This past week my circle of friends and extended family experienced no less than five incidents resulting in broken bones. None of these was a simple fracture mind you, I’m talking snap crackle and we don’t know if we can save this limb, Pop.
I realize prevailing psychological philosophy has us believe when this happens to the young, (which it did in all five cases) the best way to look at this is the young have a good chance of healing. The breakage quickly brought back my own brush with a major league boo boo.
Skateboarding had just come into vogue for those of us in the little town of Narrows at the time and I had to get in on this phenom. Mind you this was before the nice composition foot boards and soft wheels that later allowed some tricks which would have blown our minds at that point. My board was a rather stiff affair of pine with steel wheels.
That’s correct. Steel wheels. The same gauge as roller skates but made of steel. Crude by today’s standards but you could fly under the right conditions. Narrows is named for where the mountains narrow down to the New River so you can imagine we have no overabundance of flat land. This was before skate parks were invented. Traffic had gotten heavy off of High School Hill so in a rare fit of good judgment we had moved across the river in front of my home on a less steep road.
Less traffic on it set up the later drama. Cars hadn’t pushed off gravel in some areas of the road. Remember. Steel wheels which would stop on a dime when it hit little rocks. We were playing crack the whip to get up speed to cruise all the way down the road to the truck stop when I hit the rocks, literally.
About as fast as I could blink I went airborne and landed with all my weight on one arm which promptly snapped with bone poking through the skin. I ignored by companions suggestions it was a sprain, gathered the arm up in my shirt and pleaded for them to get help before I fainted. They did. Of course my parents weren’t home but my father was a policeman and he and my mom arrived at the same time the ambulance did. It is a small county.
The rescue squad all knew me and visibly paled as they stabilized my arm. In no uncertain terms they told me I was getting the quick trip to Princeton, W.Va., and the hospital. My best friend’s mother later told me they had gotten word he was in an ambulance on the way to hospital and she nearly fainted before they could tell her it wasn’t him. He couldn’t give her information on my condition but he could tell her how fast the ambulance went that day.
The last words I heard as I went under the anesthetic was someone in the operating room saying they didn’t think they could save my left arm.
They did and it was a long time of rehab before I got beyond playing that sunny day on a back street. I still imagine feeling the cracks every time it turns cold and rainy. If you look very closely the ends of some of the hardware they put in that day can be faintly seen. Point is, I lived differently after an injury like that. I think it’s stayed that way for a lot of children and I don’t want our culture to imbue them with too much hardiness.
Looking back on life in Narrows I had a lot more treats than tricks like that played on me and as Halloween approaches I’d like to encourage adults to give back a little of the holiday that has been shifted over to them over the past decade. Chuck another treat in the goody bag for the little “monsters” because kids have it rougher in a lot of different ways than we did. Garrison Kellor said anything done for a child is never wasted.
Reach David Broyles at email@example.com or 336-719-1952.