One year after breaking my first bone (click here if you haven’t read it yet), it happened again.
It was the spring-autumn-winter of the early 2000’s. I was in Year 6, my last year of primary school. Back then, every kid looked forward to being the Year 6’s of the school. You were the oldest and by default, cooler than everyone else—or us primary school kids liked to think. Full disclaimer, it is possible that I was the only one that thought this way as I spent a long time looking forward to be an ‘old’, year 6. This is probably linked to the fact I skipped a year and hence, was a year younger than my peers. I distinctly remember a girl on the first day of my Year 5 class saying, ‘you are in the wrong class, I’m telling the teacher on you, go back to year 4’.
So back to the story of how I broke my second bone. My Year 6 teacher was one of those teachers that every student wanted. Every morning at 9:00 am, we began the day by going outside and playing a game. Our favourite game was non-stop cricket, but on this day, we played Octopus.
If you aren’t familiar with Octopus, here are rules;
- The game is often played on a netball/basketball court, so that there are distinct boundaries.
- Two players (but this number can vary) are chosen to be ‘it’ (or the Octopus) and goes to stand in the middle of the court.
- The remaining players remained behind a defined boundary line set out by the teacher/supervisor.
- The teacher/supervisor will yell GO! And everybody sprints through to the other end of the court. They are only safe once they reach the other side of the boundary. If a player is tagged by the Octopus, they are out and must stand in the position they were tagged and must not move from that position. Tagged players then act as additional arms of the Octopus and may tag other players as they run through.
Our classroom was next to the school field, opposite the ‘big kid’ playground (for years 5 and 6 only) and overlooked the concrete netball court. Us kids walked down the stairs and lined up along the court, next to the hoop. Our teacher stayed on the balcony, two doors down from our classroom, and watched us from above. He chose two players to be the Octopus—I wasn’t one of them.
I hated loosing, so I needed a plan. I strategised my route, calculated which players the Octopus would likely target, which players I would use as a shield and predicted which way other players would run so that I could adjust accordingly.
My calculations paid off, I made it past both Octopi and they targeted players I had anticipate. After each round, the Octopus kept growing ‘new arms’ from all the tagged players. This made it much harder to successfully run through, so I had to keep re-planning my steps. I was quite tall for my age, so I could run faster than most of my peers which helped to an extent. Plus, I had the additional boost of the ‘not wanting to lose’ adrenaline.
Several rounds later, there were a few of us remaining. The Octopuses were pacing back and forth, teasing us. While we were still behind the boundary, I noticed that one of the Octopuses targeted me. I looked at the available routes and thought ‘no chance’, but I would try to survive anyway—if I’m going down, I’m going down fighting!
‘GO’ my teacher yelled and off we went. I dodged the arms and around mid-court I had a small opening, so I started sprinting. This was when I heard the footsteps of that Octopus behind me, ‘oh no’ I thought. The Octopus reached out and tagged me so hard on my back that I gained so much additional momentum that I fell forward. I put my hands out to break my fall. Indeed, it did break my fall, but my right wrist took so much force that it went too far forwards and I felt that oh so familiar snap. It felt as if my bones had moved under my skin. I sat up, grabbed my forearm just below my wrist and started to cry. I should probably tell you that when I’m in extreme pain, I also laugh. So there I was, on the floor, laughing and crying simultaneously.
One of my classmates escorted my off the court and onto the wooden benches off to the side. After about 10 minutes, I calmed down and reach an equilibrium of acceptance. Exactly as I did the first time I broke my bone. Being me, I’m not very good at estimating pain, so again, I convinced myself that the pain would pass and that the intensity I felt was just me being a baby. For the most part, I did get over it. So much so, that I insisted to use my right hand as normal throughout the day. I’m right handed, so during my classes I would write with my right ‘broken’ hand by delicately balancing my pen/pencil between my index finger and thumb while using my left hand to clasp my forearm just below my wrist to stabilise it (see the below image).
Yes, I was that stubborn; and too proud to admit that I was in pain. Characteristics that I still possess to this day, not to the same ridiculousness, but still present all the same.
I went through my classes using this method to cope, I would go to the nurses office during break times to replace my ice-pack. The ice-pack acted predominantly as a mental plaster, as it did very little to alleviate the pain and would become warm after about half an hour.
Just as I had done so with my first broken bone, I had reached a point of accepting that pain was now my life, and got over myself. Likely because of my attitude, my teacher did not pay that much attention—my fault really.
In the evening when my parents picked me up from school, they noticed my wrist wasn’t right and drove me to the emergency room. I got the X-ray and yep, they confirmed that I had a broken wrist. Though, the break wasn’t as terrible as it was the first time round. The nurse wrapped my arm in a temporary cast, slapped a sling on and sent me on my way.
I was supposed to wear the sling for two days, but I didn’t want people to think I was hurt and the sling made it look so much worse than it actually was. I complained to my parents that I didn’t want to wear it, but they insisted I kept it on (and quite rightfully so). The next day when my Dad dropped me off at school, I reluctantly wandered to my classroom…wearing my sling.
As I opened the door, my classmates looked at my arm then straight at the boy that pushed me. I remember them saying, ‘you broke her arm!’ The boy went red in the face and cast his eyes to the floor. I was mortified that everybody thought I was injured. (I know! It was a foolish thing to be mortified of, especially since I technically was injured.) In response, I took my sling off in hopes of removing that type of attention.
It was either the same day or the following day that we went back to the hospital. I can’t remember if this was just a follow up or whether I got my proper cast fitted but I do remember one thing (well kind of). I remember the nurse seeing me without my sling, and promptly told me off for not wearing it…or they told my Dad off, I can’t remember which. Either way, somebody got a scolded.
Fast forward a couple months later, I broke my third bone trying to fight a boy almost twice my size…but that’s a story for another time.