What A Surprise When Your Company Deserts You And Throws You To The Wolves

Notes on employment, accidental injuries, long careers, abandonment, surgery, health care, recovery, and more so, love and honor.

I was slightly taken aback when my physical therapist admitted to me during an advanced session of my knee and leg manipulation that when she first met me at my apartment in downtown Louisville for our initial therapy session she thought the doctors may have missed a diagnoses of my injuries suffered in the fall from my roof of my cabin up north in Michigan. It was painfully obvious and perhaps a little frightening to her to be working it seemed with a person with an undiagnosed brain injury. I was mentally slow and rarely made complete sense. I had little memory for details. Sometimes I was even slightly giddy. To her relief I have since regained my faculties and am now, after four weeks of working with me, actually quite a different person than she first was introduced to. I blame my previous mental condition on the heavy dose of pain killers I was ingesting into my body as well as the trauma I had suffered through. My life had changed in an instant and I was dealing with it the best I could under the circumstances. Never had I undergone such an upheaval. The unknown was now my entire life and there was nowhere to turn but inside. And it was there that I was beginning to know myself on another level I had yet to call home.

How do you explain falling off your cabin roof and ending up in a place far far away to the north where strangers speak in accents quite unlike the Louisville one I have now grown accustomed to, but are nice and seem happy as they busily, and with great purpose, put your bones back together again? Well, how do you do it? Beats me, and that is why I haven't begun the fucking article yet. I have this idea that if I just show how hard it is to get started on something like this that the words might come together, issue forth as if I have a purpose too. These days my only purpose seems to be to bend my leg another degree or two. To make headway in my long recovery. Perhaps my goal today is to take back another job my wife has had to tackle since my stupid accident. Maybe my goal today is something as simple as learning how to give myself my own sponge bath. You cannot imagine the thrill and sense of accomplishment I owned on my return home to my apartment in Louisville a few weeks ago and I actually was able to wipe my own ass for the first time in two and a half weeks since the mighty fall.

It was Easter Sunday, April 4, 2010 when my accident occurred. I say accident, but somehow that sounds too clinical for what really happened. I have fallen plenty of times in my life in the course of doing construction projects on the many homes we've owned. I even had an earlier professional life as a carpenter for eighteen years when I was much younger, and as my own personal badge of honor I made sure I bled each one of those days as I worked my ass off for others. I encouraged the extra challenges faced when another stud thought he could outwork me. We'd always give it a go. I was pretty much an animal when it came to working hard. A few years ago my youngest son termed me "insane" besides all the other handles I earned through the years including my favorite one of "fucking asshole".

To relate to you the whole shebang seems too complicated to me. There is back story after back story and the whys and why nots multiple in their range of could haves and could nots and never to be again. In short, my wife and I were going to take a road trip out west this summer and to do so I would have to end my career for the last twenty-one years as a brick salesman in order to make it happen. My company was as tired of me as I was of them and it was never more evident than when I fell off the roof and informed them of my accident. Within the next bi-monthly payday the company had already taken away my car allowance and looking for more ways to cut their losses with their now-disabled salesman holed up in some hospital in Michigan for an undetermined period due to surgeries and physical therapy. I cannot express to you how hurtful it is to see your paycheck cut immediately after an accident with no phone call, email, or text message warning you of their actions. Two months later and I still await the first "get well" card, flower arrangement, or gift box delivered out of the company's care and sensitivity to my traumatic situation. The company has maintained a focus more in getting me gone than any reward or thank you for my service to them for just shy of twenty-one years. It is beyond disappointing to me. What was once in my eyes a proud and caring company has turned grotesquely into some sort of deviant Catholic order of pedophile priests who desire as vampires do to prey on my awful injuries and take advantage of my inability to perhaps fight back in due course. Deviance is certainly too kind of word for them, and I wonder if anyone there in the corporate office has ever felt shame for what they have demonstrated as a lack of love and empathy for a fellow employee?

It isn't easy recovering from a traumatic incident. Countless things go through your mind as day after day you are stuck in a sort of prison of yourself. It is your legs that cannot move, your arm in a sling that says wait a minute buddy. Little things like making it from your bedroom to the kitchen pushing a four-legged aluminum crutch they call a walker becomes big news of the day. Working with a physical therapist to move those joints again is something to look forward to even though it hurts and there are days you just don't want to go through it anymore, but getting through you must if there is any hope for a future you can live with. As I mentioned at the top of the page, the degrees of movement gained each day has become my only purpose in life, that and to try and make up to my wife for all she has done for me during the moments after my accident and the many weeks that have followed where she has been diligently at my side supporting me in my recovery and helping me do the things I am simply not able to do yet for myself.

