Sunday, April 12, 2015


Figured I'd write about my first, and hopefully ONLY, line of duty injury.

Back in November 2013, while enjoying a nice quiet Sunday morning, on a day 6 (last day of shift) before going on vacation, I was just minding my own business, then my life changed with the crack of the radio.

Funny thing about this job.  You can be sitting in your car, drinking a coffee one minute, in the middle of a shit storm the next.

Well, we get a call for a violent domestic, involving a knife, in this condo complex down the road.  I go screaming down the road, lights and sirens, to the call.  The other officer gets there first, but not by much.  I go running into the first floor landing, and I can hear a lot of yelling and screaming on the other side of the door.

NOTE: **One thing you should know about good ol' Shamus.  I kick in doors.  I was a volunteer firefighter before I was police. I have kicked, successfully, probably hundreds of doors in my 20 years of emergency service.**

So, anyway, I go to open the door, and it's locked.  I still hear yelling and screaming, i bang on the door.  No answer.  I still hear yelling and screaming.  All this is over SECONDS.  Well, what's next?  You got it.  I draw my weapon, step back, and throw up a leg to kick the door.  BAM! goes the door, POP! goes something in my leg.  I look at the door, still closed.  I then feel this shooting pain in my leg, like I was shot, of bitten by a dog, or something.

There is still yelling and screaming on the other side of the door.  I want in, and I want in NOW!

Finally, the door opens.  A younger girl opens the door, points inside, and says, "In there".  I go running in, and see two of my side-partners putting a subject in handcuffs, there is a lot of yelling between the subject and his mother.  I see that everyone is safe, then.............I start to feel it.  My leg.

First, there was throbbing pain.  Then I had trouble standing and keeping weight on it.

I checked with my side-partners, called for another car to back them up, and went out to my cruiser.

On my way out the condo, I look at the door.  Idiot!  Solid core, steel lined door, on a metal frame, AKA:Fire door.  I wasn't gonna win against that sucker.  

Now, here's where Shamus is a bull-headed man.  I call my sergeant, and tell him I'm hurt.  I also tell him, "I don't need a friggin' Ambo, I'm driving myself" to the hospital.  He tries to convince me to take an Ambo, I actually argue with good common sense decision making, and insist on driving myself. seemed like a good idea at the time.

As I drove to the hospital, and the adrenaline started to flush out, my leg started to really hurt.  Bad.  By the time I got to the exit that the hospital was off of, I had trouble putting weight on the brake pedal.  I was using the bum leg for the gas, and my left for the brake.  I usually drive a manual transmission car off-duty, so when I hit the brake with the left foot, my brain thinks I'm hitting the clutch.  Not real smooth at all.

I pull into the hospital, and I cant put ANY weight on my leg.  I start hopping to the door.  Then, that ain't working, so I start crawling.  I crawled about 20 or so feet to the curb, then hopped in through the vestibule, and over to a chair.  A nurse (a male nurse, thankfully, cause I'm a big dude, especially in uniform) helped me up from half on the floor, half leaning on the chair into a wheelchair (with no arms, thank God).

I tell him what happened, and he, like myself, immediately thought, Achilles tendon.  With great care and ease of movement, we pull up my uniform pants leg.  My leg was red, and swollen from the knee down to the top of my boot.  It looked like it was filled with blood.

They get me to a room, and then get me over to x-ray.  They don't see a tear.  No broken bones.

My Lieutenant comes to the ER, to meet up with me.  First thing he says is to call the wife.  I don't wanna.  I don't want her to worry.  Lt won that argument.  I called the wife.  She worried.

A few minutes she calls me back, she is coming to the ER.  I tell her "no", she won the argument.  She came to the ER, and brought me some gym shorts and a t-shirt.

I'll spare some minutia, here, but the ER sets me up an appointment with an Orthopedic surgeon.  They aren't sure what's wrong yet, might need an MRI.  They splint me up, drug me up, send me home with a script for "the good stuff".

My wife drives me home, and on the way, we stop by Rite Aid to fill the script.  Well, while there, the drugs wear off.  I'm in, real PAIN!

The rest of the night is kind of a blur now, but I remember being scared to death I'd need surgery.  With these type of injuries, it seems like if you cut once, you cut twice...or more.  I don't want to go out like this.  I don't want a medical retirement.

The next day I go to the Ortho.  This dude wound up being FANTASTIC!  If it weren't for the sake of  keeping some anonymity on here, I'd sing his praises to the rooftops.  The Doc was awesome, he comes in the room kinda like a cross between the nutty professor, and Columbo.  Real nonchalant, and unassuming.  A nonthreatening man.  Right away that put me at ease.  The man was not stressed at all.  He cuts the splint thing off my leg, takes one look at it, and says, "Yup, I've seen this before.  I'd bet you ruptured your Gastrocnemius."   I'm thinking my Gastro-WHAT-ius? He goes to tell me that they are a common injury for middle aged, bigger (fatter), men who used to be really active, but are now moderately active...Blah, Blah, Blah....anyway, he describes me to a TEE.

He grabs my leg and rolls the muscle around in his hand....PAIN.  He finds the hole, and sticks his finger in it...REAL PAIN!!!!  I come up off the table, grunt and whence all at once.  He then runs his finger along the line of my Achilles, and tells me it's in tact.

He says that he doesn't feel like he needs to send me for an MRI, because all that would do is show my leg full of blood, and it's a waste of time and money.  I ask him if it is career ending, and he says "No".  Relief.  He tells me that he has even ruptured both of his, and didn't need surgery...WEIGHT LIFTED.  He tells me that he still runs, and jogs frequently, that I will be fine after some rehab, and that I'll just have to stretch before any activities from now on.

He sets me up with a space boot, and an Achilles wedge, asks if I need anything stronger than Motrin, which I had covered, and sends me home.  On the way out the door, he stops me and says, "Corporal, let the rookies kick the doors from now on."  Jokes....but, point taken.

See down there in the picture below, the muscle called a "Gastrocnemius"?  Yup.  That muscle had a BIG hole in it.  

So, Loooong story about healing sped up (because this post has gotten out of control).  I wore the boot for about seven weeks or so, while icing my leg twice a day by filling a trash can with ice and water, and holding my leg in it for 8-12 minutes.  I got to get rid of the boot and start rehab at about week 8.  Did rehab for a few weeks, then conditioning for another month or so.  I returned to full duty in early to mid March.

And, just for the record, I don't kick doors anymore.  I got myself a Chicago door knocker......

'Til next time,

No comments:

Post a Comment