A Day to Remember

May 26, 2008
By Stefan Burke, Park Ridge, IL

A Day to Remember

It was a warm, sunny, April morning a few years back in middle school. I was in sixth grade at that time and like most of my classmates, I was extremely excited to go to Wrigley Field and watch a Cubs game. As a special treat to our class, we went outside to go play kick ball. The first few innings went well with each team trading off with runs and great plays all around. However it was towards the end of the game that I had a little accident that would haunt me for the next few weeks of my life.

I had just reached first with a single to left field and was waiting on base for the next batter. After the ball was released from the pitcher’s hand, I took a few steps off of first to get a jump on the play. Those few steps almost cost me my summer vacation. The batter hit a line drive right to shortstop and landed with ease in his hands. At that point I was halfway to second before I realized I needed to turn around and haul back to first. A few feet before I reached first base, I went into a head first slide (for some stupid reason) when the first baseman only had to touch the base with the ball in his hands. Unluckily for me, my left pinky got caught underneath my body while sliding back into the base. I picked myself up, ashamed for being in such an embarrassing play and walked back towards the dugout.

When I sat back down I noticed a painful feeling in my left hand. I examined it closer and made a discovery. My pinky had turned a blackish bluish color and was now the second fattest finger just behind my thumb. My own ignorance and extremely large ego led me to believe that it was nothing more than a bad sprain and that a little bit of ice, when I got home from the game, would be the only medical attention I would need. I was as naïve as Enron and its stockholder’s and couldn’t foresee the mess that lay ahead for me.

After we finished playing kickball we boarded the buses and headed off to the “Friendly Confines” to enjoy a nice afternoon of Chicago baseball. By this time, my pinky had surpassed my thumb in size and was straightening out because of the considerable swelling.

I was in appalling pain.

Still, I refused to go and see the nurse because my macho attitude wouldn’t let some pathetic little injury ruin my day at the ballpark because this was the best field trip of sixth grade and I wasn’t going to let anything stand in the way of it.

On the highway to the stadium, we were discussing who would win, if Sammy would hit a homerun, if we might catch any souvenirs and ballpark talk like that. However, I still couldn’t get the throbbing pain out of my pinky and especially my head. I was starting to come to the assumption that I may have done a little bit more damage then I thought. A broken finger had never crossed my mind until about halfway towards Wrigley Field. Taking into consideration that I wasn’t a doctor and I didn’t have an X-ray machine, I couldn’t come to a correct medical diagnosis, but I knew I had made a huge mistake coming to the game.

As we entered the stadium at about 11 a.m. the only thing that I had on my mind was the opposite of all the other people there: and that was when we were going to leave so I could get back home and see a doctor, pronto. Luckily my mind was taken away from the pain and the fact that I couldn’t bend my finger if my life depended on it, and it was focused on the Cubs game. The ballpark hotdogs, pretzels, pop, crackerjacks, and the souvenir stands also help distracted me for a little while. It was a pathetic game; in the end the Cubs lost, but I was not disappointed since I am a Sox fan. I was relieved when we got on the buses and started to make our way home and for me it was a few hours to late.

On the entire way home, I was thinking about a delicate way to address the situation with my parents and tell them exactly what I did. I had it all planned out in my mind.

“How was the game Person X?” my mom would say.

I’d reply with, “It was fun, but the loss made it not that worthwhile. Also I think I may have fractured my pinky. I’m not positive, but let’s go to the hospital to make sure.”

“No problem Person X. Let me go get my keys and then we’ll leave”, my mom would say. Sadly, I couldn’t have planned it any worse. The first part went as planned, but I hit a huge bump with the second part. My mom gave me that stare when you did something completely absurd and stupid. It’s that “what is wrong with you?” that I know you have probably gotten over the years for some of the less intelligent things you did as a child.

On the way to the hospital, my mom asked me the usual questions on how you did it, why you went to the game, etc. She questioned me if I had hit my head too many times as a child because I went to the Cubs games with a broken pinky.

We waited for about 45 minutes to get X-rays and then another half hour to get them and to talk with a doctor about them. My prediction had been correct because I did have a fracture in my pinky. My mom was thrilled about that answer from the doctor.

It turned out that I had to get a cast put on my finger the next day. I really wasn’t that content about that, but it was my own competitive instincts that got me in this jam.

The next day at the doctor was a fun visit. He looked at my X-rays and talked to my mother and me about them. He said I had a clean fracture, so it would heal fine and dandy, but that wasn’t the only thing he said. I was wearing a splint from the night before and I thought that was what I was going to wear that until my finger healed. I was sadly mistaken when I got up from the seat right before he told me his next diagnosis.
I had to wear a cast for six weeks.
The good news is that I wouldn’t have to deal with the plastic bag routine for the shower like I had to when I broke my wrist. I was getting a waterproof cast, but that was only a marginal highlight in a day of gloom. I wasn’t allowed to do anything physically active and I still had to deal with a lot of pain and swelling, plus a smelly cast for the next six weeks of my life. I learned my lesson the hard way.
I realized after breaking my pinky that I shouldn’t take an injury light hearted. I know most of my injuries that I get are no big deal and will heal up in a few days or weeks, but you forget about the bigger ones. You are so used to the normal ones, that sometimes you can’t tell the serious ones from the routine ones. The morale of the story is to get an injury checked out by a professional, even if it’s the school nurse or a certified person or just a plain old doctor. I wouldn’t want to end up with a life changing injury because I refused to get it treated and let the conditions get worse and I know you wouldn’t want that either. I let my own stupidity cloud my judgment and I ended up paying for it in the end.

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