It was interesting to me that my CEO called me, finally, five weeks after my accident, curious to know what exactly happened to me and wishing me a complete recovery. Never once did he mention he was sorry it took him so long to check in, or sorry the company had to make a hard decision and let me go, and also never once offering any let me know if there is anything I can do for you comment. I kept myself tethered to the high road and simply reported to him what had happened and what I might expect from here on out. I felt good about the way I handled the situation, but it left me feeling terrible the rest of the day as I was already raw emotionally and suffering from not attending my son's graduation from NYU nor making the trip to New York and seeing all my family together. Instead, I sent my wife alone to the city to represent both of us, and I myself stayed home to work on my physical therapy and recovery. It's hard to be home alone with your own personal thoughts all day. Difficult to know which are crazy thoughts and which are sane when you don't have anyone to bounce your ideas off except for a physical therapist who visits me every other day and offers her support and encouragement consistently and without waiver.

The road to recovery is long and arduous. My physical therapist offers me new challenges every other day. My Michigan surgeon is realistic, honest, and clear about what I can expect going forward. I will walk again. By mid July I will be putting 100% of my body weight on my leg. There will come a time I can build buildings again, but next time I promise myself to be much wiser in my activities, especially regarding the safe use of ladders. It is no lie that I knew in an instant what was about to happen to me back then when the accident occurred. There isn't a day that goes by when I wish I could not have that Easter morning back in order to do it over again. But I can't. And I will survive. It's just that everything is so different now, and there is no going back. Seems like kind of a harsh sentence for a fellow who has worked so hard all his life. But there are plenty of other stiffs out there who have it much worse than me. I watch the news. I read the paper. And there is a chance I can give something in the way of service back in honor and gratefulness for all those health care workers who have given so much of themselves to me in my recovery. And my wife? There is little I can do to repay her for all she has done. She has been amazing. Simply the leader of the pack. But I will try, though I'll need more years than I most likely, at this rate anyway, have coming to me.

Comments 8 comments

Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 6 years ago

Quite a bit of American industry is returning to social Darwinism. Northern Michigan is great in the summer, and skiing is passable as well. For about ten years we rented a cottage or two, depending how many relatives signed up, on Glen Lake in July. Hard to beat. I wish you a speedy recovery.

alekhouse profile image

alekhouse 6 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky

Well, this is what's good about owning your own business. I may have had a slowdown over the past year or so, but no one has fired me. Thank God!!

mewlhouse profile image

mewlhouse 6 years ago from Louisville Author

Thank you both for reading and commenting. I would love to own my own business, but most everything I love to do doesn't pay. Oh well. Good health is everything now to me.

ralwus 6 years ago

I rated this awesome, because it is writing at its best. times like these are when you really love your wife, bless her. I haven't gone through that sort of trauma, but I can relate to it in so many ways. I too had to learn to walk again and take care of my self-hygiene. It is very humbling to have to rely on others and my heroes today, other than my wife, are the many Dr's and nurses who have saved me so many times. God speed in your recovery. thanks for sharing this. Charlie

mewlhouse profile image

mewlhouse 6 years ago from Louisville Author

Amen to everything you said Charlie. The health care people are the best. They really helped me a lot. Thanks for coming back.

Karl 6 years ago

Reading this really makes me question whether there is much hope for the individual in this corporate/membership society. After 22 years of service, you get a phone call five weeks late. That pretty much tells you everything that the instant cut in pay and all other things didn't.

The hope in this story comes from the individuals. You, your wife, and your physicians and physical therapists are the hope at our human level, we still care. Like your battle to outwork others, these people are working hard for you, an individual.

Scary stuff. Please keep writing on it. This is an important part of seeing how the individual stands in this current world.

PS- You are a better patient than most. Listen to your PT and keep working hard at it.

mewlhouse profile image

mewlhouse 6 years ago from Louisville Author

Thanks Karl. My knee is now at 102 degrees bend with 50% weight-bearing which is much better than the 45 degrees bend and zero weight-bearing I started with. My shoulder and arm are both still pretty tight, but I am making progress.

skwerl 6 years ago

You need a haircut!

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