Saturday, June 11, 2011

Why People Think I Have a Calcium Deficiency (Part 1)

I do not have a calcium deficiency. I wanted to state that before starting this post. Mostly because this post is about how I broke 3 of my bones, and how I broke 1 of them 3 times in the span of two years. I'm so serious.

So we'll start with my earliest and first break ever. My left elbow. When most people hear that I broke this bone they usually presume that it was from some freak sports accident, a car accident, or some other life threatening cause. This is not the case. I broke my elbow jumping off...are you ready? A swing. An average park swing.

It was the summer of third grade. Earlier this year we had gone to Disney Land... or World. Whichever one is in Florida. I always get those mixed up. Kind of like N' Synch and The Backstreet Boys.

Like I was saying, it was a pretty average day. Probably early July, before the 4th. In a moment you'll know why I knew this. So me, my brother, and my two favorite cousins were at my grandmother's house. Probably for some family thing. There was (and still is) a super awesome park at the top of the street. We kids decided to go there. And since this park was super awesome it had swings. Because parks without swings are depressing. Like pie without apples.

So we all piled onto the swings and tried to see who could go the highest. At some point we decided this was boring and everyone jumped off their swing. Except me. I kept on swinging as the figures of my brother and cousins began to fade into the tunneled slides. I was alarmed that I was being left behind, but had no idea how to jump off a swing properly. Because to eight year old me, for some reason jumping off a swing was the most complicated task in the world.

See now here's where I'm not quite sure why what happened, happened. I began to contemplate jumping. I even slowed the pumping of my legs so that I wasn't so high. But when I jumped, something obviously short circuited in my brain. Because while I was in the air momentarily, I celebrated a bit too early. "Holy crap I did it! I jumped! Without dying!" Not quite.

As I began to fall I did not think to position myself so that I would land gracefully like a cat on my feet. Instead I just began flailing my limbs. When I hit the ground, I fell in a crumpled heap. All 100 pounds (or however much I weighed back then because I was stick straight skinny before I hit 13) fell on my bent left arm. I heard a crunch and immediately started wailing.

Apparently my brother and cousins thought I was faking because after sitting and crying on the ground for five to ten minutes I had to pick my broken self up and go find them. When they saw my dirtied figure and crying face we all walked home. Luckily my aunt/godmother who was a nurse was there. She had me move my arm in certain directions and asked me to push her away and pull her arm closer with my hand. I didn't see what this had to do with my elbow, but I did it anyway. I was upset when I failed to move it much.

However since I had some range of movement and had stopped crying and reduced myself to occasional whimpering, she said that my elbow probably wasn't broken, but instead severely bruised. Despite the fact, it was awkward now and everyone felt bad that there wasn't anything they could do. I'm pretty sure my mother felt the worst because this was the first time this had happened to her children. Nevertheless to her youngest and only daughter. I'm pretty sure she felt like a failure.

To make up for this, I got ice cream on the way home. To me, this seemed like a great outcome. I was beginning to think that maybe getting hurt wasn't so bad. Unfortunately the small dose of children's Tylenol wore off in a few hours and around 10 or 11 pm my pain had escalated to a point where I felt I needed immediate medical attention. Since this was the first time her children had an injury that she couldn't cure, my mother rushed me to the ER at our local hospital. My brother was about 11 at the time and he came as well.

As soon as we entered the ER I realized that it was a mistake. The florescent bulbs were killing my tired eyes, the TVs were blaring different stations, almost everyone was crying, and it was as packed as a Krispy Kreme opening day. As my mother began to fill out the tedious forms, a man who had been shot in the face was rushed in. Immediately I felt my pain was insignificant and tugged at my mother's arm and begged her to go home. Unfortunately we had already been put on the waiting list 15 minutes earlier and about twenty people had arrived since then. My mom asked me if I thought I could sleep with the pain. We ended up staying.

About two hours later we were brought back, but we had to wait for a doctor. So we all stood in the slightly less busy hallway near the closed off curtains of patient beds. There was a wheelchair nearby. I had wanted to sit in and roll around in a wheelchair my whole life. But my pain and the fact that I was terrified for my life led me to just stand with my mother and hold her hand. Seizing the opportunity, however, my brother immediately sat down in the chair and began moving around. Eventually he fell asleep in it.

I began to doze off leaning against my mother only to be promptly awakened by some lady screaming bloody murder. I looked to where the screaming was coming from and found the curtained room about three rooms away. The lady sounded like she was dying. Then A LOT of liquid splashed on the ground. Back then I thought that she had died and all of her internal organs had just fallen on the ground. Considering that her screaming continued, that probably should have clicked in my brain that my idea was flawed, but it didn't. I know now that she was having a baby. Why she was having it in the emergency room I still don't know.

