The Cane

I have officially been doing this blog now for one week. The feedback has been overwhelming and I appreciate more than you know that you have returned to read more of my stories. Writing has been a big dream of mine for a long time and it makes me really happy just to do it, but the fact that other people are enjoying it makes it really fun. Anyway, let’s get on with it. We will pick up and finish off this little 3 part saga a month or so after I was out of the hospital.

May 1996. I was back on my feet and working my way through physical therapy. My first trip to physical therapy we found out that I couldn’t bend my knee more than 15 degrees with out extreme pain, we had a long way to go. Initially I was given the option of crutches (or maybe just one crutch because of my broken wrist). My dad explained that if I used a crutch it would take longer for my to heal, so we decided to go with an alternative option… a cane.

Just like that, I was transformed into a fat, adolescent pimp with a gangster limp. I moved slow before the accident, now I made elderly people look like Usain Bolt. It didn’t help that I needed a student aid periodically since I couldn’t write or take tests since my right wrist was broken. Although, this worked out to my advantage as she had to fill in the bubbles on the IOWA Basic test for me and I was able read her expressions when I gave a wrong answer. She had more tells than a first time poker player at the world series of poker (I scored in the 98th percentile by the way, did I mention I am gifted?).

The end of the school year was approaching and the anticipation of summer made the energy in the school rise to new levels, especially as 5th graders as it was our last year in elementary school. On this particular day it was gorgeous out, it felt like summer already and recess was on the horizon. Right after lunch (my personal favorite time of the day) we went out for recess where I patrolled the playground slowly, watching all of the other kids intently walking around like the chubby pimp I was.

I spent a lot of time near the kickball field during recess because I could at least pitch and feel like I was a part of a game. On this particular day I was just wandering around with Fred, you know, pimpin’.

We came upon some friends who were playing pickle and we stopped to watch a little bit. Quickly we lost interest and continued on our way. I took about five steps and then… wham!

I was dazed, something just hit me in the side of the head. Luckily I had my cane to brace myself with and managed to stay on my feet. It didn’t hurt yet, but I was stunned, I didn’t know what happened.

Turns out an errant throw had struck me square in the temple. I heard some kids laughing so I tried to laugh it off with them as I put my left hand over my left temple. As I rested my hand there for a moment as it started to happen…

The side of my head started to swell at an alarming pace and suddenly I was cupping a lump the size of a baseball growing on the side of my face. I don’t remember their being a whole of pain at this point, that is, until the laughing kids stopped laughing and started crowding around me as I transformed into a freak show (or bigger freak show) in front of their very eyes. Next, they all looked scared and were pointing at the side of my head, now it was starting to hurt.

The lump started rising in my throat and my eyes started to well. Now, this is when I would have run to the school nurse and escaped my gawking classmates but this was not an option. I started hobbling along as quickly as the cane would take me but the mob stayed with me like some sort of elementary school paparazzi.

“It’s fine, it’s fine, just leave me (gasp, gasp) alone” I was crying now. My head was throbbing and the attention was making it all much worse. Finally, one of the recess aids came over to see what was going on and gasped as she saw what must have looked like a spontaneous tumor or elephantitis type growth coming out of my already gigantic 11-year-old head. That pushed me over the edge, the adult looked unsettled by what she saw… I mentally went where my mind continues to go today when things go bad, the worst case scenario. I thought it was going to explode in my hand and I would start bleeding profusely from my head. Maybe I was actually holding my brain protruding from my skull. Maybe these were going to be the last moments of my life. I was bawling. I couldn’t speak, I could barely see through the tears as I made my way to the nurses office.

I was given an ice pack upon arrival and sat on the cot that was made for normal sized elementary school kids. The principal was calling my mom and I over heard her explaining that real baseballs weren’t allowed on the playground but that she should come get me right away.

When my mom walked in I had calmed down quite a bit and was starting to feel a little tired and lethargic. She helped me up and we made our way to the car. I quickly realized that we were not headed home.

“Where are we going?” I asked through sniffles (secretly hoping I was getting Dairy Queen to help me feel better… I was a large cookie dough blizzard guy back then, FYI).

“We are going to the hospital” she said.

“Why are we going to the hospital?” I asked wanting more than anything NOT to go to the hospital.

“We need to go get an x-ray to make sure that there is nothing wrong” she said.

“What could be wrong?” I asked.

“Nothing, I am sure you’re fine” she said.

“Why are we going to the hospital then?” I asked as I started to cry again.

“Because we need to make sure nothing is wrong” she said again.

“You said I was fine, what’s (gasp, gasp) wrong?” I was really crying now as I ran through all of the worst case scenarios I could think of.

“I don’t know. We just need to make sure nothing is wrong so we are going to the ER” she said as she started to cry.

This was the first mention of the ER that I can remember. “Why (gasp) are we (gasp) going to the ERrrrrr?!” I asked.

“We need to get x-rays to make sure that you’re ok” she said through tears.

“What’s wrong with me? Why do I need x-rays?” I asked looking for some sort of diagnosis.

“I (gasp, gasp) don’t know!” she said. We pulled up to the hospital, both crying. We both wiped our eyes dry as we made it to the ER.

I was about the same height as my mom at the time and limped in with her cane in hand looking like a prepubescent Quasimodo. I went back for x-rays that forced me to put the top of my head against the wall behind me, it was uncomfortable and painful.

We waited and found out that everything was ok… my mom was right all along, but I had already developed the habit that has stuck with me until this very day. I worry and look for the worst case scenario, always. I don’t know if this habit formed or if it was just solidified by this period in my life, but it was definitely the worst spring of my life. Luckily, I haven’t been admitted to a hospital since.

I still carry lasting effects of the accident with a trick knee that gives me trouble now and then but, those stories are for another day. Cheers.