Surrey, UK - Over the years I've been pretty lucky with injuries at work. A few hundred splinters, a couple of pulled back muscles and some stitches when a pew fell on my head (don't ask) back in 1991. On this recent job in Surrey my luck came to an end; although, hey, it wasn't that bad. There was this long abandoned pub which might once have been a church. Or simply had been made to look like a church. That was our tenuous connection with the job which was simply to take out as much stuff as possible within one day before the demo people trashed it.
Frankly the place was a damp, stinking pit but potentially profitable with 30 plus tables, dozens of chairs and a couple of van loads of random furniture. Everything was fine till we ran out of light and my greed meant that I simply couldn't leave this last section of panelling behind. By fading torchlight we jemmied, tore and ripped this stuff off the walls until there was one piece left behind a counter top, Standing on top of this counter I prised and hauled until this lump came off. Calling out something like 'That's it, we're going home now!' I jumped off the counter straight onto the nail shown above which was on the floor.
There are some kinds of pain which I would describe as 'Mummy' pain. Pain where, for a few moments at least, one regresses back to an infant state and you just want a big hug from mother. This was that sort of pain. As my shoe filled up with blood the pain subsided but it still wasn't very… nice. Driving home that night wasn't easy as this was my clutch foot but I sort of managed by using the tips of my toes. Later I peeled my shoe off and soaked the foot in a bowl of hot salted water while more blood pulsed out. I had less sleep that night than when I was a teenager celebrating Scottish Hogmanies many years hence.
The pain now was now like an iPod playlist; sometimes the tune was an insistent tap tapping, sometimes more of a Drum and Bass throbbing. Then there would be waves of sensation akin to a particularly vile Philip Glass track. Even Co-dydramol didn't turn that down very much. Next day I got my tetanus jab, the first since 1982. Apparently risk of that disease is slim - you really need to have earth or excrement on your nail to have much chance of getting it. In the USA something like only 32 people had tetanus last year. The bad news was that it might take months to properly heal up. Feet are not great healers and the ball of my foot, where my nail was, has got all these ligaments, tendons, small bones which now have to sort themselves out.
Two weeks on and I'm still limping like Richard the Third, but at least it doesn't keep me awake at night. Curiously, a few days later, I managed to drive a spike into the side of my right hand trying to force a frozen hasp on a jagged old gate. That hurt like a bugger as well. 'You're starting to know what it was like for Christ' my Anglo-Catholic wife observed. Hopefully there's not going to be a spear in my side anytime soon. After all, this is Christmas, not Easter.
Footnote for Health and Safety wonks: I am not asking for sympathy. I know I am stupid. We were all wearing helmets and High Viz vests. I was the only one not wearing steel soled boots. I will fill out a mission statement the next time I am at a crumbling old dump. And not rely on 'Flashlight' mobile phone apps for illumination.
Antique Church Furnishings
Story Type: Columnist