Name: margalit
Location: Massachusetts, United States Professional writer, educational advocate, opinionated ultra liberal mother of 18 year old twins, living life in the slow lane due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, and diabetes.

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Friday, November 18, 2005

Flashback Friday

This week's theme is remembering a broken bone or an injury you had as a child. Well, I've broken more than my share of bones, but one in particular stands out from all the others in both severity of the injury and severity of the aftermath.

The summer I was turning 10 I was in a very serious car accident less than a mile from my home. My mother was driving, and she's a bit dilusional on a good day, so her claims that she was being run off the road by motorcyclists is dubious at best. However, on June 19th, two days after school was out, my mother and I were heading down Atlantic Ave. heading towards the synagogue where she had something to do, and she ran smack dab into a very large tree. We were in a fairly new Chevy Nova (no go in spanish) without seatbelts. They hadn't been invented back then, I don't think. This was in 1962. I was sitting in the death seat. When she slammed into the tree, I went through the windshield, bounce off the hood of the car, and landed several feet away from the wreck. I don't remember this because I had a serious head injury and have almost no memory of my childhood before this time. Thanks Mom!

I was taken by ambulance to the hospital where it was discovered that I had cracked my skull, broken a few ribs, and had a compound fracture of my right femur. I got 68 stitches in my forehead where my skull was cracked, and then I was placed in a full spica (body) cast. The cast was then cut away on top so my leg could be in traction. It was like that for a full months, all of which I spend in the hospital. At the end of the month they replaced the cast with another spica cast (like the middle one in this illustration) and sent me home to recooperate. Because I was in this full cast, my parents rented a hospital bed and put me downstairs in the dining room, where I remained for months. I spent the whole summer in bed being cranky and miserable and horribly itchy. The only thing I had to wear was my father's boxer shorts. Really attractive!

Back then I guess it never occurred to anyone to give me physical therapy on the working part of my body, so my muscles atrophied all over my body. Dumb move on their part. The highlight of the summer was when my parents carried me out to the station wagon and slid me in back with a bunch of pillows, and took me to the drive-in to see The Russians are Coming, The Russians are Coming. When we got back home, my neighbor came over to help carry me into the house and he dropped my good leg and I cried for hours because it was so painful. Still no hint that physical therapy might be helpful.

School started and I was left in the dining room. Sometimes friends came over, but mostly I was alone, bored to tears, and miserable. They had a tutor that came a couple of times a week to help me keep up with my classmates but, not surprisingly, I refused to cooperate. The tutor hated me and I hated her. I had the cast replaced a couple of times, meaning I had to be slid into the car, taken to the hospital, and then wheeled around on a gurney. That was a big highlight because each cast change entailed a trip to the OR where they rebroke my leg (I don't know why) and reset it. I was under anesthetic and don't remember anything about that at all.

I was in the dining room for months. I finally got the cast off in late December, and I was unable to walk at all. Not a step, even with crutches. I had to learn how to walk again, and that took several weeks. I was in much pain and really beyond miserable. I was vicious, spoiled, and took out my frustration on everyone around me. Imagine being 10 and confined to a dining room for 6 months. Not fun. After New Years, I went back to school, but was not allowed to do anything for a couple of years. Not ride a bike, not hit the beach, not skateboard or go to gym or pay a game. Nothing. I had to sit in the nurses office whenever there was recess or gym. It sucked so much.

Since that time I've never trusted my mother, nor was ever comfortable driving with her. In fact, I don't like to be a passenger at all, I'd much rather drive myself. I think that this whole escapade made me a demanding person, and I still have remnants of that to this day. I expect more than I should, I think. I also have a lot of empathy for when a kid is hurt because I know first hand what it means to have pain as the most prominent part of my life.
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Blogger Shari said...

Wow. To think that I've never even broken a bone....

18/11/05 11:21 AM  
Anonymous Karin said...

What a horrible experience to have when you're 10. Glad you got through it, though!

18/11/05 11:32 AM  
Blogger Carmi said...

Ouch...what a horrible trauma for a 10-year-old. Glad you managed to bounce back from it and build a good life.

Visiting from Michele's. Shabbat shalom!

18/11/05 2:19 PM  
Anonymous Pearl said...

Oww, wow. That's some cast! I never got a bone so broken as that. When I was a kid I broke my collar bones but only got a sling and no resstting it. It's great that people now know the sense of doing physio.

18/11/05 4:28 PM  
Anonymous Jodie said...

Wow! I'm not sure what to say! It is completely understandable why you wouldn't want to be a passenger. Does anything from the injury still linger today? I've never broken a bone, but I had cancer when I was thirteen. It was bone cancer and my leg was amputated as part of the treatment. I was always really lucky and had great support from my parents and family. I can't imagine going through something without that kind of support. The experience also made me who I am today, and I would never want to change it.

20/11/05 4:14 PM  
Blogger Belinda said...

Wow...perspective time! I guess I've been very lucky, though I never looked at it that way before.

I broke my collarbone falling out of bed when I was 3 or 4. (It was one of those antiquey really high beds)

I broke my thumb jumping out of the ski boat to tie it off when I was 11 or 12. My dad spent a few painful minutes trying to "pop it back in," because it truly appeared to be dislocated.

I shattered every navicular bone in my right foot in my late 20's in a horseback-riding accident. Was sent home from the ER with a "sprain," then they called 3 days later to tell me it was broken. Had 2 botched surgeries locally over 2 years, then went to the Tom Landry Sports Medicine Center at Baylor and had it fixed right, by grafting in some hip-bone. It doesn't move, but it doesn't hurt, and I can walk. That's good enough for me!

20/11/05 9:26 PM  

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