Oct 22, 2006

Past Injuries.... Part IV

     OK, I’m sick and tired of recalling the times I got hurt; a guy dwells on that stuff too long and pretty soon you’re in the fetal position on Dr. Freud’s sofa, babbling about how the ATM machines are stealing your brain.  So, here is one of many stories about how those around me got hurt, sometimes by my actions, although never by my intentions. 


     The first one that comes to mind was the first time I was really, really scared while working.  It started in the County Jail receiving area.  I was helping another officer book a heroin addict.  You actually don’t see too many of these any more; heroin has been replaced by methamphetamine, a drug that is preferred I think because prolonged use negates the need to buy expensive toothpastes and brushes, as it makes your teeth rot quickly. 


     Anyway, here is this doper, getting booked for something, and I was standing behind him.  All of a sudden, this guy goes nuts!  I have no idea why, maybe cause he could not get the in-room Jacuzzi upgrade, or maybe because the ATMs had just taken too many brain cells.  The guy yells out at the other officer, and then takes a swing at him.  I grabbed the guy’s long, greasy hair (which reminded me of a filthy mop that needed to be replaced during the Carter administration) and pulled hard. 


     What I did not know is that the other officer, doing a great job of ducking the haymaker, had gone low and grabbed the guy around his legs and lifted.  My pulling high and his lifting low had the cumulative effect of flipping this guy like a burning pancake.  I saw his feet come up, and some of the dirty hair came out in my hands, I then heard his head hit the concrete floor like a rotten pumpkin thrown from a bridge. 


      Time sort of went still for a moment, and then the only thing my brain registered was how much blood was coming out from under his very still head.  I could only think: “Oh, my Lord, we killed him!”  I was certain that the world was one heroin addict less, and that I was going to jail for murdering Mr. Mophead.  Just then, I heard the sweetest sound ever; Mr. Mop rolled his eyes and said, “I ain’t gonna resist any more.”  Those were his exact words. 


     I was so happy that I clapped my partner on the shoulder and said, “He’s OK!”  My partner just looked at me and said, “Ya right, everyone’s supposed to have blood pouring out of their head like that.”  OK, he was bleeding pretty good, but at least he was alive. 


     I saw him in court a few days later; some stitches were in his head, right about the same place where he was missing a large patch of hair. 



Oh look, an example of shameless self-promotion:



Oct 14, 2006

Past Injuries.... Part III

     I used to be on the bike squad.  It was a great assignment; you got to wear shorts, lots of fresh air, and my calves were rock hard.  You’d think that with all of the cardio, I would have lost lots of weight, but I actually ballooned like a pro baseball player’s bicep on steroids.  The problem is that one of our assignments involved checking in at the stop-and-robs (mini-marts) throughout the shift.  Man, did those BBQ burritos, chicken fingers, chili dogs and jo-jos taste good; not only that, you could buy three for a dollar. 

     Another responsibility involved patrolling an area along the railroad tracks where all of the bums, winos, and street people hung out.  I resist the PC title of “homeless” for these people, because that whole attitude suggests that society is somehow to blame for their lot in life, and that they are, in whole, unable to do anything to improve their lot in life.  The truth is that the vast majority of these people are alcoholics, some are drug users, and a few are mental health patients.  Our area, like many others throughout the US, offers several services for these people.  However, most of these services just make life on the street easier; they are not designed to actually encourage people to earn a better life.  Which is compassion; giving a wino free food so that he can spend all his welfare money on cheap booze, or actually holding him accountable for his choices, encouraging him to stop a self-destructive lifestyle and others to not join him? 

     Sorry… waxing political.  One time Officer Tom and I were biking up to a local drinking spot, and I peeked around a corner.  I saw a regular, Jose, receiving a, er… well, a “Lewinsky” from someone who I could not see.  I called Tom over (this kind of event needs witnesses in order to make a better story in the muster room) and said, “Some gal is (servicing) Jose!”  Tom looked and said back, “That’s no gal, that’s Alfred!”  I took another look and sure enough, it was another regular, Alfred. 

     We called them both out and asked what happened; Alfred said that he was doing what he had to do in order to get enough money for a 40 ounce bottle of beer.  Jose already had some beer, but had on him $1.67, which together with what money Alfred already had, would have bought him his own bottle.  So we charged them both with Prostitution and reached for the open bottle of beer that Jose had in order to pour it out (Drinking in Public is also a crime). Jose, who had no more money for beer, grabbed the bottle and started to run away.  I gave chase and took Jose down, while driving my bare knee into the ground.  The problem is, that winos are not the cleanest people in the world, and there areas are not downy soft, but rather filled with broken glass, feces and urine.  Several large, filthy pieces of glass were driven into my knee. 

