Monday, August 11, 2014

A 60-year Memory

It was but a week after my 6th birthday. I was probably feeling my oats. I was thinking I was bigger than I was, more mature, more able to do things. I knew more than my mother. She was just being over-protective like all parents.

"Don't go on the big sliding board. It's too tall. And especially don't go on the parallel-bars type sliding thing, either."

Did I listen? Of course. Not. And as is often the case, parents do know better. I lost my grip and fell the 8 or 10 (???) feet landing square on the upper left arm. Probably the only thing that kept it from being a compound fracture and breaking the skin was landing on it directly. It held it in- but not together.

"Don't tell my mother!" I said to the playground worker. "She told me not to go up there."

"Sure, kid," she probably thought. "You just fell and probably hurt yourself badly and I'm going to let you just go? Think again!"

We only lived half-a-block away and someone ran to get Mom. First to the local hospital where Dad met us. X-rays showed that surgery of some kind was needed that they couldn't do there. Take me to the big hospital in Williamsport.

Off we went, Dad driving. I vaguely remember being in the back seat. I don't remember pain or anything in particular. Perhaps (probably) they gave me some kind of pain medicine at the ER.

I did have surgery to put everything together properly. I spent a week in the hospital. It was sort of fun, as I remember it now. It was, in retrospect, my first experience with illness and death. There was this other boy in the pediatric ward with me. One day I noticed that he wasn't there. No one told me anything and didn't seem to want to. Many years later I realized that he probably died from something. (This was the mid-1950s!)

Anyway, that crazy, top-heavy body cast kept me from being able to walk at first- hence the wheel-chair. I missed partial days in my first week at school, still in the cast. When they took the cast off I needed physical therapy and remember wearing some kind of traction sling.

No permanent damage, although my wife and I discovered when I went to get fitted for a suit many years ago that the arm which was broken is about an inch shorter than the right.

Guess that's the story for today.

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