• By Gene Henson

On Living Aboard

I was on the way to the hardware store on a Tuesday afternoon. It was sunny and nice and my mind was on the project at hand which was to rebuild the mount for the helmsmen’s seat in Patty O’s salon. I’d noticed that it was wiggling a bit and when I looked underneath, it was apparent that not only had the bolts come loose, but they had worn the holes several sizes larger. So it looked like a total rebuild was on the schedule. The light was green and I proceeded through the intersection. He came from the right, running the red light and plowed into my Dodge Dakota at the right door. He was driving a big Chevrolet Suburban, which probably weighed twice as much as my compact pickup. The crash threw me into the window and when the airbag deployed, it smashed me in the face, breaking my sunglasses and giving my left arm a whack. Sitting there dazed, I could hear shouting. “He pulled out right in front of me!” It didn’t take long before someone opened my door and asked, “Are you all right?” “Not sure.” I answered. “We called 911.” The voice said. I couldn’t see because of my crushed glasses and there was a warm flow of blood coming from my nose where it had been broken from the airbag smash. The EMT’s arrived and I was soon ensconced on a gurney in route to the emergency room. Getting there, the triage nurse looked me over and decided that I wasn’t going to die and had the attendants move me to a room. There I was examined and the doctor told me that I didn’t appear to be seriously injured. He did, however, tell me that it looked like I had a concussion as well as a broken arm. “We need to take x-rays.” He said. “I need my phone,” I said. “I have to call someone.” “All taken care of.” He said. “Your emergency information was on your phone as well as in your wallet.” Five minutes later the Blonde, my wife burst through the door. “Are you all right?” she asked. “I am now.” I said. “You’ll forgive me if I don’t hug you.” Once she found out the extent of my injuries, she calmed down. “They just told me you’d been in an accident.” She said. “Nothing about how badly you were hurt.” It was another 45 minutes before the doctor came back. “You have a broken forearm.” He said. “It’s a simple fracture, and if you follow instructions, it’ll be as good as new in eight to ten weeks. Longer if you don’t.” he looked at some papers. “You’ve suffered a mild concussion. I see no problems with that, but we’ll keep you overnight just to make sure. Your nose is broken, but that will heal ok. You are going to have two very black eyes, however. If you experience any vision problems, have it looked at, at once.” He asked for my doctor’s name and told me to see her as soon as I was released. He also said that he would send all the test results to her. Shortly after that, I was transferred to a regular room for the overnight stay. A nurse brought some pain pills and told me to take them as necessary. The doctor came in again and gave me a prescription for more if I needed them. “I don’t think I’ll need them, Doc.” I said. “He smiled and said, “We’ll see.” He left and soon after, a policeman came in. “Do you feel up to answering some questions?” he asked. “Sure.” I answered. He handed me my registration and insurance card. “As you are aware, the guy ran the red light. You have good witnesses, one of which was an off duty police officer. The guy was DUI, it’s his third time. He has no insurance and his car is not registered. He also was driving on a suspended license. He is currently incarcerated.” That’s just great. I thought. Hopefully, our insurance will pay for all this. I’m on the Blonde, my wife’s health insurance plan. We have very good coverage on our cars, but this was beyond the pale. He asked a few more questions and gave me a card with his telephone number so I could get in touch with him if necessary. He also gave me the names of witnesses. I drifted off to sleep and the Blonde left for Patty O’. I awoke about three AM feeling like I’d gone ten rounds with Muhammad Ali. Parts of my body ached that I didn’t even know I had. Thankfully, the pain pills, as well as a pitcher of water, were on the bedside stand. Taking a pain pill, the transformation was dramatic. I was back asleep in less than fifteen minutes. I woke again at seven, took a pill and answered questions from the nurse. Sending a text to the Blonde, I told her I was awake and to come to get me. Soon after, the on duty doctor came and after poking and prodding me as well as shining a bright light in my eyes, pronounced me fit to be released. The Blonde arrived soon after, bringing me a fresh set of clothes. We were soon out of there, me having been