     Once at the hospital ER, I was (ironically) next to an 8 year-old girl who had fallen from her bicycle.  She was dealing with her injury much better than I was mine.  The doctor came in and said that they just had to “clean” the wound.  This required picking out all of the glass, then removing all of the dirty, abraded flesh.  This was accomplished with a scrubber, a stainless steel toothbrush and a sadistic nurse.  After a fresh tetanus shot I was cleared to go home.  I could not bicycle for a while, or for that matter bend my knee until the skin grew back. 

     I sure hope that Jose and Alfred found a job, at least one that pays better that $1.67. 

                         Nice socks, right?

Oct 13, 2006

Past Injuries.... Part II

     A while back, I wrote about having to be shot by a little gun-like thing that shoots small darts and electrifies you like a moth in a bug zapper; these things are called Tasers (“Training Day”). 


     Another of those experiences came when we all had to find out what it was like to be sprayed with OC (short for Oleoresin Capsaicin).  This product comes in an aerosol can, from distilling hot peppers.  But before you rush out and buy some to put on your tamales, be aware of how powerful this stuff really is. 


     Was working patrol when a call came out of a “Beer run,” that is, a shoplift where beer was taken.  The dispatcher gave a description of the suspect, and a direction of travel (on foot) that would place him in the area where I was.  Around the next corner, there he was, 6-pack of Coors still in hand.  I pulled up, got out of my car, and approached the suspect, who was doing his best to look invisible.  I walked up to him and told him, “Hold it,” which doesn’t really make sense; we are either telling people to hold it, or drop it… us cops really should make up our minds. 


     Anyway, the guy turned and stopped, then did the totally unexpected; he threw his entire 6-pack of Coors at my head.  Most alcoholics would rather throw their liver at you than their booze.  The beer missed my head, perhaps because of my really fast reflexes, or the fact that he was already so drunk he was not able to throw well.  Needless to say, the foot chase was on.  I initially caught him in the first few steps, but I just got his coat, and he shed that like a lizard dropping his own tail.  Next, I grabbed one of his shirts, which also came off, and we were running again.  It is not my intention to slowly strip people before I arrest them, often it just turns out that way- taking them into custody, one piece of clothing at a time. 


     I then remembered the OC can on my belt; I caught up to him a third time, this time wrapping my right hand in his t-shirt and spraying him with OC.   He pulled away a last time, pulling my hand with his shirt.  I heard a “snapping” sound, which I thought was his shirt tearing, and he took off again, with me running after him.  Now, those last few things happened very fast; in fact, so fast that the OC was still in a small, dense cloud in front of me where I had just sprayed.  When I ran forward, my face went into that cloud, evenly and completely distributing it between my eyes and lungs. 


     Do you all recall “Return of the Jedi?  Remember the scene where the evil emperor says to the hero Luke, “Your anger has made you powerful?”   In spite of my having become blinded and unable to breathe, I was so angry, that I caught the guy one last time, and did not let go.  Once back-up arrived and put handcuffs on the guy, I ripped the contacts out of my eyes, and looked around for a water source.  I found a faucet in an alley, turned it on and stuck my face under it.  I must have looked like a salmon trying to swim upstream into the pipe. 


     A few minutes later, when the OC was all washed off, I noticed that the middle finger of my right hand was swollen to about twice normal size.  An X-ray later showed that the second bone in that finger had snapped in two as it was twisted up in the thief’s t-shirt.  A splint was placed on the finger, and the final indignity was having to “give the bird” every time someone wanted to see my injury. 


     I thought I would also include a photo of me now, showing the stupid "bust level" splint that you get when you have three pins placed into the top of your arm.


Oct 9, 2006

Past Injuries…. Part I

     I wish I could tell you the hair-raising, bloodcurdling, heroic adventure that ended with my shoulder injury.  However it was just a 45-year old guy thinking he could surf like he was 20. 


