When Life Gives You Compound Fractures

My Real Memoir

I’d never been an athlete. While other kids learned how to follow-through with a baseball bat or how to throw a perfect football spiral, my buddy Jeff and I were learning how to be Tom and Huck on the Mississippi. And my buddy Rory and I were learning how to give “airplane rides” to a never-ending line of giggling neighborhood kids.

Still, I’d acquired a few gymnastic skills. Before our swimming pool was installed, Dad had set up a lightweight trampoline on our patio and, even better, built me a set of high bars. I didn’t develop much arm-strength–I just liked to spin and fly–but years of paperboying had given me surprisingly muscular legs. And those were undoubtedly the key to my nailing the hands-free-backward-falling-land-on-your-feet crowd-pleaser known as the Death Drop. After which I stood and screamed, “I did it!” roughly 800 times (give or take a few hundred). Eventually my rubber-band trampoline got so stretched I started hitting the cement and my high bars got so wobbly they began throwing me into neighbors’ yards. Don’t get me wrong, I loved our new swimming pool.

But, oh, I missed the high bars.

And our junior high school had a set! So, between classes, I’d head straight for the bars and often gather a crowd. First, I’d do some lesser tricks—Propeller Spins, Cherry Drops. Then I’d finish off with a series of hands-free spins ending in my signature Death Drop. Which always received a satisfying round of applause (like “applesauce,” sweet and easy to swallow)!

But one skinny-legged debunker kept saying, “Anyone can do that!” He insisted I was just defending my rep when I tried to dissuade him, and finally climbed up onto the higher bar. “Don’t!” I shouted as he threw himself backward. His knees gave way immediately and he shot head-first toward the ground. Instinctively, he stuck out his hands, but his elbows hit the ground first. The crowd started to laugh, but their laughter ended abruptly when they saw the geyser of blood. It was coming from the area inside his elbow (ironically called the “humerus”) amid two teepeed-up pieces of broken bone!

With his fast-reddening sweater wrapped around his arm, he was rushed to the nurse’s office. It was the first time I’d ever heard the term “compound fracture.” I hadn’t even known such a thing existed. Compound fractures have long-term effects, I’ve since learned: nerve damage, weakened joints, and worst of all, depression and anxiety.

I’m praying for that boy even as I write this. But I’m also thinking about someone else: Less than a year after that incident, at a driving range, I clumsily swung back a golf club and compound-fractured my cousin Larry’s nose!

I’d long-since forgotten about the incident when, thirty-two years later, on a Thanksgiving day, he told me he’d never forgiven me for doing that to him. Life gives us broken bones, and sometimes compound fractures. The former can be as strong as ever, they say. But the latter are different. They need time. And patience. And sometimes, as in the case of my cousin…

Love and forgiveness.

My Real Memoir is a series. To read the next one, click here.

About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
This entry was posted in Humor, Memoir and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

30 Responses to When Life Gives You Compound Fractures

  1. Dude— is it safe to be around you?

    Liked by 4 people

  2. C.A. Post says:

    The Death Drop sounds and looks like something from Bubba’s last words here in Kentucky: “Hey, babe, watch THIS!” No idea on how many gravestones in the hills record these words, but it’d be a lot if they were all honest! 🤕

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Todd R says:

    Life is an Advanced Challenge Course according to the sign in the video. Amen.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. The Hinoeuma says:

    Holy crap. Poor kid. Poor cousin. The cousin was a legit accident. The kid…well…you didn’t injure him. He did that all on his own. That reminds me of ‘famous last words’ of…”Here. Hold muh beer and watch this!” 🤪😵‍💫😵🤕

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Despite the injuries, this was another wonderful read!!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This is straight up nuts! I couldn’t even get up in the bar.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. When I was in the third grade, I saw one of my classmates fall off the top of a tall slide, landing on cement. The fall broke the boy’s arm. You could tell, because a long white bone was sticking out through his skin. Another boy and I helped him get up off the ground and into the school.

    As we entered the classroom, the boy who was helping told the teacher that our classmate’s arm was broken. She did not even look up from her desk. “Just wait a few minutes, I’m busy here,” she said.

    I looked in disbelief at the sight of the injured boy, cradling his broken arm with his good arm, wearing a look of pained resignation on his face. I may have been only eight years old and normally very obedient, but I wasn’t having this. At the top of my lungs, I yelled: “MRS. YATES! HIS ARM IS BROKEN!”

    The teacher looked at me in shock. I was always so quiet. What had gotten into me? Then she saw the broken arm and flew into action.

    This was my first experience with a compound fraction. Unfortunately, it wasn’t my last. By the way, I have changed the teacher’s name here, but the story is 100% true.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. leendadll says:

    I knew a group of adults who decided to trampoline simultaneously. One came down as the fabric bounced up. He went through and ended up stuck in the trampoline by the bone sticking out of his leg. Wore a full length external rod and pins for a year. Benefit: Many people learned not to share trampoline.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. My arm hurts just thinking about it.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Great sit-around-the-Thanksgiving-table-and-tell-old-stories story. Loved hearing about your acrobatics. Wish I could’ve seen it.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. There were no helicopter parents in this story! Sometimes kids just have to learn the hard way.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. joyroses13 says:

    Oooh my elbows are hurting now!
    Guessing that your cousin never golfed with you again? 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I prayed for Larry to be able to forgive in his heart.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. murisopsis says:

    I’m lucky not to have ever broken a bone. I’ve witnessed a couple though. The neighbor boy climbed up a trellis to his roof. He was having a great time with his older brothers and we were watching from our driveway. They were tossing a ball onto the roof and he was kicking it back. Then he missed the kick and slid off the roof – sort of like a water slide. Came off in a very graceful arc and landed on the driveway. The shrieking was loud and just kept getting louder. Of course we all ran over just as his mother came running out of the house. He had broken both arms and ended up having surgery. They put him in a cast that included both arms bent and out from his sides. He had to sleep in a recliner with pillows to prop his arms on… It was gruesome!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Those were the days. Me, two typical young sons, multiple fractures of every kind. The emergency room knew us all on a first name basis.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Thotaramani says:

    That’s really great 👍🏻 challenging one. He might have tried several times to become perfect.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Pingback: Snogging, The Beatles, and Me | Mitch Teemley

  18. Ann Coleman says:

    Wow! I hope the young man was eventually okay, and that your cousin was able to forgive you, and not just because it was an accident. But because forgiveness is necessary to totally heal…..

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Pingback: Letting My Geek Flag Fly | Mitch Teemley

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