Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Shit I Couldn't Do Again If I Tried

I should get an award for the creativity of my own self-inflicted injuries. I should also be given a medal of honor for the bravery I have shown by getting out of bed every day considering the luck I have.



A quick look back through the years has left me astounded by the number of ways I’ve found to hurt myself or be hurt in ways that really shouldn’t happen.


My first clear memory is from when I was two. Now, most people don’t remember much from their toddler days and many say that I’m making it up, but I’m sure the only reason I remember it is because it probably caused severe brain damage which I now blame for everything else.


It was a cool and windy spring day. Two-year old me eyed the fold up pool chair from the front door. You know, the kind that seems to be woven from jelly bracelets and is long enough to accommodate an adult body. I wanted this chair. I wanted my tiny body on it and I wanted it bad. I scrambled out the door and wiggled my way into the perfect toddler sunning position. There was a medium-sized trampoline propped up on the porch railings, conveniently located right behind this glorious chair. This trampoline had four regular legs on it with booties on the end. One of the booties had begun to rot away from being in the wet grass and my parents moved the bouncing contraption to the porch so we wouldn’t jump it into the ground. The legs were sticking out towards the chair. These legs also had very sharp, round metal ends. It was windy. You see where this is going.


The trampoline had not moved a centimeter while the wind raged around it. Not one.


The wind stopped.

The trampoline fell.

It must have been kismet because that one bootyless, razor sharp leg found its way to the middle of my forehead where it embedded itself.


I was fine with that. I was totally and completely fine with the fact that I had just been bludgeoned with a trampoline… until I saw the blood; the 57 gallons of blood that proceeded to spew out of my face and cover my tiny little body. My screams of terror brought my parents racing out of the house to investigate. The wild mewling and the desperate thrashing I was doing to free myself let my mom know that I was still alive. My father wasn’t so sure. He had probably never faced a moment of terror so pure since the day two years before when he was going in to drunkenly cut my umbilical cord and my tiny fist darted into the path of the scissors and he was certain he’d just turned me into an amputee. He could only stare at my tiny blood soaked body in horror, sure that I was in the throes of death, as my mom raced to get a towel to stop the bleeding. They bundled me and all of our now ruined bath towels into the car to make the terrifying drive at break neck speeds to the end of our driveway. Where we stopped. And waited for my sister to get home from school. They tell me now that the school bus was coming around the corner but I’ll always believe that we wasted tens of minutes for her while the life was draining out of my body. Apparently it wasn’t as life threatening as I believed at the time because the doctor didn’t want to mar my forehead with stitches so I got butterfly bandages instead. I was the calmest near death child he had ever had the pleasure of seeing, he said. Perfect in every way I was. Little did I know that this incident would set into motion a lifetime of injuries that shouldn’t have been possible. Most people fall and hit their heads on trampolines, but no… trampolines fall and hit me in the head.


The next serious injury I remember incurring was four years later when I had mastered the art of the big kid’s bike with training wheels. I could race adults and win! I traveled at death defying speeds and amazed everyone! I could fly over potholes without a single… Wait, no, no I couldn’t. The potholes were a problem. Every six year old has the need to make everyone adore them. I wasn’t exempt from this. My sister and a neighbor girl were calmly walking along when I decided to show them how bike riding should be done. The pedals were turning as fast as they could, my tongue tucked between my teeth in optimal concentration, hands clenched on the handlebars for supreme control and I was off! Barreling past them I took one look at the pothole ahead and thought “HA! You are mine! You are no match for my greatness!”


The pothole made me its bitch.


