IF YOU REMEMBER your oldies music from the 1960s, you probably remember a song by Bobby Fuller Four “I Fought the Law.” You also might remember the oft repeated line in that song “I fought the law and the law won.”

Well, last week, I penned a new song, similar in theme and with the same result. It goes “I fought the ice and the ice won.” Not Ice-T of TV and music fame, and not Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which is charged with removing undesirable illegal aliens from this country.

No, I fought with a foot-high ridge of ice melted off a roof edge and I most definitely lost. The judges score was Ice: 3, as in three broken ribs, to zero, as in zero damage I did to the ice.

I guess I don’t have to tell anyone who has broken a rib or two how painful the injury is. I now know full well just how painful three broken ribs can be, in my case ribs Nos. 6, 7 and 8 on the left side to be precise.

And probably as any other person who has broken a rib or two could tell you, the speed of the fall that does it to you is lightning quick. In my case, it was taking a slow, careful step over the ice ridge to get to a bag of salt, using a handhold while doing so, except that my step wasn’t quite careful enough and my handhold wasn’t that strong.

One nanosecond I was upright. The next, I was on my back grunting terrible grunts over and over for what seemed like five minutes, but probably was more like 30 seconds, until I could finally breathe again.

After contemplating the sky overhead for a few more minutes, while I got some semblance of my wits back, I decided to try and sit up. I was 99.44% sure I had broken ribs and sure enough, I could hear a crunch as I tried to sit up. Flat on my back for a couple more minutes, I mustered up enough thinking process to call Kevin Rasmussen, chief of the Plum Lake Emergency Medical Services (EMS).

As luck would have it, he was three blocks away at the fire station. A minute later, he was there to help, along with fellow fireman Jeremy Arnold. After a damage assessment we, the three of us, managed to get me upright and walked into the store.

Moments later, a Plum Lake paramedic, Sarah, responded to Kevin’s call and was there with the ambulance. A minute or so later, Barb Rasmussen, another emergency medical technician for Plum Lake, was there and I was shortly thereafter in the ambulance and on my way to Howard Young Medical Center in Woodruff.

I say all this mainly to let those four people know how much I appreciated their swift response and professional care. As town chairman of Plum Lake, I’ve always said we have as fine an EMS crew as any town in Vilas County and after experiencing their professionalism firsthand, that feeling is only further cemented in my mind.

Same goes for the quality and swiftness of care I received at Howard Young. Nurse Jessie and two other nurses whose names I did not catch were excellent in every phase of their care. Ditto that for the X-ray tech who took several pictures of me and nurse practitioner Julie Johnson. I could not have asked for better treatment.

My good, young doctor friend from Illinois, Dr. Greg Harmston, surprised me and didn’t even laugh when I called him a day after my fall to tell him my April turkey hunt on his Jo Daviess County stomping grounds was off. 

And that, friends, may be the worst part of breaking my ribs. All the plans I had for hunting turkeys, getting in some March and April fishing for perch and bluegills through the ice, even opening day of open water fishing could be in jeopardy.

According to all the medical people I’ve talked to, six weeks is about the length of most recovery, while oftentimes it is a few more weeks or even a couple more months before complete recovery is achieved.

I am kind of resigned to the fact I won’t be hefting my Old Town in and out of the back of my truck come opening day, maybe even opening month. Same goes for wading the White, Namekagon or other trout streams I usually hit right off the bat come opening day of trout season.

Right now, I’m not even sure about erecting the A-frame hard-sided camper my wife and I were looking to enjoy beginning early in May.

At this point, I’d just like to be able to get out of the house for a long walk with my dogs, but when making even a quarter-inch wrong move can practically paralyze me, I’m guessing it will be a while before even that simple pleasure is available.

Now that I think about it, having an accident such as this only serves as a good reminder how most of us take all those things we enjoy doing so much for granted. One unfortunate step, one bad decision, maybe just a second of bad luck and those things are taken away.

In my case, I know I’m lucky. Broken ribs heal relatively fast, which is more than I can say for the injuries a good friend of mine suffered just the day before I fell. While working a construction job, he fell from an 8-foot ladder onto ice and broke a rib, lacerated a lung and his spleen, suffered three fractures to a hip and a fracture of the pelvis. His estimated full recovery time is six months to a year. I’d say I am indeed lucky.

Anyway, as everyone’s mother has told their children at one time or another “This, too, shall pass.” I may be down, but soon enough, I’ll be back up, trout rod in hand, campfire crackling and supper sizzling over a wood fire in a cast-iron fry pan.