Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up!

Thursday night was supposed to be a fun night – I was on a show that’s got a fantastic crew with whom I always have a great time. Plus, once they moved outside for the big night exterior, I was going up in the condor, which meant even if I couldn’t catch a nap I’d still be able to enjoy the cool breeze that blows 80 feet above the lot on summer nights.

But it didn’t work out like that.

I suppose at this point I should rewind about 10 years (or so).

One night (dark and stormy, of course) before I’d gotten into the union, after a 16 hour day on a low-budget nightmare, our truck broke down and we had to move all our equipment into a replacement truck after wrap but before we could go home (on locations camera, lighting and grip almost never get to go home at wrap – we have to shove all our crap back into our trucks and that can take a while).

The method for doing this is to back the trucks up so the rear ends face each other and the lift gates overlap (in the ‘up’ position about four feet off the ground), and just schlep the stuff from one truck to the other. If you put the trucks side-by-side and go up and down and up and down on the gates, it takes forever and your gates drain their batteries and die right before it’s time to load the really heavy stuff.

At some point during the transfer, I lost my footing on the wet lift gate and fell off the side. On the way down (or maybe when I fell on the surface of the parking lot) I seriously fucked up my left knee (as opposed to my right knee, which I only mildly fucked up) and spent the next couple of hours sitting on the ground, trying to keep from crying as my co-workers finished swapping trucks (I’d car pooled with my boss that day and had to sit there and wait. Not that I’d have been able to drive anyways – I had a stick shift at the time and my left knee wasn’t really working very well).

Production, of course, had sent the medic home at wrap as they didn’t want to keep paying him to sit around while those sweaty people worked.

The next day, I called in sick and went to a doctor who listened to the tale and took one look at my pitiful attempt to walk then started a workmen’s comp claim. He’d gotten to the point where he was ready to order MRIs and figure out exactly what was wrong, then the production company contested the claim (since heaven forbid they pay for an injury), and since I couldn’t afford health insurance, I couldn’t get it treated – I just iced it and stayed off of it for a couple of weeks, and then used a brace at work for a few months while I became better acquainted with over-the-counter painkillers.

After a while, it became normal – I just had a bad knee, and every so often it would act up and I’d have to stay home on the couch, with an ice pack and the remote control waiting for it to settle down. It’s amazing how quickly we learn to live with certain things.

Then, on Thursday night, the knee became incredibly painful – worse than it’s ever been before, and for the life of me I can’t remember doing anything to make it start. I didn’t fall, didn’t run up a bunch of steps, didn’t twist with my weight on it, didn’t kick anyone (hard). I just reported for work and it started hurting right before lunch.

Maybe my knee doesn’t like the commissary.

Lucky thing I went up in the condor because by that time I wasn’t sure if I could even finish out the night and getting off my feet for a few hours bought me some time (now would be a good time to mention that quite a few of us keep working when we’re injured, as we don’t want to be perceived as whiners or ‘high-maintenance’. Generally, the only time I’ll go home is if I’m vomiting so much that I can’t stand up).

It hurt even worse Friday, so I went to the doctor and he x-rayed it, became extremely agitated by said x-rays (he jabbed the image with his finger and said “What the hell is that?”) and then gave me a referral to go see an orthopedist.

My appointment’s Wednesday morning, and I’m going to strap a brace on the knee and try to work tomorrow night. I should be done by 7 am, and then it’s just a not-so-quick drive across town to the doc. Don’t bother telling me I’m nuts, I already know.

Hopefully I won’t have to climb any stairs.

Filed under: mishaps, studio lots, up all night, Work, , , , , , , , ,

17 Responses

  1. Ladylipstick says:

    Oh man! That is the way of the industry though-don’t call in sick until they haul you away in an ambulance. Best of luck!

  2. GetSheila says:

    Ouch! Maybe it a too-mah. (Not funny? Sorry.)

    I hope it is an easy fix and they give you many mind-altering drugs to help you through the trauma. Oh wait, are you the girl who doesn’t like to take pills, too? Sheesh. There is such a thing as TOO low maintenance, y’know.

    Hope the pain goes away soonest.

  3. Charli says:

    I hate that stuff, when they object to claims that are so totally legit. I have two bad knees, can’t play volleyball anymore, oh well. Hurt the right knee fencing (yes, it’s a tough sport on the entire side of the body you lunge with) and I hurt the other knee, get this, squatting down showing the housekeepers something – heard a pop, which by the way is never good.

    I didnt think much of it, then months later when I wanted to file a claim, boss told me I waited too long. I hate, hate, hate that stuff.