A good three hours after we had arrived at the ER we finally were called back by a doctor. The doctor showed me that stupid pain chart that does not accurately display pain at all. To see an example of the stupid pain chart and the pain chart that I should've received, go here. So it was about 1 in the morning, I was 8 and scared and this was my first time ever that I was put under pressure to describe exactly how I felt. I'm pretty sure they thought I was faking because I was like "umm I think it's 7, no, wait, am I describing how much pain I AM in or how much pain I'm NOT in? Mom?" So on the pain chart that the amazing Allie Brosh, author of Hyperbole and a Half, mad, which should be adopted by all medical facilities in the world, my pain was probably a 5.

The doctor had me do the same things my aunt had me do. Except this time I was positive someone thought I was faking, so I may have exaggerated...but only a little, I swear. Obviously concerned with my inability to do simple actions like bend my elbow (maybe a little isn't the right phrase...) so I got to get my first x-rays ever. To say I expected more would be putting it lightly. The x-ray room was basically supposed to look like the inside of a UFO. Instead it looked like some weird room in which I had to wear this really heavy bib thing. I didn't understand their explanation at the time and just presumed that I looked like someone who drooled constantly and apparently this bib was going to solve my slobbering problems.

I could never be an x-ray specialist. I would love to, but I could not stand to make someone place the arm or other body part in painful manner just to get a good x-ray. Apparently the x-ray lady didn't care about that. She told me to sit down and place my arm on the table. I did and felt accomplished. "This is easy!" I thought. "I'll be better by morning!" This was not the case. From the casual position on the table this lady proceeded to twist my elbow in a direction that it should not bend and told me I had to hold it there "or else..." I'm not kidding, that's really what she said.

The whimpering was back now and I looked at my mother with a scared expression. She just held my hand and hugged me. After the terrible expedition of x-rays was over we were told, after another half hour wait, that there was nothing wrong with me and we could go home. I couldn't believe it. What do you mean NOTHING'S WRONG?!?! There is obviously something wrong because my arm feels like it's bleeding pain. Or acid.

So my mother, still hurt from her failure to protect me, made an appointment with an arm specialist. We went to the arm specialist with our x-rays and waited. This wait took less time. In about an hour we were called back into a room with walls covered in posters of diseases and a full skeleton. I was excited. I touched the skeleton. A piece fell off. I quickly sat back down an didn't mention it. Soon two doctors came in. They set up my x-rays and turned a switch that made the film glow. They pointed out that my bone was not fully broken, but only broken halfway through and that the tissue around it was thoroughly bruised.

I was ecstatic at the fact that I had not once been called a liar yet. This doctor was awesome! Then came the next news. "We're going to put you in a cast for 2 weeks." Wait...what? B-b-but we're going down the shore in three days! My mother quickly spoke up, "Could we get a waterproof cast? We're going on vacation in a few days." The doctor acted like this request was average. "Sure! Pick out your color and we'll be right back in." I hopped off the table (because I was shorter than I am today, which is 5' 1 and 3/4") and looked at the boxes with all the different color palettes on them. I could have anything from white to florescent orange to pink or blue! Unfortunately I was not into girly colors, I knew I couldn't keep anything white for longer than five minutes, and black was boring. So I played it safe and got a cerulean color.

This cast was the cast of many soon to be casts. FOREVER. Just kidding. But having a plastic bag over your arm at the beach makes you look pretty dumb. I had fun down the shore despite the constant itch from sand that somehow mad it passed my plastic bag guard. When we got back from the shore it was time to get my cast off. Now getting your cast off for the first time is a frightening experience. Mostly because the people drag over a miniature chain saw and begin to place the blade on your cast and cut through it, sending plaster dust into your eyes and all over your clothes. AND NOTHING GETS IT OFF. However, the person taking my cast off forgot to tell me that the blade stopped when it touched skin, so I sat there the entire time waiting for my healed arm to fall off.

I was a bit upset that my arm smelled horrible and that it was much paler than my other tan arm. Also, it was stiff. BUT I had my arm back to myself and when you're 8, two weeks is like a lifetime. I was SUPPOSED to go the physical therapy, but instead I went outside and played with my brother. That was the beginning of many physical therapies that I just kind of ignored. And because my mother felt bad for not protecting me from the pain in the first place, when I said I didn't want to go to physical therapy, she didn't push the issue. That was a BIG mistake.

So that was my first adventure in breaking bones. If I only knew that I'd be injured again in only six months.

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