wheel chaired to the door. They don’t allow you to leave on your own power. The Blonde had been busy and managed to get an appointment with our doctor to check me out. She’d already gotten heads up from the hospital. I was taken in immediately and for the second time that morning was poked and prodded and had my eyes blinded with a bright flashlight. She then proceeded to replace the cast bandage that the hospital had provided with another one that not only felt better but looked better as well. “Come back in two weeks,” she said filling out a prescription. “This will help you manage pain far better than what they gave you. If you think you need more, come back and see me.” At the boat yard, the Blonde pulled up close to the dock where we were met by Ray, the yard foreman. Walking down the dock with one of them on each side I was thankful because I really didn’t feel all that stable. Once at the boat, Ray got into the cockpit and helped me down. Thankfully it was high tide. I thanked Ray and collapsed onto the lounge in Patty O’s salon. I couldn’t believe I was that weak. It took several days before I began to feel myself again. After the second day, the pain pills were no longer needed. I thought of many projects that I could work on, but wisely, I listened to the doctor. My friend Ritchie, who is a master wood worker dropped by unannounced and repaired the helm seat. It took him about a third of the time it would have taken me and as it turned out, a complete rebuild wasn’t necessary. When he was finished, the seat was far better than when it was first installed. “Hey, I’m going to need some help on a couple jobs.” He said. “It won’t involve any physical effort, just right for you. All you’ll have to do is pass me tools, and keep the client off my back.” Knowing he was trying to be helpful, I agreed. At the end of the two weeks, I returned to the doctors for a follow up. She did the usual poke and prod and asked a whole bunch of questions. “Nice to have a patient who listens.” she said. “All I want to do is to be rid of this thing.” I said, raising my arm. “Keep doing the way you are,” she said, “and it won’t be long.” Leaving the doctor’s office, we went to the junkyard where the Dodge had been towed. The insurance company had totaled it and it didn’t require much effort to see why. The right door had been pushed over to the middle of the seat and the whole truck was bent in a lopsided ‘U’. I was amazed that I wasn’t injured more than I had been. The insurance company had called the junkyard and we had been given permission to remove personal items. Not much but a few tools. Leaving there, we drove to the local Toyota dealer. Wandering around the lot, followed by the ever-present salesman, we almost left due to the continued blather of how great each vehicle we looked at was. “We can give you a great deal on that Mini.” He said. The Mini, being the Blonde’s car. “No trade in.” I answered. He raised his eyebrows but wisely said nothing. We were just about to leave when I saw it, a shiny red Tundra crew cab. Walking over, I read the sticker pasted to the passenger’s side window. The price seemed a bit high until I saw the mileage. “Can we take this one for a ride?” I asked. “Be right back.” He said. The Blonde and I sat in the front and the salesman sat in the back seat. The ride was a few miles around town. Once back at his desk, he preceded to hand me a form to fill out, offering me a good interest rate on financing. I was getting tired and had already made up my mind. The settlement from the insurance plus somewhat more from savings would take care of it. He left to confer with his manager. He came back with a form for me to sign. I said I was paying with a personal check. “We don’t accept personal checks.” He said. “Ok.” I said. “Thanks for your time,” as we got up to leave. In this day and age, it takes less than five minutes to see if there are sufficient funds to cover a check. He went back to his manager, who came back with him immediately. “We’ll make an exception this time.” He said. “You will be able to take delivery tomorrow. You’ll need proof of insurance.” “Not a problem.” I said. Back at Patty O’, I went straight to bed. The Blonde went to work in the morning and after picking me up at noon, we went to lunch before stopping at the insurance office for the new policy. I had eaten very little the day before and was famished. It took less than a half hour to get everything taken care of at the dealer. Driving away I said to myself “Never thought I’d have a truck this fancy.” Yeah. “Welcome to the real world.” She said when I repeated the same thing later.

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