Rebecca (beeker121) wrote,

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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.@@@

Tags: breaking, lj idol
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