If you know me or if you’ve ever seen me in a dress above the knee, you know I have a very visible scar on my right leg. The very large scar is on the front of my leg along the tibia and there is a significant indentation where I lost a large amount of muscle. So how did it happen? When I was 5, I slipped under the riding lawn mower and almost lost my right leg.
It was the Thursday evening of a long weekend and my family was preparing to head up north. Of course one of the last things you do to prep is cut the grass. My dad was edge trimming and my brother was operating the riding lawn mower. It had just finished raining and I was playing in the yard with my friends on wet grass, in bare feet. I was a pretty precocious youngster and I can remember my dad yelling to my brother that he was cutting too close to the trees. I decided to deliver this message myself and started running alongside the riding mower to get my brother’s attention. In a matter of seconds, I slipped and my entire right leg went under the “guard” getting torn apart by the sharp blades. I very quickly managed to pull myself out before the wheels crushed my leg. I then ran with my leg bleeding profusely and open like a book to the front yard where my dad screamed and scooped me into his arms.
Very few details of this day are foggy to me. I can remember what my dad yelled and how he picked me up and placed me on this small brick wall in our front doorway. I remember my mother, a registered nurse, was already in her nightgown getting ready for bed when she came to the door. Although she had seen injuries like this, she was utterly helpless and immediately went into shock when she saw me. I remember sitting in the arms of a neighbour as our garage filled with strangers who’d heard the commotion. I remember the volunteer firefighters showing up and pouring saline solution into my grass filled wound. I remember asking if I was going to die. Eventually the ambulance showed up. I remember the paramedics asking who my favourite Ninja Turtle was and giving me a purple gas mask when I said Donatello. They rushed me to Georgetown hospital and the last thing I remember before waking up in SickKids was the doctors cutting off my blood soaked shorts.
This may seemed detailed for a blog and thankfully my story has a happy ending (see pic). I really hope that’s the case for the family of an Ontario toddler who was critically injured after being run over by lawn mower in the Niagara region community of Pelham. Niagara Region police say it happened Thursday evening when the boy’s father was cutting the grass at the family home. According to the initial investigation, the boy had gone inside the house, but the father didn’t notice that the boy came back out and was walking behind the lawn mower. When the father reversed the machine, it knocked the boy to the ground and ran him over.
Reading that story this morning made my stomach do summersaults. You have no idea how often I drive by a dad who’s giving junior a ride on the lawn mower as he cuts the lawn or how often I see families cutting the grass while the children play nearby. If this is you, please re-read my story above. These accidents can happen in a heartbeat. I don’t want to come off as preachy but back in the 90’s I probably wasn’t wearing a helmet while riding my bike either. We know better now and these things are preventable. Please don’t take a chance and put your children at risk.
I stayed in SickKids for a few weeks while they did an amazing job of cleaning my wound and putting my leg back together. I very seldom experience pain other than the stares that can cut but I’m pretty used to that after 25 years.
Wishing you all a very safe long weekend and summer,