Reading Ree's blog this morning, she made me reminisce about my own accident-prone childhood (ok, ok, it's not just childhood...) I can't help but wonder how many gray hairs I gave my mom with my antics. I was usually testing the boundaries of my physical capabilities (but without the training!!) I think it started when I saw Mary Poppins flying with that damn umbrella of hers. I mean really, if she can do it, so can I, no?
I don't know how many hours I spent jumping off a box with umbrella in hand just knowing that it was possible for it to break my fall. I was probably about 6 years old. And the fact that it didn't work just meant that I was doing something wrong, not that it was not possible!! I believed, dammit! (and now, thinking about it, I realize I was right...I just needed a much bigger umbrella, so big it's called a parachute, and much more height from which to leap!!) (and of course, I now realize that I have a slight fear of heights, which makes jumping from such a height a non-option) (and will I stop using these parentheses?) (probably not...)
Once I gave up my dream of the umbrella breaking my fall, I resorted to Tarzan. It made sense to me. The man had trees and we had a large tree in the backyard. The man had vines from which to swing-our tree was a ficus and had "vines" hanging down. Granted, the vines Tarzan swung from were bigger than the vines from our tree, but he was also a grown man, whereas I was a small child. Our vines would hold me just fine. I even tested them, tugging on them a few times to make sure that they wouldn't break. I grabbed onto the vines, put my feet up on the tree, hanging from the vines. So far so good. I gave a test push, swung out just a bit, and everything was groovy. I gained confidence. I gave a nice strong push and SNAP! I found myself on the ground looking up at the traitorous tree. As I went to get up, my right arm looked a bit funny, that can happen when you break both bones in your arm. AAAAAAH!!!!! Even at 7, I think I nearly fainted at the sight of my arm flopping about even though I didn't have any pain yet. I ran inside clutching my arm, screaming. Before my sister called my mom at work, she put a towel over my arm so she wouldn't have to look at it (I found a pic of a floppy arm online-even now it really grosses me out so I won't post it!)
That was the first big one--arm in a cast for 6 weeks, which for a 7 year old is practically a lifetime! I didn't give up the tree, although our relationship was never the same after it betrayed me like that. Instead, I discovered roller skates, falling on my butt many times, but even then, it had more cushioning than my arm. In that time, my family moved (away from the tree) to the house on the island. We only had orange and grapefruit trees whose limbs were as scrawny as my own and not any fun to climb. I took to skating around the smooth driveways in the neighborhood. The asphalt road was way too rough to really enjoy and there weren't any sidewalks.
However, right around the corner from the house, the apartment complex had a nice long parking area...made of concrete. I loved it, speeding back and forth along the smooth surface. Then, one day, it happened. I was hijacked by a little branch blown in by the wind. My skates stopped, I kept going, right to the ground. Instinctively, I put both arms out to stop my fall, not even considering that I had had my cast off just a year ago. As I looked down at my arm, I nearly fainted again. It was flopping, this time in the opposite direction than it had last time. Whatever. I knew it was bad news. I started calling for help as I got up (how I got up, I have no freakin' clue to this day...I mean, you generally need both arms to get up,no? I only had one good one, was one roller skates, and I somehow managed to get to my feet to call for help?? I dunno...)
This guy was driving by and stopped. Told me to get into the car and he'd drive me home. I said no. I sent him to my house (it was just around the corner after all) to get help. To his credit, he did, and I got another towel over the arm while we waited for mom to get home to bring me to the hospital. This time however, blood was involved. We tried to figure out where it was coming from and found a white something or other sticking just through the skin. Oh! Hey! Looky there! Bone!
This time, I got the L-shaped cast. I also was subjected to the doctor's scare tactic, telling me that if I broke my arm again after that, they would have to cut it off. (and yes, I believed them--Hey! I was 8!!) I hated the L-shaped cast. Not being able to straighten my arm, I would sit and work the cast, trying to straighten my arm. Slowly, the plaster started giving way to my persistence. Once I was able to get my arm to about a 95 degree angle, my mom brought me in to the doctor and he re-plastered me at the set 90 degrees. All my hard work foiled!! Boy, was I pissed off!
However, the cast did have advantages. I could really pound on my step-brother with it and not feel a thing (lest you think this was an unfair advantage, he was 7 years older than me and used to provoke me into a fury until I did end up hitting him.....) Once he realized that it didn't hurt me to hit him with the cast, he would run from me and I would give chase. Another advantage?? Did you know you can fall on a broken arm with a cast and not feel a thing?? I learned that through experience. Took my fear away!! I was unstoppable!!!
Then, eventually came the day to take my armor off. As the doctor sawed through the plaster, I looked on in curiosity at the iodine-stained, puny, shrivelled arm being uncovered. It was gross, even grosser than seeing my arm flopping about. Even once the cast was off, I couldn't straighten my arm. I had been looking forward to this moment the whole time, and now that I was free, my arm screamed in protest!! It took about an hour of me slowly working my arm out for me to be able to straighten it again. (Once again, I was pissed off that they had reset it at a right angle. I figured that if they had just let me work the cast, it would have saved me the pain of learning to straighten my arm again...hmmph.)
Fast forward less than one year. I am walking home with my mom and my sister from the beach through our shortcut...a path through unused land that still had the foundation of the building that once stood there, now covered in weeds and creeping vines. I trip. I reach forward to break my fall, and as I see the cement rushing towards me, I remember the doctor's words, "If you break your arm again, we'll have to cut it off." I bring my arms to my chest, close my eyes and somehow twist my body, landing on my shoulder (again...more padding than the arm.) I lay there, holding my breath as I hear my mom's sharp intake of breath. I open my eyes, my mom has a look of terror and panic on her face. I get up. The arm is fine. No flopping bits, no blood, no injuries. I'm OK.