Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry Share Next Entry
LJ Idol week 9 - unprepared


It was late August of 1983 and I was about to start the fourth grade.  I was very excited. I'm one of the kids who always liked school and looked forward to going back.  The back-to-school shopping was all finished.  I had my new folders and notebooks, and some new clothes to start the year (including an outfit I planned to wear for the all important first day).  I was counting down the days to school.

Six days before the fourth grade, Mom and one of her friends Jan had planned a day trip for us to Bay Beach.  Jan had two kids that were about the same age as my brother and I – we weren't hugely close but we got along well enough when our moms wanted to hang out.  Bay Beach is an amusement park.  Back then tickets were 50 cents each, and most of the rides – bumper cars, the giant 60' blue slide, the scrambler, the merry-go-round – were still only one ticket each.  Mom had packed a picnic lunch but we were promised cotton candy.  It was going to be a great day.

We got to the park early – before the rides were even on.  Luckily there was an ordinary park next door – just swings and slides and a jungle gym.  Mom and Jan turned us loose to play while we waited for the Bay Beach gates to open and the real fun to begin.

After I got tired of swinging (always my favorite) I went to play on the slides.  After several trips down the 6' tall bumpy slide I decided to walk back up the slide part.  At the top I would turn around, sit, and slide back down. 

After a few times of this I was on my way back up when Todd appeared at the top of the slide, having climbed up the usual way.  He, of course, wanted me to get out of the way so he could slide down.  I turned around where I was, about 2/3 of the way up, and prepared to slide back down.

I have never figured out exactly what happened; I think one of my feet was still folded under me when I started to slide down.  In any case something stopped my forward motion and I flipped over the side of the slide and landed, hard, on my right side.  I still distinctly remember jumping back up and not being able to breathe, and that being terrifying.  After only a few seconds that felt like an eternity I got my wind back.  Mom calmed me down and asked if anything hurt.  I said that my arm hurt a little but it wasn't too bad.  After all – Bay Beach opened in less than 30 minutes!

Mom had me lie down on top of a picnic table so she could see how my arm was resting, and decided to take me to the hospital.  She thought I had dislocated my shoulder.  They made me a bed in the way-back of the station wagon so I could stay laying down when we went to the emergency room.  Mom and Jan chatted for a moment and decided that my brother Paul should stay with them at the park, and that they would go ahead with the day's plans.  We'd rejoin them later when we could.

At the hospital every adult I met asked me what happened.  So I told the story over and over, I was at Bay Beach and I fell off the bumpy slide.  Every single adult had the same reaction “The big blue slide?” they'd ask, intrigued and horrified, thinking I had fallen 20', or maybe 40', to the ground.  Then I would reluctantly admit, no, just the bumpy slide on the playground.  Four feet tops.  It seemed so uncool.

After x-rays, and a lot of waiting to see a doctor I found out that I had not dislocated my shoulder.  I had broken my arm.  (As he told me the next day “You broke your humerus bone.  So why aren't you laughing?”  Yeah, very funny.)  The break was too close to my shoulder for them to operate, so instead I got a neat cast that held my arm at a 90 degree bend, and was put into traction for three days.

That meant there were three days left before school when I got out of the hospital.  I still had the bent arm cast – and they had plastered a giant plastic eye hook into the top of the forearm section.  I had a sling that went around my neck and hooked into that eye – gravity was going to help hold the bones in place while they finished healing.

Did I mention that I broke my right arm?  And that I am right handed?

Suddenly I couldn't write in any of my new notebooks.  I couldn't wear most of my new clothes – the sleeves didn't fit over the cast, and pants that buttoned were impossible.  My carefully planned outfit for the first day was out.  I had been completely confident about starting the fourth grade, but I was completely unprepared to start without being able to use my right arm.

I went to my first day hugely nervous about what was going to happen.  My arm still hurt, and I didn't know how to work around the cast, or even if I could.

It turns out that for the first time ever everyone wanted to talk to me, because they all wanted to know what happened, and sign my cast.  I got to do a lot of my homework orally in class, or Mom wrote things for me while I dictated – both of which were a lot faster than writing things myself.  And I was excused from gym class, my least favorite thing, for the entire semester.

So things could have been worse, I suppose. Though I never did get my cotton candy.

