This particular tower is over 700 feet tall. One of the tallest in north Texas. Usually when a person climbs a tower this tall, it is best done on a calm morning just before sun-up. Before the breeze starts that is created by the cool night air meeting the sun warmed air of the morning.
The swaying if the tower can be a little scary for most people. Usually I am not bothered by heights. But then again usually one is tied off to the winch with a harness that keeps one safe from falling. This time was different. I had no winch to drag me up the tower, so the ladder was the option. The ice had collected on the half inch round steel ladder rungs and it seemed like one foot or another slipped off every other step as I made my way up. Trying to hang on to the icy steel ladder in blowing wind and hail was challenging to say the least. My gloves were getting soaked through. By the time I made the 100 foot mark my hands were so cold I had to make double sure I was grabbing the ladder. By 200 feet my legs were burning. I found I could hang on to the ladder with one hand if I hooked my arm in at the elbow. This allowed me to try and knock some ice off the ladder. Every so often I would tie off and let my arms rest.
I was so thankful I was in good shape from climbing towers and telephone poles every day. I was also glad it was dark, and my glasses were covered with various states of water from liquid to solid. Sometime we just don’t need to see how bad the situation we’re in. I can’t help but think that in todays standards of work ethics, I would not have felt the pressure to make that climb. Back then your word meant everything.
There I was tied off at 500 feet up in the dark. The tower was swaying 5 feet or more back and forth from the wind. The hail was pounding hard, and brother it was cold. Real cold. This had been a challenging climb. Usually there is a wench to hoist you up but it runs on electricity.
I had disconnected the leads from TP&L and was in the process of moving them to the side when I felt the surge start. It got real hot, real fast, then sparks. I woke up dazed, not knowing where I was and seeing nothing but white bright light.
The most apparent thing I remember was the fear. The fear that I had lot my eyesight forever.
I could not blink or rub away the brilliant white terror. How long was this going to last? Could anyone do anything about this? How was I going to survive? Why did I survive ? What was the point? This was so cruel I remember screaming in my heart.
I had hung up there from around 1:30 AM until 7:AM when the fire department rescued me and brought me down. I understand that I was found at about 5: AM by my supervisor. He and the fire department used ropes to lower me. I had been burnt and had some brain loss resulting in my vision loss. However if I had not been wet I would have been hurt far more seriously. The water help dissipate the current.
The next several weeks were an emotional and drug induced blur. In and out of consciousness.
But there was one very clear day that would change my life forever.