So, you think you’re tough, do ya?*

*Epilogue below.

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? 



12 thoughts on “So, you think you’re tough, do ya?*

  1. A very inspirational story on a par with the rock climber who got his arm jammed and to free himself cut it off. Such people as ‘leg broken in three places’ or got to ‘cut off my arm’ are very uncommon I can see people complaining that in your OTG book you failed to mention that you will need a surgical saw incase you need to remove an appendage or splints incase you break a limb. Biggest skill in OTG living is brain power and the knowledge to expect any thing.


  2. Ho-leee CRAP!.
    And when I listen to the union workers all around me bitch and moan about “toxic fumes” when a painter starts slapping on water based latex paint or “silica dust” when someone starts sweeping a floor I want to scream.
    Tough as nails.
    Millenials….not so much.


    • Feel free to share the story. All I can really add is that she is a tough cookie, alright but not without peers. The guy who gave her the keys to his car had an even more harrowing experience and lived to tell the tale. Others have driven to the hospital after cutting their arm with their chainsaw. Some dickhead got smacked upside the head with a spinning prop (mind you, he is still showing the after-effects). Accidents happen. You just have to deal with them. She did. I admire her for many reasons but NOT because she chose survival. We all would. I admire her for the way she lives her life and because she did the dishes and cleaned up before heading off. Now THAT shows ‘OTG cool’.


  3. Ohmygosh! Where was she when I was looking for a housekeeper! That is exactly why ‘mature’ people should not be living alone. ‘J’ is a wonderful, if isolated, example of what can happen when necessity intervenes. Me? I’d rather rely on MY housekeeper to comfort and coddle me in cases like that. I’m SUCH a whimp!


    • Where were you when she was lying in the beach? You two are star-crossed, I guess. Plus hundreds of miles apart. Probably not gonna happen. Did I mention she is a great cook? Intelligent? Handy? Did I mention formidable? Cougar Annie is a wimp by comparison.


  4. That is one tough lady but what else could she do? Sit there and die? I think not. You do what needs to be done though you are right. What really set her apart is that she did the dishes and cleaned up a bit before she left. I was really impressed that she made a splint. I think many of us have more in us than we realize we just haven’t had the opportunity to exercise it. But, there still are a lot of pampered wimps in the world.


    • Both Sal and I aspire to pampered wimp status ourselves. Something to shoot for, anyway. We are discussing this very topic as we rebuild the back deck. J is tough. She did what she had to do and, like always, did it well. Most men (me, included) would do the same, get to the house, make a few calls and then let the help take-over. Dishes? Probably make a few more dirty dining out on the story. Shopping? That would mean just more phone calls. “May as well throw in a bottle of scotch while yer at it.”
      J gets points in my book. And, for the record, I owe a lot of points.


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