It's a story that I've never really told fully here, although I've alluded to it occasionally in various memes and other conversations, but those of you who know me in person will know exactly what I'm talking about:
On 24th July 2007 at 6.30 in the morning, getting ready for work, I opened the fridge door to find the milk had gone off. So, I slipped on a pair of sandals and, grumbling to myself, trotted off up the garden path toward the corner shop, opposite my house, literally one minute's walk away.
Halfway up the path, I tripped on a crooked paving slab and having, at that stage built up quite a head of steam, my momentum sent me stumbling forward a few steps, tilting further and further toward the ground until I'd reached the point of no return. As I tumbled forward, I remember thinking 'oh bugger, this is going to hurt'!
As it happened, it diidn't hurt at all, because on the way down, I hit my head on our wrought iron gate and knocked myself clean out!
When I came around - I have no idea how long I was out cold for - I was lying on the path with my head in a bush, and that's when I started taking stock of my situation. In doing so, my first thought - addled though it might have been - was that my arm had come off.
I couldn't feel it and I couldn't see it, what else was I supposed to think???
As I started grovelling around and trying to get up, suddenly I saw my arm and then I felt it - a lot! The reason that I hadn't been able to see it was that it was bent under me in a position that no healthy arm should even be able to achieve.
So, I was half sitting, half lying at the top of my garden path, cradling my smashed arm with my good one, head spinning nauseously, seeing double and wondering how the heck I'm going to get back into the house and call Mr D (who was still in bed) for help.
You know you get those moments occasionally that restore your faith in humanity? Well this was one of those moments. As I was stting there like a useless lump, pondering, and trying not to throw up, a pair of steel toe caps appeared on the other side of the gate, and a voice said 'you okay?'
I whimpered something pathetic along the lines of 'no, I'm not okay - at all!'
So after the lovely owner of the steel toe caps managed to establish that I had a husband who was upstairs in bed, he opened the gate, stepped over me, and strode up the garden path toward the house.
Later, Mr D told me that he nearly fell out of bed when this strange bearded man in overalls appeared on the landing shouting 'you need to get up, your wife's in the garden, she's had an accident!'
Together the two of them, helped me up and into the house, where Mr D plonked me on the couch and called an ambulance. While this was all going on, my knight in a shining white van quietly disappeared.
One ambulance ride later, complete with oxygen mask because the paramedic was becomiing increasingly concerned about my 'colour' (apparently greeny-grey is so not a good look), we arrived at the hospital, my arm was X-rayed and the verdict was multiple fracture of the lower humerus which had spiralled down into the elbow joint, so a surgical repair was 'strongly recommended'. If I had chosen not to have surgery, and let it heal naturally, there was apparently a very real possibility that I would have ended up with a fused elbow, so I think that qualifies as a no-brainer rather than a strong recommendation!
I was admitted to Frimley Park Hospital on the very same morning, and then had to wait until they could fit my surgery in. As it happened, I had the operation three days later on Friday afternoon. I spent the first day in hospital under observation for concussion, and met my surgeon, the smartly efficient and very sophisticated Lieutenant-Colonel Hill.
Unfortunately the same could not be said for me ...
But the surgery went well, Lieutenant-Colonel Hill, true to his military roots, gave me a keepsake scar that was so straight a roman road builder would have been proud of it, and thanks to three months of great physio, I have ended up with about 90% range of movement in that arm (they told me to expect 85 - 95%, so I'm happy with that).
However, I've always thought it's such a spectacular scar, and people seem to be very disappointed when I explain it actually resulted from something as dull and moronic as me tripping over a paving slab, so between us, Mr D and I have affectionately christened it 'my shark bite'.
As a final post-script to the story, while I was in hospital I was very sad that I'd been too out of it to think about saying goodbye to my heroic white van man, and thanking him properly. I didn't know who he was, or how he knew I was there, neither did Mr D, so we just put it down to one of those 'kindness of strangers' things.
However, on the Sunday, when I finally got home, one of our neighbours, dear old Colin, turned up on our doorstep with a box of chocolates and the news that my hero was Mick, a plumber and an old drinking buddy of his. They'd been chatting down the pub the night before and Mick had told the story of how he'd been driving through Lightwater on his way to his first job and he said, 'I just glanced out of the driver side window, and I saw a pair of legs lying on a path, and I thought 'that ain't right'.
So my first act on getting out hospital was delivering a slab of beers to Mick as a big thank you!
So, it's been ten whole years since that funny old day. I've got used to my scar now, it's as much a part of me as anything else; I've got to know Mick too, and I often see him around the village ... and that bloody paving slab is STILL crooked!!!!