As I was breaking the land speed record on my bike and setting my training wheels to smoking I hit the pothole and kept flying over it, except my bike wasn’t with me anymore. For what felt like three minutes of utter horror I flew through the air, watching the asphalt race up to meet me. I landed mouth first on the road and slid a good twenty feet on my face. Again with the blood pouring from my head and soaking my clothes. My twelve-year old sister threw me over her shoulder, tucked the bike under her arm like a football and sprinted to our house in a move that would leave Heisman Trophy winners breathless in awe. Miraculously, I didn’t lose a single tooth although many of them had been knocked loose. I should have pulled them out, they were baby teeth. My mom tried to bribe me with various things to let her pull them out, but I would not let her near my mouth. I had learned that lesson before. A loose tooth before that had been tied with dental floss so I could tug on it at my leisure. I must have tugged on that string for hours, hoping that the tooth would just fall out on its own so I wouldn’t have to pull it out and experience what I knew would be excruciating pain. My mom asked if she could tug on it to see how loose it was. Being proud of that loose tooth, I just grinned and walked over to her where she proceeded to take the dental floss in hand and yank it as hard as she could, taking my tooth with it. I never trusted her again after that.


My teeth were never the same after that accident. They might have been spared, but my face and hands were not. I had road rash covering my face, palms, and knuckles for weeks. That wasn’t the last time I had to be carted into the house by a blood soaked sibling after a misunderstanding between my bike, face, and pavement.


When I was about eight, my sister and I went with our aunt, granny, and small cousin to Florida for a fantastic vacation.


I now hate Florida with a fiery and violent passion.

Not only did I discover that I could fall asleep with my eyes open, but also that I walked and held full conversations in my sleep. Disconcerting, yes, but not anywhere close to what was going to happen.


We stayed in this little trailer and played gin rummy at night. It was fun times all around. When we weren’t at the beach, Celia and I scavenged the local area (back when it was safe to let children roam on their own) and looked at all the nothing that was around. Like driftwood, strange plants, and the rather large poisonous snake that chased us away from some bushes. This trip would have probably been way more enjoyable if we hadn’t arrived just a few short days after a major hurricane had blown through.

Beach Day 1: We go to Destin Beach. The surf is a bit rough but we were water babies! We gave Navy SEALs a run for their money! We had this! Granny and water phobic cousin Cait are on the beach, obviously not paying any attention to the eight and fourteen year old family members in the ocean. The water was a bit rougher than I had anticipated and it wasn’t long before I began to get tired of being knocked around by the waves, so I started to make my way back to shore. What can only be described as a rogue wave came up behind me and body slammed me into the sand. I got up, shook my hair out of my face and continued on. It seemed that the water being pulled back in was getting stronger so it made it harder to walk forward.


Does anyone know what a riptide is?


I didn’t.

But I found out.


Another rogue wave crashed on top of me, once more driving me to the ground except this time I couldn’t get back up. The harder I tried to surface, the harder the water sucked me back under. This shit was pulling me back out with it! My little head would pop up for a brief second and then I was slammed back under water again. This happened over and over again for what seemed like forever. I finally lost the will to fight it anymore and just gave up and floated while the ocean “raged” around me. Drowning is actually quite peaceful once you stop fighting it. I knew little of death at that age but I knew I wasn’t long for this life and just as I gave up any hope of surviving, I was popped out of the water onto the beach. I lay there coughing and gasping for air, thanking God I was still alive. When I sat up to look around I saw that no one had noticed. Not the lifeguard, not my sister, and definitely not my Granny. There were hundreds of people around, many of those within a few feet and no one notices the blue kid that washes up on the beach.

People wonder why I have trust issues.

Beach Day 2: No one cared that I had almost drowned without anyone noticing. We moved on to Panama City that day because the surf was a little “rough” at Destin Beach. Hurricanes don’t just make the water rough, they drag all manner of nasty, evil shit onto the beaches including but not limited to: jellyfish and Portuguese man’o’wars.


Mean, brainless invertebrates littered the beach for as far as the eye could see. There were people out there poking them with sticks and putting them in buckets to carry around. What purpose that served, I have no idea.


