I’m typing with nine fingers today. I do have ten fingers, but one of them happens to be out of commission today. Brilliant me slammed it in the car door last night. Now my wonderful husband can take care of his disabled wife. OK well, it’s really not that bad. It is in a bandage though so I really am typing with nine fingers. But this got me thinking: How often do we appreciate the value of the little things, such as a finger? Do you appreciate your body parts? You’d be surprised how important this small part is to the body. It’s a challenge not using this finger, but I know of a beautiful young woman who was not born with fingers. She has a rare disease that caused her to have webbed feet and no hands. This started me reminiscing on bits of my own history. What if I told you I don’t have a right leg? Well, technically it’s more like no femur bone. Your femur bone is the long bone in your thigh. It’s the only bone in the thigh in fact. It is both the longest and the strongest bone in the human body, extending from the hip to the knee. But I don’t have one. Instead, I have a steel plate. You see, it all started about eighteen years ago:
The day was beautiful. The sun danced in the streets and illuminated the green grass. There was an abundance of little ones running around, riding bikes, roller blading, and playing tag. One of the many things I always loved about the neighborhood was the pouring of children who came out to play in the summer time. (I don’t know what’s up with this new generation where everybody stay in the house and play video games. Staying in the house was punishment for us. We loved to play outside). It was 1997, and school was just letting out. 8023 South Paulina is an address I would never forget. It’s the first apartment complex we lived in after moving out of the projects and today, Auntie Roslyn had rewarded us for passing on to the 5th grade. That’s back when a $1 was golden. We spent most of the time hustling for quarters to buy candy, but dollars? We were rich now.
My twin sister and I decided this was the perfect day to visit a friend. And this meant bringing every toy in the house with us. We were excited and that meant that we would invite everyone to the festivities: Barbie, Ken, their car and the whole gang. This wasn’t unusual for the twins; these are the same little people who baked cakes in their easy bake oven and sold them to the kids in the neighborhood at a quarter each.
“Time to come in the house!” Boomed my mother’s voice. She actually called our names though. This was when parents still stood in the middle of the street and called your whole government to attention because the street lights were on and you were not at home. The day had gone smoothly. Our friend didn’t give us a reason to argue our ten year old genius about why she shouldn’t do this and that and for the most part we all played nicely. But as the sun began to set and the street lights crawled to attention, it was time for us to leave our dear friend down the street to come on back in the house.
This is when the story gets interesting. Cradling toys in our arms, my ears caught wind of the music before the ice cream truck floated down the street and a smile crept on my face. You see, I’d been scheming on how to spend this dollar since earlier that day. It was a precious gift and I wanted to make sure that I used it on something really good. I suppose now is the best time to remind you that my most favorite desert is ice cream. So, when the jolly jingle of something that sounded like, “pop goes the weasel”, sang down the street with its bright lights and large display of choices, I knew then and there what I wanted.
“Hold my stuff,” I instructed my twin sister. I was after all the oldest and back then five minutes was like five years, and let’s just say I wielded my authority proudly.
“But mama said to come in the house,” she whined.
Why must she do this now? I hated when twin started whining and complaining. It always brought attention to the seriousness of the situation. Why can’t she just get with the flow? The annoyance of her pleas etched into my face. I smacked my lips as I ignored her common sense.
“Just hold my stuff,” I said.
Before she could protest any more I decided to take a quick dash across the street. The ice cream truck was on the other side serving the people on the other side of the street. This should have been my warning that tonight was not the night for ice cream. However, I was stubborn so this logic didn’t occur to me. I wanted ice cream and I wanted it now.
I looked both ways before speeding across the street. I saw a white car and it all went black.
When I came to, I was rolling off the hood of this stranger’s car and onto the concrete. Twin and I were premature babies, only 3 and 4 lbs. each. And so we had always been small coming up. We were ten but we looked more like we were five. It is only now that I understand weight gain, but all throughout elementary and High School I never had to be concerned about my weight. When I graduated from High School I was 100 lbs. and could fit into size 1-2 jeans.
Needless to say that car tossed my small body around like a rag doll. When it was finished I lay on the cold concrete praying no one moved me. I had no knowledge of the medical field or any of that stuff at ten, and yet I knew enough to know I didn’t want anyone to touch me. Somehow, I knew that if I was touched it would not be good. But despite my pleas to be left alone, my mouth didn’t move and my voice shut down. No one heard my cries because it was all in my head. I was in shock and though I wanted to scream my mouth didn’t move. As a result, someone scooped me into their arms and not only could I not speak; now I could not breathe.
The person laid me in the grass and my breath returned to me. There was no pain as I lay there surrounded by the neighborhood. Everyone had come out to see the kid who got hit by a car. Either by walking by or peeking heads out of windows. I scanned the crowd until I realized my hand was being squeezed. To my left was the woman who hit me and her tears soaked her face. She pleaded and pleaded her apologies over and over again.
“Get over yourself,” I thought.
I wasn’t being mean; it’s just that I forgave her already. I still had not felt any pain and only prayed now that I would live. I forgave her over and over again while simultaneously praying I wasn’t going to die. But I was talking in my head again. The lady had not heard me and my mouth still had not moved. It wasn’t until I looked down at my right thigh that the pain came and my mouth opened. The thigh (it couldn’t have been mine) was twice the size of my real one and the pain was excruciating. To make a long story short my leg (or more precisely my femur bone) was broken. I had to get a steel plate put in and twenty-four surgical staples. I came home from the hospital with a walker which I thought really sucked. Here I am with a broken leg and all I was concerned with was why they couldn’t have given me crutches. Truth is I was fitted for them, but they couldn’t find two of the same height for tiny ole me.
“Aww man”, I thought, “I love those.” Yea, I was the kid who played on other people’s crutches. But the one time I needed them I was given an ugly brown walker instead. It didn’t help that they tied balloons around the thing. Yea, it really looks good now.
I was spoiled rotten of course when I came home, though the wrapping and unwrapping of my bandage and going back and forth to the hospital was no fun. Today you would never know the difference, though I still do have the scar which starts a little above my knee and stretches to right below my hip. It’s basically the whole thigh. Trace your finger from above your knee till it stops at the end of the thigh, that’s the length of my scar. The only side effects are the weather. When the weather changes dramatically, like from warm to cold, I get aches similar to that of arthritis. And sometimes I know when it’s about to rain (my leg tells me).But other than that I’m fine. I learned a valuable lesson though:
Obey your mother and father AND appreciate your body parts! Someone somewhere does not have what you have. And just think, I broke my femur, the strongest bone in the body, how ironic.