Before I begin, I’ll answer the question you will surely ask at the end: No, there is no video (that I’m aware of) of the moment my feet went out from under me and I landed on my backside, breaking my wrist. My children, however, would be happy to describe for you in great detail the whole thing, including how I said, “I’m really good at this” seconds before I fell.
This isn’t the first time I’ve broken a bone. It’s actually my fourth. Since I was a little girl I’ve been keeping up with, first, older brothers, and now, three sons. Yet I’m the only one who gets hurt. And if my four injuries are any indication, only 50-percent of broken-bone stories are even worthy of retelling. That doesn’t mean our memory doesn’t try to juice up the more mundane falls anyway. When you are wearing a cast, people expect a story, and they want it to be a good one. Usually, it is not.
But this one was (according to the kids).
My first broken bone was when I was 14 years old. I was on my piano teacher’s front porch waiting for my ride. I passed the time by jumping from the porch to the yard below. I only did it once. That’s all it took to break my leg.
Maybe you are envisioning a second-story porch. Maybe you think I landed on a rock or in a ditch. Nope. The porch was maybe one-foot off the ground, which was lush with new spring grass.
The most interesting thing about that event was that 1) the Navy hospital was out of fiberglass, so I received a plaster cast, affectionately known as “a chunk of wall wrapped around my leg,” and 2) my fighter-pilot dad read the X-ray in the elevator and assured the ER doctor that he didn’t think it was broken. We were just there for a second opinion, my dad teased.
The doc replied, “You should stick to flying because her leg is definitely broken.”
The next time I broke the same leg was much more exciting. It was also the night of my bachelorette party and six weeks before my wedding. There are two versions of this story: the one my grandma knows, and the one my bridesmaids know. The grandma version is that my foot slipped off my platform shoes. The other version is basically the same but involves things grandma doesn’t want to know.
The doctor took that cast off a few days before I walked down the aisle. It wasn’t what he wanted to do. He pleaded with me to give my leg one more week. I pleaded right back about wanting to wear my ivory wedding shoes. I had already had my wedding portrait done on crutches. This is not how Martha Stewart said things would go.
“Okay, so maybe we’ll let you walk,” he said, “but please don’t wear heels.”
Think back to your own wedding. Even your mom’s opinion doesn’t matter in the week before you get married, a week that is known for making people lose their minds, or, in this case, wear high heels. The permanent stiffness I have in my right foot is a reminder of my poor decision.
Five years later, I broke my elbow, and there are two versions of this story, too, but only because no one remembers which one is correct. I remember that I was holding my infant son, tripped, and did a rolling maneuver to save my child. My husband thinks I was carrying cleaning supplies and fell over the baby gate.
Either way, the broken elbow was the most excruciating pain I had ever felt. And I had already given birth to two babies at that point. I had not yet, however, experienced stepping with my heel on the head of a Star Wars action figure, which I assure you is up there on the pain scale.
Which brings me to last week. My version of the story is that I was being awesome with the kids, trying to show off some of my amazing and heretofore widely-recognized balance skills. The boys’ version is that I said, “Oh, I’m really good at this,” and then stepped on an unstable board and instantly fell backwards in one dramatic, awkward move. In my mind, I was an Olympic athlete. In reality, I looked how a hoofed animal might if it tried to do a somersault.
Later, Owen, 12, would say to a friend, “My mom doesn’t seem to embarrass very easily.”
Wait, I was supposed to be embarrassed?
But it is Ford’s advice that hopefully will keep me out of the cast room in the future: “Mom, when you say ‘I’m really good at this’ before attempting anything, just know that you are definitely going to fall.”