Lightning Strikes Too Close to Home


I have a weird and very frightening story to share, with permission from the victim. It all started with a phone call. I was at the cottage, enjoying a campfire. I went inside momentarily to refresh our beverages, so just happened to be close enough to my phone to hear it ring. When I answered, I heard “I think I’ve been struck by lightning!”

To put it mildly, the next few minutes were intense.

WHAT! Where are you?

I’m fine, not even sore, don’t worry.

I raced down to the firepit with the phone on speaker mode so hubby could hear the details too:

Taking advantage of the fact that his young children were not home to help, he was standing on scaffolding to trim cedars in his backyard. Dark clouds and thunder in the distance alerted him to an approaching storm. It was not yet raining and the clouds were a good distance away, so he assumed that he had a few minutes to get in the house.

Apparently not.

The next thing he knew, he regained consciousness flat on his back, ten feet from the scaffolding, with rain beating down on him. He had no recollection of what happened but his distance from the scaffolding discounted a (simple) fall.

He felt no pain, so like the dedicated employee he is, drove himself to an extra night shift as scheduled. When he called us the job had been canceled, so he had time to share the few details he could recall with us.

Our phone call disconnected a few times, so I started messaging him…

I lost you again. If you feel any symptoms, even mild ones, go to Emerg!!

From Aunt Vickie (a nurse in Texas): When i worked burn unit (for years in Houston) I saw that. No outward signs but messed up electrical conduction of heart.

Maybe tomorrow

Make sure you do. We love you, that’s why we’re (family and friends) bugging you to go.

I know, I just hate hospitals

The next day he went to work but halfway through the day started feeling pain:

My back is killing me now. I’m sore everywhere, but my back’s the worst

Uh oh, all over your back or specific spots?

A dull pain or sharp?

What were you doing today?

Not sharp pain, it’s hard to tell.

Working. My new nickname is White Lightening

If the pain gets worse, go to ER. Wouldn’t hurt you to go get looked at, x-rays etc, make sure no internal injuries

I’ll see how things are tomorrow. I’m not going now

Did I ever tell you you’re as stubborn as your Grandpa?

Lol. I’ll go in the morning. I just hope I don’t have to wait forever. (Like he did a few years ago when he broke his arm at work, waited four hours to be seen, then 24 more for surgery!)

Go early then, the longer you wait, the busier will be. If you tell them you were struck by lightning you shouldn’t have to wait long.

Early (he did listen to something I said) the next morning I got the news he was in the ER at Ottawa’s QCH. He had only good things to say about the staff and was seen right away.

Although his phone was turned off so no one could reach him for updates.

Are you waiting?


I waited a few hours but when no one had heard any updates, (including the coworker that dropped him off) I phoned the hospital. Yes, I pulled the Mom card! His nurse assured me they were doing lots of tests, just waiting for one last result, and that everything looked good.

What a relief!

The Doctor’s Theory

The theory is that, because of the way he was braced against the (metal) posts of the scaffolding, one safety-boot-clad foot on each, the voltage went up one leg to his knee, (at that point both of his knees were swollen) across to the other knee and out the opposite foot. Because he lost consciousness, he was then tossed like a rubber doll across the yard, landing on his back, thankfully on the lawn. The rain most likely brought him around.

Upon release from the hospital, he was picked up and returned to the office (where his truck was) where he promptly fell asleep until the next morning.

What to Do (And Not to Do) in a Thunderstorm

These tips may seem obvious but are critical for safety. In this instance, when you hear thunder (often before you see lightning), drop whatever you’re doing and get inside!

Beyond Grateful

Wow, how lucky could he (and we) get? It certainly could have been much worse. Very few lightning victims walk away. Although still very sore and physically exhausted, he is lucky and grateful to be alive.

We are beyond grateful to everyone that called to check on him and pitched in to take care of him. You know who you are!

Not to make it all about me but it’s a good thing I’ve already got gray hair!

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