I was about seven years old, it was seven something in the morning, and little did I know, I was about to break my first bone, specifically my left wrist.
Both my parents worked in the city and as a result I was dropped off early in the morning at ‘before school day-care’ which was hosted at my primary school. But being the 90’s (and New Zealand), this meant us kids running and playing outside before school started.
Before I go into how I broke my wrist, I need to set the scene for you to understand what happened. Next to my school assembly were a set of wide steps that was built into a small grassy hill for us to sit on at lunch. These steps looked more like large and wide concreate bleachers and at the bottom of this very small hill was a netball court surrounded by a set of classrooms.
It was just like any other morning, I was with one of my day-care friends (a girl whose name I don’t recall). We were at the top of the hill and I saw my childhood best friend outside her classroom at the opposite end of the netball court. I screamed her name and sprinted towards her, I attempted to effortlessly run down our schools’ concrete bleacher steps/seats. I specifically remember thinking what a natural I was at running down these steps and thus, translated into me being really cool. Back then, I was really into shows like Dragon Ball Z so I thought I could be a total badass with amazing agility. But alas, I was only a clumsy human child with no other worldly abilities. Towards the bottom of the steps, I lost my footing and stumbled violently towards the floor. The next thing I felt still quakes me to my core whenever I think about it (As I write this story, I scrunch my face, shake my body like a dog and go ‘ahhhh’ to release some of the anxiety.). As I hit the floor, the top of my left hand was face down and my elbow snapped all the way down to the floor; so my wrist and elbow were flat and aligned on the ground. I remember feeling this pop in my wrist followed by delayed but immense pain. I can even remember the sensation of the pop *shudders*.
This caused me to go into complete shock so I started crying. My day-care buddy took me to the nurse’s office which was about a 1 minute walk away. By the time we got there, I had already calmed down so the nurse just gave me an ice-pack and sent me on my way. I then proceeded to stay at school for the entire day (plus after school day-care) with my undiagnosed broken wrist; occasionally returning to the nurse’s office to get more ice-packs.
So why did I stay at school the whole day? Because I’m me, and an idiot. Let me explain, each time one of my teachers would ask ‘does it hurt?’ I would mumble something along the lines of ‘eh, it’s okay, not too bad’. Being me means, once I have settled into the pain, gotten over the shock and accepted that pain is now my life, my response to whether it hurts is usually ‘meh, it’s fine’. I have improved upon this behaviour has I have aged, but I’m not very good at telling when I’m in real actual injury pain vs just regular ouch that hurt pain; so sometimes I over exaggerate because I think maybe this time I am REALLY injured and just can’t tell. This is a threshold I’m learning today.
Right, back to the story…
At the end of the day my wrist was still in pain, but I had reached an equilibrium of acceptance. On top of all this, I had Jazz class that evening. My Dad picked me up from my after school day-care and when we got home I got changed into my black sleeveless leotard. I got my legs through without too much effort, used my right hand to guide my left, undiagnosed broken wrist into the arm hole. But when it came to getting my right arm into the leotard, I couldn’t do it. I unsuccessfully attempted to use what little strength I had left in my left hand to get my arm through the hole, each time I tried the pain was too much. Each failed attempt made me more stubborn which drove me to keep trying (stupid, I know). However, eventually my wrist went numb from the pain and I gave up and called for my Dad to help me get changed.
Now that I was in my leotard, I was ready for Jazz class.
At Jazz, we were practicing our routine for our upcoming performance (it might have been a performance exam, I can’t remember the details). There were probably around 12-ish girls in my class and we started the class by rehearsing our floor routine which opened our performance. Right at the start of our routine, we were on the floor leaning off to our left, the move we needed to execute was to thrust ourselves up onto our left hand (like in the below image) forming an arched shape with our bodies.
Well, despite my pained left wrist, I decided could do this move, just as I had been doing for weeks. When my teacher yelled ‘5, 6, 7, 8 and 1’, I thrusted myself on my hand band on 1; big mistake. I quickly collapsed onto it and face planted onto the floored. The only way I can describe the way it felt was…imagine your bone exploding. After that incident, my dance teacher sat me out of class for a while. But I believe I was reintroduced into the class when they had finished practicing the floor routine and moved to the regular standing up dance routine. So there I was, dancing away with a broken wrist and being too stubborn to admit I was in pain.
My Mum picked me up from dance class and I think I told her my wrist hurt, or she asked me. Either way, she knew my wrist was in pain. I remember her looking over at it in the car and decided it didn’t look right. When we got home she asked me to move only my wrist, but I couldn’t. My Mum suspected it was broken, so my parents drove me to A&E.
Got my wrist x-rayed, which was a surprisingly painful experience as I had to position my wrist in particular positions on the table which sometimes made it feel like my bone was going to snap. Once we got the results, the doctor confirmed that I had two breaks in my wrist (one of the breaks was nearly broken in half) and said I needed to have a review in a couple weeks to determine if I needed surgery to reset the bone (thankfully I didn’t). I had a temporary cast put on which would be replaced by a coloured one in a week.
My Mum was not impressed and was in disbelief that my Dad sent me to dance class when, at seven years old, couldn’t dress myself. A task I had been doing for a long time. Even to this day, whenever the story comes up in conversation, my Mum will remind my Dad how silly he was to not have suspected I had a broken wrist. My Dad’s response is always ‘she said she was fine!’ To which my Mum responds, ‘she was seven, you can’t trust her word, she didn’t know what she was talking about!’
Tune in next time for the story of breaking my right wrist, 1 year later…