I will not bend I will not break

It’s amazing how the human body heals – bones knit themselves back together and our skin can mend and so many parts of our bodies just seem to work out what is wrong (given enough time and treatment). But the other thing that’s amazing is how our injuries linger.

When I was in second grade, we had our annual field day. The weather was pretty cool, especially for that late in spring, and I am not very athletic, and it all added up to me being kind of miserable. I didn’t think I could do the things that were being asked of me, and I didn’t really want to do them. I remember telling one of my friends that if I broke a bone, I bet they’d let me go home.

Finally, in the late morning or early afternoon, when we had just a few more events left, it was our turn to try the hurdles. I took one look at them and told my teacher that they were too high, that there was no way I was going to be able to do it. Since I’d been whining all day, she had no reason to believe me, and snapped at me that I had to, just like everyone else. I can’t remember whether I made it over any of them at all, or if they got higher, but I remember seeing one and thinking, “I can’t do it.” Whether that was self-fulfilling prophecy, I don’t know. I just know that my toes caught on the hurdle and I fell right on top of my wrist, which made an awful snap. I got up, hurting, but feeling slightly triumphant (“I told you I couldn’t do it,” is what I was thinking) and walked over to my teacher, who freaked out. I thought it was just out of joint or something (there’s a famous story in my family about the first time my mom left me and my brother with my dad after my brother was born and my dad tried to pick me up by my arms and my shoulder came out of joint), but then, as they were hustling me into the nurse’s office, I heard the P.E. teacher say, “Only the third broken bone of my career.” Oh. (For many years I thought that it was my punishment for my earlier broken bone comment, until I finally confessed it to someone who was astonished that I would believe that.)

So I got a cast, and everyone in my class sent me cards, and lots of people signed it. Since it was the end of the school year, I missed out on a lot of swimming that summer, but I don’t remember it being so bad. Which is why it’s so funny to me that, from time to time, I still have problems with it. If I’ve been typing a lot or doing a lot of data entry (like today), it gets to the point that it’s just uncomfortable for me to use it anymore. And sometimes when it’s rainy and cold it aches, like it’s rheumatic or something. I would probably forget completely about the injury if it didn’t act up every now and then to remind me of its presence. And today, unfortunately, is one of those days it’s decided to rage.

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