Ice Storm: A Limp, A Gimp and a Tree – Timber!

I looked at his blue skivvies and probably blushed seeing his parents standing there in my peripheral vision. (No, no Mrs.Lloyd I’m thinking to myself, what are those, I’ve never seen those before). My eyes moved so slow up his legs, somehow some part of me did not want to look at his arm. My eyes continued upward and it was impossible not to see his arm. It was completely split open.


“Yes, Ms.Renem?”

“Are you ok?”

“Yes, why?”

“Your limping. Why are you limping?”

“I don’t know. I didn’t realize that I was.”

“Maybe you  should go get that checked out honey afer school.”

“Yes. Well it’s no bothering me that much right now, but I will if it gets worse.”

Every day that week, the limping got worse, but I did not seem to be in pain anywhere.”

I went to the doctor and he examined me ans told me my abdomen was swollen, and this could be my appendix. He advised me to drink liquids, go easy on the food and possibly be prepared for a trip to an ER next week.”

“I said alright doc” and went home.

Friday passed and I was staying over at my boyfriend Lloyd’s at the time.

Saturday morning I woke up ran to the washroom, was sick as a dog for seemingly no reason rapidly. I was throwing up, sweating buckets, felt hot, weak and dizzy. I knew something was more serious was wrong because the symptoms all came on rather out of the blue and I wasn’t “feeling” very sick, but had these symptoms.

“Take me to the hospital Lloyd. Something’s wrong.”

“Are you sure?”

“I’m sure. Something’s not right. This isn’t a flu or stomach. I don’t really feel sick anywhere, but my body is doing this and I’ve got a fever so it’s trying to tell me something.” My mother taught me that. Fever is there for a reason.

Lloyd took me to the hospital. By this time, I was limping and stooped right over clenching my belly.

Lloyd and I had our share of hospital trips. A story to digress to because it’s a hell of a one. In the winter of 1998 Ottawa got hit with the biggest ice storm. If you lived there you remember it. Haunting and gorgeous to see mother nature reek havoc on a city. I was fortunate, we lost cable for a few days and that was it. I was working at the high end sport retailer and most places of businesses did not make it mandatory to come into work on account of the damage to the city streets etc. There were electric wires down in front of my apartment all over the street, but you could carefully navigate them if you had to. I went to work. My boyfriend Lloyd also worked fulltime at the retailer. There was actually about 6 couples who all met at this place and were all dating. Quite seriously I might add, they all are married to this day, Lloyd and I the only ones who didn’t marry. I had exploring and traveling I wanted to do.
On this particular day, Lloyd was working at a neighbouring farm cutting down trees with a friend. Around 2in the afternoon I was paged to answer a call.

“Kate, Line 1, Kate phone call on Line 1”

I went to the phone thinking it was a fellow peer at another location wanting soft goods help. You know, do you have this in size 10 kinda thing.

“Kate? It’s Mrs.Lloyd calling.”

I felt nauseous immediately without even being old anything. It’s funny – our bodies know when something is up. The background sound of the store around me petered out in the distance. I stared down a my feet.

“Yes. Hi Mrs.Lloyd.”

“Kate, Shawn’s been in an accident.”

I swallowed. The heat rose up through my chest.

“He’s ok. I mean, he’s alive. They’re going to be doing emergency surgery. I thought you should know. We’re at..”

“What happened? I mean, was he in a car? Why surgery?”

“No,no. He was hit by a tree. Badly. He was out cutting down trees in the back 40 and the Swinson’s lot with their son Jack. And he, he, God I told him, his father told, him, he knows. I don’t know what happened exactly or how it happened.”

“Oh my God, Mrs.Lloyd. I’m so sorry. I’m sure he’ll be ok. Everything will be ok.”

“Kate, he has some prescriptions to pick up. Can I ask you to pick them up and bring to the hospital?” Of course, of course. I’m leaving right away.”

“They just air lifted him from the Kemptville hospital after they saw the extent of what happened; they’re not equipped for this kind of surgery.”

I told my manager I was leaving, I had to go, that Lloyd had been in an accident. It was serious. I still remember this particularly manager wining to me that I couldn’t leave. I had already gone up to the owners upstairs and had their ok.

“I’m outa here!”

She actually ran out the door after me and told me I couldn’t leave. Hilarious.

When I got to the hospital. I was so worried and scared for Lloyd. The ER doctors took me the room he was in and I’ll never forget this, I swung around the corner and first I see poor Lloyd in his blue skivies. They size and height of the tree coming down on Lloyd actually split his clothes and then the doctors tore them off to get to him. Hell, I found out then they believed it probably hit him in his head because of the proximity to the arm.

