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Swings & Screws This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     "Now count backwards from 100." I figured that would be no problem but didn’t even get to 90. I was in a hospital bed waiting to be knocked out by an anesthesiologist. As a kid a week out of second grade, I had no idea any word could be that long, but I knew I was being put to sleep so a doctor could drill into my leg like a two-by-four.

For the next 13 weeks my leg might as well have been a wooden board for all the walking I could do. It took me five minutes to get up a flight of stairs, which was an eternity to eight-year-old me. Using that as a reference, I had to endure several thousand going-on-third-grade eternities before I could walk again. You never know how much you love something until it is taken away.

I had always loved swing sets. It was about as close to flying as you could legally and safely get as an elementary student. So there I was that Memorial Day weekend, having a good swing at a bed and breakfast with a homemade swingset that looked like a great place to pass some time.

I swung high, the set jumped high. I swung higher, and the set jumped higher. Unfortunately, gravity would only let the back two legs of the set jump so high without the whole thing tipping forward. I saw it start falling and tried to dash away as fast as I could. Straight forward. The timing was perfect. As I ran, a five-inch-wide iron pipe collided with the top of my head and began a sharp descent down my back. Then I felt the twist, the snap.

The doctor called it a spiral fracture. My left femur had been twisted and broken like the sealed cap on a bottle of Coke. I would need four pins in my leg for 10 weeks. To most the word "pin" means a small object similar to a needle. A doctor’s definition is much broader. In my case, I considered what they called pins to be six-inch screws. They stuck out of my thigh two or three inches and were held by a large bar outside my leg. The whole thing weighed four pounds.

After two days of bad food and painkillers, I was allowed to go home - in a wheelchair. I had to sleep on the sofa downstairs; it was weeks before I managed to scoot my way up on my backside one step at a time to my own room and bed.

Everything I had taken for granted suddenly became extremely valuable to me. What could I do? I could sit, or lie down. I could move with crutches or a wheelchair. That was what I could do. Sure, there was TV and Nintendo, but that was just a variation of sitting. I could bend my knee nine degrees on a good day.

The day finally came when I was able to walk on my own. There was a limp, but nothing a few months of physical therapy wouldn’t fix. Then I could run. Running was amazing. It told me I was no longer confined to a chair or bed. Running was freedom. I felt freedom to move, to go, to be. I felt like I could fly. I could fly across the ground, and no swing was going to catch me.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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