How I Went Through the Drywall

Drywall Patch

Exercise is pain and gain. In my case, mostly pain, but exercise is still important to me. It’s not because I like it, but when I was 23, I came to the conclusion that I didn’t want to be overweight and unhealthy. Therefore, I started to eat better and exercised regularly. My exercise of choice was, and still is, lifting weights. I understand the importance of aerobic exercise, but due to knee and ankle injuries, impact from running or jumping causes problems. So, I stick to modified boot camps and walking quickly to get my heart rate up.

Despite my rather mild routine, I often find myself inspired by my wife to do more. After all, she’s completed seven full IronMan triathlons and 32 marathons. But just thinking about all of that running makes my busted knee throb and floppy foot ache. Considering all of this, I was enthusiastic when my friend mentioned an endurance hike (14 miles) she had signed up for, and I was downright excited when I found out another friend wanted to participate too.

I was going to be an endurance athlete!

Even though the race was in September, I wanted to start my training in January. I was in good shape but going from walking a 5K to hiking almost five times that distance required a change to routine. Since this routine change occurred during the bitter cold, I chose to start on the treadmill with a backpack and lots of movies. Nothing says “athlete” like a person walking a 3.5 miles per hour, carrying a bag of biomedical science books, and watching action/adventure movies.

During one of my earlier training sessions, when I finished my warm-up, I pressed the arrow on the treadmill to increase the incline. But instead of only hearing the movie and motor work harder, I also heard a weird squeak.

The exercise ball!

I had made a mental note before I started walking to move the large, inflatable ball that was wedged between the wall and the frame of the treadmill. This was a note I forgot. Not wanting to interrupt my work out by doing something crazy like stopping the treadmill, I decided the most logical way to remove the ball was to kick it out of the way…while the treadmill was still moving.

I fell.

Okay, I fell, and I was thrown backward into the drywall. But that’s not all. I had neglected to wear the safety clip, so as my upper back and shoulder were through the wall, the belt continued to move beneath me. I bounced on my back and attempted to roll off, but because the backpack essentially made me an upside-down turtle, I was stuck. The only thing I could do to avoid the skin shredder beneath me was to assume a quasi-bridge position with my shoulders down, one foot on the carpet, the other foot on the treadmill frame, and my ass in the air. Once I stabilized, I finally did the other thing that made sense, I screamed for my wife, Nicole.

I don’t know why crashing through the drywall wasn’t an indication that I may need help.

Luckily after the screaming, Nicole raced down to me and looked upon my situation in horror and confusion. “What should I do?”

“Turn off the treadmill!”

I tried not to sound too annoyed. Finally, as if in slow motion, Nicole reached over and turned off the treadmill. The machine’s high-pitched beep was music to my ears. Then, she crouched down and helped me to my feet. Bits of drywall crumbled down as I moved out of the wall. I stood tall, but I was shaken up from the experience. I knew I was okay, but the right side of my body stung, and my elbow hurt. I saw her eyes drift down to my hand. Blood running from the tip. I had a piece of skin dangling from my finger. Imagine a hangnail, but three times as long.

“Here, I’ll get that,” she said, and then proceeded to rip the loose skin from my finger.

This hurt more than going through the drywall. I screamed bloody murder. Probably swore. That’s pretty on-brand for me. “You cut the skin off! You cut it!”

While this particular part of first aid was a learning experience for her, she was a pro at the next part. Once she helped me get the backpack off, we looked at my leg. The side of my thigh was rubbed raw in two areas. Curious, I looked at the treadmill’s belt. Sure enough, the black material had pale streaks. My skin had become one with the treadmill. Anyway, because Nicole is a triathlete, she knew all about road rash from cycling injuries. She gingerly washed the area, covered it with antibiotic ointment, and then wrapped my leg in plastic wrap.

Patched up and with tears in my eyes, I made a decision: I was going to finish my workout!

And I did. Then, later that evening, I went to dinner with friends. I cringed every time my baggy corduroy pants brushed against my leg. Of course, I told them the whole story of what had happened, and I emphasized to them what I will stress to you. ALWAYS WEAR THE SAFETY CLIP ON A TREADMILL!

Leg Wound