     I do recall several trips to the emergency room, and, although not for real exciting stuff, like gunshot wounds or being punched by Tommy Lee, there are a few stories to tell.  Here’s the first one that come’s to mind:


I was working graveyard one night.  At about 0300 (that’s 3 o’clock in the morning), I stepped out the back door of our PD and heard a faint “Help me” cry.  It was coming from about two blocks away, so Officer Jim W. and I walked toward the sound.  We ended up standing in front of an abandoned, two story business complex, and could still hear the “Help!”, although it was starting to get weaker.  There was definitely an injured citizen in need of our heroic help, and by gum we were going to save him!  I triangulated the sound as best I could, guessing that it was coming from the second story of the abandoned building.  As we looked into the building, I could see one plate glass door which opened to a stairway, which went to the second floor.  Officer Jim then yelled to me, “There’s a fire up there!”  


     I looked up at the secondfloor windows, and could see flames spreading throughout the complex.  I thought there was someone trapped in the second story, which was on fire, and I was now in a position to save their life; that’s front page news stuff there!  Unfortunately at the time, I was thinking far too much like a fireman (no offense intended) and too little like a cop.  Several questions SHOULD have come to mind, such as: how would the second story of an abandoned business catch fire at 3 in the morning?  Why would someone be in an abandoned building at 3 in the morning, and the biggest missed question of all, why in the heck did I walk two blocks to the screaming, instead of driving my car (where there would be a plentitude of tools for breeching the plate glass door)? 


     Oh well, I pulled out my Streamlight flashlight and hammered on the plate glass about 15 times, until my flashlight went through the glass.  I ran up the stairway and saw the upper floor almost fully engulfed in flames.  I yelled for the victim, but could not hear any more screams.  Officer Jim and I retreated from the flames, coming back out to the street.  Hearing the cries again, we realized that they were not coming from inside the building.  We then checked the alley behind the building and found, next to a dumpster, a guy who was whimpering, “Help me,” and smelled of smoke. 


     We determined that this guy was a street wino, who was a bit of an arsonist.  He had been squatting in this businessfor awhile and decided to light a warming fire, which got out of control and blocked his normal way out, so he had to jump out a second story window.  The landing resulted in a compound fracture of both his legs.  He pulled himself to a dumpster and started calling for help. 


     As the ambulance crew was working on Mr. Firebug, one of the EMT’s looked at me and said, “You want me to look at that hand?”  I pulled my right hand up and saw that it was covered in blood, and had been dripping down my right pant’s leg.  The ER doc found a laceration of the back of my right thumb, severing a tendon and the main thumb artery; all done when my hand went through the glass along with the flashlight. After the stitches, I got my thumb placed into a cast which positioned it out at 90 degrees to my hand, making me look a bit like Little Jack Horner. 


     Lessons learned:


1) I am not a fireman (no offense intended);


2) Just ‘cause someone’s crying for help does not necessarily mean you will not be arresting them;


3) Bring the patrol car with you; it may be necessary to: get equipment out of, drive someone to jail in, sit in to watch fireman fight fires, and drive yourself to the ER in.

Oct 6, 2006

Rotator Cuff

It seems that I have been very negligent about keeping all of you entertained over the past few months.  Sorry that I have been distracted; I just had shoulder surgery to repair a “slap” rotator cuff injury.  I don’t know what a “slap” injury is specifically, but I can tell you it was NOT given to me by my wife. 


Anyway, I have four holes in my shoulder, and am taking some very nice Oxycontin pills that make me feel fuzzy, but do keep the shoulder from hurting.  I also have to wear this really stupid looking foam wedge-sling thing; it keeps my right arm pointed out at a 90 degree angle to my body, just about waist level.  No one can figure out what I have my arm in… is it a sling?  A holster? Some sort of pack containing stolen goods?  Whenever I walk into a store, “Loss Prevention” is on me like Lindsay Lohan on a laxative margarita. 


The arm position has also caused me some grief with my wife and 21 year-old daughter, both of whom don’t appreciate a drugged-up man in pajamas, who is not sure of his arm clearance, walking around with a fist jammed out at bust-level.  I can assure you that I have tried my best to avoid “confrontations” with my wayward appendage, but accidents do happen. 


The only real cool thing about this mess is that the doctor told me that this is a typical surfer’s injury.  It is so cool that I have a surfing injury… it’s sort of like a fencer having a dueling scar on his cheek. 


I have three months of “light duty,” and then I should be strong enough to return to full duty, which for a detective is the same as light duty, except that you can lift the glazed donuts without assistance.  My sergeant has assured me that everything will go smoothly without me, I’m sure he is right…


time for more little white pills.