I was pulling my hair out (what’s left of it) trying to think of something to post today. I’ve already updated about my book this week, so I needed to find another subject. It’s important that I get more consistent with my posts and use them to improve my writing. I also don’t want to disappoint my loyal followers who are sitting on pins and needles waiting to see what I come up with (*cough*). I’m looking around, grasping for ideas, when I glanced at my Outlook calendar. On it I see where I’ve noted that Monday was the twelve year anniversary of breaking my left arm. That could make an interesting story . . . yeah yeah . . . that’s the ticket.
This wasn’t one of your run-of-the-mill breaks. It required surgery where they used two metal plates, seventeen screws, and oodles of staple sutures to repair the damage. I broke both bones in the lower portion of the arm, and one of those bones protruded out of my skin. They call those compound fractures, you know.
The incident instantly climbed to the top (where it has remained) of a list of serious illnesses and injuries I’ve put my body through over the years. It’s been my only exposure to surgery and I’m happy to report that I didn’t experience a problem with anesthesia like a lot of people seem to.
You’re probably asking yourself, ‘Was it a car wreck?’, ‘Did he have a horrible mishap doing yard work or some such endeavor around the house?’, or even maybe ‘Could it have been an industrial accident where he works?’ Nope. It was the right foot of a twenty-two year old intramural soccer player from a local college. Twelve years ago (Geez . . . it seems like a lifetime ago now) I was a member of an adult soccer team who played most of their games in an indoor arena in Little Rock. One bright and sunny Sunday afternoon, arrangements were made to scrimmage one of the intramural soccer teams at the university here in town. I know . . . I know . . . a bunch of 30-40 year olds up against a pack of college kids with enough hormones coursing through their bodies to fuel a race car . . . that’s a recipe for disaster if there ever was one. I went out there with my oldest son, who was ten at the time, and prepared to do battle anyway.
I was the team’s goalie, and for the first twenty minutes we old guys held our own against the studs. Then there was a foul right in front of our goal, which led to a penalty kick. For those of you not familiar with soccer, that means one of their players would face off one on one with me. The player they picked was six feet tall and four of those were just his legs. The two teams were tied at the time, so I was feeling the pressure to not allow a score and let the guys down. I sucked in some deep breaths and hopped up and down to get myself energized. I took my time getting into position, making the kid wait for me. I gulped down a swig of water, tossed the bottle to the side of the net, then moved to my spot.
The opposing player placed the ball on the penalty spot (13 paces from the goal), then backed away. I attempted to read his posture, his orientation to the goal, to anticipate which corner he was going to shoot for. I knew that 80% of the time right footed players shot for the opposite corner, which was my right, but I resisted the temptation to lean that way. I didn’t want to give away my strategy and cause him to kick in the opposite direction. He started approaching the ball, but I held my ground until the last possible moment. I leapt to my right just as his size 12 shoe struck the ball. The ball headed right for me. It struck me in the chest, but it was moving too quick and bounced off before I could wrap my arms around it.
The ball began rolling back out into the field of play and the opposing player, seeing the ball recoil off me, saw an opportunity to kick it again and score. I watched as he moved towards the rolling ball and without thinking knew I had only one hope to stop him from scoring. I dove once more, making a sweeping motion with my left arm to push the ball out of the path of the oncoming attacker. My arm and his foot reached the ball at the same time, except I was more accurate than he. I hit the ball . . . his foot collided with my arm.
I knew instantly the arm was broken, and it was bad. I clenched my arm tightly to my chest and laid there on my back. A lot of what happened following that moment is a blur. Making sure somebody found my son and got him home. Transportation to the emergency room laying in the rear of somebody’s Jeep Cherokee. Waiting to be seen. X-rays (the most painful part of the whole ordeal). More waiting. Friends showing up to see how I was doing. More waiting. Getting the news I would need an operation. Still more waiting. Finally being taken back and prepped for surgery. Laying on the operation table and being instructed to count backwards from fifty. 50 . .49 . . 48 . .47. Blackness.
I scared my wife that day. I didn’t mean to, but I did. She spent the hours during my surgery and waiting for me to wake up, fretting. I’m sorry for that, because that kind of worry stays with you for a while. I guess I scared myself a little as well. Up until then, apart from a stitch here or a burn there, all of my injuries were minor ones. Going through all of that, especially the rehab and recovery afterwards, knocked me off of my indestructible throne.
Anyway, that’s the story about my broken wing. The plates and screws are still there, as well as one of the incision scars. I can even tell when a change in the weather is coming from the dull ache deep within the arm. If you remember only one thing from my tale, I hope it’s just one thing.
That SOB didn’t score!