21 June 2009

A post in which I tell you a story about me to make a point about my sister

Nearly a week ago, now, my kid sister had surgery to reset her jaw, which, since she was wee, has not allowed her top and bottom teeth to meet. She's had to cut her corn off the cob, for example. And so, though this was an optional surgery, it will hopefully benefit her quality of life in the long run, and help keep her teeth healthier overall. It's strange, because at this same time we have family members with very serious health concerns, so this surgery feels a little... frivolous. And I'm not saying that just because it wasn't my surgery: Jess posted to that effect here. Anyway, she came through like a champ, and aside from some interesting yellow bruises and an unappetizing liquid diet, Jess is doing great. Though this was not a typical surgery, I was surprised how much it affected me, and it made me think of the only time I've ever been under general anesthetic.
When I was in fifth grade, William Wainwright rounded third base and headed for home, where I was the catcher in kickball. I was more than willing to take one for the team, and when he put his head down and bowled into me, I flew up in the air and came down on my left hand. By the time I got over to the carpeted, moveable gym steps, my wrist was so swollen I could barely see my watchband. As he helped me get the watch off, Mr. Timmer, our phy-ed teacher, solemnly told me I must have a bad sprain, because broken bones don't swell this much.
My aunt Beverly drove me to Halstad, where our old-school Dr. Brown had his practice. (My dad was in the field, I think, or nearly so, and my mom had to teach). My wrist had more than doubled in size, and it was throbbing, but the consensus was still that it was just a bad sprain. We waited for Dr. Brown for almost three hours, and in his exam rooms with too-thin walls, we heard him discuss with the elderly patient who got seen before me the state of her houseplants. I was only ten, but I knew that wasn't cool, even if my arm WAS only sprained.Finally, the nurse took me for an X-ray, and both she and Doc Brown were shocked to see both bones in my arm were broken. No wonder it hurt so much. My ulna was so badly broken that the doctor wouldn't even set it for me. They slid my x-ray into a manilla envelope and sent us off to Moorhead.
By now it was 5 pm, so mom was done teaching, and someone had tracked down dad. I don't remember who drove me to the hospital (did I mention my arm hurt?) ?), but I remember the nun who was my nurse at St. Ansgar's, and the long-faced white haired doctor who explained why they would put me under: the bone was so far apart, they thought they might have to do surgery, and to try to set it while I was conscious would be too unpleasant. I remember feeling very small in the big hospital bed, with Mom and Dad and Jess all standing around, trying not to look too concerned.
In the end, no surgery was needed. They popped my bone back together and wrapped me up in an old school plaster cast halfway to my shoulder. My family got to come and see me while I was in the recovery room, and I guess Jess, who was only in third grade at the time, was understandably freaked out. I don't remember this, but I guess she was saying sweet sistery things to me, and I did not reciprocate. In fact, I think I may have sworn at her.
I'm sorry, sissy; I didn't know what I was saying. And now I know what it's like when your sister is just out of surgery and kinda goofy in the head, and you're just sooo relieved that she's okay. I love you. Can I be there when you eat your first corn on the cob?

1 comment:

Emily, Scott, and August said...

This reminds me all too well of the time I fractured my arm in an unfortunate go-carting accident. I kept insisting that if it was sprained, I wouldn't have had to shift it back 2 inches into place. It was so swollen that they couldn't see anything on the xray hours later, and it was a full week before the regular doctor saw the crack on the xray.
And the time the school sent my friend home on a broken leg! On the bus!