Thursday, January 27, 2011

My Broken Arm Story

 January 27th 1998:  I broke my arm. In Hawaii. Playing hockey. Yes, I was playing hockey and lived in Hawaii. Thirteen years later I am here to share my experience with you. My seven followers. Here is the story of one day that ruined my 8th grade, and for all I know....my life!
  In Hawaii I lived in a very tight knit military community. About 130 homes in an enclosed military housing area, planted right next to Pearl Harbor. My back yard lead up to the water, which held the Arizona Memorial and a breeding ground for Hammerhead Sharks. No joke! When my friends and I weren't discovering the beaches, messing with dead sharks washed ashore covered in battleship oil or playing "manhunt" (a cool name for tag at night, primarily used to flirt with 7th grade girls), we were playing street hockey. We had all the gear. Two goals, two sets of goalie equipment, and hoards of middle school kids begging for the chance to get cross checked by me and this other fat 9th grader named Nick. He sucked. Not at hockey, but severely at life.

Burgstrom...you are going down!
   It was just like any other day. We all met at the house at the bottom of the hill, tossed the goals in the street and strapped on our roller blades. I was pretty good, and played in an actual league on Sundays at the local Air Force base. I was like Wayne Gretzky out there to these kids when I came to play in the local pickup games. Kinda like Mark Wahlberg in Invincible when he comes back to play backyard football with the boys in south Philly. This game was no different from the others. Me scoring. My team winning, and pretty much just being as much of a bad ass you could really be in 8th grade. Then it all took a turn. Skating down the hill, stick in hand came Eric Burgstrom. My fucking neighborhood nemesis. He was tall for his age, and probably smoked cigarettes already. Blond crew cut, just like his Marine dad. If you could look like a future douche at age 13, he nailed it! Watch Mighty Ducks D2...I am Adam Banks and he is the whole team from Iceland combined in one soulless body.
"You punks ready to get whooped?" he yelled while skating directly into the game. "Chris..You want to play on my team so you can win?"
(Oh hell no..game on!)

  The puck dropped, and the battle began. Each team going back and forth. Drago and I battling, exchanging blows back and forth. Slowly I was wearing him down, and the smoke filled longs of the 13 year old were catching up to him. I began blowing by him. Stole the puck right from his stick, leading to a breakaway goal.
"All day Eric. All day!" I cheered. The adrenaline rushing through my body, leading to excessive celebrations, more trash talk and a bright red Eric. 
"That won't happen again!" he threatened. 
  I chuckled, and banged my stick on the ground repeatedly in a mocking fashion. I poked and prodded. I was taking down the bully in front of everyone, and nothing felt better. Continuing to dominate, I stole the puck from him once again with a slight hip check and swipe of my stick. Effortless I broke onwards to another free shot on goal......

!!!!!! CRACK !!!!!!!!

  Eric tomahawk chopped my right skate, sending me into a superman dive towards the pavement. Bracing the fall was my right wrist. Enraged by the cheap shot he took on me, I shot up back to an upright position, ready to swing my stick in retaliation like Elin Woods. Or whatever her last name is now. But something was extremely wrong. I felt my stick fall out of my hands, and a shooting pain sent from my right arm to my brain took over my body. I looked down to see a odd curvature, similar to a "U" or valley. My sister could tell that I was hurt, and told me we should go home. I declined her offer. Attempted to calm down, and not behead my enemy with my stick blade. Foolishly I thought I was able to diagnose my injury, and determined that's just what a sprain looks like. A broken arm. I attempted to play for another 15 minutes until a neighbor walking by saw me favoring my busted wing, and urgently recommended me to go home and show my mother.
  My sister and I skated back home up the hill to our single level Hawaiian bungalow. We won Yard of the Month a time or two. But that was not important at the moment. I was preparing my self for the tongue lashing my mom was about to hand down on me. Its funny how we you get hurt, your parents get pissed at you. And of course it was while my father was gone on business for about a week.
I think its a sprain.
     "Everything always happens when your father is gone! You realize this Christopher?!" She would always say this to me. I guess she had a point. I showed her my wrist...
"Yeah, pretty sure its sprained." 
"Pretty sure you're and idiot! Its broken! What did you do?!" she screamed.
  Once the story was told, she hushed me up, grabbed a bag of broccoli from the freezer, slammed it on my wrist and strung industrial size rubber bands around it to keep it in place. No clue where she got those things from. We jumped in the Ford Taurus wagon and speed off to the clinic.
"We aren't going to the emergency room. They will take forever!" she informed me.
  You seem to think this is an emergency, I thought. Emergencies should be taken care of immediately. I didn't understand, and still don't to this day. But health care is a topic for another day. We arrived, and I was seen instantly. X - Rays taken. Wrist broken. Radius to be exact. It was wrapped in a soft cast, and we were informed to head over to Tripler Military Hospital for further treatment. Tripler is a huge pink building that sits embedded in the south facing mountains of Oahu. You can't miss it, and can always see it from the plane flying in to Honolulu. I will forever hate this place because of the chain of events following my visit. I was seen quickly once we got there. (Most likely thanks to my last name and them knowing who my father was...being an officer in the intelligence community does have some perks) The x-rays were examined once more, and a cast was placed on my right arm..from my knuckles to elbow. I was extremely unhappy. Sports were my life, being right handed..this was not a good situation. We were instructed on the typical procedures in dealing with broken bones, given medication and told when I needed to return to get it checked again and re-casted.
Dear Tripler: Why?
  A couple weeks passed, my cast was covered in writing and previously unknown odors. The first to write something was my girlfriend of the time. She thought writing PEN 15 was amusing. It was finally time for my return visit to the Pink Hospital, and everything was going smoothly. I was excited to think I was almost done with this mess. Baseball season was approaching, and I wanted to be ready for spring ball. They took the cast off, sent me into the x-ray room, slapped my wrist to those cold plates...radiated me and told me to leave and go wait in the doc's office. After 5 minutes of waiting, a tech brought in some x-rays and slipped them up on those big boards that are just light so you can see the X ray. It was a large waiting room, with numerous patients and beds so I was not alone. I examined the x-rays just delivered and figured they weren't mine. (Sucks to be that guy I thought) I for some reason glanced over to my mother, and noticed a puzzled look on her face.
"Chris." she said with concern. "That's YOUR arm."
 It couldn't be. That arm is...well for a better lack of an explanation...all fucked! The bones were crooked, and looked like the bone structure of a pigeons wing. Then entered the Dr.
"Well....." he paused. "We seem to have an unfortunate problem" ( I remember this to this day) "Chris, that is your arm. Apparently we did not set your arm before we casted it. And it looks like you drink a lot of milk. You are a fast healer."  
 Shit. "So what do you mean? Is it gonna be okay? Will it just kinda go back to normal?" I pleaded.
  "Not exactly. We could just let it heal, but you wouldn't be happy with it. You are young, so this needs to be fixed." he explained. "We can hopefully fix it right away, and this situation would just have set you back a little."

