Royals manager Ned Yost said he doesn't remember what part of his body hit the ground first from his 20-foot fall from a tree stand on his property outside Atlanta.
"It could have been my feet or it could have been my pelvis," Yost said by phone on Monday morning.
But Yost knows this much: He's very lucky to be alive. Yost shattered his pelvis on the fall on Nov. 4 and just returned to his home from Grady Memorial Hospital on Sunday.
"There's no doubt I would have bled out if I didn't have my cellphone with me," Yost said. "There was nobody that was coming. Nobody would have found me. I would have been dead by nightfall."
Yost, an avid hunter, was attempting to secure one of the numerous tree stands he has on his property when the bottom of the stand completely fell out, crashing, along with Yost, to the earth. After determining he couldn't move, he called his wife, Deb, who was on her way out of town to a wedding shower.
Deb turned her car around, called 911, explained the situation, and within 20 minutes a life-flight helicopter landed in a field near where Yost lay in agony. Twenty-four minutes later, Yost was on an operating table as surgeons frantically tried to save his life.
"I didn't realize I was in that much danger," Yost said. "I knew my whole right side was mush. But the trauma surgeon came in a couple of days later and he said, 'Man, Ned, I was really, really scared about you. We've seen these things before -- this is a 25-30 percent mortality rate. You were crashing on the table. We couldn't get the bleeding stopped. I thought we were going to lose you.'"
The road forward won't be easy. Yost will be confined to a wheelchair for at least two months. He hopes to be up and around by Spring Training.
For now, Yost is dealing with constant pain. He mostly sits in an easy chair, 10 hours at a time. But there are times he must get up, to go to the bathroom or to simply move around -- and that's when the pain is excruciating, even with pain medication.
Yost also has had plenty of time to reflect on what happened.
"I'm real particular about safety with these tree stands," he said. "I make sure I check all the straps on the stands and put life lines up -- a life line is a line that goes from the top of the stand to the bottom of tree. You hook up at the bottom and then climb up. There's no way for you to fall out. It's got you.
"I had taken my four-wheeler to a stand that I wanted to check on. It was about 1:30 p.m. Normally you step on the stand with the line you got, then you hook onto the lifeline, and you're done. I climbed up there and I was reaching to get the clip on and the stand fell completely like a hangman's shoot. The stand, the whole bottom just fell out of the stand.
"I hit the ground, fell about 20 feet. I don't know if I fell on my feet or my pelvis. I knew I was hurt pretty good but I could wiggle my toes. I could wiggle my arms. I could move my head. I just sat for a second to see if I could get up and get on the four-wheeler. But when I tried, I couldn't move an inch. I could feel my legs totally shut down. I figured my pelvis was just mush.
"Luckily I had my phone. There are times I'm out there without my phone. Luckily we had cell service."
Yost's experience at the hospital -- and he is eternally grateful for the surgeons who saved him -- is something he won't soon forget.
"Once I got to the hospital, they got me on the table, and all of a sudden I felt a shot -- the doctor had drilled a hole through my leg and through my bone and inserted a rod into it," Yost said. "Then he put two 10-pound weights on each side of the rod for traction. Then they picked me up and put me in these compression pants -- it was so painful, I can't even tell you.
"I kept asking 'What are you doing?' The trauma surgeon said, 'We got to do this to save your life.' I'm like, 'Save my life? What are you talking about?' What I didn't notice was that they kept giving me units of blood. They gave me seven or eight units of blood. They said, 'Look, your pelvis is full of blood vessels and arteries, and when you shatter it like you did, you have a lot of bleeding in there. We have to get it stopped.'
"They took me up to an operating table and shot my hip full of something and finally got the bleeding stopped. Finally, about 1 p.m. the next day, they took me into surgery and put plates in and numerous screens -- man, they had to piece it all together.
"They did a great job. I'm still here."