XC – Those Are The Breaks!

Everyone has seen, at one time or another, someone in a cast. Be it on the leg or the arm, we’ve all seen someone who was a victim of a broken bone. Or maybe you were that person in the cast. If you’re one of those who has never broken a bone, consider yourself fortunate, or count your blessings, or thank your god, or whatever you do to show gratitude. As a person who has had a broken bone, I can speak from personal experience. Let me tell you about the time it happened.

It was early 1989, around 25 January, or somewhere around there. Anyway, it was my junior year of high school. It was around 16:30 (mid-afternoon); school had dismissed at 15:30, and I had stayed late that day for some reason—use the computer lab or something. Whatever it was is unimportant. I rode my bicycle to and from school, since I didn’t have a car, and it was quicker than walking the mile-and-a-half one way. I went my usual route, that didn’t involve a lot of traffic, and the ride was just like any other. That is, until close to home.

At the end of the street I lived on, you either had to turn right or left. The next block over, there is an intersection. In one direction, the cross street approaches at about a 45° angle. That street has a stop sign; the road I was on had no sign. As I approach the intersection, a car stops at the corner. Since I don’t have to stop, I keep riding, I rode on the left side of the street, since I would be turning at the next street, the one I lived on. The car took off from the corner, and proceeds to run me over. Fortunately, she had just left a stop sign, so she wasn’t going very fast. The impact was enough that I was ejected from the bike and went flying forward, while my bike was being pushed by the car. To this day, over 30 years later, I have no recollection of the brief moments when I was airborne. I remember the car hitting me, then being on the ground, a few feet from the curb, facing the direction from which I had come—essentially, I flew and did a 180 before landing. I picked up my right leg, and it was just flopping around from the shin down. I dragged myself over to the curb, just a couple of feet, and lay on the grass of the house on the corner. Fortunately, the lady in the car stopped to render assistance. My family arrived shortly thereafter, and I was transported to the emergency room.

Accident

In the ambulance, the paramedics had given me some pain killer, but there was this surreal feeling, seeing my leg straight as I was lying on the stretcher, but my foot was sitting at a 90° angle from my leg. The ER wasn’t far away, but it felt like forever to get there. I was rushed in from the ambulance, and the ER doctor and nurses looked at my leg. X-rays were taken, but that just confirmed that both the bones in my lower leg were broken. My dad had a pretty good insurance policy, but it just didn’t cover that hospital. So, I was transported to a hospital that took my dad’s insurance. Oh, joy! Another ambulance ride🤨. If you’ve never had to ride in the back of an ambulance, let me tell you, they’re absolutely not made for a comfortable ride! Arriving at the second hospital, their ER doctor came and looked at my leg. The doctor wanted to set my leg, but with both he and a nurse, a big, strong dude, couldn’t get it in place. Apparently, there was way too much tension in the muscles to pull the leg and reset the break. The break in the bones wasn’t a “clean” break—it was more of a “V” shape, which was to my advantage, since it would be able to hold itself.

broken leg
Example of tibia-fibula fracture

I was admitted that night, so that the next morning, I could be sedated, thereby relaxing the muscles in the leg and allow for them to reset the broken leg and put it into a cast, which went from my foot to my hip. I asked why the cast had to be so long, to which they replied that in order for my leg to heal properly, I needed to not bend my knee. After discharge, I was wheeled out to the car, and from there, I had to learn to use crutches. One of the worst parts of a cast is when you get an itch about halfway down the cast, where you can’t reach! Showering is also a strange experience, since you don’t want to cast to get wet, or get inside of it wet. Between that and the normal sweat, the inside of a cast can get kinda stinky🤢.

Though I could move around on crutches, it wasn’t easy. For many days, the pain was horrible. Finally, the point came where the pain subsided. Because I couldn’t move well in the beginning, I missed several weeks of school because of this, and someone was brought in to bring my homework papers and supposedly help me. Unfortunately, this was 1989, and the internet wasn’t a thing. Cell phones weren’t even everywhere—only the rich had them, and they looked like a goddamned brick! Anyway, there was no “online” 31 years ago, so a tutor came by the house. Regrettably, the dumb bitch that came to the house didn’t know jack shit about anything, so she was useless. I fell quite a bit behind because of that excuse for a tutor. Eventually, I did return, though for a time, I was going around on those crutches. Navigating school that way was a challenge, but for the most part, people respected it. I managed to get myself mostly caught up.

Person on Crutches

Time passed, and I “graduated” to a walking cast. My leg was okay to walk unaided, but it wasn’t quite 100% healed. It wasn’t until early summer that the cast finally came off for good. Once I was cast-less, I noticed a bump on my shin where my leg had broken. It was healed, but there was a slight bump. To this day, the bump is there. It’s not visible from afar, but I can show you. Coincidentally, it’s right where my sock comes up to on my leg, as I wear crew socks.

Though I was 16 at the time, I still remember nights where I would cry because the pain of my broken leg was unbearable. I would have to rank that pain in the top 3 of the physical pains I’ve felt in my adult life. Not emotional pain, since the emotional pain of when my dad died is much greater. Another great physical pain I had was my hernia back in 1993, but that’s another story.

Because I fell behind, I failed my 11th grade English class. I went to the teacher to find out what I needed to do to recover the credit. Considering the circumstances, he told me what needed to be done. However with everything that goes on in the senior year of high school, it wasn’t until June before I got the assignment done (okay, I procrastinated a little, also). Graduation at the time was in late June, so I just made the deadline, and thus was able to walk across the stage, in cap and gown, and receive my diploma.

Busted Leg

It was real, but it was not fun. 0/10, absolutely do not recommend. Have you ever broken a bone? What was your experience like? Comment here or on Facebook/Instagram [“@raysrantsoftheweek”], or email me (raysrantsoftheweek@gmail.com). I’d love to hear your story, and possibly commiserate.

Thank you for joining me this week. Next week will be another random ride. Until then, be careful to keep your bones intact, be safe and be well.

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