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Life Goes On
I sat in the waiting room at Children’s Hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio, holding my right arm tight to my chest. Today was the day I was finally going to get my cast. I had waited a whole week for this. This stupid temporary cast was getting annoying. I had done everything to make sure the swelling went down by today. The doctor said they weren’t going to cast it if it was too swollen. I wasn’t going to take no for an answer.
As I waited, I saw many kids leaving with brightly colored casts. I became nervous when a little boy emerged from the double doors crying. I didn't want to think about it anymore. I picked up a Seventeen magazine that was sitting on a nearby side table. I tried to read different articles, but my mind seemed to float back to the accident. I couldn’t’ help but think of that hot, summer day that changed my life only a week ago.
It was a sweltering Saturday afternoon on June first, 2006. We were on our annual camping trip with the Martini Family at Versailles Campground. We had just finished a delicious cookout and the adults were cleaning up the dishes. The kids were trying to come up with a game to play. Mikey Martini proposed the idea of a bike race. Everyone grunted in disapproval, except for me. At the time, it seemed like a good idea, so I agreed. It was me versus Mikey.
I wheeled my brother’s heavy, banana seat bike to the starting line. I climbed on the bike and put my game face on. I focused on the road ahead; I was bound and determined to win this race.
Nicky Martini was in charge of starting the race. I waited for the magic word. “Go!” Nicky shouted. We were off and I was in the lead. My legs were pumping as fast as they could. My heart was racing as I sped around the many curves in the road. Sweat dripped down my face.
I was halfway around the loop when, from the corner of my eye, I saw Mikey. He was catching up to me. I heard the swish of wind through the spokes of my bike as I pushed myself harder. My legs were burning by now, but I wasn’t going to give up that easily.
I heard it before I saw it, Mikey was coming up beside me. I glanced over at him, we were neck and neck. I pumped my legs harder, so did he. He started to veer over, coming closer and closer to me before sideswiping me. As he rammed his bike into mine, there was the sound of metal on metal as the spokes of our bikes joined together. Our bikes were stuck together and we were both still pedaling as fast as we could. I didn’t know what to do. Finally, only a few seconds later, our bikes came apart. I went one way and Mikey went the other. We both spiraled out of control, I was panicking. I swerved off the road and into the grass. My bike was headed straight for a parked, blue pickup truck. Before I had time to react,I ran right into the driver’s door, still going full speed. The impact of the hit threw me off my bike and onto the pavement. I threw my arms out, trying to break the fall, but it didn’t do much help.
Still shocked, I looked around. Mikey was on the other side of the road. He had wiped out too. I watched as he stood up and got back on his bike, pedaling away, determined to finish the race. He left my alone along the side of the road.
I looked down at the tangled mess below me. My legs had somehow gotten tangled in the chain of my bike during this mess. I tried to hoist myself up. As I did, immense pain shot through my arms. I couldn’t move. I began to cry, not only from the pain, but also because I was scared.
A couple minutes later, an older woman approached me. She was the owner of the parked truck. She bent down and helped me off the ground. My arms were throbbing with pain. I thought they were going to fall off. I bent over and attempted to pick up my brother’s bike. My arms were weak and the bike was heavy. Seeing that I was struggling, the woman picked up the bike and walked me back to my campsite where everyone was waiting for me.
My mom led me to a lawn chair that was sitting around the fire pit. For the first time since the wreck, I realized my knees and elbows were bleeding. My mom gently dabbed at them with small, cold alcohol pads. Everyone was gathered around by now and I was still crying. Usually, I would have tried to hold back the tears, but at this point I no longer cared.
In the process of disinfecting my scraped elbows, my mom bumped my arm. I screamed out in pain. She stood there, clearly shocked. She reached out, gently touching my arm. I jerked away and began crying even harder. It was clear that up until this point my mom had only thought I was skinned up. She never thought anything more than that was wrong.