My aunt’s neighbor had lent us an inflatable raft and a doughnut to use at the beach. My sister grabs the raft and takes off to ride some waves, so I’m left with the measly and useless hot pink doughnut for protection. I pull the doughnut up around my waist and trek down to the surf. Everything in the water looks fine until I get a few feet out and notice these… things… floating in the water, except they kind of look like they’re coming right for me. They were moving with speed and purpose. I back out of the water after having identified them as jellyfish. Building up courage I wade back in and again those little bastards are coming right for me, but this time there are more. Just *glomp*….*glomp*…. *glomp*…


I back up, they follow. *glomp*


I wait them out and go back in. *Glomp* *glomp* I back up again *glompglompglompglomp* They’re speeding up! I turn around and run for the beach.


This continued for a good twenty minutes with no one, again, noticing my distress or terror.


I sit on the beach with Cait and Granny, watching as my clueless sister paddles about, safely ensconced in the raft that should have been mine. That’s it. I’m going in. I’m not going to let tentacled snot globs ruin my day! I head back into the water and… they’re gone. There’s not a single one in sight! Oh! Oh, happy day!
I’m just riding some waves, swimming my heart out, and having a grand old time.


And then it happens.


Out of nowhere, I feel something wrap around my upper arm. The next thing I know the most God awful pain I have ever experienced is coursing through my body. Something in the ocean is touching me and it’s trying to kill me through my arm pit! Me and the doughnut leave a wake as I fly back to the beach screaming in agony. I run over to my Granny crying and smacking my arm pit in an attempt to make it stop and she just looks at me and says “What in the world is wrong with you?”


“Jelly *sniff sniff* Jeh-je-je *sniff* Jellyfish!”


“Where?”


“It stu-stu-stu-stung m-m-m-me.”


“Oh, is that all? I can’t really help you. Maybe this spray will work.”

The pain continued to throb for a good half hour before my whimpering finally calmed down and I could relax again.

I would be okay with that if it had ended there. That would have been a good life lesson. If it glomps, you run. If it glomps after you, you don’t go back in the water. But no, it did NOT end there.


A few months later I wake up at home and my shirt slides across what little boob I had at nine years old and it HURTS! Just the shirt touching it hurts. I take my shirt off to look and my nipple is red and swollen and it looks like there’s a splinter coming out of it. Curious, and not just a little disturbed, I grab the splinter thing between my fingernails and pull it out. The pain stopped. I called my mom in to take a look at this hot mess and she’s clueless. The swelling and redness didn’t go away for a few days so we made an appointment with our family doctor. Dr. Okwara was a really large, REALLY dark guy from Africa. He comes in, we tell him what’s wrong, and then he lifts up my shirt and puts his big black paw right on my boob. All I can think is “HELP! HELP! I NEED AN ADULT!”

Wide eyed, I whip my head around to my mom and mouth “IS THIS A BAD TOUCH?!?” I’m just thinking, Oh my God, Oh my God, I’m being molested by a giant black man. She assures me that everything is kosher and he proceeds to repeat the “wax on, wax off” motion on my other boob and then to the arm pit that was traumatized by the jellyfish the previous summer. All pertinent information was relayed to the doctor and he just nods and says “She has a breast infection. It was most likely caused when the jellyfish stung her mammary gland in her arm pit.”


Wha?


Of all the places on my body that thing could have stung me, my naked arms, legs and torso, that fucking piece of sea snot managed to sting my fucking mammary gland.

Who else does this shit happen to? I mean, really. It continued off and on for a year. I finally quit telling my mom about it until after the fact because at nine, I just wasn’t ready to commit to heavy petting with my doctor.


It’s pretty sad that I’m almost on my sixth Microsoft Word page and I’m only up to the age of nine. I do believe that I’ll be picking this up later. There have been a lot of ridiculous injuries in my life and it takes time to cover them all.


If there’s a 3% or less chance of something happening, it’s going to happen to me. They say that you’re more likely to be hit by a car or struck by lightning than to be bitten by a shark. Any day now I expect to be struck by lightning, knocked into the path of a moving car, and thrown into the open mouth of a waiting shark.

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