A very capable woman friend of ours is single, in her sixties and lives even more remote than we do. Breaking a leg in three places would be much more than an inconvenience for most people. Not her.
Down at the beach a kilometer from her home, she was dragging a dinghy up past the high water mark the other day. When her left foot accidentally wedged in a rocky crevice, she fell back with the boat and heard her leg snap three times. She knew instantly that it was broken.
Her island is small, miles from ours. She is the only full-time resident. In the summer it is more populated. In winter it is usually just her. She has homesteaded there for the last thirty plus years. She keeps it all going by herself. Her home is neat, clean, functional and welcoming. She is an excellent cook. Her exceptionally large garden is lush, diversified and bountiful. So is her orchard. She can and has done everything that needs to be done to live off the grid and she does it well. J is capable, competent and is the archetype of this lifestyle; tough, independent and, not just occasionally, a bit single-minded and stubborn.
You’d think a broken leg would challenge anyone and one broken miles from any help would pose a major threat.
And it did. But not so much for her. First she just lay on the beach for a few minutes and contemplated her situation. Which was, by any definition, dire. So, she concluded that she had to act and she had to act alone.
And so she did.
First she bum-hopped, dragging the broken leg, the fifty or sixty feet up the beach to her ATV. Then, standing on her one good leg, managed to mount the vehicle and ride it up the steep, bumpy goat track of a road to her house. Dismounting back to her derriere, she bum-hopped again up the stairs and in to the house where she managed to get seated in a rolling chair.
My guess is that she took a few minutes more to gather herself together…..
Then she made an elaborate aluminum splint with padding and managed to set her leg in proper support. She made some calls to arrange some help but managed to get herself back to the beach and into her boat. She cleaned up and did the dishes before departing.
She then picked up a friend a mile away and they boated ten miles to get car keys from another friend. Then the two of them went to the community dock where the vehicle was parked. Her friend helped her into the car. ON THE DRIVER’S SIDE!
He took the boat back. She drove herself to the hospital. “My left leg was broken. My right leg was fine. And the car was an automatic. I could drive!”
It was splinted again at the hospital but, as she said, they basically just replaced what she had done and she spent the night in town with friends. The next day her son took her to another hospital further south and she underwent surgery with pins and screws embedded in the breaks. Then she went back to the northern town and stayed for a few hours with the same friends to rest.
And then she decided that she needed some supplies so she went shopping.
The store provided her with an electric scooter.
With her supply of groceries she drove back down the incredibly bumpy (after a bad winter) logging road to the community dock and her friend and a couple of neighbours helped her into her boat. She got home that evening and cooked dinner for her friend.
Is OTG always that hard? No. No. And no! If it was, I wouldn’t be here. J has been here decades. She has faced this kind of challenge several if not many times. For J, it is just a damn nuisance.
So, do ya think you are tough? Really?
Epilogue: two days later a public hearing was being held regarding a zoning issue J cares about. She hauled herself down to the beach (ATV, crutches), got in the boat and attended the meeting (no idea how she got up the steep hill to the community centre). She presented from a chair with her crutches and cast propped beside her. Some of the locals helped her to and fro. But not THAT much. Please be reminded the broken leg is fresh and NOT yet set.
So, do ya think you are THAT tough?