Wednesday, November 28, 2014 at 1:35 p.m. will remain etched in the memory of yours truly until the day when I can no longer function mentally. Most of you will not know that I work in the specialty chemical field as a full time gig and have done so for the past 20 years. My Team Over The Top training/coaching business evolved about 15 years ago. This was in response to friends and associates wanting me to assist in their training for specific events. They knew about my academic background in Applied Sports Science and my previous fitness consulting business (Stapleton & Associates) that was created in 1979.
You could ask the question “what the hell am I doing in the chemical business?”. I would answer “I don’t have a clue!”. Seriously, back when I set up Stapleton & Associates, there were NO exercise physiologists being hired by teams, individuals, clubs etc. I carved out a niche by being aggressive, creative and one hell of a GREAT salesperson. Being WAY ahead of my time in the fitness business, the opportunity to make serious $$ in my chosen field was BELOW limited to say the least. Upon realizing my earning potential was basically non-existent, I applied my natural sales skills to the chemical business…a business that has been challenging, lucrative and flexible enough for me to resurrect my fitness training/coaching business as Team Over The Top. As I approach 100 years old (just kidding) and forced retirement from the chemical field (again, just kidding!), I plan to ramp up TOTT big time…God willing and my health allowing.
The last statement brings me to the title of the blog. I was onsite at one of my customers’ overseeing the installation of a chemical feed system. A contract plumber was assisting me by connecting pipes and seals. A contract electrician (whom I did not know) was showing us the automated timing mechanism that he had set up to feed our chemicals into the customer’s waste water flow line. Unbeknownst to any of us, another outside contractor had not secured the feed tubing to the pipes. One of the chemicals being fed was Sodium Hydroxide – one of the most dangerous chemicals on the planet. I won’t bore you with any more details re: the chemicals. Suffice it to say, the electrician asked me to watch the chemical climb the feed tube to the piping. Since my role at the time was NOT to be anywhere near chemicals, all of my safety gear was lying beside me (BIG mistake!). In a split second, my life almost ended. The pressure from the Sodium Hydroxide blew the unsecured tubing off the pipe and sprayed the chemical into my eyes, mouth, ear, chest, arm and 1 leg as well as all over my face. Thank God, my plumber was not hit – he immediately dragged me screaming in pain from the chemical room to a safety wash station (this was a brand new plant that had JUST activated the safety station). Unable to see out of either eye, I immediately understood the severity of my injuries. The good news is that I did not actually swallow any of the chemical. Otherwise, the specialist told me later that I would have internally bled to death. The better news came after about 25 minutes of saline flushing – the sight in my right eye was coming back. I was rushed into ICU at a nearby hospital where the staff proceeded to save the sight in my left eye after 6 hours of more direct saline water flushing. All of my other burns were treated with special creams that helped control the pain and, ultimately, saved me from severe scarring and plastic surgery.
The specialist who examined and treated me over the next 1o days simply kept saying “you are a lucky man”. Needless to say, I agreed in spades! Through the grace of God, I have been given not only another life but the full return of my sight with NO scarring. Mentally, I still battle with the memory BUT I also thank God, the health professionals, my customer’s staff (who did all the correct things to save me before the paramedics arrived) and, mostly, my family. I await a sign from God for another purpose to my life…there is no doubt in my mind that I have been given another chance to make a more positive impact on earth.
Even at my VERY advanced age full of many life experiences, I learned valuable lessons. From a situation that should NEVER have happened, I emerged, stronger, wiser and more forgiving than ever. I’m also convinced that, as we enter a new year, the coach will be more insightful, creative, supportive and powerful within TOTT and beyond.
Stay safe AND take nothing for granted. God bless…