@@@This is my entry for week 9 of LJ Idol – the topic is ‘unprepared’.  Per usual, I'll post a link to the poll on Friday once it is up.  Thank you for reading.@@@

Ow! What a crappy way to start fourth grade.

It was a whole lot of not fun. The whole year ended up being a little strange.

I broke my right arm by getting my shoelaces tangled in my pedals and falling off my bike. The break was by my elbow and so I too had a cast like yours. I remember my mom trying to cheer me up, by pointing out the other kid in the emergancy room who had broken both arms.

Heh. Well I suppose when compared with two broken arms, one is certainly better. But in general no broken arms would be the way to go.

And selfishly I'm a little grateful that I'm not the only person who managed to break a bone on a piece of equipment most kids use every day with no issues. heh. I hope yours healed quick.

Oh noes! At least it worked out in the end!

It was a long eight weeks but it could have been so much worse.

Thanks for reading.

Oh dear! It's amazing what makes kids actually talk to you. Just a broken arm made you cool! haha

I think mostly my classmates wanted to sign the cast. But it was strange to suddenly be the center of attention.

Thanks for reading!

Aw! :( At least there was a happy ending. :)

Yeah, no gym class, and the new Strawberry Shortcake dolls I got for being in the hospital, were almost worth it.


Funny doctor... NOT! I'm glad to hear there was an up-side to having the cast :)

My doctor was youngish and cute so I really liked him. Until that moment, when hoo did he ever miss the mark.

Thanks for reading.

Oh man! That sounds like something I'd do, except I'm not a stoic. I'd have screamed my fool head off when I broke my arm. :-)

Heh. But if I screamed a lot I was definitely going to have to go to the hospital. If I stayed relatively quiet I stood a chance of getting to stay at the park. It was all about the cotton candy.

Thanks for reading!

This is a really great entry; a fun read. I love the part about how the doctors thought you meant the blue slide and you had fallen off the "less cool" one.

Excellent entry! : )

I remember asking my mom why every single nurse/doctor/aide I came into contact with kept asking me what happened, because I was getting really annoyed by having to tell people that I only fell 4', I felt stupid. Mom pointed out that they wanted to make sure my story was the same whether she was there or not so that they could be sure there was no abuse. I decided that made sense, but still thought about lying and moving the scene to the big blue slide.

Thanks for reading!

Oh man, that's horrible! I'm sad that you didn't get to go to the amusement park that year. lol I've never broken anything, don't think I could take it either.

It's the only time I've broken something and I'm hoping that now I'm done. The cast was such a pain.

Thanks for reading!

A heck of a way to start the school year! Well-written, though.

For the first time ever I didn't want to go to school. I kept asking if I could stay home because I didn't want anyone to see the cast. Luckily it turned out to be just fine.

Thanks so much!

Who'd a thunk that a broken arm could be such an icebreaker. LOL Funny, klutz that I was as a kid, I never actually broke anything.

I think it meant I had at least one good answer to "what did you do this summer". I'm grateful it's the only thing I have ever broken (*knocks wood*).

Thanks for reading!

Maybe that was the silver lining to those clouds people are always talking about. It sucks that you never got the cotton candy, but you didn't have to go to gymn, my least favorite class too, BTW.

Great entry.

Missing gym was almost worth it. And I drifted back to my usual popularity status within a week or so, but it was nice to have been at the center of attention for a little while.

Thanks for reading.

I was headed into grade 8, a week before school, I dislocated my shoulder from closing the van sliding door.... I was in a sling for two weeks and my intervenor/aide had to type all my stuff for me (I used a laptop for everything)... and did I mention I was left handed, and it was my left shoulder? I dislocated that left shoulder five times in my life. I have a dog that is trained on the left, which is what all dogs are trained for... next dog, since this shoulder is getting weaker as I get older, I will need a dog trained on the right side for my next dog.

I grew up until high school *LOVING* school... high school, too many medical problems and staff treating me poorly. I was a high school drop-out. School isn't for me much any more.

It seems that you when you disable an arm for any length of time it is ALWAYS the arm you really need. I have some right shoulder issues but I don't think they relate back to my broken arm. Who knows though?

It's a bummer that school became less fun for you - but at least you realized what you wanted and got it.

Oh *ouch*!

I think I would have kicked the doctor for the "why aren't you laughing" comment. :P


If the traction hadn't rendered me pretty much immobile I would have tried.

Thanks for reading!

Not the best way to start something new, that's for sure.