“Try to do this,” she said while making circling motions with her wrists. I tried but as soon as I moved my arms from my chest, pain overcame me. I returned them to my chest. She asked me to try again. I was getting frustrated. Did she think I was lying?
I tried again but the same thing happened. My mom noticed I was favoring my right arm over my left. She knelt down beside me and gently picked up my right arm and cradled it between her hands. Pain shot through my arms. “That doesn’t look good,” I heard my dad say. I looked down at my arm and I saw it too. It was slightly bent to the right. This confirmed what I had feared all along.
We were going to make a visit to the emergency room. I got in the car with my mom, my dad, and my best friend, Kristy. The ride to Batesville seemed longer and bumpier than it ever had before.
Once we arrived at Batesville Urgent Care, we had to sit in the waiting room for about forty-five minutes before we were finally taken back after a boy with a broken finger.
First, they wanted to take x-rays. They took me back to a dark room where they had me twist and turn my arms in different positions to get x-rays from different angles. Each arm received nine very painful x-rays.
After we were finished with the x-rays, the nurse led us to a brighter room with a padded table, which she had me sit on. She took my temperature, my heart rate, and my blood pressure before leaving the room.
Kristy sat to my right and my mom to my left. My dad had decided to stay in the waiting room. I repeatedly asked my mom what was going to happen to me. Every time I asked, she tried to change the subject, attempting to get my mind off of it. Kristy stayed silent, I think she was just as nervous as I was. After what seemed like forever, the doctor finally entered the room.
He positioned his stool right in front of me, sitting down. He began talking, confirming what I already knew. I had broken my right arm. My left arm wasn’t broken, but it would be sore for a few weeks. He went on to explain my break in more detail. It was a buckle fracture to my right radius. From the looks of it, they wouldn’t be able to cast it right away because of the swelling.
After explaining to him how the accident had occurred, he made a temporary splint for my arm that I had to wear until I got it casted. They started by soaking a white bandage in a tub of hot water before gently laying it on my arm. One minute, it was soft and pliable, the next, it was hard as a rock. This fascinated me. Finishing it off, they wrapped an ace bandage tightly around the splint and my arm, giving it the support it needed. It already felt a little bit better.
Before we left, the doctor took the three of us into a narrow hallway where they showed us the x-rays. The doctor placed a flimsy piece of paper against a brightly lit screen and the x-ray came alive. I could see every single bone in my arm. I looked to my left at Kristy. The blood had drained from her face, leaving her pale. She looked rather queasy and for a minute, I thought she might pass out.
The doctor directed our attention to the radius bone. The small crack in the bone was clearly visible. The doctor pointed out how close the break was to my wrist, saying I was lucky. I looked closely at the x-ray, at the two white bones that had been separated.
Before we left, the nurse handed me a colorful sling with teddy bears all over it. I tried to put it on but it barely fit. It looked like it was made for five year olds.
We were on our way to meet the rest of the gang for church in Milan. The whole ride there I asked my mom every single question I could think of. I talked about my arm the whole way there. Poor Kristy, I must have been so annoying.
Before we went into church, my mom made me take my prescription painkiller the doctor had prescribed. My arm was still in a large amount of pain, so I took it without complaining.
Halfway through mass, I suddenly became very dizzy. We thought it was probably from my prescription I had taken. I spent the rest of mass sitting on the pew with my teddy bear sling around my arm.
Back at camp that evening,
my mom offered to take me home for the night but I refused. I was afraid I was going to miss out on something. I insisted on staying. While the parents cooked dinner, I sat at the picnic table, filled with sadness, as I watched the kids play a humorous game of kickball.
That night, I slept on the air mattress with my arm propped up on a pillow next to me. My mom woke up at all hours of the night to give me my pain medicine. I will admit, I didn’t sleep very good that night.
When I woke up in the morning, my whole body was stiff. It hurt to move. The swelling in my arm had only gotten worse. My swollen fingers looked like little sausages. My hand was so swollen, it looked like a glove that had been inflated. My whole arm was puffy. On top of all this, my arm was in even more pain than it had been in the night before. It hurt so bad, I could barely move my fingers without flinching.
