Keeping a “Healthy” Respect for Nature

For years we have always stressed safety while in the outdoors. When I volunteered with Casting for Recovery I took great pride in giving the “safety talk.” I would review wading safety, the need for a wading staff, and how to quickly get out of your vest to drop weight if you fell in the water.

Last Friday I did everything wrong. And I paid dearly for it.

I took a rare vacation day and we headed out to do a little fall fishing . We went to a pond that is a favorite of Glenn’s. I didn’t change into my hiking boots. I didn’t think I needed them. After all, we were only at a pond. No serious hiking involved. I didn’t take my wading staff. I wasn’t going in the water. I didn’t take my trekking poles. I wasn’t really going far off the trail.

We had a lovely afternoon fishing. As the shadows started to get long and we packed up to get ready to leave, it all went sideways in a second.

I was standing on a rock while I was fishing. I went to hop down onto the ground and my sneakers didn’t provide the support my hiking boots would’ve. In a second, I tumbled to the ground and faceplanted. My chin hit a rock… hard.

jaw fracture
One of the two fractures in my lower jaw and my lovely, now shifted, teeth.

I pushed myself up and there was a pool of blood on the ground. I rolled on my back and laid there for a minute. I pulled myself up and started to stagger toward the hiking trail. Glenn ran around to my side. He took off his jacket and wrapped it around me. He walked me back to the trail and he propped me up on a boulder. The truck was about a mile away.

I couldn’t get my phone out of my pocket to call 911. Glenn forgot his phone at home. He tried to stop one woman to ask for help, but she wouldn’t. Honestly, I don’t blame her. She was a woman hiking alone in the woods. A man approaching a woman in the woods? I probably would’ve responded the same or even fired off a face full of mace at the guy. Thankfully he saw a man on the trail a few minutes later and he called 911.

The police arrived on my location before Glenn was able to make it to my spot. With his spine status, he just can’t run. The officer checked me out and called in an ambulance and they took me to Valley Hospital.

The hospital did a great job. I was brought into the ER and examined quickly. I had X-rays and a head CT. I wound up with two fractures and a soft tissue injury in my jaw, a bunch of shifted teeth, and a chin full of stitches.

All because I didn’t follow all the safety checks we have followed and preached to others for decades.

So learn from my mistake. Take the extra minute to put on your hiking boots or proper footwear. Even if you aren’t going far. Keep your wading staff or trekking poles with you and use them! Make sure you have your phone with you and fully charged. While I don’t normally keep my location turned on, turn it on if you are going fishing so your location can be easily triangulated.

I know it is easy to want to skip the safety checks in anticipation of hitting the water. Take the extra few minutes at the beginning of your day. It might save you a trip to the ER and a long recovery of an injury that could’ve easily been avoided.

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