Widgets Magazine

Aug 9, 2011

My First Broken Bone

picture credit
I grew up in small-town Utah. It was so small that the elementary school and the junior high were in the same L-shaped building…big kids in one wing, little kids in the other. On the south side of the building we had a large playground with an extremely dangerous slide. It was metal with a couple of dips in it. That made it very hot and the sides to keep kids from falling off were only about six inches tall. The slide itself had to have been at least 30 feet high and just climbing the ladder (yes, a real ladder) was terrifying. But it was amazingly fun and rarely did a kid get hurt even though the landing pad was all gravel. We also had an old-fashioned "Witch's Hat" merry-go-round that was made out of metal. Yeah…we lived dangerously…we just didn’t know it.

On the north side of the building we had a large field, tennis courts, and a separate building that housed our gym and a couple of classrooms where the PE teachers taught health. The little kids pretty much stayed on the south side of the building and the big kids stayed on the north side. But not always. During lunch, the tennis courts hosted a huge pickup game of prisonball. If you’ve never played before, prisonball is a lot like dodge ball except that if you get hit by the ball or someone catches your ball, you go to the opposite side and stay in “prison” until someone catches a ball and you are set free. We only played with one playground ball, but the game was open to anyone who dared set foot on the court.

As a fifth-grader, I was pretty handy with a ball and I loved to play with the big kids. Unfortunately, I thought I was pretty good too and I was in severe need of a little dose of humility. One day I was standing about three feet from the net, urging an eighth grade boy to “Just throw it!” He pasted on an evil grin and lodged a bullet ball right at my chest. I deserved every bit of the force he threw into it. It slammed into my upper torso so hard that even though I caught the ball, I went down. I landed on my left arm and a piercing pain shot through my wrist. Of course I had to finish the game…but when the bell rang, for the first time in my life, I was happy to return to my classroom.

Not actual kid
After a few minutes of agony in my desk, I quietly approached my teacher, told him the story, and asked if I could walk the block to my house. He was not happy! He told me that if I decided to leave, I’d better come back with a cast! I was one of the top students in my class and my teacher was actually my neighbor and a good friend of my parents. I didn’t understand why he would treat me this way. I ran from the classroom, leaving my books and jacket at my desk. The tears stung my eyes as I cradled my arm against my stomach, trying to keep it from bouncing as I hurried along the dirt path that was the quickest way to my house.

I burst through the door and into my mom’s arms. She wasn’t expecting me, and it took me a good five minutes to get the story out. Then she piled me in the car and we drove two blocks to the doctor’s office. A couple of x-rays later and I had proof that my arm was broken about an inch above my wrist. The doctor put me in a temporary splint and made an appointment for us in Provo. Small-town docs didn’t do their own casts then. Mom took me back to the school about the time classes were getting out for the day. I made my way triumphantly to my classroom. Boy was my teacher going to be surprised! As I entered the room, he looked up from his desk. “That doesn’t look like a real cast,” he remarked. I mumbled something about getting a real cast in Provo the next day, then I gathered up my things and left.

The next day was Friday and we headed for the big city to get the cast. Over the weekend, my teacher stopped by my house to apologize to me and my parents for his behavior. And on Monday morning, he was the first one in my class to sign my “real” cast.


AudreyO said...

I personally have never had a broken bone. My daughter broke her wrist scootering. Her sister and her dad were with her. She was crying "don't tell mom" Umm yea with a broken wrist it's really hard to keep that secret from mom LOL.

Shell said...

Wow- crazy that he didn't believe you!

The only thing I have broken so far is my big toe. I dropped a laptop on it. OUCH. And then got yelled at by my supervisor for student teaching b/c I didn't wear pantyhose the next day.

Anonymous said...

Playgrounds were always dangerous when I was a kid!! I recently went round a childs play park that I used to play on as a kid (about 15 ish years ago) and gosh...nothing is dangerous anymore!! Rubber everywhere, teeny slides. lol

My brother slip down a slide once and split his lip...but I broke my arm when I fell from a paddling pool!

Natalie Ockey said...

When I try to describe that slide to people, they just can't understand its height and trajectory. As you sat atop it, awaiting your descent, you could see on top of the school and count the playground balls that'd been kicked up there. Later, they cut the slide in half (one bump down to 2) and it was still considered too dangerous. It's gone now. As for the witches hat, it used to crush fingers between the pole and the rim as it rocked to and fro. Even medieval torture chambers were safer than that playground! With all that, how'd you manage to break an arm on flat cement?!


Emmy said...

Wonder what his deal was. At least he apologized I guess. I have never broken a bone- knock on wood

Lacy@uphillandsmiling said...

I like the picture of you at the end.

We had the same slide at my elementary school! :)


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