It was a Spring afternoon, in the Year 199-something. I was 15 years old. Old enough to know better than doing what I did. I had finished all the cleaning and other miscellaneous jobs that Mom had for me to do, and was going to spend an hour riding, before night fell.
I walked out to the pasture where we had staked my horse out to graze. He was an old horse, extremely gentle. (or was that; lazy?) He was eating the grass that grew up in-between the corn stubble from last year’s harvest. I untied his rope, and tried to get on his back. It was too high, so I grabbed the 5-gallon bucket that we used to give him his water with, and turned it upside-down. I put it beside my horse, and stepped up. I flung my right leg up and over his back, and jumped up. Instead of sliding the rest of the way onto his back, my right foot slipped off his back just as I jumped, at the same time, the bucket fell over, and I came down hard on my right foot. I immediately was afraid of him stepping on me, so I slithered and squirmed out from under the horse. I needn’t have worried. He was calmly eating grass, and couldn’t have cared less whether I was on his back or under his belly.
I knew I had hurt my foot, but didn’t realize how bad till I tried to stand. I couldn’t. My foot just crumpled. It wouldn’t hold my weight. As I lay in the cornfield, I realized that my foot was really hurt, and I would need help. I yelled and yelled. It took awhile before my sister heard me, and came out to see what I wanted. I told her that I had seen a crutch hanging in the shop, and to ‘Hurry, go get it for me’. I remember trying to crawl while yelling, and thinking that books make it sound alot easier than it is in real life – crawling with a broken/injured limb. When they brought the crutch, I managed to hobble with it back to the house.
Mom looked at my foot, and it was swollen and bleeding from a cut in the ankle. It still didn’t hurt too horribly, shock, I guess. Mom knew right away that it was broken. “That hard, tight swelling means its broken,” she said. I believed her. After all, I had 4 older brothers that she had to practice with. She knew when a bone was broken.
So off to the emergency room. Now, remember, my family was poor, and we had no health insurance, so my Dad would talk to the staff at the hospital before he would let them touch me. I sat there in the waiting room, and watched country music movies on TV while Dad argued with the receptionist for what seemed like ages. By now my foot was beginning to throb. Finally they must have come to an understanding, and they took me away to be x-rayed.
(Note – before you judge my dad, you have to realize that only several years earlier, this same hospital charged us thousands for an episode with my baby sister, where they didn’t even do anything for her. They had threatened us with a collection agency then.)
So, they did their x-rays, and said; yep, broken bone. Broken heel-bone, nonetheless, which they said was a hard bone to break. Took alot of force, they said. I couldn’t figure that, since all I did fall off a horse, and I wasn’t even completely on the horse when I fell. They gave me an orthopedic shoe, and some crutches, and said go home and start walking tomorrow. No cast. I was bummed about that. I had managed to break 2 bones in a little more than a year, and neither of them were breaks that needed casts. Casts were the coolest thing – you could ask all your friends to write something on them.
So I went home, and then the pain really set in. I moaned all night with pain, being too ignorant to know there was such a thing as Advil. My brother was rather ticked off by morning. ( I guess the moaning kept him awake.) He asked me ‘why I didn’t take some Aspirin‘?
“I didn’t think of it,” I said, feeling a bit foolish.
By that evening, mom’s experienced eye realized that my foot was getting infected. She took me back to the Dr. He said that there was likely some piece of cornstalk in my foot, and he would try to pick it out. But my foot was too swollen to be able to numb it, so he would have to do it without numbing it. Yikes. I tried to not cry. I was 15, for pity’s sakes. But I could not help moaning. It hurt like the dickens, and bled all over the bed. He had these wicked, curved little scissors, that he went straight into the wound with, and cut and dug around with them. I can see his face in my minds eye to this day. I guess because I focused on his face instead of the gory, bloody scene on the bed. And perhaps because it happened several times. That’s right. He couldn’t find any thing, so sent us home. Two days later, it was getting worse. Mom soaked my foot twice daily in Epsom salts. She put her favorite ‘drawing’ salve on, which gave me an itchy rash around the wound. She finally took me back in defeat. Here we went again. Curved scissors. Digging in the open wound with no numbing. Bleeding all over the place. Me moaning. Nothing. I would be shivering with cold, and sweating with pain at the same time. It was awful. So the Dr. decided to get serious with it. He scheduled me for surgery. Said I wasn’t supposed to eat anything before I came into town. But to take my antibiotics like usual. I complied. But by the time the 9 am appointment rolled around, I was sick to my stomach, with all that antibiotic on an empty stomach. I sat in the freezing hospital room, and what do you know? the Dr. decided that it wasn’t serious enough to operate on, so he would try once again to get something out with his wicked scissors.
“We already tried that,” I felt like screaming at him. But I didn’t. I was still in awe of Dr.’s. (I have lost all awe by now through sad experience.) So back into the wound with scissors. As before, pain and blood was all it produced. So we left. By then, the antibiotic and pain had my stomach in a turmoil.My dad had taken me to the hospital, so he stopped at a convenience store to buy me something to eat. I embarrassed my self horribly, and vomited in the parking lot while Dad was in the store. I was so humiliated, and so sick. But my dad was a trooper. when he came out and seen what happened, he calmly got a water-hose that was hanging on the side of the store, and hosed the area down. I could’ve hugged him, had I not been so nauseous. Well, that was the last of the Dr visits. I think Mom was rather upset with all the pain he’d caused me with nothing to show for it. She kept using the Epsom salt, and kept me in bed for weeks. Meanwhile, the antibiotics took care of the infection, and I slowly healed. But That wound refused to heal. Mom was sure there was something in there. I didn’t care anymore. I just wanted to be able to go to church, and go play with my friends. I couldn’t swim that whole summer, cause of the open wound. The bone healed, and I started walking on it.
It was 3 months later… my brother had gotten married that day, and I had been limping all day, cause the dress shoes I was wearing had been rubbing on the still-open sore. When I finally got to relax that evening, I was changing dressings on the wound, when I thought maybe I seen something in it. I touched it gingerly – yep. Something pokey. So I squeezed around the wound, and what do you know? A piece of cornstalk as big around as a pencil, about an inch long, came out! I guess when I fell in the cornfield, a piece broke off inside my foot, and it just took a long time to work its way out. I was in shock. After three moths, I had almost resigned my self to having an open wound on my ankle forever.
We saved that piece and showed it to that Dr. He was as incredulous as could be hoped for. My foot healed up in a few days, and now all I have to show for it is a tiny scar, and some wonky nerves in that foot. I guess that Dr messed some up when he was gouging and digging with those little scissors. But I am glad that it turned out well. And taught me a few lessons in the process.