Two Broken Arms

Posted on October 29, 2010



There are times that you just expect some compassion. Laying at the bottom of a ditch in my friend’s back yard, having flown through the air and bounced down a hill getting the wind knocked out of me, I thought  was one of those times! Not a time to stare, mouths covered, concealing giggles like my sister and friends thought. I couldn’t believe it! I’d blacked out in mid-air and slammed onto the ground hard enough to break both wrists and I still had the presence of mind to know that someone should’ve come to my rescue!  I just lay there with my arms across my chest whimpering, “Help …me. Help…me.” And I looked back over my shoulder to the top of the hill and I could see them just staring at me. No one was moving. “I’m not going down there!” “Is she dead?”I believe that was my sister. “Bets? Are you ok?” Giggle. Giggle. The problem was it must’ve looked so funny. I remember someone making their way to me and someone else running to use my friend’s phone to call my mom. Those were the days before cellphones. So, there was always the chance you’d have to go it alone until whenever. But, eventually I got to the hospital. I had to wait for 3 hours for the only doctor who could help set my arm to return from his outing to Martha’s Vinyard. He wasn’t happy. I’m sure!

Lesson#1: Garden hoses don’t make good swinging ropes. Don’t let your friends convince you that they do.

Lesson#2: The fear of something really bad happening is worse than it actually happening…usually.

While I waited for the doctor to arrive I had to use the bathroom. I was a teenager and nothing was going to be so difficult that I’d invite my mom into the bathroom to help me. For the first time in my life I paid attention to buttons, zippers, and opposable thumbs. It took at least an half an hour and many checks from my mom to see if I was ok, but I finally came out…exhausted.

Lesson#3: Vanity and the need for independence are great motivators.

The doctor finally came. My memory might be muddled. But I think he’d been drinking and was about to leave when I asked, “What about my other arm?” He’d only casted one! So the plaster cast was taken off and two fiberglass replacements were put on. That was a close one!

Lesson#4: Be proactive. Sometimes you have to help someone do their job. But be nice about it. (And drinking and doctoring don’t mix well.)

After a night of crazy dreams and pain learning how to sleep with two blocks on my arms I had to get up and face the world. Highschool. I’d perfected my impression of a wall flower. And now that was blown out of the water. How to hide these two enormous, white ugly things attached to me? And what was I going to do about carrying books and writing? I don’t remember anyone asking me or worrying about it. We didn’t use backpacks back then. And it was typical to bring most of my books and notebooks back and forth every day. I learned to carry them pretty well. I just hated when they spilled. The opposable thumb thing again! I was so shy. I was hard enough to have the two cast on my arms. But to have more attention focused on me was almost unbearable some days. My wardrobe was very limited, too. Everything got stretched out or ruined during those six weeks.

Lessons#5 and 6: You can do anything you set your mind to if you really have to do it.  And….get over yourself. Hard one for a teenager.

The last thing I think I got from this experience was the ability, or the necessity to be brief. Lesson#7. To the question “What HAPPENED!?”, I created an automatic response: “I was swinging on a rope  and it broke and I fell and they broke.” “Oh”, was always the response. End of discussion. Worked every time.

Every bad thing in my life has been turned to good. God has taught me how to see things differently. The lessons learned from breaking my wrist came very subtly. I see how it shaped my life more now, looking back. Those six weeks of healing came and went very quickly. But a lot happened to me inside that I didn’t realize until I wrote it down. So, in an effort to be brief, I don’t think it’s wise to get upset about things that happen to us or mistakes that we’ve made. Just know that our response to those things are what build character. And that’s what we’re here for. Right?


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