To Work Or Not to Work

By Bonnie Wonders

I would probably be the CDC’s worst nightmare. I am one of those who goes to work no matter how high the fever, how sore the throat and/or how delirious I am from the flu.  I could single handedly infect the entire western half of the state with my germs.  My store constantly smells like a mixture of Lysol and Cotton Breeze air fresheners. Apparently, it is a winning combination of scents as nearly everyone comments on how “incredibly clean” it smells. Yes, sickness is a natural part of everyday life. However, with me, it’s the accidents that I seem to get myself into that are even worse than the illnesses….and believe me, I can “out-klutz” the best of you. I don’t know how I manage to not have dog related injuries. It’s in all the other aspects of life that I do myself harm.

I think I was just born with naturally weak ankles. From the earliest that I can remember, I was always falling over something. I was the one who would try jumping rope and not make it past the fourth jump. Yes, that was me, flat on my face with the busted open chin lying on the blacktop. You would think I would have at least learned to try jumping in the grass. Nah, not me.  I was forever losing my footing on the monkey bars on the playground and banging that same chin on one of the bars. I couldn’t jump over the smallest part of the stream in the woods (or crick, as we called it) without losing my footing when I hit the other side.  Down again I’d go, on my face.

While everybody else would run across the huge downed tree crossing that same stream (crick), I was the one who knew I’d fall in head first if I attempted it. I had to sit and “scootch” myself across the log on my rear end.  Believe me, there was no glory in that. With all the falling on my face, it’s amazing that I don’t have a chin like Jay Leno.

My clumsiness has followed me throughout my adult life.  I can fall over anything. Or nothing.  I fell once in the yard walking across totally flat ground. My daughter, who at the time, was about 10 said, “How can you even fall over NOTHING?” “I don’t know. It’s just a gift I have,” I remember telling her.

At any rate, during the last year I have gone to work on crutches and have been black and blue almost every other month. Actually, I now turn those lovely old people shades of black, blue, purple, green and finally yellow, when I bruise. Last summer I was trimming the roses in the back yard and tripped over a metal cut-out of an Amish buggy and horse. I strained something in the back of my knee which promptly started turning colors within an hour.  I limped into the house and drug out the ice packs and laid on the couch for the rest of the evening.  When I got up to get a shower, the pain was incredible and I thought I was going to barf from it. My hubby came to my aid and helped me get a shower and into bed. By the next morning I knew I wasn’t going anywhere without my trusty crutches.

“You CAN’T go to work like that,” Dave said. “Of course I can,” I informed him. “But you can’t even stand alone,” he argued. “I can stand on one leg,” I told him. “You will go to the doctor and you won’t drive.  Let me get a shower and I’ll take you in for X-rays,” he said. After much back and forth arguing while I wrapped my knee, I agreed to do as he instructed.  Naturally, when he was taking his shower, I made my escape out the door, down the three front steps and into the car. I’ve had a LOT of practice with crutches, so I don’t know just WHO he thought he was dealing with. Apparently an amateur.

When I pulled into the parking lot at work and got to the front door of the shop, I could hear my phone ringing. When I finally got the door unlocked, I could hear Dave’s voice on the answering machine. “What the H___ are you doing? Didn’t I tell you to wait for me?  I’m coming to get you and you ARE going to the doctor….” I picked up the phone and interrupted his rant.  “Calm down!” I admonished him.  “I’m fine, I don’t need to go the doctor. It’s feeling much better right now anyhow,” I lied to him.  After 10 more minutes of him giving me heck a customer walked in. “I have to go,” I told him and hung up.

Apparently, I should have thought that one through a little more.  Do you know how hard it is to try to lift a dog while you are standing on one foot, balancing on crutches? Thankfully most of the dogs’ owners put their dogs into the tub for me. Getting them out was a different story.  I had to pull one grooming table over to the edge of the tub and put the dog on it.  Then I pushed that table over to the other grooming table and coaxed the dog over to the second table. There I was, hanging onto the table with one arm and a crutch with the other.  What a sight it was all day.  By the end of the day I was totally spent.  Thank God I had at least learned to groom while sitting during one of my prior “accidents.”  NEVER underestimate the value of a good grooming stool on wheels!  I worked like that for more than a week.   By the end of the second week I was able to give up the crutches but it took a couple months for the pain to go away. NEVER would I have admitted that to my husband!

