The lifetime prevalence of breaking a bone is kind of hard to track down, but it appears that it is around 50% for men and 40% for women. This means that four or five out of every ten folks that you know will break a bone sometime in their lives. It is part of the human experience and perhaps especially in folks that engage in outdoor adventures.
That reminds me of a story 😉 – not about an adventure that caused a broken bone, but about a broken bone that caused some adventures! This one time in college…
I was in my apartment one night and we had a desktop computer that we wanted to set up that had been stored in a closet. I was barefoot (as usual) and I walked into the closet and picked up the computer, but when I turned around I stepped awkwardly on a shoe that someone had left on the floor.
I felt and heard the long bone in my foot snap. It sounded like a dry twig breaking, and it was loud enough that one of my roommates heard it from another room. He came out of the back room and found me standing on one foot, holding a computer, and he asked, “What was that sound?”
“I broke my foot,” I replied.
“No really, what was that sound?”
“Really, I broke my foot! Let’s go to the ER.”
So we loaded up and drove to the Emergency Room of the regional hospital, where they x-rayed the foot and verified, “Yep, It’s a classic Jones fracture.”
I nodded, “Yes, I know it’s a Jones Fracture.”
“How’d you know that?” The doctor wanted to know.
“Because it was Jones’ shoe that I stepped on that broke my foot!”
So the protocol for a broken foot that night was for the ER docs to schedule me an appointment with the Orthopedic doctor for the next day and send me home with some crutches and a handful of codeine pills to tide me over till then. No instructions, no cast, nothing – just “Here’s some pain pills, go see the ortho.”
Well, the next morning I had a calculus test and I woke up with the foot throbbing terribly, so I took a couple of codeine pills and hobbled off to the test. About halfway through the test, my eyes started blurring and the integrals on the paper started swimming around. I asked the teacher if I could go to the bathroom and she said, no, that if I left the room I had to turn in the paper.
I tried to finish the test but couldn’t get those integrals to stop wiggling on my paper, so I turned in the test half done and went to the bathroom – where I passed out on the floor in a toilet stall!
As an aside, I scored a 26% on that half-finished Calculus test while I was hopped up on Codeine – and that was the highest score in the entire class!
Anyway, sometime later I came to and heard someone enter the bathroom and start using a urinal, so I stuck my head out from under the stall and saw the Professor Emeritus of the Computer Science program taking a leak. He looked down at me, startled, and said, “Hey, Parker, what are you doing down there?”
“I’m lying down, Can you call someone to come get me.”
This was in the pre-cellphone era, so he left me lying there and ambled (Professors Emeritus never run) to the administration office in the building and called my roommate (not Jones – another one), who was also one of his students. Well, this roommate had been up all night working on a project or something and had just gone to sleep so when the phone started ringing, he snatched it up and said something really grumpy, like, “Yeah? Who the hell is this?”
“This is Edwin Ellis.” Was all the professor had to say to change the sleepy grumpiness into alert obsequious, “Sir, yes sir, what can I do for you, Sir?”
“I found Parker passed out over here in the bathroom. Can you come get him?” He came and got me and took me to the Ortho doc and we got a cast put on.
As an aside, That Ortho doctor would later be arrested for burning down his own office for the insurance money – but that’s another story for another day!
That cast made for some great adventures and stories.
- Like the time I was late for Physics class on the second floor of an ancient building and the teacher locked me out. When I finally got up the stairs, I banged on the door until he threw it open ready to chew me out, and found a profusely sweating invalid juggling crutches and books. He let me in but he asked, “Why the hell didn’t you use the elevator?” I didn’t even know that there was an elevator in that building! and when they showed me the elevator (almost more of a dumbwaiter) it had a big sign on it, “FACULTY ONLY – NO STUDENTS!”
- Like the time that I drove my car off the cliff into a lake and couldn’t get out because they said I couldn’t get the cast wet.
- Like the time we were all playing an intense and elaborate game of Laser Tag in the woods behind the University Presidents’ house and I was “running” (actually waddling or hobbling) across a field when I put my foot down in a knee-deep puddle of sucking mud. It promptly threw me onto my face and sucked my boot off – so I ended up a casualty of war that day because my roommates attacked me mercilessly while I was trying to dig my boot out of the mud.
Ah! Those halcyon days of yore!
Anyway, the point is, most everyone ends up injured at some time or another – especially if you do some sort of vigorous outdoor adventure activity (like you should be doing). But an injury does not have to be the end of your adventures!