Please don’t ask me to hang your outdoor Christmas lights this holiday season. I’m not going to do it. No way, no how. I’m keeping both feet on the ground after an incident this week sent me to the emergency room.

On Monday, I left the office for a photo assignment. I’ve assumed the role of staff photographer to help fill my workday since there is a lack of island sporting events to cover due to the pandemic. I had two stops on this assignment: Shoppers at Big Ray’s and an electronic billboard advising drivers of icy roads. There was a fresh coating of snow on the ground, and the reporter wanted a visual to accompany their story.

The first assignment was a breeze. I stopped at Big Ray’s and successfully took photos of the small contingent of holiday shoppers. I even purchased a pair of Under Armour jogging pants. Score. 

Off to the next destination. Knowing there was a sign near the airport, I headed out of town. It was disappointing to find the sign completely caked in slushy snow. A snowy sign wasn’t going to cut it. Readers needed to see the message on the sign. How about I wipe the snow off the sign? Great idea. What could go wrong? Being short, I couldn’t reach the sign. I improvised and carefully stepped onto the slippery platform, several feet off the ground. I remembered thinking, ‘Boy, it would hurt if I fell?’

With the job nearly complete, it happened. As I reached with my left hand to wipe the top of the sign, my left foot slipped. There was nothing I could do but enjoy the ride. My body thudded on the arm of the trailer hitch and came to rest on the frozen ground. It was not a soft landing. I gently pulled myself to my feet. A couple passing by in a truck saw the fall and stopped to see if I needed help. Hunkered over, trying to regain my breath, I muttered something that I was OK, and thanks for stopping to check. As they zoomed off, I gingerly walked back to the truck and eased myself into the driver’s side seat. The ribs on my right side were already sore and shooting with pain. Nothing else seemed to be damaged. The most important thing — the camera — survived. I muscled out of the truck to finish the job. Holding onto the bed of the truck, I clicked away, hoping one of the images would be suitable. 

On my way back to town, a pain emerged from my right armpit. I sent my left hand underneath the Seahawks jersey I had on — the Hawks played on Monday Night Football — to investigate. There was blood on the hand when it reemerged. That can’t be good. When I got back to the office, I asked Lady Human to look. When I peeled off my shirt and lifted my arm, she bolted. I took a peak in the mirror and there was a laceration that a bandade was not going to fix. 

Off to the emergency room to get stitched up. I answered COVID-19 questions and was admitted quickly. The doctor — a man from Palmer who does shifts in Kodiak — numbed the armpit, while the nurse thought it was comedy hour and rattled off several jokes. They weren’t bad jokes. I wish I remembered them. 

The laceration required six stitches. They get removed Dec. 10. The cut isn’t the problem. The ribs are. They are sore. Super sore. I’ve turned into Grandpa Clarkston. A typical 20-minute walk with the dogs now takes an hour. Pepper Jack looks back at me with his big eyes, “Come on, dad, let’s go.” Being the sled dog that Cody is, he pulls me along, pain and all.

Sleeping has been another story. I’ve been relegated to the recliner as it’s not comfortable to lay in bed yet — I tried Wednesday night but only lasted a few sleepless hours. 

The bonus from the incident: I’ve spent more time with the pups this week than normal. Since I couldn’t do much of anything, I’ve spent the evenings with three animals — Cody, Pepper Jack and Shadow — comforting me in the recliner. They have been a bright spot in a rather dim week.                     

  

NFL PICKS

Week 12 was one of the strangest I’ve seen, with the Denver Broncos having to play with no quarterbacks and the Steelers and Ravens playing a rare Wednesday afternoon game. This week, we get two Monday games and a Tuesday game. 

I went 12-4 last week, which upped my season record to 113-63-1.  

CLEVELAND (8-3) at 

TENNESSEE (8-3)

December is Derrick Henry time. The bulldozing running back heats up when the temperature gets cold. That is terrible news for defenses. Henry leads the NFL with 1,257 yards and is second with 12 touchdowns. The Browns give up 108.3 rushing yards per game. Expect a heavy dose of Henry in this one and a few play-action passes to AJ Brown … Titans 32, Browns 21.  

N.Y. GIANTS (4-7) at 

SEATTLE (8-3)

D.K. Metcalf, not Tyreek Hill, leads the league with 1,039 receiving yards and is ninth in touchdowns. The second-year product out of Ole Miss is a star and has unseated Tyler Lockett as Seattle’s No. 1 option. He went for 177 yards on 10 receptions in last week’s victory over the Eagles. This week he gets to feast on another NFC East opponent … Seahawks 42, Giants 17. 

LOS ANGELES RAMS (7-4) 

at ARIZONA (6-5)

What has happened to the Cardinals? Arizona is limping into this crucial NFC West battle with three losses in its last four games. During that stretch, the Cardinals needed a Hail Mary catch by Deandra Hopkins to beat Buffalo. Quarterback Kyler Murray has struggled the past four games as defenses have blitzed him on 39% of his dropbacks, compared to 17% in his first seven games. Aaron Donald is licking his chops … Rams 28, Cardinals 18. 

DENVER (4-7) at 

KANSAS CITY (10-1)

Denver was dealt a challenging situation last week when all its quarterbacks were ruled out because of COVID. That left the Broncos to start practice squad wide receiver Kendall Hinton, a former quarterback at Wake Forest. It was a commendable effort by Hinton, who had little time to prepare. He has a story to tell his future grandkids but never should have been put in that situation. Why the NFL didn’t postpone the game is a question many wondered. The Broncos’ quarterbacks return for this game against the Chiefs, and they will need them if they have any hopes of upsetting one of the best teams in the NFL … Chiefs 36, Broncos 14. 

WASHINGTON (4-7) at 

PITTSBURGH (11-0)

Pittsburgh's defense is no joke. The Steelers lead the league in sacks (41), takeaways (23) and fewest points (188). Since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970, no defense has ever finished as the leader in all three categories ... Steelers 24, Football Team 10.  

Other games:

Saints 28, Falcons 21

Bears 17, Lions 13

Dolphins 34, Bengals 17

Texans 26, Colts 18

Vikings 35, Jaguars 19

Packers 45, Eagles 16

Chargers 27, Patriots 21

Ravens 36, Cowboys 24

Bills 23, 49ers 21

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