When they were out there cutting the trees down there are rules they follow. You are supposed to yell out to where you’re partner is so they know where you are and where the tree is going down. Jack yelled out,

“3-2-1 TIMBER”

(They actually do yell Timber? I thought that was a lumberjack cartoon thing of the past)

No response. The tree came down. After that tree came down, Jack couldn’t hear the sound of the other chainsaw running. He looked to where the tree went down. No Lloyd. And he wasn’t there when it went down, so where was he. He looked back. No Lloyd. Something wasn’t right. They’re in the back 40 with acres of snow filled fields and trees. Shawn should stick out like a sore thumb. He decided to go back to his last cut. He saw Lloyd’s snowmobile, but no Shawn which meant he had to have been here…somewhere.

I can’t remember what he saw first, but there was Lloyd under the tree. Out cold. He was unconscious. The tree grazed his head and smashed his arm. From what I know, I think Jack was able to get Lloyd out from the tree on his own or the adrenaline from the shock can kick in like when a mother can lift a car off of a baby, and he put Lloyd on one of the snowmobiles and brought him back to the farm. I don’t think cellphones were as a staple as they are today yet, so he would have had to wait until he could get to a phone to call 911.

By the time I got to him he had regained conciousness. I looked at his blue skivvies and probably blushed seeing his parents standing there in my peripheral vision. (No, no Mrs.Lloyd I’m thinking to myself, what are those, I’ve never seen those before). My eyes moved so slow up his legs, somehow some part of me did not want to look at his arm. My eyes continued upward and it was impossible not to see his arm. It was completely split open. It was awful. Looked like a complex roadmap of red lines and white highways – think downtown Montreal. My eyes could not stay there. I turned slowly to Lloyd’s facing being careful to keep a straight face and slight smile. It’s really hard to hide, “Holy Shit Your fucking arm is split right open honey!”. I think I did a good job. Either that or he was unfazed because he seemed pretty happy.

“They’ve got him pretty souped upon morphine.” Said Mrs.Lloyd.

“Ahh,” I said.

“I Lloydy. Oh honey. How are you doing?”

“Ummm…..” he just smiled glassy eyed.

I smiled back at him and gave him I care about you grin.

I gotta say, it was pretty surreal having a conversation with his parents over him and this split open arm in your face and nothing going on.

“They’re bringing him for surgery soon. They had to get in another specialist.” Said Mrs.Lloyd.

Just then a doctor came in and explained the procedure to us. He spoke a little and then he motioned us to leave the room with him, I guess so Lloyd could not hear. Not that he’d remember.

“Shawn’s arm is pretty serious, but we have excellent doctors here. The surgery should be done around midnight.”

Shawn went in for this surgery. I stayed with Mr and Mrs.Lloyd. Midnight came, no doctors. 12:30am. 1:00am. God, I’m sure I’m not the only one out there who’s had this experience of watching the clock while waiting for a loved one to come out from surgery. Amazing how minutes seem like hours. 130am. 200am. Finally just after 2am the doctors came out to us.  He didn’t look very happy for someone just having come from surgery. In fact he looked really sad.

“The surgery went mostly well.”

“Mostly doc?”

“We were able to save Shawn’s arm. We put the bones back in place for them to heal.”


“Well. There it was quite a mess in there. I’m sorry, but the most important part was putting the bones back. There’s been nerve damage. It was unavoidable. I’m sorry.”

“What does that mean?”

“Well, it’s too soon to tell, but some of Shawn’s muscle will not be working properly because of this. For now, his fingers. He has no use of his fingers at all.”

“Oh my God. But doc he’s a rock climber, a carpenter, a ski tech, he works on farm. He’s a bike rider.”

“We know. Which actually fares well for his recovery. We don’t know how long it will take. We’ve implemented an apparatus on this cast that will help rejuvenate this fingers. Nerves repair themselves. This is the good time. We just don’t know how long it will take. It could take a year. Shawn is not awake yet. He doesn’t know this yet. Leave that to us ok?”

“Sure doc, yes of course.” (Like anyone would want to break that news to him).

Shawn returned home eventually. He had a massive full cast and this odd looking contraption made of metal spokes that jutted out from his elbow on an angle and then had these elastic bands that dropped down at 90 degrees over his hand attaching themselves to each of Shawn’s fingers. Geez. Let me tell you, fun between the sheets! Not so much. I moved temporarily into Shawn’s place to help him out. It was hard to even make a meal with only the use of one hand. Sleeping beside him was a mild nightmare trying to avoid the side his contraption was on and any odd random mid night swinging arm landings! The sports shop kept him on working the floor instead of the shop. He couldn’t bike or climb, so it was quite a bummer for an incredibly active 25 year old. He did it though. Month and months went by and there was still no movement from his fingers. Quite scary really.

A year almost to the date, Lloyd’s fingers started work again. He biked again and he climbed again. I don’t know if he’s every cut a tree again…

I full story within a digression. It was a good one though no?

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I’m getting to the limp next,

p.s. Hellos to you Llyod where ever you are. Grapevine says you moved West, but no one has heard from you since.

Locale: Cushy Leather chair @ Starbucks. Why have some Starbuck’s taken those away?
On Deck: Happy Cycling by Boards of Canada
{I’m beginning to think my shuffle ituned is somehow magically linked to my stories!}
State of Being: Hungry.


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