I was not a happy camper, literally.
I moped around camp that morning while the other kids played a variety of games and the adults packed up camp.
Before leaving, we headed to the pool for a swim. I wasn’t allowed to get my splint wet, so I had to sit out in the scorching sun and watch as everyone splashed and had a great time. It was depressing because I loved to swim.
The whole next week, I waited for the day I would be able to get my cast on. I had to work especially hard at keeping the swelling down because if I didn't they weren't going to be able to cast it again.
Simple everyday tasks had become a challenge. Showering was probably the most difficult. I had to take my splint off and I was always afraid of slipping and falling in the shower. That’s the last thing I wanted. Taking away the support of the splint, even for just a little while, was painful. I couldn’t wait to get my real cast. I was counting down the days.
I was brought back to reality when a nurse walked into the room and announced my name, waiting for me to get up. We followed the nurse back to the x-ray room. They were taking a few more to make sure nothing had changed. These x-rays weren't as painful as the ones before it had been.
Next, we were taken back to a small room where the doctor told us the same thing the other doctor had told us. A buckle fracture on the right radius.
The next room was a large room with many tables and padded counters. I climbed on top of the counter and watched as a young man began to cast my arm. He explained every step as he did it. First he put a thin white material on my arm covering it with a water proof material that resembled bubble wrap. He added another layer of the white material. Before he added the color, he put a blue strip of tape along the top and bottom of my arm. Finishing it off, he wrapped a bright pink bandage around my arm, first soaking it in a tub of water before putting it on. Once it was hardened I was free to go. I walked out of the hospital sporting my brand new pink cast and a huge smile.
Over the next six weeks, I adapted to life with a cast. I learned to sleep with the rock hard cast, write with my left hand, and hold a fork with my left hand. Showering was much easier with a waterproof cast. I was even able to go swimming with it!
I gathered over one hundred signatures on my cast. I had every single family member and friend I met sign my cast. My favorite signature was Mikey's, it was funny. He had signed his name and underneath it he had added “I did this.” Every time I saw this I would smile.
Six weeks passed my very quickly. Before I knew it, it was time to go back an get it taken off. It was bitter sweet, I was happy to get the bulky thing off of my arm, but I was going to miss it. It may sound crazy, but I bonded with it. It went everywhere with me. It had been a part of me for six weeks.
I was taken back into the familiar room I had received my cast in. They sat my arm on my knee and made a cut along the blue strips of tape on the top and bottom. My cast was gutted out and given back to me in two halves. I was busy staring at my naked arm. It was stiff and sore and the skin was flaky. My arm also smelled like six weeks of buildup. It was kind of gross.
After I got my cast sawed off, I was taken back for another round of x-rays. They showed me the before and after x-rays. There was a visible difference. The new bone that filled the gap was a brighter white than the original bone. At that moment, I was very thankful for technology.
Before we left, the doctor offered me his hand, giving me a hand shake. I gave him my left hand because my right arm was sore and weak. He laughed and waited until I gave him my right arm. Hesitantly, I reached out with my right arm, preparing myself for the shake. It was the worst, most painful hand shake of my entire life. He squeezed my arm and jerked it up and down, leaving my grimacing and holding my arm against my chest.
That night, I took my cast home and glued the two halves together, making it whole again. I set it on my shelf in my room, right next to all of my trophies.
The next few weeks I worked on getting my arm back to normal. At first, my arm was so weak I struggled to squeeze a stress ball. Everyday, my mom pushed me to strengthen it.
Two weeks later, I went back to school. I was able to write with my hand again, my arm was almost back to normal. Life went on.
To this day, I still have a small lump on my arm where it was broken. . Everyday I wake up, I see my cast sitting there among my trophies and valuables. These are constant reminders of that hot summer day, June first, 2006. A day that is still fresh in my mind. A day that I will never forget.