642 Tiny Things to Write About: Breaking bones

Write about the time you broke: a bone.

I’ve broken two bones in my body–a toe on my left foot is the far less dramatic of the two.  I broke it playing indoor soccer in high school.  Breaking your toe is pretty minor in the scheme of broken bones; you get taped up and told to keep it elevated for a few days.   There’s no cast to sign, just you hobbling around the high school halls for a week or so and a note that gets you out of gym class for two weeks (Score! Newsflash, I was not athletic in my youth and despised gym class)

My other break however became a favorite family tale.   I was in the 4th grade and Mrs. Herring was my main teacher for that year.  In my Lutheran parochial school, Kindergarten through 3rd were on the ground floor of the building; when you reached 4th you went “upstairs” and started to rotate with different teachers.  Mrs. Herring taught us History and English, and I loved being in her class.  It was also the first year you could take “Band” after school and I started playing clarinet under the guidance of Mrs. Zupfer, an instrument I would play all the way through to my second year of college.

If I remember correctly, we had gym twice a week.  Because we weren’t in the upper grades (7th – 8th), we didn’t “dress out” in gym clothes and just changed shoes.   This limited activities to things that didn’t exert too much physical effort and relay races tended to be on heavy rotation.  It was one of those races that did me in.  We were supposed to run to one end and then walk backwards to the starting line.  During the “walk backwards” section, one of my classmates, Vicky veered into my lane and I stumbled and fell, stiff arming to break my fall against the wooden gym floor. And I hit the floor hard, and felt immediate pain and then numbness.

It was quickly determined by Mrs. Herring that I needed to go to the nurse, perhaps because my left arm started to look like a swollen mess. ( This is back in the dark ages when schools had actual nurses on staff).  The nurse contacted my mother and I sat in the her office, perched on the examination table, reading some Highlights magazines to while away the minutes until my mom arrived.

By chance, this was also the day that the upper classes were getting our measles vaccination.  During the early 1970’s, vaccines were administered at school. (I can only imagine this happening today; the anti-vaccination parent’s heads would explode).  Someone had determined that the dead vaccine that had been administered years ago wasn’t effective, so we need to be re-inoculated with a live vaccine.  So as my mom came to pick me up, the nurse figured as long as I was in her office, she’d give me my booster vaccine before I left for the day.  This happened on a Wednesday.

Fast forward to Saturday morning.  I’m watching cartoons, with my newly minted cast on my broken left arm.  I’m feeling a bit pokey, but excited about getting my cast signed by my classmates on Monday.  I suddenly realize I’m really itchy.  Extremely itchy.   And hot.  My mom comes over to where I’m lying on the couch and discovered I’m blooming with measles.  (I’m not sure I caught the measles because the live virus was too highly concentrated in the dose, or whether my body was still recovering from some surgeries the summer before and with the recent bone break, my immune system was compromised.)

If you’ve ever had a cast, you know how after a few days, the skin begins to itch. Now, add measles to the equation.  There wasn’t enough baby powder in the world to shove down into that cast to bring relief.  Plus, I was quarantined from school for a few weeks due to my condition, which made me bored and cranky as hell.   My mother must have thanked the Almighty and every angel when the doctor gave  me the all clear to go back to school.  I was happy to return as well–and spent the first day getting my cast signed by all the students and talking about my ordeal.  Since the cast was my left arm, I could still write and I figured out how to play clarinet with it as well.   But I was sidelined from gym class for weeks.

Which made all the itchiness almost worth it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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