I am 42 years old and I have only ever broken one bone. I’ve had enough sprained ankles for a dozen or so people, but I made it just over 23 years before I broke a bone. And that was only a toe.
I was in my first year of teaching. I was in my bathroom getting ready to chaperone a middle school dance. The upstairs bathroom in my townhouse was rather oddly shaped. There were two doors–one entrance from the master bedroom and one from the hallway right at the top of the stairs. The side closest to the hallway entrance had a single sink. On the other side, just inside the door to the master bedroom was the toilet and the bathtub/shower combination. In between was a linen closet. However, unlike any sensibly built linen closet, this one stuck out just enough from the sink as to make it slightly awkward to maneuver around. I was in a hurry and when I turned to head back to the my bedroom to get dressed, I slammed my second toe right into the wall of the linen closet.
That stream of unexplained profanity you heard in Indiana nearly two decades ago around 6 pm? Yeah, that was me.
In addition to the delightful pain shooting up my entire leg, my toe instantly exploded into a deep purple. I knew it was no good. My ex, who had a bit more experience with broken bones than I did, took one look at it and pronounced it broken.
Seeing as I had a dance to chaperone that there was no way of getting out of, he grabbed the medical tape that my father (a paramedic) had so kindly given us when we’d moved into our new place, and did his best to wrap my toes in a way that, while still excruciatingly painful, at least helped stabilize them. I downed several ibuprofen, got dressed and headed to school.
I spent most of the night sitting in a chair near the door to make sure everyone paid and no one tried to leave before the dance was over. Until that moment I hadn’t realized anything could possibly make a middle school dance more uncomfortable and awkward.
I found myself reflecting on this story Thursday night when I came around the corner in my kitchen and slammed a different toe (my second to pinky) into a metal step stool that one of my kids decided to drag into the kitchen. The stool is just short enough that it was hidden behind the kitchen counter, but one of my children had left it in just the right position so that one of the legs was sticking out just a tiny bit. It was impossible to see and impossible not to run into.
I instantly got a familiar jolt of pain and a horrible shiver that went up my entire leg. This time, since my children were still awake and in the next room, I managed to hold in the curse words. My hope was that I’d just stubbed it, but as the second wave of tingles shot up my leg, I was pretty sure it was broken.
I was surprised when, over an hour later, although it still hurt like the Dickens, it was not turning colors. I figured it must just be a really nasty stub, took some ibuprofen and went to bed.
The next morning, I found the deep purple I’d been expecting. Since it was Friday, I had to hobble to school. Thankfully we have a super fantastic athletic trainer who agreed to take a look at it before school started. He poked and prodded at it, did some sort of tuning fork voodoo on it and proclaimed it not broken…YEAH!
I did, however, severely sprain it and pull the ligaments in it, which explains the pain. He taped it for me and sent me on my way with advice to ice it and re-tape it (he even supplied the tape).
Today it is a little less colorful and a little less painful, but my utter lack of grace is still showing.
Hopefully once this disaster heals it’ll be at least another couple of decades before I do this again!