A father reflects on life-altering accident
Christopher Greenfield, an active 42-year-old whose pastimes include biking in the Rockies, rock climbing, days-long canoe trips, and 18-kilometre runs, never thought one of his biggest hurdles would be walking 75 feet.
Last July, Greenfield, a carpenter for 12 years, fell three storeys down an elevator shaft on a job site. Miraculously, Greenfield landed on his feet. “All I remember was seeing floors whiz by me—I didn’t even have a chance to look down,” says Greenfield. “If I landed on my head—or if I fell from higher up—I likely wouldn’t be here.”
Despite having the wind knocked out of him, Greenfield was able to call for a nearby co-worker. Within 20 minutes, paramedics had strapped him to a spine board and rushed him to HSC Winnipeg.
Upon arriving at HSC, Greenfield learned he broke the thigh bone in his right leg, smashed his right ankle bone, cracked two vertebrae, and had internal bleeding in his bladder and stomach from blunt-force trauma.
Greenfield had endured minor job-site injuries before, but nothing nearly this severe. “I knew I wouldn’t be walking this off,” he says.
No truer words have been spoken. Greenfield had to undergo two surgeries on his ankle and show HSC staff that he could walk 75 feet—with crutches—before being discharged to complete his recovery at home. Thankfully, the care Greenfield received during his 13-day stay at HSC was exemplary.
“My surgeon, Dr. Ted Tufescu, has a fantastic national reputation. He made sure I understood what was being done and took the time to learn my wife’s name,” says Greenfield. “The nurses learned my routine—they knew when I needed extra help to get to sleep. John, a nurses’ aide, specifically made a huge impact. The first few days were extremely hard—everything was agonizing. John was so gentle; he showed me how to get into the wheelchair and use a walker for the first time.”
Even though Greenfield’s thigh was black and twice its size from swelling, he cites not being able to physically support his family as the hardest part of the ordeal.
“My two-and-a-half-year-old son Oscar didn’t understand that when he said ‘up, up’ I couldn’t lift him like I used to. My wife had to do everything—I couldn’t bathe Oscar or put him to bed. That was extremely hard,” says Greenfield.
While Greenfield may not be running like he used to, he is making great strides on his road to recovery. Thanks to Greenfield’s ‘can-do’ attitude, dedication to his rehabilitation routine, and the expertise of HSC, Greenfield’s life is returning to normal.
This past spring, Greenfield returned to work, beginning with two four-hour shifts a week, to now working 40 hours a week. Further, Greenfield, his wife Sanne, and their son Oscar can start returning to their active lifestyle. The Greenfields have a fun-filled, busy summer planned full of family bike rides with their dog Winston, walks through the sand dunes of Grand Beach, and preparing for their newest addition to the family this December!
“I am grateful for the care I received. This was a life-changing experience and I can’t imagine how I’d get through without HSC and the Workers Compensation Board. We are lucky to have these services,” says Greenfield.
Help us continue to support Manitobans when they need it the most. Please click here to donate to the HSC Foundation today and help give patients like Christopher Greenfield the chance to make more memories with loved ones.
By Natasha Havrilenko