  4. Meg says:

    Remember the magic word RICE: Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. I am sure you have heard all of this many many times, but it does work. That and time. What sucks is that we women have a genetic predisposition to knee problems. Here’s hoping you heal fast!

  5. JCW says:

    Gee I’m sorry to hear this! I’m glad you’re seeing the doctor – do NOT put that off under any circumstances!!
    Hopefully it’s just scar tissue and they can remove it orthoscopically, which would require a short healing time, which would give you more time to blog!!

    Just take care of yourself and know that all your cyberfriends are pulling for you!

  6. boskolives says:

    Should you have a down day, go see “Sicko”.

    If you think you’re pissed off now…….

    I’m still trying to re-qualify (too many non-union days a few years ago) and never seem to be able to get the hours in, so each non-insured day means waking up with the fear that something (don’t let your mind go in the gutter) isn’t going to work today, or hurts so much that someone notices and I’ll get on the “gimp” list.

    Word gets around really quickly about that stuff, and you get omitted from call lists.

    Get well, stay well.

    Jerry

    http://boskolives.wordpress.com/

  7. mike says:

    I got the same complaint after years of working as a camera assistant and then operator. Years of lugging cameras and dollies up flights of stairs and doing hand held docs for hours on end. So much so that my right knee cartilage is now 2mm shorter and crushed like a bag of macadamia nuts at xmas and from time to time I cant even walk on it, my left shoulder is shot to hell and my right elbow is constantly letting me know its there. Don’t mention my hips! Just because here in the UK we have a laughably free health service doesn’t mean we get the treatment. My doc thinks its not worth getting me fixed out of his budget, so I’m a write off. Too old and complicated to fix.

    I hope you take care of yourself and plan ahead for an alternative career because doing crew work catches up with you sooner or later.

  8. 80 Crew Guy says:

    I know , I know it’s a medial meniscus. I had one years ago a little orthoscopic surgery 2 weeks I was back to kick boxing. More currant news I get an MRI tomorrow to find out why my fingers are numb. I guess pulling too much chain to the perms. Glad we have a great health care package. Maybe I’ll bump into you @ SCOE

  9. Scripty says:

    It’s amazing what we’ll go through for this career, I’ve gone to work sick, medicated, nauseated…you name it. Boskolives is right; you don’t want to get on the “gimp list”.

  10. nezza says:

    Yikes….!

    I don’t know what else to say other than “get well soon”.

    Take it easy.

  11. What beef does your knee have with the Fox commissary? The food there is pretty damn good, especially the spinach and goat cheese calzones.

    Seriously, very sorry to hear this. First the feet and now the knees. Best wishes for a low-pain solution and a speedy recovery.

  12. Sal says:

    Hope it all works out ok and if they find anything at all, its easily fixable

  13. JCW says:

    OK – it’s been a few days – now I’m just getting worried.
    You’re seriously in my thoughts and I hope to see you update soon with some positive news.

    Maybe you can tell us you met someone and have been too busy getting laid to update??

    And I have to disagree about the Fox commissary – I had a terrible meal there once and have never been back.

    And 80 Crew Guy – read Mind Over Back Pain before you commit to a surgical solution. Both my sister and I had similar symptoms – pain and numbness in the arm, shoulder and hand. Her’s was less severe than mine and she went the surgical route. She still has numbness in her hand. I read the book, and although I get a twinge on occassion I’m in much better shape than her. You can find the book on Amazon and it’s CHEAP! Please read it before you let someone cut on you – it really saved my ass!

  14. Dan says:

    Hey 80 crew guy, the fingers of my left hand have been numb for about a year now. Are you saying I should see a doctor? Tell me what he says. I have no more health insurance!

  15. Charli says:

    Great, I just hurt my back! Got an early meet with the massage place today. Once I turned 40 my joints went all to Hell.

  16. JCW says:

    Dan – If you do see a doctor they will almost certainly tell you that you’ve got a bulging disk somewhere in the neck area pressing on a nerve and causing your symptoms.
    After an MRI, that’s what they told me and they went straight for the surgical solution. I opted to try Dr. John Sarno’s theory out and got better without surgery. I’m telling all you folks out there with these back problems, read Mind Over Back Pain before you opt for surgery. Once your brain accepts the concept, it’s surprising how quickly you get better.

  17. btl says:

    That’s funny, my left knee is the bad one too. And I blogged about it recently, although that digressed, somehow, into a discussion of getting a colonoscopy and an MRI of my skull. Long story. All of it having to do with the stress of this sucky business. But you really are my West Coast, electric department doppelganger.

    Hope your knee’s okay, I’m a big believer in PT.

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