ROOM.
Now, let me say, the EMERGENCY ROOM is an evil place where everyone hates you the moment you haul your broken body across the threshold. If you won't die filling out the paperwork, the wait will surely kill you. It is the most inhumane place, next to jail or Home Depot, that I can think of.
So we roll into the EMERGENCY ROOM, and the desk nurse is miffed because she has to put down her (I Hate) People magazine and acknowledge my existence. She puts her training to good use, quickly assessing that I am not famous, rich, or a lawyer.
"Fill these out," she says, rolling a three-tray cart full of forms in front of me. While I am filling out said forms, I miss almost the entire 'grunge' era, and a new president is elected.
As I crawl up to the desk with the finished paperwork, the nurse comes around and sizes me up. Bringing her years of medical knowledge to bear, she asks, "How do you feel?"
"I'm not dead yet," I offer with a painful grin. This turns out not to be the thing to say. I was sent back to the waiting room, where I missed the XFL coming into, and then going out of, existence.
Finally, a nurse came along with a wheelchair, and took me back for the Ritual of the Tiny Paper Dress. After I was properly consecrated, my naked ass and I were taken to a private room. By "private room", I mean an extremely crowded room. I was made to 'hop up' onto a gurney, while the nurse pulled the paper curtain 'walls' into a tight circle around me and the stretcher.
Then came some waiting, during which capri pants came and went. After a time, a nurse came in with a funky-shaped bottle and said, "Pee in this if you need to."
I realized that I very much needed to. And as I lay there, unable to even sit up, I understood at last why the bottle was shaped that way. Laying flat on my back wearing a napkin and urinating in a bottle with a piece of paper between me and several people, who all have crises of their own, really re-affirmed my interest in getting the hell out of there. It was not to be. It was, however, the longest leak I ever took.
So I finish my business and lay back to bask in the glow of the excruciating pain, and presently a nurse pokes her head in and asks if I'm done. When I reply in the affirmative, she comes in to take away the bottle.
She holds it up with a disconcerting look on her face, and I see that the bottle is full of blood. And this, gentle reader, is when all hell broke loose.
"Don't tug on that, you never know what it might be attached to."
*Irish- Weed, Pot, Cannabis. Wink wink, nudge nudge. All construction workers, at least in Ohio, are required by statute to consume 3 grams of commercial grade weed(or 2 grams of Kind bud) per day. Strict testing exists to punish shirkers, who frequently attempt to substitute Wild Turkey.