In my lifetime I have climbed many fences, both metaphorically and physically. The first time I climbed a fence that I remember, I was eight years old. I was in the yard of my elementary school and saw the tops of trees from the neighboring sump. I was so curious I had to climb the chain link fence to see. My adventure ended in the nurse’s office with butterflies on my left hand. I still have the scar.
Flash forward twenty years.
I am at my daughter’s softball practice and a ball goes over the fence into the neighboring golf course. This time it is a seven-foot tall chain link fence. But no matter. Thrilled to have something to do, I jump over the top of the fence. As I bring my left leg over, I discover that I am caught in some brambles. I try to disentangle myself and wind up putting my hand through the top of the fence. This time it is my right hand. It has gone straight through the webbing between my thumb and forefinger, and I can see the muscles in my hand.
One of the coaches is trained in first aid, and wraps up my hand. “Do you need a ride to the hospital?” he asks.
“No, I’ll be okay,” I say, trying to put a brave face on things.
I leave my one daughter in the coach’s care and stop home to tell my oldest daughter what has happened. I ask her to let her daddy know what happened but not to alarm him. I am feeling a little light-headed. Attributing it to my lack of dinner, I grab a canister of almonds and make my way to the hospital.
On my way, I yell at myself for being so stupid. The pain is really getting to me. I start shaking and I don’t know why. About halfway there, I feel really woozy. I think I am going to pass out. I signal to the driver to my right to let me in, drive myself off the road, and call 911.
So the ambulance comes and I humbly repeat my story several times, although I can barely speak. On the way to the hospital, the shaking gets worse. My blood pressure is up to 160. “What is happening?” I ask the kind EMT.
“You are going into shock. You have to think happy thoughts. Put yourself in a good place.”
Shock? I don’t even really understand the concept, but it sounds scary. “Can I die from shock? I have 4 kids at home!” I exclaim. I am making things worse, knowing (with my psychology degree) that I am making things worse, and I feel helpless to stop it.
Now I’m in the emergency room, and several professionals take a look at my hand before I get the same doctor I had four years ago when my infant scratched my cornea!
“Have you been here before?” asks the tall, gaunt Russian doctor.
“I never forget a face…you had a corneal abrasion.”
He inspects, confirms no nerve or muscle damage, and guides the physician assistant in stitching up my hand. Seven stitches (and four hours) later I am ready to go but still haven’t been in touch with my husband. My cell phone won’t work and there is no public telephone. I walk to the lobby, where someone lets me use the courtesy phone.
“I need you to pick me up,” I say.
“Didn’t you drive?”
“I’ll explain later.”
A half hour later, my husband is relieved at my explanation, and I am relieved that the reason he hadn’t come was that my daughter had misunderstood the story and told him I just had a small scratch from a rose bush!
“What, do you think you’re 14?” he jokes.
One week later, I am on the mend, now able to type again. The stitches come out in another week. Over the weekend, I resisted the temptation to go over a few other fences to fetch errant balls, finding my way around or through a few.
Bio: Elizabeth Kathryn Gerold-Miller is a regular contributor to Mamazina Magazine. She blogs at The Divine Gift of Motherhood.
Photo credit: Dani Simmonds