My next big oops was several months after the knee incident. I was goofing off with my husband and was chasing him through the house. Now first off, you have to understand that our house is not some big open floor plan. You can’t actually “run” through it. Picture it more like two old people chasing each other through a nursing home. Yup, it was with that much speed. Just as I made it to the bedroom behind Dave, I lost my footing and somehow fell against the big ballaster on our four poster bed. Yep…right onto my chin once again. This time, I really did a number on it though. I hit the bedpost with enough force that half of the post snapped off and went flying through the air, landing on the dresser, just missing the mirror.  I also managed to run one of my bottom teeth right through my lower lip. All the way through.

My husband turned around in time to see me on the floor with blood gushing everywhere. “Honey, you’re bleeding!” he gasped. He got me to my feet and I ran to the bathroom to see what I had done. I knew it was bad. I was terrified that I had broken some teeth or knocked some loose. I probably have the equivalent of 400 poodle groomings invested in my mouth. “You need to go to the ER,” Dave was saying.  This time, I was in total agreement with him. I didn’t know what I had done, but I knew it was bad. It needed stitches and all I could do was keep rinsing my mouth out with cold water to try and slow down the bleeding.

Dave went to get the truck and it just HAD to be that we were experiencing the worst ice storm that I can ever remember happening here.  We really live out in the country and the snowplows hadn’t even touched our road.  Dave couldn’t get the truck out of the driveway which was nothing but solid ice everywhere. I had no choice but to wait till it passed. Of course that wasn’t going to happen all night, so I sat with a towel on my mouth for quite a while. “Let me get you a popsicle,” Dave was saying. “I don wanna popthickle,” I was lisping out.  My bottom lip was humongous at this point and I could feel the giant cut below my lip. “You’ll like them.  They’re bananna,” he tried again. “I don wanna popthickle,” I repeated.  “I’m telling you, you’d really like one.  Or do you want something else to eat?”  He insisted. “Are you kidding me? (which came out more like) “Ah u kithin’ e,” I asked him while almost crying. He was so shook up too, but then he uttered the unthinkable.  “See what happens when you act a fool?” he asked.  I could have knocked him in the head with that bed post.  Like “I told you so,” was what I really needed to be hearing at that point.

After what seemed like forever, the bleeding finally stopped and I got two cold bottles of water and laid in bed all night with one on the front of my chin and another under my jaw. When I got up in the morning I looked quite a sight.  It was like an episode of “Botox gone wrong” on my lip and my entire chin (dang thing!) and throat were black and blue.  I figured that since the bleeding was done and I had a full day of work to do, there was no reason not to go in.  The salt trucks had done our road a couple hours ago, so to work I went.

I couldn’t eat anything solid for three days and could only drink slowly through a straw.  I tried hiding in the grooming room as much as possible so that customers wouldn’t see me. I had Lou do all the talking to customers and taking in the dogs. It was quite an effort for me to talk on the phone without sounding like I was TRYING to sound like an idiot.

Of course pretty much the whole bottom of my face turned all those atrocious shades of yellow and green too over the next three weeks. My customers who DID see me were shocked beyond shocked.  The best laugh that I had from it though was when “Ed,” one of my customers, managed to see me while I was trying hard to keep my head down as I gave his dogs back to him.  I happened to look up at the wrong moment and he jerked his whole body backward.  “What the _____ happened to you?” he asked.  Telling him the truth I said, “I was chasing my husband into the bedroom and I fell against the bed post.”  After just a split-second pause he came back with the most unexpected response….”Well GOOD for you! GOOD FOR YOU!” he said nodding his head emphatically.  “You know, if MY wife had bothered to chase ME around the bedroom, we probably wouldn’t be divorced right now! Way to go!  You’re a good woman!” he said. I thought I’d bust a gut laughing at that one!

Pretty much healed from that experience now with a reminder scar below my lip to tread carefully in the house, I had been accident free until a few weeks ago. I was out raking the winter debris from the flower beds when I turned and tripped over the end of the spit rail fencing.  Down I went over the fencing but NOT on my chin this time, (Yay!) At this time, I am currently sporting a skinned shin, along with my usual complimentary rainbow colors on my ankle and foot.  It hurts, but at least I’m not needing crutches.  When I went in to work though a few days ago “Brenda”, one of my customers, brought her dog in.  “Hi Brenda,” I said reaching over to her dog.  “Well, Hi yourself!” Brenda said.  “It’s so good to see you out of your cast,” she said.  “What cast?” I asked puzzled.  “The last time I was here didn’t you have a broken arm?”  She said turning her head sideways.  “No, no cast, no broken arm,” I said.  “Huh…for some reason I was thinking you were the one who was always having some dumb accident and that you were in a cast,” she said. “Never mind,” she said waving her hand at me as she went out the door.

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