Okay, cool I thought. But wait...how do you fix that? Maybe they can just move it around.
    "Okay, so what do we need to do? Can you just pop it back or something?"

  "Well, yes. Sort of. We can tell the the calcification of the bones here have already started, so we just need to break that, and reset your arm in proper place. Hopefully it hasn't fully healed."

 "Break it?"

"Yeah. It will hurt a little, but should be quick."

  Entered a man resembling a blend of Shrek and Andre the Giant. They sat me on a chair next to the bed. Shrek sat up on the bed. Not even an introduction or anything. It all happened so quickly, and I was still confused as to what their plan of action was. Apparently my mom knew, and started to shed a tear. Flashing lights and alarms sounded off in my brain and I quickly questioned...
      "What are you gonna do?!"

     "He needs to put your arm over his knee...and then he is going to 'lightly' apply pressure in order to re-break your arm in that calcified area."

   "Whoa...ummm, can we talk about this?!" i cried.

Accurate depicton
  My mom walked out and I swear I think she nearly fainted. My arm was quickly placed over Bunyan's knee...and that light pressure quickly turned to the worst pain I ever could have imagined. With both of his Popeye sized forearms, he pushed down on my arm with all his force, attempting to split my wrist in half. He kept trying. Again and again. At first I tried to hold back the tears, but quickly the waterworks and screams followed. Flowing from my eyes, I wanted to die and screamed "uncle"! My wrist apparently grew steel and I was on my way to being the next freaking Iron Man. Five minutes of attempts and failures. I sat there, beaten. Ready to die. Packed it in, called it quits and just wish I passed out from the pain. But no luck for anyone.
  After the Chinese torture failure, I was brought into a private office. The head Doc gave me and my mother and extremely long apology. I did not accept. He explained the only option we had was to have surgery. They would have to put me under, saw through my wrist and insert pins. Fantastic. So surgery was scheduled 3 days later. A day prior, I would meet with the anesthesiologist. People always ask, why we didn't sue or something. I don't know the extent of the bullshit my parents went through in this whole circus and what, if any repercussions there were, but it was free health care. Military health care. I think the feeling was as long as they made it right.
  Surgery day came and was a success. I woke up, once again, in a cast. Weeks passed and finally the time had come to re inspect the disaster that was my right "wing". Second time apparently did the trick. All in all, the whole process took 4 months of me having my right arm hindered. One benefit was me being able to improve my left handed layup, and, well...etc. Etc was forced and needed. When taking off the caste this time, I noticed some new additions to my wrist. Metal. Seriously. Three pins were stuff into my wrist like stakes you use to hold down a tent. Three small hooks appeared curling out of my skin. It was cool at first, but then I realized the were going to be removed. Removed how? By a very advanced medical device. We all know it as the "pliers". It was swiftly clamped on to the first hook, twisted to the left (lefty loosey, righty tighty) and pulled out. I watched the whole event in shock. It was a miniaturized horror movie on my wrist. Resembled a knife or dagger being pulled out of a fading body. Hurt like a bitch! At first no blood at all, then the hole turned into Pompeii, spewing dark red blood like an elementary school science project. One, then two, and finally three. (I actually got to keep these...and still have them to this day) * weird ? *
  Finally, it was all over. Except for two months of physical therapy and still only having 70% range of motion, everything was just chipper. My 8th grade was ruined and I place the sole blame of my declining baseball career on this event. And Eric. If I ever find you....I swear I will drop kick you in the neck. I hate that asshole.


 

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